States News Roundup
An Ohio high school that closed its doors last year will be brought to life again with Hollywood magic.
Central High School, which was closed in 1982 when the Columbus Board of Education reorganized city schools, has been chosen as the site of a $10-million motion picture called "Teachers." The film, which stars Nick Nolte, is the story of a disillusioned teacher who regains his desire to teach.
Gov. Richard F. Celeste said state officials are expecting the Aaron Russo and mgm production to provide jobs for more than 4,000 Ohio citizens. The film makers will hire local technical assistants and actors for some speaking roles, and many Ohio high-school students will be used as extras in the film.
The producers were looking for an empty, urban high school, said Nikki Spretnak, manager of the Ohio Film Bureau, which is responsible for coordinating the effort, and although "there must be hundreds of those," she said, Central was their final choice. Ms. Spretnak attributed the producers' preference to the cooperation they have received from state and local officials and to the "fabulous" condition of the recently closed school.
Gov. Joe Frank Harris of Georgia next year will seek a compulsory school-attendance law to replace the statute struck down by the Georgia Supreme Court, an aide said last week.
Last month, the court ruled that the current law is too vague in its definition of what can be considered a private school. The law, which requires children aged 7 to 16 to at-tend a public or private school, was challenged by a Stephens County couple who taught their children at home for religious reasons.
The state board of education earlier this year proposed defining a private school as a place used primarily for education with certified teachers and at least 15 pupils. But Governor Harris asked the board not to act on the proposal until he could study the issue.
Russell N. Sewell, executive counsel to the Governor, said Mr. Harris and many legislators would prefer that such regulations be passed by the legislature rather than the board. Mr. Sewell said the Governor would make a proposal by the time the legislature convenes next January.
The Governor has not indicated, Mr. Sewall added, whether he regards home schooling favorably or unfavorably.
Oklahomans care more about solving problems such as those in education than about keeping taxes low, a survey commissioned by the Oklahoma Department of Education has found.
According to the pollster Peter D. Hart, 62 percent of the 603 citizens questioned in the August survey said the state should spend more money on its education system. Fifty-nine percent said they would favor property-tax increases to improve education, Mr. Hart said.
The survey also found that 51 percent of those surveyed consider education one of the top two issues facing the state. Twenty-two percent said "holding the line on taxes" was one of the state's top two concerns, Mr. Hart said.
Residents of the state are evenly divided on whether the state's schools need improvement. Blue-collar workers are more satisfied with the schools than are professionals and executives, he said.
Mr. Hart and state legislative leaders interpreted the results of the $20,000 poll as a mandate for increased public spending. "The public has really offered a challenge to the leadership," Mr. Hart said. "What they say is, 'We expect a better educational system, and indeed we will support it."'
A preliminary report released late last week by a Washington State task force recommends that the state require exit tests for graduating high-school seniors and competency tests for candidates for teaching positions.
Members of the Temporary Committee on Educational Policies, Structure, and Management presented the preliminary recommendations of their interim report on Nov. 3 before the Legislative Educational Forum. The committee's formal interim report will be released in January, and its final report will be finished in January 1985, according to William Chance, executive director of the 13-member group.
Successful completion of competency tests, the committee recommended, should be required of all new teachers as a prerequisite for hiring, after which the new teachers would be on probation for a period of three years.
And all the state's high-school seniors should be required to pass a competency test before graduating, the committee recommended. Currently, less than one-third of the state's high schools require their students to pass an exit test, according to Mr. Chance.
The panel also recommended:
Restructuring school curricula, eliminating the general high-school curriculum and establishing requirements in science, the arts, the humanities, or vocational studies.
Tightening graduation requirements to include four years of English; three years of mathematics, science, and social studies; and one year of a foreign language.
Last spring, shortly before the release of the report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, the Washington State Board of Education approved a plan to upgrade high-school graduation requirements. Subsequently, Mr. Chance said, some in the state argued that the board's new requirements were not stringent enough. His committee, he explained, agreed on the need for stiffer requirements.
