State Journal: Computer flap; Teaching tolerance

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An imbroglio over an educational-technology initiative stalled approval of a supplemental state budget in Georgia last month, and the flap cost 38 schools $9.8 million in computer equipment.

Gov. Zell Miller, a Democrat, proposed the program in his supplemental budget for 1994.

The controversy erupted early last month, when the Atlanta Journal and Constitution published an article alleging that most of the schools selected to receive the technology grants were located in the districts of powerful state lawmakers.

Republicans cried foul, and the Senate put off a vote on the budget for several days while Mr. Miller and the state education department scrambled for an explanation.

The department drafted criteria for the program and gave the Governor's office a list of schools, said Rick Dent, Mr. Miller's spokesman.

"You can make the argument that it's not necessarily the case,'' he said, referring to charges that the Governor was rewarding his allies. "Some Republicans did fairly well.''

The Senate approved the supplemental budget, but only after Mr. Miller promised to veto the technology spending, which he later did.

"There was no way we could move quickly enough to do it over, and there was enough taint that even if we could have accomplished it, it wouldn't have been a good idea,'' Mr. Dent said.

He said the Governor might make a similar proposal next year--provided he is re-elected in November.

Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey, angered by anti-Semitic remarks made by Khalid Abdul Muhammad, a black separatist, has responded by arranging free screenings of the movie "Schindler's List'' for college students.

Screenings of the film, which focuses on the Holocaust, are to begin this week, when Mr. Muhammad is set to speak at Trenton State College. Formerly the spokesman for the Nation of Islam, Mr. Muhammad was recently demoted by the group's leader, Louis Farrakhan, when remarks he made at Kean College in Union, N.J., drew national controversy.

A spokeswoman for Mrs. Whitman said the screenings represent the beginning of an initiative called "Teaching Tolerance.'' As part of that effort, the Governor plans to meet with groups of schoolchildren to discuss racism and related issues.

Vol. 13, Issue 23

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