States News Roundup
Eight of Oregon's 306 school districts held emergency levy elections last week and at the start of this week because they could not afford to stay open until the next regular election in November.
The districts--Dallas, Gervais Union High, Josephine County, Lincoln County, McLoughlin Union High, Port Orford-Langlois, Roseburg, and Salem-Keizer--received approval to hold the elections from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Verne A. Duncan after showing they were unable to remain open until the Nov. 5 election.
Levy requests range from $814,387 at McLoughlin Union High in Milton-Freewater to $39.6 million in Salem-Keizer.
In November, 29 more districts are scheduled to hold levy elections to raise funds, according to Larry Austin, a spokesman for the state education department.
Mr. Austin said the districts holding elections are among those most severely harmed by the defeat of a proposed state sales tax that would have provided as much as $700 million per year for the public schools.
Gov. George Deukmejian of California has signed into law legislation that identifies values to be reflected in elementary-school textbooks, funds a pilot dropout-prevention program, and adds an economics course to high-school-graduation requirements.
State lawmakers had approved a $34.8-billion budget, with $10.8 billion for public schools, during the summer. (See Education Week, Aug. 21, 1985.) The latest legislative activity took place before the Assembly adjourned last month.
The textbook legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Leonard, directs the state board of education to adopt, "where appropriate," instructional materials "designed to impress upon the minds of pupils the principles of morality, truth, justice and patriotism, and a true comprehension of the rights, duties, and dignity of American citizenship, and to instruct them in manners and morals and the principles of a free government."
Last month, the board rejected 24 7th- and 8th-grade science texts because of the books' "watered down" treatment of evolution, human reproduction, and ethics.
The Governor also signed a bill providing $3.1 million to establish pilot projects aimed at reducing the number of student dropouts. And he signed a bill that requires high-school students beginning in 1988 to pass a one-semester economics course.
Acting to save more than $73 million in future tax revenues earmarked for education reform, Gov. James R. Thompson of Illinois has asked legislators to pass an 8-cent increase in the state tax on cigarettes, even though the U.S. Congress has extended the federal 16-cents-per-pack cigarette tax.
The recent vote by the Congress to retain the federal cigarette levy invalidated the 8-cent increase in the state tax enacted by the General Assembly in June. The tax, to have gone into effect Oct. 1, was expected to generate more than $100 million per year for education.
"There is no way in the world we can keep the promises we made for education this year, next year, and into the future without that cigarette tax being replaced," the Governor said.
But legislative leaders have been cool to the Governor's proposal.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Democrat, said he believed short-term funding for education would be adequate without a tax increase.
The legislature will consider the tax increase when it returns for its fall session later this month.
Community support for education is strongest in wealthy school dis-tricts, according to a recent survey of 2,301 teachers conducted by the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
Teachers in low- and middle-income districts "reported similar lev-els of community support, but both groups reported significantly less community support than the high-income districts," a report on the poll states.
According to the psea, community support for education "may be the most important factor contributing to school effectiveness and teachers' job satisfaction."
The aim of the survey, called the Pennsylvania Profile of Education Project, was to "assess whether or not there are differences in educational opportunities for students and teachers in districts of varying size and wealth," according to the psea
State funding for public education has dropped, during the past 10 years, from 55 percent of total instructional expenditures to 43 percent, the report states, increasing the financial burden on local school boards.