State News Roundup
In a long-running dispute with Utah officials over the use of Medicaid funds to provide education-related services to handicapped students, the federal government has threatened to withhold more than $2.7 million in grants to the state.
The action, which state officials are attempting to block in federal court, could result in the temporary closing of the Utah State Training School for the handicapped, as well as reductions in welfare payments to handicapped people throughout Utah, state officials estimate.
The school houses 540 handicapped persons, including 104 children, according to Susan Behle, program coordinator for the state division of services to the handicapped.
Auditors for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say they plan to reduce Utah's Medicaid funding this winter because state officials incorrectly billed the federal health-assistance program for $2.7 million in services that should have been paid for with education funds.
The disputed services, which included, for example, toilet-training, were provided to mentally retarded students below the age of 22 who were enrolled at the training school from 1980 to 1983.
A federal district judge in Salt Lake City was scheduled to hear the state's case on Nov. 30.
Advisory Panel Named to Study
Formation of Advisory Panel
The New York State Board of Regents has chosen three of its members to help select and guide a panel of outside experts that will examine whether ethnic groups have distinct and identifiable learning styles.
Education leaders throughout the state have been embroiled in a heated debate this fall on the question of whether biological, cultural, and social factors cause students from different ethnic groups to have different learning styles.
The controversy was touched off when the regents published a booklet that cited research on learning styles among blacks to argue that teaching strategies geared to these differences could help prevent students from dropping out of school.
Critics of the passage say that it is "racist" to conclude that learning styles vary among ethnic groups, but supporters counter with the argument that strategies that do not address the differences will be insufficient.
The regents voted in October to form a group of outside experts on the issue. The new panel will nominate experts for the advisory group and make recommendations on the scope of its duties.
The Nebraska Council of Teachers of English has asked more than 40 organizations in the state to join it in a coalition dedicated to fighting academic censorship and protecting teachers' rights to intellectual freedom in the classroom.
David Martin, president of the council, said the Intellectual Freedom Coalition of Nebraska was being formed because of what he characterized as growing censorship in the state's schools.
"Teachers are becoming defensive and self-censors," Mr. Martin told a local reporter.
"They don't have the strength or energy to continue the fight alone. We're forming the coalition to let people know they are not alone."
The coalition's first meeting is planned for Dec. 5.