State News Roundup
The California State Board of Education has approved new sex-education guidelines that stress sexual abstinence and include a controversial statement on homosexuality.
The board voted 6 to 4 this month to adopt recommendations on teaching students in kindergarten through 12th grade about sex, family life, and health. The guidelines are not binding on the state's 1,028 school districts, said Susan Lange, a spokesman for Bill Honig, the state superintendent of public instruction.
The board's vote was preceded by two hours of rancorous debate over a section of the guidelines regarding the discussion of homosexuality in junior-high-school and high-school classrooms.
Mr. Honig had contended that the section, as originally written, encouraged "gay-bashing.''
At his insistence, it was amended to recommend that such discussions "affirm the dignity of all individuals,'' including homosexuals, while reaffirming "family values and monogamous, heterosexual relationships.''
Citizens' groups that sought to ban any mention of homosexuality in the guidelines criticized the board's decision. "It is quite clear to me that the homosexual community has a great deal of influence on the state board of education,'' said Ezola Foster, executive director of Black Americans for Family Values.
North Carolina's vocational-education programs should place more emphasis on training all students for the world of work, and less on training them for particular occupations, a study prepared for the state legislature has concluded.
"Since most students are not going on to a four-year college or university, the curriculum should be oriented more than it is now to the world of work,'' said J. Lamarr Cox, a researcher at the Research Triangle Institute's center for educational studies, which prepared the report.
The report proposes that all students in grades 7 and 8 be required to enroll in an "introduction to occupations'' program. By grade 9 or 10, students would choose an educational or occupational goal, and select an appropriate curriculum area.
Although the curriculum would stress the skills necessary for work, all students would receive a "good, sound, solid education,'' Mr. Cox said. If a student wanted training for a specific occupation, he or she could receive it at a community college or postsecondary technical institute, he said. The legislature has held four public hearings on the proposal, but has not scheduled action on it. State lawmakers have rejected similar plans in the past, according to Michael Latta, executive director of the North Carolina State Council on Vocational Education.
Current and prospective California teachers will receive special training to help their students better understand and prepare for earthquakes, under a major expansion of the California Earthquake Education Project.
In a joint effort announced this month by the University of California and California State University systems, such training will be provided at six sites throughout the state, according to Herbert Thier, director of the project at the University of California at Berkeley.
Established by the state legislature in 1981, the earthquake-education program prepares instructional materials and offers training to teachers and community-group leaders.
"We have built in youngsters and their parents an understanding of what earthquakes are, what causes them, and the risk every day to all Californians,'' Mr. Thier said.
The Los Angeles Unified School District is currently implementing a districtwide earthquake-education program with assistance from CALEEP.