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Pulling the plug

Some Florida legislators are poised to pull the plug on an 8-year-old commission charged with overseeing various school reforms.

A brief provision in Gov. Jeb Bush's pending education bill would abolish the 23-member Florida Commission on Education Reform and Accountability. The independent group of educators and lawmakers was created in 1991 to monitor implementation of the state's far-reaching Blueprint 2000 reform package.

The panel was "never intended to be in place forever," said Rep. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, the Republican chairman of the House K-12 education committee and the prime sponsor of the GOP governor's education plan. "They've done their job effectively. Now it's time for the committee to die a painless death."

Gov. Bush and Commissioner of Education Tom Gallagher are committed to accountability, and some of the commission's duties would be taken over by the education department, Mr. Diaz de la Portilla added.

But Kathy Mizereck, the commission's executive director, said the state needs an external body to oversee reform efforts. "We continue to see a lot of resistance to reforms," Ms. Mizereck said. "There needs to be a group of people whose job it is to monitor that."

New standards

Kentucky Commissioner of Education Wilmer S. "Bill" Cody has announced new standards for educators who work as state consultants.

Under the plan unveiled last month, the state education department's 54 consultants in eight regions will need: a minimum of four years of teaching experience; bachelor's degrees in their areas of consultation; and master's degrees in those areas or master's degrees in education with at least eight weeks of study in the areas for which they are consulting.

"What we're saying is, 'If you're a science consultant, you need a degree in science,' " said Jim Parks, a spokesman for the department.The consultants are teachers and administrators tapped for advising positions.

Hunt Helm in the education department's office of communications said the requirements were tied to changes in the eight regional centers' objectives. Currently, 10 consultants do not meet the new standards. Once their contracts expire, they will be replaced with others who meet the new standards, Mr. Helm said.

--Jessica L. Sandham & Candice Furlan

Vol. 18, Issue 25, Page 26

Published in Print: March 3, 1999, as State Journal
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