State Journal: A debate over rebates; From the mouths of babes

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Last summer, Gov. George Deukmejian scored a victory over critics of his school-funding policies when he persuaded the California legislature to return to taxpayers more than $1- billion in surplus funds rather than give the money to schools.

His triumph, however, may turn out to be less than total.

Encouraged by an aggressive campaign by districts, at least some taxpayers are signing over their rebate checks to their local schools.

"Every single person who endorses a check is making a contribution to this country's well-being [and] the children's future," said State Assemblyman Tom Hayden, who with his wife, the actress Jane Fonda, recently helped kick off the Santa Monica-Malibu district's campaign to raise $100,000 by persuading 1,000 residents to hand over their checks.

Parents in the Culver City district have been sent notices asking them to mail in their rebates. And in Oakland, similar appeals were made by parents, students, and teachers who spoke from church pulpits at Sunday services.

The Governor apparently remains unconvinced that the additional dollars will result in improved instruction.

"I do find it rather strange ... for school districts to ask people to send them their rebate checks and at the same time, you pick up the morning paper and read that the superintendent of the local school district just took a raise," he said last month.

"I would think that a discerning member of the public, if they look at those kinds of actions, would be rather reluctant ... to want to turn over their rebate checks to the schools."

While delivering his State of the State Message last week, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York learned a lesson well known to adult actors: Children can be incredible scene-stealers.

According to press reports, during the middle of the Governor's address, Terence Zaleski, the 2-year-old son of an assemblyman, began crawling on his father's desk and babbling loudly, much to the audience's amusement.

Interrupting his speech in response to an outburst by Terence, Mr. Cuomo said jokingly: "We're raising children who are too talkative. That's not progress. I've done that for 30 years."

Later, when the lawmakers applauded something the Governor said, drowning out Terence's baby talk, Mr. Cuomo added, "That shut him up."

"The next generation is learning to speak loudly and be heard," said the boy's father, also named Terence, after the address.--tm

Vol. 07, Issue 15 & 16

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