State Journal: Where's the waste?; Go to bed

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John R. Silber, the Boston University president who is running for governor of Massachusetts, has stepped up his criticism of the Boston School Committee.

Mr. Silber, who earlier had said the committee was guilty of "certifiable incompetence," recently accused it of also engaging in "graft and corruption."

"What we have to do is look at each school system and find out where they are wasting the money," Mr. Silber said this month. "In Boston, it is with graft and corruption at the highest levels--at the level of the school committee."

The candidate later explained that he was referring to spending for the salaries of the 13 committee members and their aides, rather than alleging criminal activity by any individual.

The comments were just the latest in a string of controversial remarks by Mr. Silber, whose university last year assumed control of the Chelsea school system.

Last month, for example, Mr. Silber suggested that the state cut off welfare benefits to teenagers who become pregnant for a second time.

"The fact is, young girls are having babies in order to drop out of school and get on welfare," he was quoted as saying.

While some of Mr. Silber's comments have evoked strong criticisms from educators and others, they appear to be attracting substantial support from voters. A recent poll showed Mr. Silber drawing 24 percent of the vote--enough to put him second in the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

The Mississippi legislature debated for several months this year over how to pay for a sweeping series of education reforms proposed by Gov. Ray Mabus.

Finally, lawmakers decided to approve the reforms, which have an estimated cost of $182- million over three years, and wait until later to find a way to pay for them.

Governor Mabus has called a special session beginning June 18, which will consider possible tax increases or other financing methods.

At a recent forum, legislators disagreed over whether they had done the right thing.

"I think we should have stayed and done our work while we were there instead of costing the taxpayers of this state millions of dollars in a special session," said Senator Robert Monty.

But Representative Ed Buelow Jr. said it was better to give the whole topic a rest.

"The education-reform act is like a domestic dispute," he said. "Sometimes it's just better to go to bed."--hd

Vol. 09, Issue 34

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