State Journal: Farewell to the chiefs; Opposite directions

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Linda Schrenko, the Georgia schools chief, is canceling her state's membership in the national lobbying and support organization for state superintendents.

The Council of Chief State School Officers is lobbying heavily against G.O.P. plans in Congress to cut the federal education budget and funding for the Goals 2000: Educate America Act--cuts that Ms. Schrenko, a Republican, supports.

Georgia received a Goals 2000 grant after a C.C.S.S.O. staff member traveled to the state and helped officials there apply. But the superintendent said she is not convinced that other states would get the money "without strings attached."

At a council meeting in March, her colleagues talked about Republicans in Congress with an "us-against-them mentality," Ms. Schrenko said in an interview last week. "I realized that I must be part of the 'them' because I'm certainly not part of the 'us.'"

Gordon M. Ambach, the council's executive director, said he hopes Ms. Schrenko stays with the group. As a bipartisan organization, it always has adopted policy positions through democratic processes.

"There is plenty of room here for differences of opinion," he said.

The name isn't the only thing changing at Minnesota's education department.

When Gov. Arne Carlson won approval this year for his plan to dissolve the state agency and create a Department of Children, Families, and Learning in its place, the changes drew praise from most quarters. The new one-stop department will coordinate the services of several state agencies beginning next month.

Even some employees of the soon-to-be defunct department liked the consolidation.

This summerJune jr, however, Linda Powell, the state education commissioner, announced that she was stepping down. Her temporary replacement is Linda Kohl, the director of the state's planning department.

The announcement ruffled officials of some state education groups, who said they feared the move signified a shift in philosophy and an eroding commitment to the public schools.

In a statement announcing her departure, Ms. Powell said she was uncomfortable with the direction the state is taking. And she said she could not support the introduction of private school vouchers, an idea that has attracted a following of some top state officials.

--Drew Lindsay & Joanna Richardson

Vol. 14, Issue 41

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