Committee Kills Bill to Repeal Education-Reform Law

Committee Kills Bill to Repeal Education-Reform Law

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A bill to repeal last year's sweeping education-reform law -- which drew widespread criticism and which no one figured out how to fund -- has died in the House Education Committee on an 8-7 vote.

The bill by Rep. Judy Ann Buffmire, D-Millcreek, would have eliminated mandates enacted last year to advance students based on competency rather than "seat time," issue competency-based teacher licenses and change the way state school board members are nominated.

Buffmire and educators were bothered by the new law's provisions that either restated or conflicted with previously approved state and federal legislation on school quality and accountability.

"Much of what we wanted to accomplish in the way of reform was already under way," Utah Education Association President Pat Rusk told the committee.

However, Utah Manufacturers Association President Tom Bingham disputed that last year's measure is unnecessary. He was part of a business coalition that helped draft last year's measure to achieve several goals, but then spoke against spending hundreds of millions of dollars to implement those reforms.

Most committee members acknowledged flaws with last year's legislation, but said those flaws could be addressed without repealing the entire law.

"I don't believe we ought to be doing over everything," said Rep. Merlynn Newbold, R-South Jordan. "Much of what we did last year was good."

Sen. Tom Hatch, R-Panguitch, is proposing his own legislation to fix portions of the 2003 law, which he also sponsored.

His Senate Bill 185 passed the Senate Monday and now goes to the House.

Among other things, it would not have special-interest groups, such as the Utah Taxpayers Association and Utah Education Association, nominate candidates for the state Board of Education. However, industry and education representatives still would sit on the 12-member nominating committee.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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