Perpich, Teachers Feud Over Vouchers' Progress
St Paul--Gov. Rudy Perpich of Minnesota last week blamed the state's two major teachers' unions for the legislative problems his education projects are encountering, and announced that he will neither seek nor accept the unions' endorsement for his 1986 re-election bid.
Both his open-enrollment plan and a proposed high school for the arts have been knocked out of the $2.6-billion school-aid bill pending in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. The education committee of the Democratic Senate, on the other hand, retained the open-enrollment plan in passing its version of the aid bill, but rejected the arts school.
As a result, Governor Perpich's plans for the arts school, to be modeled after the New York School for the Arts, are all but gone, although the Democratic Governor said he hoped to be able to revive it.
The open-enrollment proposal, which would allow 11th and 12th graders to choose which public schools to attend across the state, faces an uphill battle in the Senate finance committee in the coming weeks.
But Governor Perpich said he also intended to revive that proposal before the legislature adjourns in May. "I do not see this as the final chapter," he said at a press conference.
Places Blame on Unions
When a rural Democratic senator, contending that an arts school in Minneapolis or St. Paul would not serve his constituents, cast the final defeating vote, the Governor said the measure was "screwed" by the Minnesota Education Association and the Minnesota Federation of Teachers.
Governor Perpich added that he was severing his relationships with the two unions, which together con-tributed $14,545 to his 1982 campaign. "I will not seek or accept their endorsement, that's how strongly I feel," he said. "They are not working in the best interests of the young people of our state."
Spokesmen for the teachers' organizations, reached last week to comment on the Governor's criticism, said they had not lobbied strenuously against the arts school. But they acknowledged that they had fought hard against the open-enrollment plan.
The unions have opposed the plan because of uncertainties over how teachers would fare in schools where enrollments decline dramatically. They are concerned, they say, that schools in rural areas will lose disproportionate numbers of students to larger, metropolitan-area districts.
The teachers have also opposed spending money on transporting students to and from other districts, arguing instead that the funds could best be used for other purposes.
Meanwhile, Arne Carlson, the Republican state auditor who plans to run against Governor Perpich, has written letters to both unions, which are often said to make up the most powerful lobby in the state. "Let there be no doubt that I would be most interested in working with your organization and receiving your endorsement in 1986," Mr. Carlson reportedly wrote.
But Mr. Carlson apparently lost a political brownie point with the mea when the union's president, Martha Lee Zims, discovered that his letter had been addressed to her as "Mr. Marti Zims."
Vol. 04, Issue 30