State Journal: Power sharing; Not in the equation

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Lobbyists for the teachers' unions in Florida have always tried to have good relations with both Democrats and Republicans in the legislature. As a result of the elections and a unique power-sharing arrangement adopted late last month, however, advocates will be redoubling their efforts to work both sides of the aisle.

For the first time in Florida history, the Senate is split down the middle, forcing Democrats and Republicans to share power.

During the first year, the G.O.P. gets to name the president and committee chairmen. In the second year, the nod goes to the Democrats.

Even so, the 20-20 split means the two parties need at least a modicum of cooperation to get anything accomplished.

Union leaders believe the split might just be advantageous, considering the gridlock that overtakes Tallahassee whenever education funding and tax reform come up.

"By the Republicans having a share of the power, not just the appearance, they now are obligated to help responsibly lead the state,'' said Ron Sachs, a spokesman for the Florida Education Association United.

But the new structure is sure to yield some surprises. "The wild card is the fact that 19 of those 40 people are new,'' said Cathy Kelly, the head of government relations for the Florida Teaching Profession-N.E.A.

Seven months before he is scheduled to leave office, Superintendent of Public Instruction Herbert J. Grover of Wisconsin is making one last attempt to derail the state's private-school-choice program for Milwaukee students.

In his budget plan, Mr. Grover proposed terminating the Milwaukee program by 1995.

Mr. Grover has fought the program ever since it began in 1990. He earlier joined a court challenge to the initiative and, according to his critics, has sought to weaken the program through regulations.

His latest effort to end the program, however, is part of a much broader proposal summing up his educational ideas after 12 years in office.

Mr. Grover has said he will not run for another term after his current one ends in June.

In addition to ending the choice program, he proposed changing the school-aid formula, strengthening early-childhood education, and fostering collaboration between schools and social agencies.

"He has a vision of how to restructure education so as to prepare children for the 21st century,'' said Steven B. Dold, an assistant superintendent, "and private school choice, at least as it's configured in Milwaukee, is not a part of that equation.''--K.D. & D.V.

Vol. 12, Issue 13

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