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Campaign sniping

Department of Education employees were pulled into the election fray recently, when GOP presidential hopeful Gary L. Bauer served up some tough comments for his former colleagues.

"I was undersecretary of education for Ronald Reagan for a number of years," he said during the Jan. 15 Republican debate in Iowa. "And I had thousands of federal bureaucrats working for me, or so they claimed."

He added: "Look, these bureaucrats were nice people. But they came to me with the dopiest ideas you've ever heard in your life. They all thought they knew how to run the schools of Iowa and every other state better than the parents and teachers and school boards of those states do."

Asked about the remarks, department spokeswoman Erica Lepping said, "Those who criticize the hard work of this department find themselves in disagreement with the educators and American people who turn to our staff daily."

Education figured last week in another GOP debate. Gov. George W. Bush of Texas and Arizona Sen. John McCain engaged in a little "no it doesn't, yes it does" over the governor's school agenda during the Jan. 26 event in New Hampshire.

"[P]art of my plan, John, says that schools that receive federal money to help disadvantaged schools must measure the results," Mr. Bush said. "If the students improve, the schools will be rewarded. If not, the parents will be free to make a different choice for their ... children."

"The problem with your plan," Mr. McCain replied, "is you give too much power to the federal bureaucracy in Washington. ... I want the folks in my state to set the standards and tell them when they're meeting the standards."

"Well, that's what my plan does," said Mr. Bush. But Mr. McCain responded: "That's the critical part. No, you have the federal bureaucracy—"

"No, I beg your pardon," Mr. Bush interjected. "I wrote that plan."

Erik W. Robelen

Vol. 19, Issue 21, Page 26

Published in Print: February 2, 2000, as Federal File

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