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Gov. Gary E. Johnson of New Mexico has vetoed legislation intended to make "social promotion" of students more difficult.

As approved by the legislature, the bill would have repealed a law that permits parents to block a school's decision not to promote their child.

It would have required that an advisory committee composed of the student's teacher, a school counselor, the principal, and the parents make a joint decision on whether to promote a child.

If no consensus were reached, the district superintendent would have final authority in the matter.

In a veto message delivered March 16, Mr. Johnson said the bill would "change the focus of the educational process from one of merit to one of subjectiveness."

Arkansas Exit Exam: The Arkansas Senate education committee has approved a bill that would abolish the state's mandatory high school exit test.

The committee voted 4 to 2 to delete the requirement that a student attain a minimum score on the test in order to graduate.

The panel then voted to direct the state education department to halt development of the exam and gather more information to present after the legislative session is over.

Observers do not expect the bill to make it out of the full Senate, but said the vote reflects intense concern about the high-stakes test.

Gov. Jim Guy Tucker criticized the committee's action, which was also opposed by Gene Wilhoit, the general director of the state education department.

A 1993 law called for implementation of the test in the 1995-96 school year, but the date was later pushed back to 1996-97.

Hawaii Budget Plea: Hawaii's schools superintendent, Herman M. Aizawa, is appealing to state residents to visit, call, write, fax, or e-mail Gov. John Waihee and state legislators to ask for more money for schools next year.

Mr. Aizawa contends that the $715.6 million operating budget approved by the House for the 1995-96 academic year would leave Hawaii's unique statewide school district with a $21.9 million shortfall.

The education department asked for $737.5 million, which a spokesman described as a "bare bones" budget that would allow the state to maintain current service levels and absorb 7,000 more students over the next two years.

"In the past we have been able to absorb most of the cuts at administrative levels," said Greg Knudsen, the spokesman. "But we can only cut so far. There really isn't much more to cut."

The lobbying effort will wind up with a "rally for education" day April 5 at the state Capitol.

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