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State Journal: The ultimate critique; No dog-and-pony show; Out

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of work? Relations between New Mexico lawmakers and officials of the state board of education and education department may have reached a new low during the recently completed legislative session.

Things got so bad that the Senate approved the ultimate critique: a proposed constitutional amendment abolishing the 15-member board and making the state superintendent an appointee of the governor.

Several senators said they were upset over miscalculations of student enrollment that required legislative action to correct.

President Pro Tem of the Senate Manny M. Aragon put his colleagues' frustration bluntly when he reportedly said the board "has spent its entire time during this session trying to protect its butt."

Another senator said the department and the state board had been late with reports and lax in developing accountability procedures.

The board was saved from extinction when the House tabled the Senate bill.

Wilma Ludwig, legislative liaison for the department, said the Senate vote was an expression of dissatisfaction "over what education was producing in the state."

Gov. George V. Voinovich of Ohio has made clear that he will run his new education-advisory committee very much according to his own lights.

At a recent press conference, reporters questioned his decision to hold the first meeting behind closed doors.

"I'm not doing this for the press, O.K.? I'm not calling press conferences all the time to say, 'Hey, we're getting together,' and all the rest of that stuff," he said. "I'm dealing with some very serious people who want to get a job done. I'm dead serious about it."

"There wasn't anything in there today we were trying to hide or anything of the sort," Mr. Voinovich continued. "I just want these people to know that the Governor's not in this for a dog-and-pony publicity type of thing."

An Alabama education panel appointed by Gov. Guy Hunt, meanwhile, is asking for money from the legislature to continue its work.

The panel last month issued recommendations for improving education in the state, including increased local tax support for the schools and tougher teacher standards.

But the panel's request for funding to oversee the reforms received a skeptical response from some lawmakers.

"I really question whether we have anything now," one said of the panel's report.--mw & hd

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