State News Roundup
As of last Thursday, Republican Thomas H. Kean apparently had won a narrow victory over Democratic candidate James J. Florio in the New Jersey gubernatorial contest.
Mr. Kean's victory, if it is upheld by a recount, could have a substantial impact on education in the state.
During a bitterly fought campaign, he repeatedly attacked as a failure theate's six-year-old, court-ordered program of basic skills, and he vowed to fire Commissioner of Education Fred G. Burke when Mr. Burke's second five-year term ends in 1984.
Mr. Kean said the state's "thorough and efficient" student-skills program has created unwarranted bureaucratic confusion and has burdened effective schools in the state with unnecessary evaluation. He said he would "re-evaluate the whole program."
Commissioner Burke said before the election that he might resign before his term expires if Mr. Kean were elected.
The problems of one Michigan school system were partially resolved last week as students and teachers in Alpena County returned to class--albeit without buses, sports, libraries, or hot meals.
The schools reopened after voters renewed a tax they had rejected three times before. But because an additional levy was turned down, transportation has been eliminated, and many students were absent.
But meanwhile, other districts are experiencing similar financial trouble, and state officials have begun to formulate plans for placing bankrupt systems into state receivership.
Phillip E. Runkel, state superintendent of public instruction, is developing the plan at the request of legislative leaders.
His plan, Mr. Runkel stressed, would not involve "bail-outs" with state funds. The major options, observers speculate, appear to be merger of troubled systems with healthier adjoining districts and temporary operation by the state of bankrupt systems, with sharply curtailed services and half-day sessions.
"The governor, the legislature, state school officials, and others have already said there is no pot of gold available in Lansing," Mr. Runkel warned. "They have repeatedly said the financial fate of the local school district is in the hands of local voters."
Kansas, despite only one teachers' strike in its history, needs binding arbitration as the final step in negotiating teachers' contracts, recommends a panel appointed by the governor.
The Governor's Committee on Professional Negotiations has decided to recommend a procedure similar to the one used to settle contract disagreements between major league baseball players and team owners. Current law requires the school board to act unilaterally on a new contract if both sides fail to agree on a recommendation from a three-member fact-finding panel.
"The committee's recommendation covers the entire package," explained Bob G. Wootton, Governor John Carlin's legislative liaison and representative on the committee. "But it requires the arbitrator to choose either one side or the other's position." The 11-member panel included Dr. Raymond Goetz, professor at the Kansas University School of Law, who was instrumental in developing the procedure used by major-league baseball to resolve salary disputes between players and team owners.
Despite an absence of teachers' strikes, Mr. Wootton said, teachers in several districts have been unhappy with the decisions of local school boards acting under the current law.
Once Governor Carlin receives the recommendation, he must decide whether to submit it to the legislature.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that school boards may demote administrators for financial and organizational reasons without renegotiating union contracts.
Board members may be "administrators for economic reasons" as a "matter of inherent managerial poli" under the state law covering labor relations for public employees, the court said in a 5-to-4 decision.
That means a board is not obligated to bargain with the administrators' union concerning changes in members' job status.
All labor relations in the public sector are governed in Minnesota by the Public Employment Labor Relations Act, so the decision goes beyond the parties to this case. The act mandates collective bargaining on "terms and conditions of employment." But it also says that the public employer is not required to meet and negotiate on matters of "inherent managerial policy." One example of managerial policy mentioned in the act is "organizational structure."
A spokesman for the Minneapolis school board called the decision very significant because it ended a union veto and its "stranglehold" on jobs.
The case involved the Minneapolis school board and seven administrators who were "divested of administrative functions," with consequent cuts in their salaries and benefits. The action was taken in response to declining enrollments and a reduced budget, not for disciplinary reasons.
The administrators were also ousted by the school board from the 50-member collective-bargaining unit, which was represented by the Minneapolis Association of Administrators and Consultants, an independent union. The board had not bargained with the union concerning the job changes, which in effect were demotions.
The Project for the Study of Academic Precocity at Arizona State University is accepting applications from 7th- and 8th-grade students in Arizona, California, and Washington until Dec. 4.
To be eligible, a student must have scored in the 96th percentile or higher on any national achievement test.
Students selected for the project are eligible to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (sat) as part of the program and to learn their scores. They can also take part in a seven-week summer program of advanced classes at the Arizona State campus. Tuition for each summer class ranges from $120 to $150.
The program, now in its third year, is part of a long-range study of gifted children. Some scholarships are available.
For further information, write to Sanford Cohn, psap, Department of Special Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz. 85287. Deadline for application requests is Nov. 20.