State News Roundup
Eighteen of the 25 institutions that train teachers in Florida have lost state approval of one or more of their education programs under a law that holds them accountable for their students' performance on the state's basic-skills test for teachers.
The graduates of the programs that have lost their state approval in these 18 institutions will not be allowed to teach in Florida public schools. As a result, officials expect the action taken by the state on July 1 to adversely affect the level of enrollment in those programs.
The state department of education was required to take the action against the institutions, according to Garfield W. Wilson, director of teacher education and certification, under the law that mandated the introduction of the teacher test in 1980.
It stipulates that if at least 80 percent of the students in each program within a school or college of education do not pass the state's minimum-competency test for teachers, the program is to lose its state endorsement.
High Approval Rate For School Funding Seen in More States
Reflecting what some observers believe is a renewed public commitment to education, three more economically troubled states have joined Ohio on the list of those seeing significant improvements this year in the proportion of local school budgets and levies gaining voter approval.
In Idaho, Gov. John Evans saw evidence of citizens' commitment to more support for education in the approval of 21 of the 23 school levies that were on the ballot in May.
In New York, where the approval rate for school budgets dipped to 66.3 percent in 1978, budgets passed this year in all but 83 of the 654 districts holding referendums, for an approval rate of 87.3 percent. Officials of the state education department said it was the highest success rate in recent years.
In Michigan, 95 percent of all renewal-millage proposals on the June ballot were passed, setting an all-time record. The approval rate for additional-millage proposals was 27 percent--the same as last year. The districts' success at the polls means that 13 districts, enrolling a total of nearly 32,000 students, are on the state's "critical list"--less than half the number on the list last year.
"This demonstrates that voters in the vast majority of communities in Michgan overwhelmingly support their public schools," said Phillip E. Runkel, state superintendent of public instruction. He also noted that "for the first time since the late 1970's, many school boards are [also] looking forward to an increase in state school aid."
Pa. Board Approves Tougher Standards For Graduation
The state board of education in Pennsylvania earlier this month announced its "intent to adopt" new high-school graduation requirements.
The board will raise the minimum number of years of study in both math and science from one to three years and require that students take courses in computer science. The new regulations will go into effect with the graduating class of 1989.
Meanwhile, a bill was introduced in the legislature that would require students to complete four years of study in English, three years of study each in mathematics, science, and social studies; one-half year of computer science, and two years of foreign languages.
The bill also calls for the introduction of tests to measure student progress and proficiency in reading, writing, arithmetic, mathematics, and science. The tests would be administered in grades 3, 5, 8, and 11.
Gov. Richard L. Thornburgh last week approved a budget that set education funding at $1.74 billion, an increase of about 7 percent over last year.
The Governor had proposed cuts of 21 percent in the state's education programs in order to comply with a constitutional mandate to balance the state's budget. But the cuts were avoided when the Pennsylvania legislature passed supplemental budget bill--signed by the Governor--that will raise funds through an increase in the property tax (up from 2.2 percent to 2.5 percent) and the introduction of a 6-percent sales tax on cigarettes.
As part of the budget package, the employee-contribution rate for the state retirement system used by teachers will increase from 5.25 to 6.25 percent.
Texas Legislature Fails To Consider Teachers' Raises
Hopes for a substantial pay increase for Texas teachers, as promised in Gov. Mark White's election campaign, have been abandoned for the near future, said spokesmen for teachers' groups.
The last chance for implementing the Governor's proposed increase in time for the 1983-84 school year was lost when a special session of the legislature met in late June without considering the issue. The proposal would have given teachers an average 24-percent increase spread over two years.
Instead, a special task force was appointed by the legislature to study the issue, said a spokesman for the Governor. The group, called the Select Committee on Public Education, met for the first time this month, and is charged with studying teacher competence and compensation, among other issues. No date has been set for completion of the study.
Barbara O'Neal, president of the Texas State Teachers Association, said she is "disappointed" that the special session did not take up the problem. The real obstacle holding up the pay increase is the unexpected shortfall in state revenues, not Gov. White's lack of persistence, she added.
Gov. White made increased salaries for teachers a top priority in his campaign last fall, and his candidacy was strongly supported by the state's teachers' unions, observers said.
However his proposal to pay for a $1.5-billion salary increase with a tax increase on luxury items was decisively voted down by the biennial legislature in late May.
Miss. Legislature Approves Funding For Text Purchases
The Mississippi legislature has agreed to extend the life of the state's Textbook Procurement Commission and authorize the purchase of $5.4-million worth of textbooks for the 1983-84 school year.
The action was taken during a one-day special session in Jackson, June 24. The session was called by Gov. William Winter, who also called a special session in December 1982 to deal with education issues. Last month's action extends the exsistence of the commission to July 1, 1984.
The Governor called the special session, he said, because language in the bills passed in regular session prohibited the purchase of the textbooks unless the legislature extended the life of the commission.
Without the appropriation, workbooks for 1st- and 2nd-grade students in Mississippi's public schools would have been unavailable for the coming school year, Governor Winter said.
During the session, legislative leaders used parliamentary procedures to prohibit amendments and limit speeches by those seeking equal treatment for the Biblical teaching of creation in science textbooks.
Conn. Legislature Increases Funding For Poorer Districts
The Connecticut General Assembly approved a school-finance bill during its recent special session that will provide $378 million in aid to "property-poor" districts this school year.
The appropriation, which is $20 million more than the amount recommended by Gov. William A. O'Neill, represents 90 percent of full funding for the state's "guaranteed-tax-base grant formula," according to Scott Brohinsky, assistant to the state commissioner of education. He said this year's appropriation is about $33 million more than last year's.
Mr. Brohinsky said the state-aid formula is based on the relative wealth of a community, the amount of local money used to support the schools, and the needs of the student population.
The additional funding, according to Mr. Brohinsky, was made possible by the legislature's approval of a $297-million tax package that includes tax increases on real-estate transactions, professional services, and corporate profits.
Freeze on Salaries Of Del. Teachers To Remain in Effect
The Delaware State Education Association had hoped that an unexpected $1.1-million state budget surplus would end a freeze on salary incremental increases.
The freeze, which affects all state employees, went into effect July 1. It was the first time in the state's history that such a freeze was imposed, said Dennis Crowley, an association spokesman. The state had earlier forecast a $28.6 million deficit.
State budget analysts dashed hopes that the freeze would end when they announced that the entire surplus must go to the state's "rainy-day fund," which by law must remain at a level equivalent to 2 percent of the operating budget. The fund had fallen below that level.
The teachers and other state employees will miss their first incremental payment on Sept. 1, Mr. Crowley said. Losses will total about $12 million a year, if the freeze remains in place, he said.
A spokesman for Gov. Pierre S. du Pont 4th said he will "hold off" on the increases until after Jan. 1.
Some U. of Alabama Education Programs Are Reaccredited
Three graduate-level programs of the University of Alabama's college of education have regained their national accreditation.
The college's "sixth-year" and doctoral programs in special education and school psychology were reapproved by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education earlier this summer, after the national accrediting body found evidence of improved faculty scholarship and reduced graduate-level teaching loads in the programs, according to a university spokesman.
Citing in particular the poor quality of faculty scholarship, ncate withdrew its approval from all of the college's advanced programs in the spring of 1982. The other programs--in areas such as early childhood, elementary, and secondary education--remain unapproved.
Alabama's college of education trains a high percentage of the Southeast's school administrators.