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State Journal: In the political realm; Goodbye to Boulder

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An effort to remake the Fairfax, Va., school board by adding two positions for members of minority groups has fallen prey to partisan maneuvering in the Virginia legislature.

A proposal to authorize the additional seats was defeated on a 51-to-48 vote in the House this month.

Republican lawmakers who supported the measure argued it was needed to provide representation for the county's burgeoning Asian and Latino populations.

But state Democrats argued the plan was actually intended to give Thomas Davis, the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, additional powers to appoint his fellow Republicans to the school board.

The proposal to increase the school board's membership from 11 to 13 was also opposed by the panel's chairwoman, Joanne T. Field.

"These appointments had less to do with minorities than they had to do with control of the school board,'' said Ms. Field.

An additional two members would make the board "unwieldy and would require costly modifications,'' she added.

Ms. Fields noted that an anticipated shift to an elected school board will soon put an end to manuevering over appointments.

"You think of the school board as being nonpartisan, and avoiding the political realm,'' she said. "But perhaps that was too idealistic.''

Controversy over Colorado's initiative barring civil-rights protections for homosexuals has done in one of the traditions in the field of statewide testing.

For some two decades, the Education Commission of the States has held a Large Scale Assessment Conference in Boulder, Colo. The meeting has become so closely identified with its site that participants frequently refer to it as the "Boulder conference.''

But that was before Colorado voters last fall approved the initiative on gay rights, which has spurred widespread calls to boycott the state.

Without commenting on either the initiative or the boycott, the Council of Chief State School Officers, which is sponsoring the conference this year, recently announced that it would move the meeting to Albuquerque, N.M.

"There is a strong possibility attendance would drop, undercutting the value of the conference and exposing the council and sponsors to financial liabilities,'' wrote Ramsay Selden, the director of the C.C.S.S.O.'s State Education Assessment Center.

The decision to move was "very difficult,'' Mr. Selden added, in light of the conference's strong ties to Boulder.--J.P. & H.D.

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