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'Wall chart' plastered

Secretary of Education William J. Bennett plans to reject "politely'' a suggestion by Gov. Joe Frank Harris of Georgia that he scrap the U.S. Education Department's controversial "wall chart'' of school statistics.

In an April 15 letter to the Secretary, Mr. Harris said the annual report "fails to acknowledge the diminished role of the federal government in improving education'' while holding states "up to public criticism for failure to meet unspecified federal expectations.''

"To cite numbers which reflect incremental changes in education funding or programs destroys the impetus for change and taxpayer commitment to higher levels of education spending,'' the Democratic Governor added.

In the most recent edition of the chart, released in February, Georgia ranked 44th among states in terms of per-pupil expenditure, 40th in pupil-teacher ratio, and 20th in average Scholastic Aptitude Test scores.

Mr. Bennett "will respond in due time and will politely disagree with the complaints,'' his press secretary, Loye Miller, said last week.

Mr. Harris "is not the first person and will not be the last person to find that the chart creates difficulties,'' he added. "We continue to think that, overall, it's an appropriate and useful exercise.''

Hat In The Ring

Mr. Bennett's bad news from Georgia may have been offset by good news from Indiana.

David W. Bowell, who was the Secretary's representative in the department's regional office in Chicago from 1983 through 1987, recently announced that he will seek the Republican nomination for state school chief. From last August until he resigned in April, Mr. Bowell served as director of the department's office of interagency affairs.

The incumbent Republican school chief, H. Dean Evans, has not yet decided whether to seek a second term.

The $200,000 Question

During their regular session that ended in March, Kentucky lawmakers earmarked $200,000 in the next biennium's budget to fund a task force to develop long-range plans for the state's schools.

But a separate bill that would have authorized the panel's creation failed to win Senate approval, leaving the appropriation in limbo.

Lawmakers and state budget officials say the only way the money can be spent is if the legislature's research commission agrees to create a panel with essentially the same mandate.--TM

Vol. 07, Issue 32

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