Consolidating the elementary-school grades into two blocks of K-3 and 4-6 to provide more flexibility in dealing with the varied growth rates of pupils. "By doing away with grade levels, you could deal with children as individuals," Mr. Chance said.
Developing a career-ladder approach to teachers' salaries, including a master-teacher rank for the most skilled. The committee is still considering approaches to teachers' salaries and levels but is "headed in the direction" of the master-teacher approach, Mr. Chance said.
Establishing special certification for primary-school teachers, early-childhood education teachers, and some intermediate-school teachers. This recommendation is based on findings that "working with these very young children requires special training and certification," Mr. Chance said.
Gov. Robert D. Orr of Indiana unveiled a program last month that is designed to better prepare students for the world of work.
At a meeting of the Indiana Council for Economic Education, the Governor said he will appoint a task force by the end of the year to implement a program in which professionals will visit schools, work with students and teachers, and provide a "realistic picture of the business world."
"Today's schoolchildren are tomorrow's workers," Governor Orr told members of the economic council. "If they aren't prepared for what's ahead of them, if they don't know what tomorrow's employers will need and expect, if they don't have the skills to fill the jobs of the future, then your business and our economy will come to a standstill."
The panel, which will be responsible for establishing the structure and budget of the program, will convene by next spring, according to John R. Hammond 3rd, executive assistant to the Governor.
The program will provide as much as $200,000 in "seed money" to help members of the business community, who will administer the project, bring the working world into eight to 10 "test" schools in the state, according to Mr. Hammond. Funding will come from a combination of public- and private-sector resources, he said. Over a 3-to-5-year period, staff members of the Governor's office would phase out their involvement in the program. Based on "Partners in Education," which was developed by the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce in 1979, the program is scheduled to begin in the fall of 1984, Mr. Hammond said.
An early-childhood education bill has been passed by the House committee on children, youth, and families of the Missouri legislature, and is now being sent to the full House for approval.
The bill, which was introduced during the legislature's special session last month at the request of Gov. Christopher Bond, would establish a program to screen students for learning disabilities. The bill would also provide financial incentives to schools that help parents develop the learning abilities of young children.
The bill calls for voluntary screening of preschool children for language, hand-eye, and motor development as well as for vision and hearing impairments and other problems that can inhibit learning. The state would reimburse school districts up to $25 for each child younger than age 5 who participates in the program, according to Nancy S. Vessell, the Governor's press secretary.
Under the bill, the state would also reimburse school districts $100 for each family involved in a program to "help parents become their children's first teachers," according to Ms. Vessell. In this program, schools would provide parents with information and guidance on child development and home learning.
The legislation would also establish a program to help parents work with "developmentally delayed" students at home, Ms. Vessell said. The program would reimburse schools $300 for each participating child.
The child-development legislation would cost the state $2.5 million in the first year, $6.4 million in the second, and $10.7 million in the third, according to estimates from the Governor's office.
A similar bill was passed by the House but failed to win Senate approval during the regular session of the legislature this year.
Last week, Gov. Robert Graham and his cabinet approved emergency rules drafted by Ralph D. Turlington, state education commissioner, that allow Florida to implement loan and scholarship programs to reduce teacher shortages in six critical areas: foreign languages, industrial arts, mathematics, science, special education, and speech therapy.
The rules allow graduates of approved teacher-education programs one year of loan forgiveness in return for two years of teaching in a shortage field. Teachers who agree to work in specific geographical areas--such as sparsely populated rural schools or poor urban schools, will receive a year of loan forgiveness for each year of teaching.
In addition, the rules allow the state education department to award low-interest loans of up to $4,000 per year, for up to two years, to eligible students enrolled in teacher-education programs in the state. During the first two years, half the loans will go to prospective mathematics and science teachers.
Already employed public-school teachers can receive full tuition reimbursement for taking additional coursework in critical subject areas.