State Journal: A private matter; Let's talk; As advertised?

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While other states have moved in the past year to deny driver's licenses to dropouts, Indiana lawmakers decided this spring to take a different approach, by allowing motor-vehicle officials to bar students who had been suspended, expelled, or excluded from school for misconduct from getting behind the wheel.

But H. Dean Evans, the state school superintendent, became concerned that the law might conflict with the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act--also called the Buckley Amendment--which prohibits release of student records without parental consent.

Mr. Evans has asked the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act Office in Washington to determine whether local districts in Indiana should comply with the new law. A ruling is expected this week.

In the meantime, the state chief has urged district officials to obtain parental consent, or seek legal advice, before giving disciplinary information to motor-vehicle officials.

For several years now, some people in Idaho have been arguing that the state board of education should split into two bodies, one for higher education and the other devoted to the precollegiate system.

The concern of some public-school officials is that board members spend so much time talking about colleges and universities that they have little chance to ponder K-12 issues.

Other educators are happy with the current system, though, and the board voted against a bifurcation last year.

This fall, the panel has instituted something of a compromise by creating a public-school committee composed of all eight members of the board.

At each meeting, the committee will spend an hour or two talking about elementary and secondary schools, members have agreed.

As might be expected of an incumbent officeholder seeking re-election next year, Gov. Ned McWherter of Tennessee likes to remind listeners of his accomplishments.

In a recent speech to a tourism conference in Johnson City, for example, Mr. McWherter hailed his fulfillment of past campaign promises on jobs, roads, and other areas.

But education, he conceded, was a different story.

"The bottom line is that in education, we are not delivering what we advertise," he said.

Mr. McWherter promised to focus his efforts on education issues, including a possible change in the formula used to distribute funds to school districts.--hd

Vol. 09, Issue 04

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