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State Journal: Constitutional cleanup; Public relations

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Constitutional Cleanup

The 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education rendered moot a provision of the West Virginia constitution barring integrated schools, but state lawmakers nonetheless decided this year that it's about time to strike the language from the constitution.

A question on the state's November ballot asks voters to repeal a section that states: "White and colored persons shall not be taught in the same school."

The ballot measure would also remove references to paupers and male voters and reduce the residency requirement for voting to 30 days.

The proposal might not seem to be terribly controversial. But some legislators are reportedly concerned that voters might reject the measure, causing the state some embarrassment.

Indeed, The Associated Press reported in a recent poll of 416 voters that 43 percent disagreed with the ballot proposition, 37 percent agreed, and 20 percent expressed no opinion.

The poll was commissioned by The A.P., the Charleston Daily Mail, and a Huntington television station.

Public Relations

Education groups in Pennsylvania have launched a public-relations blitz designed to reach citizens that they say need to hear an occasional good word about public schools.

The 23 organizations who have banded together as the Pennsylvania Coalition for Public Education include teachers' unions, administrators' groups, and others who often line up on opposite sides of issues.

But spurred by increasingly vocal critics of public schools in Pennsylvania--including a particularly vigorous movement opposing outcomes-based education--the various groups have found some common ground, according to David Sallack, the president of the group.

Representatives of the group visit newspaper editorial boards, meet with parents' groups, and distribute what they hope are jargon-free issue papers on such topics as school financing, tax reform, and vouchers.

The toughest work so far has been hashing out the wording of some of the position papers, Mr. Sallack said.

"When you have 14 representatives from education groups together on one project," he said, "you're bound to have 16 different opinions."

--Julie A. Miller & Drew Lindsay

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