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Indiana Governor, School Chief Unite To Propose $9.5-Million Reform Plan

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By Deborah L. Cohen

After clashing on some education issues during the past year, Indiana's Democratic Governor and Republican schools chief have joined forces to propose a $9.5-million program highlighting early-childhood education, dropout prevention, literacy, and classroom technology.

The 33-point plan could mark a turning point in the relationship between Gov. Evan Bayh and Superintendent of Public Instruction H. Dean Evans.

In his State of the State Message last week, Mr. Bayh hailed the agreement and gave Mr. Evans "much of the credit" for the state's progress toward its education goals.

The package, which is the result of extensive negotiations, represents "all the different initiatives both parties could agree to and thought were needed," said Joseph DiLaura, a spokesman for Mr. Evans.

While Mr. Evans and Mr. Bayh have both outlined additional objectives each will pursue, the joint plan includes several "significant measures to be taken in a short [legisla4tive] session," said Nancy Cobb, the Governor's assistant for elementary and secondary education. "It indicates a real focus for the state on these issues."

The two men proposed competing approaches last year on some education reforms, and Mr. Bayh's supporters raised concerns about performance-based-accreditation, standardized-testing, and awards programs backed Mr. Evans.

But their pact signaled that some differences had been set aside.

In addition, Mr. Bayh last month agreed to proceed with a $10-million cash-award program favored by Mr. Evans. (See Education Week, Nov. 1, 1989.)

Addresses Summit Goals

Mr. Evans and Mr. Bayh agreed that the package should build on key elements of the A+ Program, a 1987 education-reform law, and address goals endorsed at last year's national education summit.

The most expensive item is a $3-million fund to promote technological advancements in the classroom.

The plan also includes $1 million to pilot-test comprehensive early-childhood and latchkey programs and hire an early-childhood specialist in the state education department. In addition, the proposal would fund feasibility studies on public preschool and kindergarten programs and test "developmental checklists" that could be used in kindergarten and 1st grade instead of statewide standardized tests.

The plan also includes $2.5 million for research on testing, mandatory kindergarten, magnet schools, and special-education preschool; innovative pilot schools that would be exempt from state regulations; aid to schools not meeting accreditation standards; and academic competitions and advanced-placement tests.

It also includes $1 million for adult-literacy programs, $1 million for drug education, and $51,000 for dropout prevention.

The House education committee approved the proposals last week.

'21st Century Scholarships'

In his speech last week, Mr. Bayh called for an extra $9.5 million next year and $38 million in the next biennium to raise teacher pay, cut class sizes, and aid parental involvement.

He also proposed a "21st Century Scholarships" program that would offer college aid annually to about 15,000 8th graders who agree to finish high school and stay off drugs.

Other initiatives planned by Mr. Evans include a professional-development fund that would provide districts about $9.6 million a year to help teachers advance their studies and a separate account to help schools pay for supplies.

The superintendent is also seeking an increase in state funding to reduce class size in the early grades under "Project Primetime"; resumption of a summer "Governor's Scholars Academy" that was not funded last year; and about $150,000 to test school-choice programs.

Mr. Evans, who opposed legislative proposals last year to include two days of parent-teacher conferences in the 180-day school year, is also seeking state aid to add two days to the calendar for that purpose.

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