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State Journal: Kentucky black eye; Read yours today?

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The majority leader of the Kentucky House has gotten a political black eye from controversy over the school-reform law he helped steer to passage in 1990.

After Commissioner of Education Thomas C. Boysen visited the troubled Floyd County school district last month, Rep. Gregory D. Stumbo launched into a spirited attack on Mr. Boysen's leadership of state reform initiatives, particularly a much-delayed technology program. Mr. Stumbo called the commissioner a "prima donna'' and little more than a reform cheerleader.

Follow-up newspaper stories to the encounter, however, found that Mr. Stumbo's eruption had been building for some time and appeared to be rooted less in broad policy questions than in state officials' continued focus on the performance of Floyd County school administrators.

Mr. Stumbo, who lives in Floyd County and has represented district officials brought before the state school board, twice wrote the state's education-accountability office warning that investigators should not overstep their authority and seeking preliminary reports on Floyd school officials.

Newspapers that had trumpeted Mr. Stumbo's criticism of the commissioner in turn wrote editorials that tossed blame back at the House leader.

"Dr. Boysen is helping Floyd County students. Too bad the same can't be said of Rep. Stumbo,'' said The Courier-Journal of Louisville. The Daily Independent of Ashland called Mr. Stumbo's comments "misdirected.''

Since releasing drafts of new curriculum frameworks in the arts, foreign languages, and mathematics a few weeks ago, the South Carolina education department has been swamped with requests for copies.

State officials have already given out their 7,000-copy first printing of the frameworks and are ordering 10,000 more. Paper mills have agreed to supply free paper for the additional printing to help defray the costs.

The response is due in part to the department's own aggressive marketing efforts. To gain wide public support, the department published a toll-free telephone number for citizens to call and is providing condensed versions of the documents to churches, Rotary clubs, beauty salons, restaurants, and libraries.

Superintendent of Education Barbara S. Nielsen said the department also plans to distribute bumper stickers and public-service announcements asking, "Have you read your curriculum frameworks today?''

Still, Ms. Nielsen added, "We haven't gotten to the point where we've started stopping tourists.''--L.H. & D.V.

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