States News Roundup
Blacks continue to be underrepresented in the teaching and administrative ranks of Mississippi's public schools, according to a new study by the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Although some 54 percent of the state's public-school students are black, two-thirds of teachers are white, a survey returned by more than 130 of the state's 154 school districts indicated.
In addition, the survey found, only 22 superintendents are black, even though some 80 districts have student populations that are more than two-thirds black.
Naacp officials have asked Gov. Ray Mabus and Richard Boyd, the state's superintendent of schools, to meet with them about ways to eliminate the disparities.
State officials have not decided whether they will agree to the proposed meeting, according to Andy Mullins, a spokesman for the department of education.
"We have known that was a problem for a number of years and are trying to come up with ways to get more blacks into education," he said.
English classes for Spanish-speaking adults are jammed and hundreds of applicants are being turned away from the programs because funds have run out, Arizona officials said last week.
"Where classes were normally 25 to 30 students, we have had as many as 94 in one classroom," said Gary A. Eyre, state director of adult education. In several areas, there are waiting lists to get into English and basic-skills classes.
The surge is attributed to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which granted amnesty to resident illegal aliens but required them to show a basic knowledge of English within two and a half years.
"We're just about at the saturation point," Mr. Eyre said. "You can't have a teacher-student ratio of 1 to 90 and have a successful program."
The education department plans to ask the legislature to double the $1 million currently available for adult education. The program also receives $1.2 million in federal funds.
Mr. Eyre predicts that demand will be even higher next year, when the deadline for English proficiency begins to take effect. "We probably are serving only 10 percent of the need that's out there," he said.
Missouri school districts will have greater flexibility in designing their own testing programs, under a proposal approved by the state board of education.
The change would eliminate some of the specific criteria used by the state in reviewing exams developed by districts that choose not to use a state-developed test. Officials said they were responding to complaints about the restrictiveness of the current rules from local school officials and legislators.
The vast majority of districts have met a new testing requirement by using the state-developed Missouri Mastery and Achievement Tests.
Only 11 percent of Minnesota public schools provide federally subsidized breakfasts, according to a new study.
The Minnesota Food Education and Resource Center also found that many students come to school hungry. Its survey of more than 5,300 children who attend elementary schools that do not participate in the program revealed that about one-sixth come to school without having had breakfast.
The report called on the legislature to require schools to offer breakfasts if more than 10 percent of their students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.