States News Roundup
A comprehensive program to improve mathematics and science education in Wisconsin will come before the state legislature in 1983. The "Wisconsin Initiative in Science, Math and Technology Education," proposed last month by Herbert J. Grover, superintendent of public instruction, would:
Develop a model mathematics and science curriculum for kindergarten through grade 12;
Require three years of science for all high-school students;
Grant tax incentives to businesses and industries that help accredited schools improve science education by donating materials, money, or employees' expertise;
Give interest-free education loans of $2,500 to 40 prospective science teachers each year; the loans would be forgiven after four years of teaching; and
Add 40 days to the contracts of mathematics and science teachers, with the state providing the funds for the additional salary costs.
Mr. Grover hopes that the last two measures will attract more scientists and mathematicians into the teaching profession.
The plan would also provide money for upgrading the skills of 75 mathematics and science teachers each year and would create two-month industrial internships for teachers. The industries and the department of public instruction would share the cost of such internships.
Repeated cuts in state aid to Minnesota public schools have forced districts to curtail academic and extracurricular programs and to create unmanageably large classes, the state's largest teachers' organization says.
The Minnesota Education Association, in separate surveys of each of the state's 434 school districts and of 1,000 teachers selected at random, has found that at least:
125 districts have cut academic programs and 114 have cut extracurricular activities;
104 districts are charging fees for extracurricular activities;
46 districts are violating state regulations that limit class sizes in elementary schools, and 22 districts are violating the state's pupil-teacher ratio for secondary schools.
In addition, the association says, teachers who are coping with larger classes cannot adequately serve the increasing numbers of handicapped students who are "mainstreamed" into regular classes.
"These facts show that there is a neutralization of [the] laudable concept and practice" of mainstreaming, said Donald C. Hill, president of the teachers' organization.
Mr. Hill said that the association will ask the public and the legislature to help with the "intolerable situation."
"And if the only way to improve the situation is to go to court, we'll do that, too," he added.
A new joint proposal made by Colorado Commissioner of Education Calvin M. Frazier and State Sen. Al Meiklejohn would give large financial bonuses to elementary schools that achieve "excellence."
Bonuses would total $25 per student, and "excellence" would be determined by a rating system with 42 criteria, such as teaching methods, whether examinations cover what is taught, and subjective matters such as whether teachers have "high expectations" of their students.
Ratings would be made by teams of educators under the direction of the state department of education and would be offered first during the 1984-85 school year.
Mr. Frazier and Mr. Meiklejohn, who is chairman of the Senate Education Committee, discussed the proposal during a meeting of an interim committee of the legislature that is studying school finance.
As a result of government-wide cuts ordered by Missouri Gov. Christopher S. Bond, the state department of education may have to reduce aid to public elementary and secondary schools by $36.2 million this year.
The current budget provides $734 million in state aid to public schools.
In a statewide address on Oct. 4, the Governor asked that a total of $90 million be cut from the state budget and ordered a 5-percent state-spending cut for public schools, colleges, and universities.
According to a spokesman for the state department of education, $33.1 million will come out of the state's basic school-aid program; the rest will be taken from the state education agency's programs for the severely handicapped, blind, and deaf, and from vocational education, among others.
Missouri is short of money because revenues from state sales and income taxes are lower than had been expected.
In November, the voters will decide on a proposed 1-cent increase in the state's sales tax. The tax would generate an estimated $300 million, half of which would go to the schools.
L.A. Board Decides
In Teachers' Benefits
As nearly 3,000 teachers assembled outside the office of the Los Angeles school board last week to protest proposed reductions in health benefits, the board announced that it would not attempt to make the cuts after all.
Just as the rally was about to begin, the school board issued a statement saying it had decided to withdraw the proposal, according to a spokesman for the United Teachers of Los Angeles, which represents the district's teachers.
The union had called the rally after the board proposed cuts that would have shifted $12 million in medical-benefit costs from the district to the teachers. The board had scheduled a vote for Oct. 25, and, anticipating the passage of the measure, had planned to make it effective Nov. 1.
The union, fearing that the cuts would be the first of many, objected to the measure. Currently, the teachers are working without a contract and are especially concerned about the status of medical benefits.
Now the teachers' medical benefits will not change unless the two parties renegotiate them. Union officials are hopeful that the board will not try again to cut the benefits.