News In Brief
Conn. Tuition Aid Urged For Low-Income Students
Connecticut's commissioner of higher education has proposed the creation of a scholarship fund to enable all low-income students to afford tuition at the state's colleges and universities.
Modeled after the "I Have a Dream'' program established by the New York industrialist Eugene Lang and the Liberty Scholarship program proposed by Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York, Connecticut's Help and Opportunity to Pursue Education plan is aimed at encouraging potential dropouts to remain in school, graduate, and enter college, according to the commissioner, Norma F. Glasgow.
"Students will know there is a brass ring at the end of the trail if they persevere,'' she said.
Under the HOPE proposal, the state will each year identify the estimated 1,840 7th graders who qualify for the federal free-school-lunch program. If those students graduate from high school and gain admission to a public or private college or university in Connecticut, the state will provide aid, above what the students have earned through other scholarships, to meet costs.
The proposal is expected to be considered next month by the state's board of governors of higher education, and submitted to the legislature for its approval next January.
In his proposal to raise New Jersey's minimum teacher salary to $22,000, Commissioner of Education Saul Cooperman recommends forcing school districts to continue raising entry-level salaries beyond the state-mandated minimum.
The "escalator'' provision would require districts to raise their minimum teacher salary by at least one half of the average salary increase negotiated by the local teachers' union.
"If the local union negotiated an average 7 percent increase, the district would be required to bump its minimum salary up by 3.5 percent,'' said Judith Feldstein, a legislative liaison for the New Jersey Department of Education.
Two years ago, lawmakers passed a measure that set the minimum salary for teachers at $18,500. But many districts "still haven't moved off the $18,500 level,'' Ms. Feldstein said.
Legislation drafted by Mr. Cooperman and introduced last week would boost the minimum salary for teachers to $22,000 in the 1988-89 school year. The state would shoulder the cost of the increase for the first three years. The provision would not go into effect until 1991.
Mississippi's secretary of state has put officials in 25 of the state's 152 school districts on notice that they personally will be held financially responsible if they fail to renegotiate leases on district-administered land to reflect contemporary property values.
The state official, Richard Molpus, sent letters to the district administrators last month giving them until July 1 to either forge new agreements regarding their 16th section lands or file suit against leaseholders.
The 16th section tracts, which were mandated by the federal Northwest Ordinance, were set aside by the state in the early 1800's as properties whose revenue would benefit public schools. But in some counties, leases are set far below market rates because school officials signed 99-year agreements with tenants during the 1940's, said James O. Nelson, director of public lands for the secretary of state's office.
"Properly managed, these lands are a great asset,'' he said. "They're pure revenue generators. We expect no more or no less than what the private sector is getting.''
Education groups in Montana are pressing for the adoption of an amendment to the state constitution that would guarantee that 5 percent of all revenues from coal taxes would be used to support public schools.
Sponsors of Constitutional Initiative 42 include the Montana Education Association, the Montana School Boards Association, and the School Administrators of Montana.
The groups claim that the move is needed to ensure that schools are adequately funded. They note that last year lawmakers used money from the state's education trust fund to balance the state budget.
The amendment has run into criticism from the state budget director,
who recently said that aid to 14 other programs that receive coal-tax
revenues would have to be cut if the proposal were adopted.
Supporters of the plan last week acknowledged Mr. Hunter's point, but said that legislation will be introduced in the next session of the legislature to ensure that money is not be taken from other state projects.
Education groups do not anticipate any difficulty in getting the 38,000 signatures needed to place the measure on the November ballot.
The Oregon Board of Education has modified its mandate for AIDS education to stipulate that coursework be "age appropriate.''
The rule, which takes effect next fall, requires that AIDS instruction be included in all health-education courses. Such courses are taught in kindergarten through 8th grade and in one year of high school.
Opponents of the original rule had argued that it was too vague and would result in kindergartners receiving lessons about condoms.
The modified rule specifies that the instruction be age appropriate and permits parents to excuse their children from the courses.
The rule does not set out a specific course plan; instead, the board urges districts to develop their own AIDS lessons in conjunction with parents, local health officials, and other community representatives.
South Carolina's Attorney General has said in an opinion that providing a minute for silent contemplation before the beginning of the school day is constitutional. But observers say a bill permitting such activity is not likely to be approved by the state's House of Representatives.
The bill, approved by the Senate a year ago, has been tabled by the House's education committee.
The Attorney General issued his opinion late last month, after being
asked to do so by State Senator Joe Wilson, who has introduced the bill
three times in three years.