News in Brief
The South Dakota Board of Education has voted unanimously to oppose a tax-limitation measure that economists say would force a major reduction in public-school revenues.
Dakota Proposition II, which will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot, would limit property taxes to no more than 1 percent of the value of agricultural property and 2.5 percent of nonagricultural property. Approximately 60 percent of school revenues in the state are derived from such taxes.
In July, Henry Kosters, the state school superintendent, released a report stating that South Dakota's 161 districts could be forced to consolidate into as few as 29 if the proposed constitutional amendment is approved. He prepared the report at the request of Gov. George Mickelson, who had been told earlier by two University of South Dakota4economists that the loss to schools could range from $11 million to $72 million.
Mr. Kosters described the drive to win passage of the amendment as "an anti-government movement."
"I'm scared by that," he said. "I don't want to see the baby thrown out with the bath water."
George Moses, a Rapid City businessman who is leading the effort to pass the amendment, insisted last week that it would not hurt public education.
"It will just be funded by our legislature from some other source," said Mr. Moses, noting that the state could turn to corporate or personal income taxes to make up the difference.
Florida's commissioner of education has appointed a 20-member task force to study ways to improve school safety and security.
According to the commissioner, Betty Castor, the Florida Safe Schools Task Force will address such problems as violence, weapons, and drug use in schools, and will report on whether administrators have sufficient authority to deal with them.
"We must ensure that our schools are a safe haven from the increasing pressure of an uncertain and sometimes violent world," said Ms. Castor. "Our children must feel safe and secure."
A "nuclear age" curriculum being developed by the Oregon Education Department has come under attack from conservatives and liberals alike.
At a recent public hearing, several people complained that the draft curriculum treated Communist countries too favorably, according to Jan Coulter, a spokesman for the department. Others, she added, objected to what they perceived as its overly supportive treatment of President Reagan's strategic-defense initiative.
"We're trying to please a lot of people," Ms. Coulter said of the curriculum, which the legislature directed the department to develop. She said an advisory committee appointedel10lfrom among those who attended the hearing had been created to assist in preparing the final draft.
Elementary-school students in Washington State would have to pass certain tests and other evaluations to advance into middle school, under a proposal being considered by Gov. Booth Gardner.
Mr. Gardner "wants to do testing and other forms of evaluation numerous times in the early years to make sure that students get the remedial help they need," according to Dick Milne, the Governor's press secretary.
The details of the plan have yet to be worked out, he said.
The proposal has been greeted with skepticism in some quarters, Mr. Milne added, because "people have tended to react to the idea of holding students back rather than the idea of making sure they're competent."
"The idea is that if we do the testing and remediation, we won't get to the point of holding anyone back," he said.