State Journal: Millennial strategy; Ticked off; Eight years and out?

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While Massachusetts educators and politicians agonize over their current budget problems, the Massachusetts Teachers Association has come up with a school-finance proposal that, even backers concede, may not bear fruit until the next millennium.

The genesis of the idea lies in the success that school-finance reformers have had in persuading the courts to overturn some states' funding methods on the grounds that they fail to satisfy a constitutional requirement for an "efficient" system of education.

The problem is that the Bay State's constitution does not contain such a mandate. It refers only to officials' duty to "cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them."

So the union is pushing for an amendment establishing the state's obligation to "make ample provision for the financial support of public schools of high quality in every city and town. ..."

The amendment could be placed on the 1992 ballot. If it were approved by voters, a school-finance suit could start wending its way through the courts.

"This is definitely a long-range strategy," says Stephen K. Wollmer of the mta

To urban dwellers who seldom encounter forests or ticks, requiring schools to conduct Lyme-disease education programs may seem like merely a trendy bow to the latest "disease of the month."

But the tick-borne ailment--which can cause serious problems if not properly treated--is a major concern in bosky Wisconsin, which has had 1,329 reported cases since 1980.

A committee of the legislature last month approved a bill directing districts to include information about Lyme disease in their health curricula.

The panel decided not, however, to make Lyme-disease education a requirement for high-school graduation.

Gov. Guy Hunt of Alabama and the state's school superintendent, Wayne Teague, are not exactly close political allies.

So when Mr. Teague aired some negative views about last month's education summit, where Mr. Hunt played a highly visible role, the Governor responded with a sharp rebuke.

"I think that is the reason why superintendents of education, like governors, should only serve eight years and give someone else with initiative and innovative ideas a chance," he said.

Mr. Teague has held his post since 1975.--hd

Vol. 09, Issue 07

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