As Indiana Republicans gear up for their summer state convention, many had hoped to enjoy the favorable political climate they have experienced in a year with little controversy.
But a challenge to incumbent Suellen Reed for the party's nomination for the state's top education post may inject a discordant note. Defying the party's leadership, Rep. David Lohr, a freshman lawmaker from Terre Haute, has announced his candidacy for the state superintendent's post.
Rep. Lohr is one of four Republican freshmen who brought suit against the Indiana Department of Education last year over a new statewide achievement test that includes essays. The case was dismissed.
Recently, the conservative lawmaker has criticized Ms. Reed for backing the federal Goals 2000: Educate America Act and for working too closely with Democratic Gov. Evan Bayh.
"Opposition is always healthy," said Terry Spradlin, Ms. Reed's campaign manager. "It will make us work a little harder."
Kansas has joined the rest of the nation in requiring students to meet minimum standards for admission into its six public universities.
Gov. Bill Graves signed the admissions bill into law this month at Robinson Middle School in Topeka, flanked by 7th graders whose graduating class will be the first that has to meet the new standards.
The new law, which is effective in the 2001-02 school year, requires prospective students to maintain a 2.0 average on a 4.0 scale in high school, score at least 21 on the American College Testing Program's admissions exam, or rank in the top third of their graduating class.
Kansans say theirs was the only state without such requirements. The legislature had debated the issue for the better part of a decade, with opponents arguing that taxpayers should have the absolute right to send their children to state schools.
"There are always mixed emotions about whether you want to be first, on the cutting edge, or whether you want to be last," Mr. Graves said.
The new law does allow schools to exempt up to 10 percent of their freshman classes from the standards, if those given the exemption are Kansas residents.
--Adrienne D. Coles
& Peter West
Vol. 15, Issue 30