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Leaving politics for now

Two months after immersing himself in Texas politics, Victor Morales has returned to his classroom at Poteet High School near Dallas where he teaches U.S. government.

"I'm returning to a job I love," said Mr. Morales, whose stage for a low-budget campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm was a pickup truck. "I'm starting to return to my old self and loosen up."

Mr. Morales, who is married and has three children, does not miss the relentless grind of campaigning and fund raising that defined his life during a yearlong leave from the school. ("Viva Victor," Oct. 9, 1996.)

But the experience offers his students a rare firsthand entree into politics. And the media exposure has led to speaking invitations that pay Mr. Morales up to $2,000 an appearance.

Despite losing the election, Mr. Morales boasts that he spent just $900,000 while drawing 2.5 million votes. Mr. Gramm spent $9 million and received 3 million votes.

"I said I was a fiscal conservative, and I meant it," he quipped.

Mr. Morales, a Democrat, may return to the political scene.

"This time, I won't be afraid to ask for money," said Mr. Morales, who spent about $36,000 of his own funds in the race while rejecting contributions from special-interest groups.

Penney Sanders, Kentucky's top school-reform watchdog, is retiring in May after seeing the state's landmark law through its implementation.

Ms. Sanders, a former school principal, hired the staff and guided the legislature's fledgling Office of Education Accountability to a reputation as an independent-minded and plain-spoken monitor of the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act.

The agency led the scrutiny of the state's new tests that critics still call unreliable and too subjective. The accountability office has also been a formidable investigative agency, following up on reports of misconduct in districts throughout the state.

Before announcing her plans to spend more time at her sheep farm, Ms. Sanders was a finalist for the state schools chief's jobs in Alabama and Vermont. Like Mr. Morales, she hasn't entirely ruled out a return to public office.


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