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State Journal: What's in a name?; In Illinois, no reprieve for the 'Tully monster'

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An apparent lapse of memory has put Gov. Kay A. Orr of Nebraska in the doghouse with state education leaders who want 1988 designated as "the year of education" in the Cornhusker State.

For several weeks now, the education community and Governor Orr have been debating whether next year will officially receive that designation.

The educators contend that the idea came from the Governor. Ms. Orr first said she could not remember coining the phrase, but her memory was jogged when reporters noted last month that she had in fact written "1988 is the year of education" in an Aug. 13 speech delivered to a civic group in Lincoln on her behalf by Joe Lutjeharms, the state school commissioner.

At a news conference in Lincoln early last month, the Governor said, "I hope we can get away" from using the slogan.

"Remember," she added in an Oct. 27 speech to the Omaha Rotary Club, "education is not a sprint that we are on. It's a marathon. It would be a disservice to over-promise."

The Governor's apparent turnaround does not sit well with groups that had hoped the battle cry would help bring about higher levels of state aid to schools.

"It became a big deal to us," said Joe Higgins, vice president of the Prairie Fire Foundation, the civic group to whom the August speech was read. "It seemed that she was ready to make a commitment to education like she made to business last year."

The Illinois Senate has sealed the fate of the "Tully monster."

In September, Gov. James R. Thompson vetoed a bill that would have authorized a statewide referendum among elementary-school students on whether to designate as the state's official fossil Tullimonstrum gregarium--a marine mammal that 300 million years ago prowled the swamps that would later become Joliet.

The House voted to override the veto last month. So too did a majority of the members of the Senate, but not by the three-fifths margin needed to pass the bill over Mr. Thompson's objection.

State Representative Helen Satterthwaite, the bill's sponsor, said last week that she did not expect to re-introduce the measure during the legislature's next session.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed, having come so close," Ms. Satterthwaite said. She said the fact that lawmakers will convene in a short session next year makes it unlikely that the measure can be passed in 1988.--tm

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