State Journal: Dinner forum; Moving on

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After being accused of violating state sunshine laws, members of the New York State board of regents may want to pay more heed to an admonition most probably heard from their mothers: Close your mouth when you eat.

Each month the regents meet for two and a half days to conduct the business of education in New York. They also take their meals together in the board's offices in downtown Albany--a fact noted on the written agenda.

During a dinner meeting last month, Chancellor R. Carlos Carballada asked his colleagues if they wanted to reconsider allowing Channel One, the Whittle Communications classroom news show, into the public schools.

The regents rejected the idea, which Mr. Carballada had broached at the request of a Whittle lobbyist.

But the company and a state open-meetings official said the discussion should not have taken place behind closed doors.

Because the regents' schedule is a busy one, they often catch a light meal in a meeting room while talking informally, said Patricia Keegan, a spokeswoman for the regents.

The Channel One exchange was another one of those informal discussions, she said.

"Never was a reporter turned away,'' said Ms. Keegan.

Then again, she acknowledged, she doesn't recall one ever asking to sit in on a dinner meeting.

"All we would like from the board of regents is for them to hear our case in an open forum,'' said Jim Ritts, the president of network affairs for Whittle. "Much has changed in the four years since they first reviewed Channel One.''

Whittle will get its wish. Mr. Carballada planned to reopen the Channel One discussion late last week--at a public session.

But observers say the outcome is unlikely to change. New York will remain the only state with a formal statewide ban on Channel One.

John L. Myers, the veteran director of education programs for the National Conference of State Legislatures, has left the organization to become a partner in a consulting firm that will now be called Augenblick, Van de Water & Myers.

The firm, which deals largely with state school-finance issues, will continue that focus. But it also plans to expand to include a nonprofit arm aimed at assisting educators and policymakers who win grants for innovative school programs.

At the N.C.S.L., Julie Bell, who has assisted in education issues, has been named the association's new education-program director.--K.D. & L.H.

Vol. 12, Issue 35

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