State Journal: Titans' Clash II; Bumping puppets

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The board recently voted to claim authority over the operating budget and policy statements of the education department.

Members of the board, who were appointed by Mr. Deukmejian, said they were simply asserting the right and responsibility given to them under the state constitution and laws to oversee education.

But Mr. Honig suggested that darker forces were at work.

"It's obviously a plan they've been hatching," he said. "There have been meetings in the Governor's office."

Mr. Honig said the new rules reflected a drive by the board president, Joseph Carrabino, and a few allies to establish the panel as an independent force with a separate budget and staff.

While voicing confidence that the board's action would not hold up legally, Mr. Honig also said board members might regret gaining review authority over all the department's paperwork.

"We'd be hauling in those 'regs' in a wheelbarrow every month," he said.

Even before the latest flare-up, the Association for California Education was comparing the epic battles between Mr. Deukmejian and Mr. Honig to a cheesy movie thriller.

"'Clash of the Titans' is not a film classic; if anything, it's more like a B movie starring Godzilla vs. Mothra," says the organization's newsletter. "Nevertheless, for entertainment value, we give it two thumbs up."

Wyoming's state chief, meanwhile, also is warning that the education department will be subjected to an outside force--in this case, a committee of the legislature.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Lynn O. Simons, a Democrat, recently accused Diana Ohman, her Republican opponent for re-election, of being under the sway of Senator Kelly F. Mader and Representative Dick Wallis, the co-chairmen of the powerful Joint Appropriations Committee.

"The state superintendent must be an advocate for the children in the public schools," Ms. Simons said, "not a political puppet whose strings are pulled by a few ultra-conservatives."

Ms. Ohman responded by saying that it would help, rather than hurt, the department for the state chief to have a good relationship with key lawmakers. And Mr. Mader suggested that Ms. Simons was merely "hearing things go bump in the night."--hd

Vol. 10, Issue 4

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