Originally created 02/09/00

Go slow on H.R. 1187

As if Gov. Roy Barnes' 125-page education reform bill wasn't long and complicated enough, he has retooled it again, adding 26 pages. And he sent it to the House Monday with expectations that it will pass before week's end.

Isn't it time to say, "Whoa?" How many lawmakers have studied all that is in Barnes' original proposal, much less the revamped one?

The governor says he's recommending only one change from the original and it's in response to criticisms of his plan to end the tenure process. Now he says he's grandfathering in teachers hired before July 1; only those hired after that date would have their tenure (job protection rights) weakened.

The governor's explanation for his revamped bill still doesn't change the fact it looks like he's trying to ram H.B. 1187 through the lower chamber without extensive debate or examination.

House leaders, if they have any regard for the democratic process -- leave alone a sense of responsibility -- will stop the H.B. 1187 express at least long enough to inspect it.

Surely, members ought to know what they're voting on before they vote, especially since the role of local unelected school "councils" and the scope of their power is cause for concern.

The Senate is commendably taking a more cautious approach to Barnes proposals: examining them as to constitutionality, holding hearings and getting input from other sources -- including educators who were largely excluded from the governor's education advisory panel, from which he adopted perhaps half of its recommendations.

As we've noted before, it's praiseworthy that the governor makes education a high priority. However, he's not the only player. The House should be a player, too. If it simply rubber-stamps H.B. 1187, it will be abdicating its responsibility.

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