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Gore Discusses School Violence

September 29, 1999

MELROSE PARK, Ill. (AP) _ Eighth-grader Juan Monarrez was quick to answer Vice President Al Gore’s question about the best way to ``burn″ _ or disrespect _ someone.

``I’d make fun of your mother,″ said Monarrez, president of the Mannheim Middle School student council.

The response prompted laughter, but it was part of a more serious discussion Tuesday about the causes of school violence, a carefully scripted forum led by Gore. About a dozen students joined educators, law enforcement officials and politicians in this suburb west of Chicago to talk about ways to prevent school violence.

Gore criticized Republicans for failing to allocate money for programs he said help reduce violence and called on those in attendance to pressure their lawmakers.

``The amount of fear children have about violence in school and violence to and from school has been going up,″ said Gore, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

He cited Justice Department figures showing that the number of middle and high school students who said they feared being attacked or harmed at school increased 50 percent between 1989 and 1995.

Among the programs Gore said are in danger of the budget ax is the Clinton administration’s COPS community policing program, which gives matching grants to communities to hire more officers.

An audit released in July by the Justice Department’s inspector general said the administration was likely to fall 40,000 short of its promise to put 100,000 more state and local cops on the nation’s streets by the end of next year. Republicans said that raised questions about whether COPS can handle additional funds sought by Clinton to add 50,000 more officers by the end of 2005.

``Congress is right now on a course that will drastically cut funding for this program,″ Gore said. ``This ought to be bipartisan.″

He also said Republicans have not appropriated money for the administration’s requested increase for its Safe and Drug Free School program, which includes money for school emergency response. And he said Republicans are allocating half of the $600 million Clinton wants for after-school programs.

After leaving the school, Gore headed to a $1,000-per-person reception in Chicago at which aides said he expected to raise $700,000.

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