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State Journal: Buckeye vendetta?; No nose cutting; Uniform mediocrity

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During his eight years on the Ohio board of education, Paul Brickner has frequently been sharply critical of the state school chief, Franklin B. Walter.

But now some other members of the panel, of which Mr. Brickner serves as president, say he needs to be "called to task" for his alleged antipathy to the superintendent, and are doing so by questioning whether he can legally serve while also holding a federal post.

The board voted 10 to 9 last month to seek an opinion from the state attorney general about whether Mr. Brickner, an administrative-law judge with the Social Security Administration, is in violation of a state law that prohibits board members from holding other positions of public trust.

The motion to seek the ruling was brought by Wayne Shaffer, who accused Mr. Brickner of carrying out a vendetta against Mr. Walter.

Mr. Brickner says his federal job poses no conflict, and he denies having a vendetta against the state chief.

By supporting Gov. Terry E. Branstad of Iowa for re-election last month, the Iowa State Education Association helped win another four years for an incumbent who has promised to seek a raise for teachers.

What the union also got for backing the Republican was a passel of angry Democratic lawmakers, particularly since that party's candidate this year was the veteran Speaker of the House, Donald Avenson.

Democratic leaders, who retained control of both the House and Senate on Election Day, recently suggested to a local reporter that they were willing to work with the ISEA, but were not exactly rushing with open arms to re-embrace their traditional ally and its demands.

"We have a lot of people who are not very happy with them, but we are not going to cut off our nose to spite our face," said the Senate majority leader, Bill Hutchins.

After a group of low-wealth school districts in Illinois filed a finance-equity lawsuit last month, Superintendent of Education Robert Leininger, who was named as a defendant, said he wanted to plead "no contest" to plaintiffs' charges that the state's current school-funding system was unfair.

But Mr. Leininger's stance evoked a sharp retort from some GOP legislators.

"It is not your role to promote redistribution of wealth or the reduction of education in some areas of the state to a uniform level of mediocrity," the lawmakers said in a letter to the superintendent.--PS & HD

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