In his opening remarks to the annual meeting of the Education Commission of the States in Cincinnati last month, Gov. George V. Voinovich of Ohio recited a long list of school-reform efforts under way in the Buckeye State.
The state's strategies, which are heavy on business input, emphasize results over funding. But Mr. Voinovich encouraged educators and policymakers to consider another ingredient, which he termed "the love factor.''
"We've got to get love involved in our schools,'' said the Governor. "Love will make all the difference in the world.''
Mr. Voinovich urged the group to treasure three principles: frugal spending, economic development, and love.
Gov. John R. McKernan Jr. of Maine thanked Mr. Voinovich for his "inspirational words,'' adding: "He's one of the visionaries.''
The Ohio Governor's words drew a different review, though, from the author Jonathan Kozol, who shared the podium at the opening session and decried state efforts to improve schools through a mix of high-sounding reforms such as site-based decisionmaking, portfolio assessments, and restructuring.
"After a while it reminds me of the lists neurotics make that we hang on our refrigerators,'' Mr. Kozol said. "The 'things to do' that we never do.''
Describing the meager conditions at the many poor schools he visited for his recent best seller, Savage Inequalities, Mr. Kozol expressed frustration with the tone of school-improvement debates.
"We don't talk about justice, we talk about dollars,'' he said. "This is a matter for the conscience of America, not for its pocketbook.''
The audience at the meeting also heard a gaffe by Gov. Evan Bayh of Indiana, who proved that verbal faux pas are a bipartisan matter among Hoosier politicians.
The Governor elicited looks of shock and confusion with his way of describing an Indiana teacher who had adopted a new technique that was both more difficult and more effective than traditional methods.
"In the words of George Bernard Shaw,'' the Governor said, reciting the refrain from Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken.''
A spokesman for Mr. Bayh attributed the mistake to fatigue.
"It's no potato,'' the spokesman added, in reference to a recent well-publicized spelling error by Vice President Quayle, also of Indiana.