States News Roundup
In response to the criticism of public education made by the National Commission on Excellence in Education in its recently released report, Wyoming will establish a blue-ribbon panel of its own to assess the quality and goals of education in its schools.
Lynn Simons, Wyoming superintendent of public instruction, last week said she will appoint a panel of educators, bankers, businessmen, and high-school students to assess what the state expects of education in the future, what schools are doing, and what schools want to accomplish.
The Wyoming blue-ribbon panel will also look at some areas that the national commission may have overlooked, according to Audrey M. Cotherman, deputy superintendent of public instruction.
These will include the role and status of extra-curricular activities, health and physical education, and vocational education.
The state commission will hold its first meeting in June. Ms. Cotherman expects the group's first report to be released to the state board of education by Oct. 1984, with recommendations to be presented to the state legislature sometime in the summer of 1985.
Students who are interested in going to college should have four years of preparation in English, three in mathematics, science, and social studies, and two in a foreign language, according to the recommendations of a 16-member council in Wisconsin.
The Joint Council on College Preparation was appointed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Herbert J. Grover and Robert M. O'Neil, president of the University of Wisconsin, to determine what academic preparation is needed to ensure that students will be successful in college.
The report states that additional skills "which make college studies easier and enjoyable are the use of a computer language, basic typing skill, and some experience with the visual and performing arts."
The council's report, Preparation for College, notes that "the surest and most systematic way to acquire the competencies needed for success in college is to take a sound course of academic studies in high school."
The report will be sent to guidance counselors, parents, and students throughout the state. Parents of all eighth-grade pupils will receive a press release listing the council's recommendations as well as a letter signed by Mr. Grover and Mr. O'Neil stressing the importance of strong academic preparation.
Salaries should be raised for all public-school teachers and special financial aid offered to lure some into academic areas where there are shortages, the staff of the Illinois State Board of Education has recommended.
The staff study of teacher preparation and performance, now under review by the board's policy and planning committee, says little is being done in Illinois "to attract academically able students, particularly minority students, into [teacher] preparation programs." And it contends that teacher-training institutions have not "demanded excellence in both the academic and practical performance of candidates through establishing rigorous requirements for admission to and retention in preparation programs."
The study says that the assistance of school boards and school-administrators' organizations should be sought in recruiting minority teachers and minority and female administrators. A statewide committee should examine problems associated with supervising extra-curricular activity and make recommendations to the board, the study suggests.
It also urges toughening standards in teacher-education programs by 1985. And the staff suggests stricter evaluation techniques for teachers and a series of proposals to upgrade staff development, inservice training, and certification requirements.
The report also recommends legislation to entice business and industry to help support instructional and professional-development efforts.
Principals or their designated representatives will again be able to paddle students in West Virginia under a law recently signed by Gov. John D. Rockefeller IV.
The new law, which goes into effect next fall, will allow school officials to spank a student on the buttocks with a hand or a paddle. It calls for paddling to be used only as last resort and must be administered "without anger, malice, or a wanton use of force."
In addition, the severity of the spanking must be "suitable to a pupil's age and mental and physical conditions and [must be] applied without discrimination."
Also, parents must be notified of an intended spanking at least 12 hours before it takes place; the punishment must be conducted in the presence of another school official; a report documenting the incident must be placed in the school's files within 24 hours of the punishment; and parents must be notified of the incident within three days. In all, there are some 15 rules and exceptions to the punishment procedure.
Corporal punishment was prohibited in West Virginia schools this school year after the state's Supreme Court last June ruled the punishment unconstitutional because the state lacked a law providing for it.
The New York State Department of Education has awarded a $50,000 grant to the Albany Jewish Federation to develop educational programs about the Holocaust.
Commissioner Gordon M. Ambach, in announcing the grant recently, said an increased emphasis on the study of the Holocaust was "appropriate" because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Nazi rise to power in Germany.
The federation this year will devise a plan for the education of teachers and students, create a bibliography of audio-visual materials and books, develop a proposal for a permanent museum display, and develop the theme for a traveling exhibit on the Holocaust.
The department is now conducting field tests of a teachers' guide on the period.
A new high-technology highschool program for students from the 15 school districts in San Antonio, Tex., will begin next fall.
Gov. Mark White and San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros have announced that the program will accept 150 selected students and will offer courses not usually available in the districts' regular high schools. Among the special courses will be electronics, technical writing and research, and advanced physics. The program will be housed in classrooms at a local community college, and the state will pay the initial $409,000 bill for the project.
A local school official said Mayor Cisneros had been promoting the project for more than a year.