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State Journal: Vacation report; A New old weapon

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One of the chief authors of Massachusetts' new education-reform law has fired what appears to be an opening salvo in his bid to unseat the state's Republican Governor next year.

In a letter to Gov. William F. Weld, the Democratic co-chairman of the legislature's joint education committee left little doubt about how he had spent his summer vacation.

"Since my visits to school districts this summer, I have concluded that your administration is not sufficiently engaged in overseeing the enforcement of the new law,'' Rep. Mark Roosevelt wrote late last month.

The Governor and Mr. Roosevelt sparred over elements of the reform law, which passed in June after more than 2 years of trying.

"The consequences of your administration's neglect have left many school districts in financial and organizational disarray,'' wrote the Boston lawmaker, who is expected to campaign for the 1994 Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

In particular, Mr. Roosevelt accused the Weld administration of failing to inform communities how much money the state would be contributing to their schools, and how much local financing would be needed.

He also contended that the Governor had neglected to appoint members to a reform review commission, which was supposed to be in place by July 1.

The Governor's office did not return phone calls, but a spokesman told local media that Mr. Roosevelt clearly had been out playing politics.

A Georgia group hopes to use a 30-year-old anti-integration statute to spark debate on choice and education reform.

The 1961 law requires school districts to give parents who wish to send their children to private schools grants equal to per-pupil spending in their local public schools, according to Tom Perdue, the chairman of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Legislators passed the law to help white parents evade judicial desegregation orders.

State officials contend that the law is invalid because it is based on a school-finance system that is no longer in effect.

But Mr. Perdue said the foundation is publicizing the law not because it advocates private school choice, but because "this is the best available vehicle for us to increase debate on education quality in Georgia.''

If many parents ask for grants, Mr. Perdue said, "the bureaucrats are going to have to answer as to why parents are so dissatisfied''--even if the law is overturned.

"We want to have everybody running for office in Georgia next year talking about education,'' he said.--K.D. & J.M.

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