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Publicity drive

Voucher foes have begun a new offensive on Capitol Hill, hoping to gain ground against a growing school choice movement.

The National School Boards Association and the American Association of School Administrators, two leading opponents of tuition vouchers, this month held the first of what may become a series of briefings for legislative aides on the topic. As they've done in the past, congressional Republicans are proposing funding a voucher program for low-income students in Washington, and other national plans will likely surface next year. ("D.C. Spending Debate Targets Choice, Special Education," September 16, 1998.)

The NSBA and the AASA brought in researcher Alex Molnar and Milwaukee education officials on Sept. 11 to argue that publicly funded vouchers will not help reform education. Instead, smaller class sizes are a proven way to drive up low-income students' achievement, said Mr. Molnar, an education professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the director of the university's Center for Analysis of Commercialism in Education.

In coming weeks, the NSBA and the National PTA will launch a newspaper advertising campaign aimed at persuading members of Congress to vote against vouchers.

But Richard D. Komer, a lawyer with the conservative Institute for Justice, based in Washington, said in an interview that the efforts were a reaction to growing public support for vouchers. His group represents voucher recipients in Milwaukee in a case that may be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Separately, last Friday, the Heritage Foundation held its own pro-vouchers event at its headquarters in Washington.

Education adviser

Nearly everyone in Washington, it seems, has thoughts on how to improve education--including Monica S. Lewinsky.

According to the report Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr sent to the House this month, the former White House intern who had a relationship with President Clinton sent the president a packet of items last October at a point when she wanted his help in finding a job. The packet is described as including her "wish list" of jobs in New York City, a pair of sunglasses, an erotic postcard, and "a note with her thoughts on education reform."

No word yet on just how Ms. Lewinsky proposed to address the problems of the nation's schools.

--Joetta L. Sack [email protected]

Vol. 18, Issue 3, Page 22

Published in Print: September 23, 1998, as Federal File

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