States News Roundup
The American Civil Liberties Union has asked Michigan's attorney general to order school districts to stop teaching creation science.
The aclu filed a complaint this month asking Attorney General Frank Kelley to enforce a March 10 resolution of the state board of education. That resolution asks Mr. Kelley to enforce his own 1965 opinion on keeping religion out of the state's public schools.
Several Michigan school districts have recently started teaching creation science. In the 3,000-student Western School District near Lansing, officials offer a week-long segment called "controversies in science," in which the tenets of creation science are represented.
Officials in those districts say they are not teaching religion but rather comparative theories of the earth's beginnings.
A spokesman for Michigan's attorney general said his office had not yet received the aclu complaint. "But when we do," the spokesman said, "we will investigate to see if there is cause for a suit. If we saw that creationism were being taught, we would definitely bring suit."
The Illinois General Assembly has passed and sent to Gov. James R. Thompson legislation to defer $126.4 million in state-aid payments to local school districts from this fiscal year to next.
The measure was sought by the Thompson administration to ease expected cash-flow problems in the state treasury as the 1982 fiscal year draws to a close June 30.
The Governor blunted the opposition of school officials by pledging to pay $1.7 million in interest to local districts for the deferral of the payments from June to July.
Under the plan, school districts will not fully recoup the deferred payment until fiscal 1984. Opponents of the Thompson proposal charged that the deferral would become a permanent loss of revenue.
After working through regular, extended, and special sessions, the Florida legislature passed 46 bills related to education, 45 of which were signed into law, and approved a budget of $2.3 billion for the public schools--an increase of $276 million over last year.
One bill passed by the legislature, but vetoed by Gov. Robert Graham, would have required local school boards to charge tuition to nonresident students.
New education bills that became law include a change in the teacher-tenure law that eliminates continuing contract provisions and provides instead for one-year professional-service contracts for all instructional personnel, excluding supervisors and principals.
The legislature also expanded the scope and budget of the state's writing-improvement program; adopted the Florida panther--the schoolchildren's candidate of choice--as the state animal; and passed a one-cent increase in the state's sales tax. Half of the proceeds will go to local governments for tax relief.
High-school couples at Lake Region Union High School in Orleans, Vt., are giving second thoughts to kissing between classes since the announcement that an "excessive show of affection" will result in a three-day suspension.
David H. Wood, principal of the 400-student school, said that the rule became necessary after teachers complained that the problem was "getting out of hand."
First-time offenders are sent to Mr. Wood's office and their parents are notified. Couples caught a second time are suspended for three days.
So far, only two students have been suspended, but, according to Mr. Wood, that suspension caused their parents to complain to the school board that the punishment was "too excessive" for the offense. The school board disagreed, however, and voted to support the policy.
Mr. Wood said the rule against kissing in school was welcomed by some students who felt "it took pressure [from their peers] off them."