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A surprise snowstorm in Washington last week threw a curve in the daily commutes of some House appropriators--but it wasn't the Southerners who got stuck.

When the House subcommittee on education appropriations met March 9, only Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, a native of South Carolina, and Rep. Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, were on time for the 10 a.m. hearing. Rep. John Edward Porter, the subcommittee's chairman and a native of the Chicago area, called en route from his home in nearby northern Virginia to ask Mr. Wicker to pinch-hit for him as he spent more than 1 1/2 hours in traffic.

"We seem to handle the snow better than those from Illinois," Mr. Riley joked before his testimony.

Rep. John Edward Porter

When Mr. Porter arrived 30 minutes late, he offered a profound apology: "I want you to know how much I hate the fact that this Chicagoan got here later than a South Carolinian."

"And a Mississippian," Mr. Wicker chimed in.

But Rep. David R. Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who is the panel's ranking minority member, blamed the capital area's drivers for the delays. "Washington drivers drive in snow the way Minnesotans surf," he declared.

Gearing up

The Department of Education has kicked off a $200 million campaign to partner states and colleges and universities with students in middle schools.

In the first meeting of its kind, held at at Clark Atlanta University this month, some 500 college and university administrators, state decision-makers, students, parents, and guidance counselors from the Atlanta region met as part of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs plan. Known as GEAR-UP, the nationwide initiative awards grants to colleges, universities, and states which pair up with middle schools to help prepare students for college.

GEAR-UP workshops will be held this spring in Miami; Albuquerque, N.M.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Houston; St. Louis; Philadelphia; Los Angeles; Denver; and Seattle.

--Joetta L. Sack & Julie Blair

Vol. 18, Issue 27, Page 30

Published in Print: March 17, 1999, as Federal File

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