News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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New Race-Policy Group To Offer Alternative View

Conservative scholars and activists have formed a panel designed to serve as a policy alternative to President Clinton's Initiative on Race.

The "Citizens' Initiative on Race and Ethnicity" was billed last week as a counterbalance to the panel appointed by Mr. Clinton last year to examine race relations. Members of the new group argue that the president's panel is intent on preserving current affirmative action practices.

The new group plans to commission expert reports on several topics, including education, and then to meet to discuss policy recommendations. It has not set a time line for the work.

The group's chairman, Ward Connerly, is the University of California regent who spearheaded the California ballot initiative that barred racial preferences in government programs.

Among the other 12 panelists are: Abigail Thernstrom, a senior scholar at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank; and Linda Chavez, who was staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights under President Reagan and is now the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, also based in Washington.

New BIA Technology Plan

Vice President Al Gore announced new efforts last week to help school children take advantage of the Internet.

He said a NetDay to be held on May 16 will connect 28 of the 185 schools run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

A spokeswoman for the vice president also said all 185 BIA schools, which serve 53,000 students, have applied for the federal "education rate" discounts on telecommunications services and equipment. Mr. Gore expressed the hope that by next year, all of those schools will be connected to the Internet.

He also announced an on-line tutoring initiative that will allow any student to get help from experts through a "virtual reference library" at

And, he said, the Department of Commerce will assess inequities of computer use in schools in a study due in several months.

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