State Journal: Paper burdens; Name game

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When he announced his resignation as Mississippi's state school superintendent last month, Richard A. Boyd stressed that--despite intense speculation in the state to the contrary--his decision was not due to opposition to the education-reform proposal put forward by Gov. Ray Mabus in October.

At a hearing of the House Select Education Committee recently, Mr. Boyd reaffirmed that stance, arguing that his relatively few disagreements with the plan were not the cause of his departure.

"Here I'm in favor of 90 percent of the Governor's plan and a lot of people have zeroed in on that remaining 10 percent," he complained.

Mr. Boyd did take the opportunity, though, to criticize one of the most controversial parts of the package--the proposed creation of a Corporation for Education Innovation to design school-improvement plans.

The new body would undermine the state board of education and add a new bureaucratic layer, he warned.

Mr. Boyd also faulted the way Mr. Mabus proposed to achieve the widely popular goal of a reduction of education paperwork. The reform plan calls for a 50 percent cut in the number of reports required from school districts by the state.

But some reports are mandated by the federal government, Mr. Boyd noted, and others are needed to maintain accountability. Rather than declaring a blanket reduction, he said, the state should appoint a paperwork council to oversee efforts to ease the paper burden.

"He feels that they shouldn't just go in there and start hacking away," a spokesman explained.

A Wisconsin lawmaker argues that a new middle school being built in Milwaukee should be named for the late U.S. Representative Mickey Leland of Texas, who died this year in a plane crash while overseeing famine-relief efforts in Ethiopia.

Indeed, Senator Gary George apparently feels so strongly about the idea that, according to city school officials, he acted to delay state funding for their before- and after-school care program in order to get it.

Senator George, who was the sponsor of a bill providing $192,500 from the state's school-desegregation fund for the extended-care program, allegedly held up action on the measure in the final hours of the legislature's 1989 session after his name proposal was not adopted.

While Mr. George has declined to discuss the matter, a spokesman for the district described the senator's actions as retaliatory and warned that the delay until next year's session could force a cutback of the extended-care program.--hd

Vol. 09, Issue 15

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