The subject of minority scholarships kept coming up when Lamar Alexander, President Bush's nominee to be education secretary, called on members of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee this week.
Senate aides said Alexander discussed the hot education issue of late in separate meetings with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the committee's chairman, and Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.), who last spring chaired the confirmation hearing of Michael L. Williams, the assistant secretary for civil rights, who has called "race-exclusive" scholarships illegal.
Simon told Alexander he had postponed a hearing on the scholarship issue, initially scheduled for next week, to give the former Tennessee governor time to develop an opinion on the matter. Simon has opposed an Education Department policy designed to permit some scholarships, but not others, to be reserved for minorities, depending on funding sources.
Kennedy urged the education secretary-designate to clear up the policy because it appears inconsistent with the Civil Rights Restoration Act, which holds that colleges receiving federal funds cannot discriminate in any of their programs. Kennedy was a principal sponsor of the civil rights law. Alexander, president of the University of Tennessee system, is scheduled to return here next week to see Sen. Nancy L. Kassebaum (R-Kan.) and other senators.