G.O.P. Coalition Peddles Reform Ideas to Lawmakers
A group of local and national Republican leaders has endorsed a package of educational reforms and is promoting it to state legislators in the South and New England.
The Southern Republican Exchange, a loosely organized coalition, aims "to collect some of the best reform ideas from across the country" and provide them to state lawmakers, according to its executive director.
"We condense them and translate them" into legal language, said Marty Connors.
The result is "ready-made legislation" for lawmakers, he said. "They can just rip it out and introduce it," he suggested.
Last month, two Alabama lawmakers introduced as bills three of the proposals put forward by the s.r.e. The measures would allow alternative certification of teachers, prevent dropouts from receiving drivers' licenses, and require literacy training for prisoners seeking parole.
"I think we have a good chance to get them all passed," said state Senator Larry Dixon, a cosponsor of the bills.
Both Mr. Dixon and Mr. Connors stressed that the bills should not be seen solely as a Republican effort at education reform. "It's got bipartisan support," said Mr. Dixon, a Republican.
Mr. Connors added that the s.r.e.'s proposals also are not viewed as "Republican packages" in other states.
He noted that the s.r.e. supports a school-choice program similar to the one launched by Gov. Rudy Perpich in Minnesota, and agrees with Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas on many issues relating to teacher professionalism. Both Governors are Democrats.
The s.r.e. began in August 1985 when several Southern governorsgathered informally to discuss various issues, Mr. Connors said. Among them were James G. Martin of North Carolina, Carroll A. Campbell Jr. of South Carolina, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.
U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh and White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu, the former Governors of Pennsylvania and New Hampshire respectively, are also part of the group. U.S. Representative Newt Gingrich of Georgia participates in the exchange as well, Mr. Connors said.
The s.r.e. plans to concentrate its efforts this legislative session on 13 Southern and 6 New England states, Mr. Connors said.--m.n.