States News Roundup
The wife of the governor of Wisconsin will begin this fall to work with a task force on eliminating sex discrimination in the state's public schools.
Sheila Earl, wife of Gov. Anthony Earl, chairs the Advisory Council of the Wisconsin Project on Equal Education Rights. Thirty-eight Wisconsin citizens were appointed to the council last month and will work with Ms. Earl to "inform citizens, principally parents, educators, and students, of the need for equal educational opportunity in the public schools," according to Kaye J. Exo, director of Wisconsin peer.
Ms. Earl said she is commited to the enforcement of state and federal anti-discrimination laws. "It takes citizen action to ensure that these laws are obeyed," she said.
Ms. Earl said the council will encourage girls to enroll in advanced mathematics and science courses "because those courses are building blocks for technological careers such as engineering and computer science."
She said the council would urge school administrators to hire more women and minority men to fill administrative positions.
Ms. Earl was chosen last spring to head the council because "we felt that the whole problem of publicizing inequities could be assisted by someone who has visibility," Ms. Exo said.
"She felt she wanted to give her time to what she calls 'underrepresented groups,"' Ms. Exo added, noting that Ms. Earl has four daughters and an interest in women's sports.
For the first time, a high-school student will have full voting privileges on the California Board of Education, under a bill signed by Gov. George Deukmejian.
The legislation, which will take effect in January, expands the 10-member board by adding the student representative.
For several years, a student--screened by student leaders and appointed by the board--has served an annual term on the board as a non-voting member.
Under the bill by Assemblyman Tom Bane, the screening process by students will continue, but the Governor will make the final appointment from among three candidates ranked in order of preference by the board.
In what amounts to a trial of the new student voting role, the bill has a "sunset" clause and will expire in January 1987 if the legislature does not renew it.
Daniel Chernow, the board member who helped guide the bill through the legislature, said student candidates for the board "go through a much more complete process than the other board members, in terms of the interviews and screening."
However, Mr. Chernow said he is not sure that voting rights can be extended to student representatives on local school boards, whose members are elected.
Members of the state board are appointed by the governor to serve for four-year terms. They adopt textbooks for elementary schools, allocate special state and federal funds to local districts, and set broad but binding policies in areas such as curriculum, integration, and bilingual education.
California public schools continue to have "very high priority" with Gov. George Deukmejian, but there is no guarantee they will receive the top-priority funding from the state that they obtained this year, according to the Governor's education adviser.
"I have to tell you it will be competitive," William Cunningham told a Sacramento conference of the California School Boards Association.
Mr. Cunningham, a former school superintendent and executive director of the Association of California School Administrators, predicted that competition will come from community colleges, state colleges, and universities, "which have been neglected in the last three years in the judgment of higher-education people."
Governor Deukmejian approved $800 million in additional funds for elementary and secondary schools, for the fiscal year that began July 1, when he signed a sweeping education finance-reform bill.
However, he vetoed a $1.9-billion expenditure proposed in the bill to maintain the current spending levels in fiscal 1984-85, provide a cost-of-living increase for school districts, and fund such reforms as a longer school year.
Officials of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund confirmed last week that they plan a state-court challenge to the state of Texas' school-finance system.
The system is unconstitutional under state law "because it denies educational opportunity to poor students," said Norma Cantu, a lawyer with the San-Antonio-based maldef office that will file the suit. maldef plans the challenge because poor Hispanic children are involved; however, the suit will be filed "on behalf of all poor children," she added.
The suit will stress that in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court, in ruling on Rodriquez v. San Antonio Unified School District, called the state's finance system "chaotic and unjust," Ms. Cantu said. In its decision, however, the court did not find the state's method of allocating school funds unconstitutional, and said the state was responsible for reforming the system.
Today, despite some efforts at reform, such as an aid-equalization plan, the inequities still exist and are worsening, Ms. Cantu asserted. Test scores are now available to prove that there is a disparity in performance levels between students from rich and poor districts, she said.
And the legal climate may have changed as well, Ms. Cantu said, pointing to Alma v. Dupree, the Arkansas suit in which the state supreme court last spring struck down the state's school-finance system as unconstitutional.