States News Roundup
More than 300 practicing teachers in Georgia have lost their certification and jobs because they failed to pass the state's Teacher Competency Test.
The state's education-reform package, approved by legislators in 1985, required all teachers wishing to renew their credentials after July of this year to pass the subject-area test--a requirement for all new teachers in the state since 1978.
The 327 teachers who failed--244 of whom are black--can continue to take the test until they pass, but cannot be employed as public-school teachers until they renew their certificates, which expired Aug. 31. They have had nine opportunities to take the test over the past two years.
Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Moye denied a request by the state affiliate of the National Education Association for a preliminary injunction to block the dismissals. The union filed suit last October seeking to prevent the state from using the test as a screening device for certification. The case has not yet gone to trial.
A Pennsylvania judge has struck down a new state education policy that would have required all public schools in the state to accommodate the needs of students with chronic medical conditions in the classroom.
The order by Commonwealth Court Judge John McPhail bars Thomas Gilhool, the state's secretary of education, from disseminating his new policy, which, in effect, would require the schools to extend special-education services to an estimated 30,000 children who are chronically ill or medically impaired.
Mr. Gilhool had prepared the controversial directive as part of a settlement in a federal class action brought on the behalf of the parents of many chronically ill children.
In his ruling last month, Judge McPhail said the new guidelines could cause "immediate and irreparable harm" to local school boards in the form of a "substantial expenditure of time and money."
An asbestos inspector for the California Department of Education has resigned following charges that he falsified inspection results in dozens of schools across the state.
Charles Puentes Jr. had reported that about 10 percent of the 183 schools he inspected last year were not in compliance with federal asbestos laws. But a concurrent survey by the Environmental Protection Agency found a 75 percent noncompliance rate among the schools in its sample.
Mr. Puentes, who is being investigated by the epa for possible criminal violations, was asked to leave his post after a probe by the state's auditor general turned up further inconsistencies, said Susie Lange, a spokesman for the education department. She said there was no indication that Mr. Puentes had gained financially from falsifying records.
A University of Iowa institute has created a home-study program to train the estimated 125,000 professionals required by state law to report suspected cases of child abuse.
Since 1985, all Iowa teachers, doctors, daycare workers, social workers, and others who work with children have had to receive6two hours of training every five years in identifying and reporting child abuse. Charles Abel, associate director of the university's Institute of Child Behavior and Development, said the home-study course, which consists of a text and a review quiz, could serve as a model for similar training programs across the country.
For more information, write the Institute of Child Behavior and Development, University of Iowa, Oakdale, Iowa 52319.
Five "property poor" Kentucky school districts have presented their case to a state judge in a bid to equalize the school-finance system.
Lawyers for the Coalition for Better Education argue that the legislature has failed to fulfill its constitutional obligation to provide an equal education to all students. Franklin Circuit Judge Ray Corns is expected to rule on the case later this year.
The plaintiffs, who filed the suit in 1985, say the legislature has never adequately funded the power-equalization formula it established in 1976. Under the formula, the state allocates funds to help compensate poorer districts for their lack of property wealth.
According to state statistics, Kentucky's wealthiest district spent about $4,500 per student during 1985-86, while the poorest system spent $1,630. Full equalization could cost an additional $150 million a year, according to Jack Moreland, the coalition's president and superintendent of the Dayton Independent School District, one of the plaintiffs in the suit.
State officials deny that the differences in expenditures are unconstitutional, arguing that there is no direct link between school spending and educational quality and that local districts share responsibility for education costs.
To ensure that Vermont has enough well-qualified teachers by the year 2000, the state department of education and public colleges must step up efforts to recruit teachers, strengthen teacher-preparation programs, and improve pay and working conditions, a task force has recommended.
The 18-member task force, appointed by Stephen S. Kaagan, commissioner of education, and Charles I. Bunting, chancellor for Vermont State Colleges, concluded that the state will need 1,000 new teachers by the end of the century--nearly a sixth of the 6,400 currently employed--to respond to an expected 10 percent increase in enrollment.
To meet that need, however, state agencies must make "aggressive efforts," such as raising minimum salaries, offering scholarships for prospective teachers, and developing training programs appropriate for adults seeking a career change, the task force recommended.
Maine's commissioner of education, Eve M. Bither, has also begun to consider a range of activities the state can undertake to recruit new teachers. A study by her department has found shortages of special-education, art, and music teachers, and of elementary guidance counselors.
The Vermont Board of Education has adopted several new polices aimed at improving the status of women in the education system.
According to a survey by the state education department, women account for 78 percent of Vermont's elementary-school teachers and about 43 percent of secondary-school teachers, but they are virtually excluded from policymaking positions.
The state currently has no female school principals, and only three of 59 superintendents in supervisory union districts are women, said Mary Ann Luciano, the department's director of inter-governmental affairs. The union districts are umbrella jurisdictions that may include as many as 10 local school systems.
According to Ms. Luciano, male teachers earn an average of $730 a year more than female teachers with roughly comparable levels of education and job experience.
To reverse these trends, the state board will include a discussion of sex-equity efforts in its annual report, toughen the nondiscrimination provisions of accreditation standards, and study how the subject is addressed by teacher-education programs.
The California School Boards Association has formally endorsed a proposed ballot initiative that would revise the state's Gann Limit, which restricts the growth of state spending for schools and other services.
The spending measure, approved by voters in 1979, uses a formula based on inflation and population growth to limit spending increases. Fiscal experts say the state budget could reach the cap as early as next year.
Educators complain that the law does not take into account California's booming economy and the fact that school enrollment is growing faster than the overall population. According to a spokesman, the school boards' association is one of several education groups supporting the measure, which backers hope to place on the November ballot.
Gordon M. Ambach, in one of his last actions before stepping down as commissioner of education in New York, awarded $1.5 million in "Stay in School Partnership" grants to 10 colleges and universities for joint projects with local school districts for the current school year.
The grants will enable the colleges to provide support services to "at risk" public-school students, said Mr. Ambach, who recently became the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers. This is the second year the grants have been awarded; officials in the state education department estimate that more than 2,700 students will be served.