State Journal: Help wanted; Don't say 'no'; Rules prescription

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Frustrated in his efforts to mobilize gop support for a major education-reform bill he supports, Gov. Henry Bellmon of Oklahoma has turned to the most important Republican of them all--President Bush.

The reform measure passed the House in November, but has bogged down in the Senate, where leaders of the Democratic majority have refused to bring the bill to the floor until Mr. Bellmon shows he can deliver some Republican votes for it. By the time the legislature adjourned its special session for the holidays, such backing had not been found.

So Mr. Bellmon called John Sununu, the White House chief of staff, to ask for Presidential aid for what he described as the first state education-reform bill since the education summit convened by Mr. Bush in September.

The Governor later indicated to reporters that he had told Mr. Sununu it would "be kind of an advantage to the President if we would succeed."

"I told him I'd appreciate anything they can do," Mr. Bellmon said, adding that he did not forsee Mr. Bush personally lobbying legislators for the bill.

For state education officials in North Dakota, the rejection by voters last month of a required health-education curriculum was a serious--and completely unexpected--setback.

Unwilling to see the more than two years they spent working on the elementary and secondary course of study go to waste, officials decided to mail out the 201-page document to schools anyway.

While conceding that there were questions about whether they should distribute the defeated curriculum, officials said they simply wanted to make the guidelines available to local schools on a voluntary basis.

But opponents of the curriculum--who had attacked its treatment of sexual issues--said the action was an attempt to circumvent the will of the voters.

Sometimes, Gov. Cecil D. Andrus of Idaho recently told a panel of educators, you have to bend, break, or change the rules to improve the schools.

Speaking to a blue-ribbon panel studying reform of the state's educational system, Mr. Andrus warned: "I don't know where or when, but I can guarantee you the bureaucrats and the professionals will tell you you can't do this or that because it's against the regulations."

"I don't care about that," the Governor continued. "Don't worry about the laws and the rules and the regulations."--hd

Vol. 09, Issue 16

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