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Urban Poor Get $200M Scholarship

June 10, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ Two multimillionaires announced a $200 million scholarship fund Tuesday to allow at least 50,000 poor children attend private schools by fall 1999.

``We are not opposed to public education, what we are in favor of is good public education. What we are in favor of is competition,″ said Theodore J. Forstmann, senior partner of Forstmann Little & Co., a pioneer of the leveraged buyout.

Forstmann and John T. Walton, a Wal-Mart director, have pledged $100 million for the Children’s Scholarship Fund. An equal amount is to be matched by individuals in participating cities nationwide. Matches already were made in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington and Jersey City, N.J., through unpublicized efforts. The group hopes eventually to expand to as many 50 other U.S. cities.

Sandra Feldman, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which represents one million teachers nationwide, said the union would rather have the money spent to shore up public education.

``We have no argument with it, but we think the focus should be on public schools,″ she said.

The Children’s Scholarship Fund will be similar to the Washington Scholarship Fund, a program set up by Forstmann and Walton in Washington, D.C., in 1997. That program received 7,500 applications for about 1,000 scholarships this year. Children are selected by lottery.

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