States News Roundup
Nearly 15 years after state officials proposed the idea, the Minnesota Board of Education has passed a "minimum comprehensive program" for the state's high schools. The list of courses that the board believes schools should offer is advisory, not mandatory, and a spokesman for the department said it is unlikely that the state will begin to require schools to follow the guidelines any time in the foreseeable future.
"This is a compromise that says, 'we know you can't do it in all cases, but at least you have a minimum set of offerings by which to judge yourselves,"' the spokesman said.
The recommended courses include: four years of communication skills; three years of social studies, mathematics, and science; two of foreign languages; two of music; two of visual arts; one of industrial arts or home economics; a half-year of health and physical education; and five programs in vocational education.
The West Virginia Education Association is challenging Gov. John D. Rockefeller 4th's constitutional right to cut 10 percent from the state budget, including a $22 million slice in education funds.
The association filed suit in the state's Supreme Court charging that the Governor exceeded his constitutional authority. The suit names Governor Rockefeller, the state finance commissioner, and the state treasurer. The Governor announced the cuts in his state of the state message.
An association spokesman said it was not yet clear whether teachers would lose their jobs as a result of the proposed cuts. More than 1,000 teaching, health-care, and correctional jobs could be at stake.
If the case is heard, the education association will argue that the state constitution allows only the legislature--not the governor--to make budget cuts, said William Johnson, director of communication at wvea Recently, the legislature passed the laws allowing the Governor to make such cuts, he said.
The Vermont Board of Education has approved a proposal that may lead to the creation of a school district to provide educational services for prison inmates. Officials of the state's correctional system have also endorsed the plan.
Currently, about 75 percent of the inmates do not have high-school diplomas.
The plan was developed by a joint task force of the state department of education and the state corrections department, according to Joyce Wolkimir, a spokesman for the education department.
The plan will be submitted to the legislature, she said, in the hope of getting sponsors.
If the proposal receives support in the legislature, the new district would be entitled to state and federal aid. For the next two fiscal years, about $50,000 has been budgeted for existing educational programs for the prison inmates in the state.
"The idea is to give them basic academic and vocational skills," Ms. Wolkimir said.
Although some services are already offered to the state's prison population, she said that the proposal calls for a more intensive program.
Two bills that are intended to resolve the continuing conflict between church-affiliated private schools and the state have appeared so far in the Nebraska legislature.
Both bills were introduced by state Sen. Howard Peterson.
One would permit a waiver of "certain requirements" imposed by the state if the chief administrative officer of any "nonpublic school"--joined by the parents or guardians of the students--files a statement with the commissioner of education stating that these requirements interfere with the school's operation.
The second bill would remove the state education department's power to "supervise, classify, approve, or accredit" the programs of any "weekday church educational ministry, home study program, or private denominational school," unless the school specifically grants such power by sending a letter to the state board of education.