States News Roundup
College Guarantees Performance of Teacher Graduates
Officials of the University of Northern Colorado have offered to retrain this year's graduates from its college of education who fail to perform satisfactorily on the job, at no cost to the schools or the employees in question.
Daniel J. Burke, dean of the university's college of education, said the offer, which is outlined in a two-page document sent recently to every principal and superintendent in the state, is designed to "build confidence in the [university's education] graduates, the program, and the faculty."
"The day is over, in my judgment, when we can sit and prepare teacher candidates in isolation," Mr. Burke explained.
"We need to work with school districts and agencies that employ our graduates" to "bridge the gap that has existed in the field."
Under the plan, the university has agreed to work with school officials and other education-related employers to resolve problems related to the performance of graduates. He said the strategy could include additional college training, independent study, or consultation with a university professor for graduates whose training is found inadequate.
Mr. Burke said the offer would be available to this year's graduates only.
He said, however, that the university also has agreed to provide professional-development training to previous graduates who are nominated by their employers.
According to Mr. Burke, the university's college of education is the fifth largest in the country. He said about 1,100 students are granted degrees each year and about two-thirds apply for state certification.
Utah State Board Considers Credit for Religious Instruction
The Utah Board of Education is considering a proposal that would allow schools to give high-school students credit for elective, off-campus courses in religious instruction.
The proposal has been criticized by officials of the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, who say it is designed to favor students who study in Mormon seminaries, which are adjacent to many Utah public high schools.
According to Kathryn Collard, a lawyer for the aclu, "the sponsorship of those courses constitutes advancement of a particular religion." Ms. Collard argued successfully in 1977 against seminary credit before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Lanner v. Wimmer.
But the proposal the board is considering "closely follows" the appeals court's decision in Lanner by allowing all students to obtain credit for release-time classes and thus is constitutionally sound, said Doug Bates, administrative assistant for school law at the state education department.
About 60 percent of students in Utah public schools attend release-time classes, Mr. Bates said.
Teachers' Group Mounts Campaign For Higher Pay
The Association of Texas Professionals has begun a letter-writing campaign in support of a special session by the state House of Representatives this summer to address a proposed pay increase for teachers.
The 38,000-member association, the second-largest teachers' group in the state, wants lawmakers to hold the special session in June, according to Annelle McCorkle, the association's assistant executive director.
She said Gov. Mark White had proposed a 24-percent increase over the biennium but the legislature last year failed to provide funding for his proposal through a tax increase. The issue surfaced again last month when the Governor's education-reform panel recommended raising the salaries of beginning teachers from the current level of about $11,100 annually to about $15,000.
In their letters, according to Ms. McCorkle, "the teachers are saying, 'Don't be afraid to support a tax increase. We as educators will back you and help you explain why it's necessary."'
University Raises Admission Standards In South Carolina
The University of South Carolina has joined the rest of the state's public four-year colleges in approving higher admission requirements that will affect all students applying for admission for the fall of 1988.
According to Deborah C. Haynes, associate director of admissions at the University of South Carolina, the new requirements include four units of English; three units of mathematics (including algebra 1 and 2, with a fourth unit of geometry strongly recommended); two units of laboratory sciences (with a third unit strongly recommended); three units of social sciences; two units of the same foreign language; one unit of advanced mathematics, computer science, world history, world geography, or Western civilization; one unit of physical education; and three additional electives.
Last June, after a year of work by an advisory committee, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education approved a list of recommended high-school courses. The list was accepted last fall by all the other state four-year institutions, including Clemson, the Citadel, the College of Charleston, South Carolina State College, Lander College, Winthrop College, and Francis Marion College, according to Frank E. Conard, associate director for academic affairs for the commission.
Illinois Legislature Considers Seat Belts For School Buses
Illinois may become the first state to require districts to equip new school buses with safety belts--and require students to wear them--if the state's General Assembly approves a measure now under consideration.
"Illinois could lead the nation," said Carol Fast, chairman of a New York City-based coalition pushing for similar legislation nationwide.
Under the proposal, all new school buses, beginning with the 1985 models, would be required to have seat belts, passengers would have to use them, and the state would be required to reimburse local districts for the added cost.
State Representative John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, said the intent of the bill is to reduce fatalities from traffic accidents and to get children in the habit of wearing seat belts.
Last year, lawmakers enacted legislation requiring children under 6 years old to wear safety restraints in automobiles.
Mr. Cullerton has cited state figures showing, he says, that "infant deaths in automobile accidents have dropped 60 percent this year."
He said 915 new school buses were purchased in Illinois last year and estimated that it would cost about $1,000 to equip a 64-passenger bus with safety belts.
