Published Online: April 30, 1997

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TV time for school funding

School finance--not usually considered the most telegenic of topics--has Republican Gov. Jim Edgar of Illinois so fired up that he is paying for and appearing in television commercials pushing for changes in the way state schools are funded. Participate in our new interactive TOWN MEETING, an electronic roundtable on improving schools

Two 30-second spots have been running for two weeks on network and cable stations throughout the state, and are now in their final week. The ads, one of which features Mr. Edgar, argue that the state's current school funding system is unfair and urge viewers to lobby the legislature for reforms.

In an unusual move, the ads are being paid for with up to $425,000 in gubernatorial campaign funds from Citizens for Edgar. The Illinois Education Association and the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, a Chicago-based organization of business leaders, are helping to pick up the tab for the $600,000 TV campaign.

The schools need an annual infusion of between $300 million to $600 million in state dollars to make funding more equitable across the state, said Mike Lawrence, the governor's press secretary.

Mission rewrite stalls

Republican members of the Michigan state school board launched a filibuster at the panel's April 17 meeting rather than accept a mission statement drafted by Democratic members. Three of four GOP members objected to the proposed statement's lack of references to teachers, parents, or self-government, as well as deletion of language from the state constitution praising "religion, morality, and knowledge."

"We needed an extended discussion because the differences between the two statements are significant," said Clark Durant, a Republican who headed the board until January, when two new members took their seats and power tilted toward the Democrats.

The Democrats originally proposed a substitute statement with no references to God, but later added the phrase, "grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom."

The board is split 4-4 between the two parties, but one of the Republicans frequently sides with the Democrats.

When the panel ran out of time to vote on the mission statement at this month's meeting, board President Kathleen Straus, a Democrat, postponed the issue until the May 15 meeting. "They really outsmarted us," she said.

--MILLICENT LAWTON & BESS KELLER

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