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Students March on Education Department to Oppose Aid Cuts

March 19, 1985|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Several hundred students marched outside the Education Department building Monday to denounce fund cuts and to demand an apology from Education Secretary William J. Bennett for his recent comments on alleged abuse of student aid.

The students, organized by the U.S. Student Assn., marched down from Capitol Hill after a day of lobbying in Congress against President Reagan's plan to cut more than $2 billion in student loans and grants, primarily at the expense of the middle class.

The protest was reminiscent of a 1960s campus demonstration, punctuated by angry rhetoric from a string of speakers and signs declaring: "Education Cuts Never Heal" and "Minds, Not Missiles."

Demanded Meeting

The students demanded a meeting with Bennett, who last month suggested that the cutbacks would simply force some students to "divest" themselves of their cars, stereos and beach vacations.

Instead, 21 of the demonstrators were allowed inside for a private meeting with Edward Elmendorf, the assistant secretary for post-secondary education.

Meanwhile, Bennett on Monday told the Council of the Great City Schools in Washington that tuition tax credits would not destroy public education, but at the most might cause 25% to 30% of students to choose private education.

Public Schools 'Important'

Even if that happened, Bennett told the big-city school officials, public schools "will continue to remain the most important and the largest system of education in America."

At the demonstration, Greg Moore, president of the group--a coalition of student government leaders from campuses across the nation--told the throng: "This is one of the first historical marches on the Department of Education that has ever been held in the history of this country.

"We want to make this country realize that the student movement is back. We're alive, we're well, we're living in Washington, D.C., and all across this country," he said.

'Not in Palm Beach'

"We're here on our Easter vacation. We're not in Palm Beach," said Melissa Knutson, 20, a sophomore at San Francisco City College.

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