Two suburban Chicago districts now require seat belts in buses, and other districts are considering them.
Kansas Increases Requirements for Extracurriculars
The Kansas High School Activities Association has increased from four to five the number of courses secondary students must take and pass in order to be eligible for extracurricular activities. Students must enroll in five courses beginning in the fall; they must pass five of the previous semester's courses, effective in the spring of 1985.
The new requirements, which were approved by the board in a 36-to-14 vote, are a response to the State Board of Education's increased graduation requirements. "The state board has increased graduation requirements to 20 units and we feel that in order to encourage students to make progress toward graduation, they should be enrolled in and pass five subjects," said Kaye Pearce, a spokesman for the association. The Kansas group is among the growing number of state athletic and activities associations linking academic work and attendance to students' participation in extracurriculars. (See Education Week, April 4, 1984.)
"I think we're going to encourage kids to do better," said Mr. Pearce, "but I'm sure that we will have more [ineligible students] than we have currently." The association reported 300 ineligible students this semester.
The association's board also commissioned a study to determine why students and teachers miss instructional time. The study's findings will be made public this summer.
Private Schools Join Effort To Improve Education in Florida
Education officials representing public and private schools in Florida have pledged to work together to improve academic achievement in the state.
At a news conference held this month, Ralph D. Turlington, the state's commissioner of education, joined Douglas MacDonald, head of the Florida Association of Academic Non-Public Schools, to announce their mutual goal of academic excellence.
According to a spokesman for the state education department, the announcement represents an acknowledgement that statewide standards of academic achievement, such as Scholastic Aptitude Test scores, involve students from both public and private schools. Public-education officials have adopted a goal of putting Florida students in the upper quartile, nationally, in academic achievement. The private schools have now pledged to join that effort.
An official from the U.S. Education Department, Charles O'Malley, attended the conference.
He said the Florida initiative was the first such venture in the nation. The state education official said the two groups were planning no specific programs but were acknowledging that their goals were the same and that they would work together to reach them.
12.1-Percent Hike For Teacher Salaries Approved in W.Va.
The West Virginia State Board of Education earlier this month approved a new salary schedule that will raise next year's salaries for teachers and school-service personnel by an average of 12.1 percent.
Teachers will receive an increase of $800 in their base salaries and a $40 increase in the increments they receive for experience.
This will result in base-pay raises varying from $800 to $1,560, depending on a teacher's length of service.
The average base-pay increase will be $1,185 per year.
Service personnel will receive an extra $44 per month in base pay and $2 per month for the experience increment, which will be extended to apply to workers who have served up to 20 years.
The base-pay raise for school-service personnel will vary from a low of $40 per month to a high of $156 per month, depending on length of service.
In addition, teachers and service personnel in the poorest districts will receive additional equity money.
The raises, which were approved by the legislature and Gov. John D. Rockefeller 4th, are contingent on a projected $29-million budget sur-plus at the end of the fiscal year in June.
"There is every indication that the surplus will be there," according to a spokesman for the state department of education.
Florida House Ends Grades Exemption For Slow Learners
The Florida House has approved a bill that would require slow learners to meet the same academic-eligibility requirements as other students to participate in extracurricular activities.
Under the state's Raise Achievement in Secondary Education (raise) bill, which was passed last year, students must have a 1.5 grade-point average to be eligible to participate in sports or other outside activities.
raise exempted from that requirement students enrolled in exceptional-education programs; those students are eligible for participation if they are progressing satisfactorily toward graduation and meet local district requirements, according to a House Education Committee spokesman.
The House bill, which was introduced by Representative William Bankhead, removes the exemption from the raise measure. It will proceed to the Senate for approval.
California Bill To Fund Community Service Advances
California school districts would receive state funds to help them establish community-service programs for high-school students under a bill that has passed its first test in the legislature.
The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved the measure, introduced by its chairman, Senator Gary K. Hart, and forwarded it to the Senate Finance Committee.
Senator Hart's measure would require the State Board of Education to recommend the number of hours students should spend in the program every year, procedures for setting up community placements and for supervising students, and minimum requirements for granting course credit.
Among the authorized activities for students would be governmental or business programs in health, education, social services, environmental quality and conservation; public assistance, public safety, crime prevention and control, housing and community improvement; and care of the handicapped and elderly.
"The intent is to encourage students not merely to observe but to contribute, to do something that's going to be of some benefit to another human being," Senator Hart told the committee.
Senator Hart's bill would appropriate $10 million to help fund the program. To be eligible, a school district would have to provide equal matching funds.
The districts also would be required to give adequate orientation and training to students, designate a school employee to coordinate the program, provide flexibility in scheduling, and give incentives for students to participate such as a special designation on their diploma.