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State Journal: ALEC's agenda

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State lawmakers who take a conservative approach to policymaking are being offered food for thought on issues ranging from alternative teacher certification to "infrastructure privatization" in a new book published by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

More than 50 model bills, including several on education and related child issues, are included in alec's 1989-90 Source Book of American State Legislation. The nonprofit, nonpartisan group includes some 2,000 legislators and members of the private sector whose aim is "to take the conservative agenda across state lines."

The book is divided into 12 sections on topics such as education, health and welfare, and trade and economic development. Each section, in turn, includes several bills that like-minded lawmakers can make their own by simply filling in the blanks.

The source book, which is published biennially, reflects the imprint that former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett left on conservative thought regarding school improvement. Alec's executive director, Samuel A. Brunelli, was Mr. Bennett's deputy undersecretary for intergovernmental affairs.

For example, one proposed bill in the book would require high-school students to pass an exit test demonstrating that they had mastered Mr. Bennett's proposed "James Madison High School" curriculum.

The other bills also reflect themes that are strongly identified with the Bennett era. They include:

The "civic literacy act," which would require high schools to offer courses on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers, and require students to pass tests on these documents in order to graduate.

The "alternate certification act," which would open the teaching profession to persons who did not receive degrees in education.

The "education accountability act," which would establish a 185-day school year; establish an "outcome based" school-accreditation system; authorize the state to take over deficient districts; provide financial rewards to improving schools; create a statewide testing program; require summer remediation and possible grade retention for those who score low on the test; and offer grants to districts to address the needs of at-risk children.

A "career ladder opportunity act," which would provide teachers who pass stringent evaluations with extra pay for extra work.

Copies of the book can be obtained for $20 by writing alec, 214 Massachusetts Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002.

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