States News Roundup
Concerned that varying education programs are creating "two Connecticuts, one for the rich and one for the poor," the state's department of education is studying whether wealthy districts offer substantially better programs than poorer ones.
The department has initiated a statewide curriculum survey involving six subject areas and kindergarten, "so we can determine if the programs being offered are equal in some sense," said Betty Sternberg, director of the division of curriculum and professional development. The survey will also enable the department to assist districts in developing new curricula, Ms. Sternberg added.
Districts have been given until July 31 to answer queries about class and classroom sizes, pupil-teacher ratios, and the age of textbooks. The department plans to gather information on another six subjects next year, Ms. Sternberg said.
According to Lise S. Heintz, public-information officer for the department, the survey is the first of its kind in Connecticut and reflects Commissioner Gerald N. Tiorozzi's concern with the equity issue.
"We have not known enough at the state level about the quality of programs," Ms. Heintz said. The survey will find "where inequities exist and see how they relate to dollar disparities," she said.
According to department officials, the average net expenditure per pupil in the state ranges from a low of $1,848 to a high of $4,198.
Ohio officials have approved loans for nine school districts that report-ed they might not have sufficient funds to complete the calendar year.
The districts were required to seek approval of such loans from the state's emergency school advancement fund, according to Robert Bowers, assistant superintendent of public instruction.
Not all of the districts will have to use the loans, Mr. Bowers said, depending on the passage of local levies or increases in state funding during the last half of 1985 But they are guaranteed funds should they need help, he said.
In a related development, the Ohio Education Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, and the Ohio School Boards Association have issued a joint statement opposing state-tax reductions. The statement marks the first time the teachers, officials', and boards' groups have collaborated on a policy statement.
"A tax cut would be a retreat to the past when school funding was shackled with budget deficits, on-again, off-again taxes, and fiscal confusion," the organizations' statement read. "This first-ever jointel5lstatement should underscore the growing fear and frustration within the school community as tax-cut proposals emanate from the statehouse."
The groups chose this time to speak out on the issue of tax cuts, according to Donald Wilson, president of the oea, because there are two tax-reduction proposals before the state legislature.
"We know there is going to be a tax cut," Mr. Wilson said. "The question is 'Just how big will it be?"'
The Hispanic dropout problem in Illinois is "critical" and requires legislation that would increase the number of Hispanic role models in schools, clarify the definition of the term "dropout," and ensure the accurate collection of information by school officials, according to a state task force.
In its report, the Illinois State3Task Force on Hispanic Student Dropouts says that gang intimidation and teen-age pregnancy are major reasons that students drop out of school, according to Cindy Huebner, assistant press secretary for the Illinois Senate.
The legislatively appointed 21-member task force also found that students with academic or behavioral problems are often encouraged by school officials to quit school, thus earning the label "push-outs."
According to the report, only 29 of the state's 2,608 certified guidance counselors are Hispanic.
In support of its call for accurate data collection by school officials and a uniform definition of a dropout, the task force noted that while Chicago had reported an 8-percent dropout rate, the state department of education had reported a 48-percent dropout rate in Chicago for the same class.
"The lack of this uniformity in a definition," the task-force report states, "has kept policy and lawmakers from understanding the nature, scope, and dimension of the dropout problem."