Update News Roundup
Gov. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri has asked the state legislature to adopt a $150-million tax-increase package in order to help finance the St. Louis area's landmark voluntary school-desegregation plan. (See Education Week, Oct. 26, 1983.)
Under Governor Bond's proposal, which was announced on Oct. 20, the state's sales tax would be in-creased by a quarter of a cent, bringing it up to 4.375 cents per dollar. The Governor estimated that the increase would bring in $75.6 million in additional state revenues.
Governor Bond also asked the legislators to raise the state's 5-percent corporate income tax to 7 percent, representing $32.5 million in additional revenues, and to double the state's corporate-franchise tax from 0.05 percent to 0.1 percent, which would bring in an additional $43 million.
U.S. District Judge William L. Hungate ordered the state in September to finance a substantial portion of the desegregation plan, which involves the transfer of black students in the city to 23 mostly white suburban school districts. The state has appealed that order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
The special legislative session convened by the Governor is scheduled to end on Dec. 21.
Developing equality in education is as important a supporting excellence, members of the Forum of Educational Organization Leaders stressed at a press conference last week.
"Our members are concerned that a consequence of implementing more vigorous standards may be the de facto exclusion of some students," said the forum's moderator, Harold Hodgkinson.
The group, which includes the leaders of the major national groups representing school boards, teachers, parents, and administrators, called the press conference to release its formal response to recommendations made in recent national reports on education and to comment on education issues currently in the public eye.
In general, forum members concur with national studies, their report said.
They agree that better teaching is a crucial factor in school improvement, and many of their recommendations propose methods for making the teaching profession more attractive and improving the quality of the teaching force.
In a draft of their statement on excellence in education, forum participants did not agree on the testing of teachers. (See Education Week, Oct. 26, 1983.)
However, when the final draft was released last week, the educators had reached a consensus. "We support requiring every prospective teacher to pass a test measuring subject-matter competency and computational, verbal, and writing skills, though we recognize that no multiple-choice test can guarantee teacher competence," the final statement said.
The Ohio Supreme Court has declined to remove two anti-tax initiatives from the Nov. 8 ballot, saying a lawsuit contesting the referendum questions came too close to Election Day.
The two ballot issues would repeal a 90-percent increase in the state income tax enacted last spring, rescind a tax-relief program for lower-income families, and require a three-fifths majority in each chamber of the legislature--as opposed to the current simple majority--to enact revenue-raising measures. (See Education Week, Oct. 26, 1983.)
Both measures are currently ahead in public-opinion polls, but the state's major education groups, which are strongly opposed to the measures, said last week that they believe the "no" votes are gaining.
Chicago teachers reached a tentative agreement with the school board last week, ending a 15-day strike in the nation's third-largest school district.
The teachers won a 5-percent salary increase, starting Jan. 1, 1984--exactly one-half the increase called for in their original demand. The school board had originally offered a 0.5-percent increase.
The tentative one-year settlement was reached during a 33-hour negotiating session and after both sides agreed to bringing in a federal mediator. Of the 15 school days lost during the strike, 10 will be made up next June, according to Elaine Soloway, a spokesman for the school board.
Ms. Soloway also said the teachers won a 2.5-percent one-time bonus and agreed to about $25 million in concessions.
The agreement calls for no changes in class size and no layoffs, she added. The contract must now be approved by the union's general membership.
Hard Times for 'The Great American Software Contest'
What do you do if you schedule a contest for the development of computer software and offer $30,000 in prizes, and almost no one shows up?
If you make your living in the computer field, you cancel the contest and start reconsidering your notions of where the computer industry is going.
Officials for talmis, a major computer-research company, say that's what they are doing. They estimate that information on their contest reached about 500,000 computer owners through advertisements in leading journals such as Byte, InfoWorld, and Compute, and contacts with officials for major computer organizations and users' groups. Still, only 36 people entered the "Great American Software Contest."
The disappointing response has led Jeanne A. Dietsch, the president of talmis, to reconsider her ideas about the overall health of the computer industry. "We were surprised," Ms. Dietsch said. "We knew there was a scarcity of software developers, yet we were hoping the money and a chance [to be judged by industry experts] would bring people out of the garages."
talmis has predicted that 50 percent of all American homes will have at least one computer by 1988, Ms. Dietsch said, but that a severe shortage of good software could slow that growth.
If the computer industry is to penetrate the home market that extensively, Ms. Dietsch said, families need to be given more ways of using computers--and that can happen only when software developers produce a "broader set of products."
"Most computer owners are 25 to 45 years old, and that's getting a bit old for arcade and adventure games," she said, referring to the pieces of software that, along with business programs, have been produced in the greatest abundance for home users.