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The Virginia board of education voted last week to apply for funding under the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. But Gov. George F. Allen said he will not agree to participate in the program in its current form.

Meanwhile, South Dakota applied for Goals 2000 funding last week, and Wyoming's state superintendent announced that her state will apply.

That leaves Virginia and New Hampshire as the only holdout states. States have until the end of June to apply for first-year funds under the program.

The Virginia state board voted 4 to 3 to participate in the Goals 2000 program, which provides grants for the development and implementation of school-reform plans to states and school districts that agree to set high academic standards.

Board members said the $8.5 million Virginia would receive would provide much-needed aid for the state's poorest districts and signal Virginia's support for high standards.

But Governor Allen thinks the program is "ill-defined," and will not agree to apply for funding unless Congress alters the law, said Ken Stroupe, Mr. Allen's spokesman.

Governor Allen is one of a number of state officials who have criticized the program as too intrusive, fearing that it could give the federal government too much influence over school policies.

Forfeiting Goals 2000 aid "would be a small price to pay to safeguard the principle of local control of public education," Governor Allen said in a letter to the state school board prior to its vote.

The state attorney general has ruled that both the board and the Governor would have to agree in order for Virginia to participate in Goals 2000, Mr. Stroupe said.

Meanwhile, in Wyoming, Judy Catchpole, the state superintendent of public instruction, announced last week that her department will submit an application next month.

In a statement, Ms. Catchpole said the application will include a resolution unanimously approved by the school state board earlier this month, requesting written assurance from Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley "that there will be no federal mandates for curriculum, assessment, or teaching methodology and that Wyoming may withdraw at any time."

New D.C. 'School Board'?: A leading Senate Republican has proposed setting up a financial-control board to oversee the District of Columbia school system.

Sen. James M. Jeffords, R-Vt., who chairs two subcommittees that oversee the District of Columbia's affairs, said last week he envisions setting up a commission ~with broad powers to reform the schools in the nation's capital.

Congress has already established a financial-control board to oversee the fiscally strapped Washington city government. House Republicans, meanwhile, have also been eyeing ways to help improve the city's troubled schools.

The panel envisioned by Senator Jeffords would likely have seven members, including the superintendent, teachers, and representatives from the local school board, the business community, Congress, and the Education Department. It would function as "a super school board," bringing about changes the current board could not, Mr. Jeffords told reporters.

But he seemed to go out of his way last week to assure the school system's leaders that he wants to work cooperatively with them.

"Our whole purpose here is to help," he told Superintendent Franklin L. Smith and board members as he called them to testify before the Senate's District of Columbia Appropriations Subcommittee.

The senator expressed an interest in helping mobilize public support, in helping the school district acquire new technology, and in blocking any effort by the city council to subject the school budget to line-item vetoes.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., has asked Rep. Steve Gunderson, R-Wis., to make recommendations on how ideas like private management of schools, charter schools, and vouchers could be tested in the city schools. (See Education Week, 5/24/95.)

Foster Nomination Advances: The once-shaky nomination of Dr. Henry Foster cleared its first hurdle last week as a Senate committee voted to recommend that the full Senate confirm him as Surgeon General.

The Tennessee obstetrician-gynecologist was dogged for months by questions about his performance of abortions and other aspects of his medical career.

But in hearings this month, Dr. Foster impressed many members of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee with his forthrightness, and the panel voted 9 to 7 to approve his nomination.

Still, the appointment faces obstacles on the Senate floor, where some lawmakers have threatened to block a vote when the nomination comes up there.

Republican lawmakers have repeatedly charged that Dr. Foster and Administration officials attempted to mislead them about the number of abortions he had performed.

Some Labor Committee members also questioned the effectiveness of a teenage-pregnancy-prevention program Dr. Foster founded. (See Education Week, 5/10/95.)

President Clinton said he had asked Dr. Foster to focus on that issue if he is confirmed.

Vol. 14, Issue 36

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