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Gov. Fife Symington of Arizona last week called a special legislative session in which he will revive a package of education-reform bills--without a voucher proposal that stalled the legislation earlier this year.

Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled legislature were unable for the fourth year in a row to pass an education-reform package in their regular session, despite the Republican Governor's support.

A sticking point that doomed this year's $38 million package was a voucher proposal that would have allowed a small number of poor parents to use public money to send their children to private schools, including religious schools.

Mr. Symington had pledged to veto any reform measure that did not contain a voucher provision.

Lawmakers are likely to take up a $12 million package in the special session that would establish a system of charter schools and permit open enrollment.

Juvenile Justice: Tough new crime policies sweeping the country this year are expanding the very concept of juvenile justice, a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures concludes.

As part of larger anti-crime packages, several state legislatures have passed laws that create special jails for juveniles prosecuted as adults, streamline procedures for transferring juveniles to adult facilities, or increase penalties for youths involved in gang-related activities.

However, the majority of lawmakers have tempered new penalties with prevention efforts directed at at-risk youths, according to the report. States have chosen to establish dropout-prevention and job-training programs, alternative schools, and drug-treatment centers to stem the problem of youth violence, the report says.

Downsizing: The New Jersey Senate last week voted to abolish the state department of higher education.

A vote on the bill was scheduled for late last week in the Assembly, where it was expected to pass.

Gov. Christine Todd Whitman had proposed eliminating the agency as one way of reducing the size and cost of state government.

Supporters of the plan also said it would grant state colleges and universities more autonomy.

But opponents had argued that without a central coordinating body, the state institutions would fight each other for limited resources and raise tuition.

The measure is projected to save $4.6 million.

Edwards Bows Out: Gov. Edwin W. Edwards, dubbed by some as the "king'' of Louisiana, has announced that he will not seek a fifth term in 1995.

The 66-year-old Democrat told the legislature earlier this month: "I want to do something else with the rest of my life.''

A spokeswoman for Mr. Edwards said that he has not announced his future plans.

"This is a definite loss for us,'' said Linda B. Day, the president of the Louisiana Association of Educators. "His education shoes will be tough to fill.''

The group credited Governor Edwards with successfully pushing through a plan to revise a controversial state teacher-evaluation program. (See related story, opposite page.)

Mr. Edwards was first elected Governor in 1971 and again in 1975, 1983, and 1991.

Alabama Defeats: Two major players on Alabama's school-reform scene came up short when primaries were held around the state this month.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Eugene W. Reese failed in his bid for a seat on the state supreme court, losing to Judge Terry Butts, 53.5 percent to 46.4 percent. In his campaign, Judge Reese touted his ruling last year that found the state school system inequitable and unconstitutional. Judge Reese retains his circuit court seat.

A recent complaint filed with the state's Judicial Inquiry Commission argued that campaign advertisements by Judge Reese that focused on his education ruling violated state ethics laws. (See Education Week, June 15, 1994.)

DeWayne Key, who as schools superintendent in Lawrence County initiated the lawsuit against the state alleging inequitable school funding, failed in his attempt to win a Senate seat in northern Alabama. The former superintendent came in fourth in a five-way race, drawing 4,248 votes out of 25,795 cast.

Charter-School Guide: The Democratic Leadership Council has published a report that praises charter schools as a means of education reform and provides a blueprint for people interested in passing state charter-school laws or in establishing such schools.

"Blueprint for Change: Charter Schools'' is the first in a planned series of D.L.C. reports intended as "resources and guides for action.'' It includes an overview of current charter-school laws, a model bill, and advice from people who have been involved with charter schools on how to launch one. It also explains how the charter-school concept differs from other forms of school choice.

The Democratic Leadership Council is a public-policy group formed by moderate Democrats in 1985. President Clinton was one of its original leaders.

Information on ordering copies of the report is available from the D.L.C., 518 C St., N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002; (202) 546-0007.

Vol. 13, Issue 39

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