News in Brief
A legislative committee in New Hampshire has asked the state supreme court to determine whether a proposal to deny drivers' licenses to youths who drop out of school would be constitutional.
The panel, appointed last spring after the legislature rejected a similar plan proposed by Gov. John H. Sununu, last week submitted its report to the Governor and House and Senate leaders.
If the court determines that the state can legally withhold licenses from dropouts, the report says, the panelists would work with the attorney general to draft new legislation to enact the proposal.
The committee also urged the state to add additional guidance counselors, particularly in elementary schools, to help prevent students from dropping out.
McWherter Set To Shift School-Based Day Care
Gov. Ned McWherter of Tennessee says he will transfer the regulation of school-based day-care centers to the state education department.
The move is intended to encourage more schools to begin offering before- and after-school care, the Governor said.
Legislation passed this year allowed school boards to operate day-care centers and to charge parents for the service.
Speaking at a conference on school-age day care in Nashville late last month, Mr. McWherter said the state standards governing the centers would remain the same, but the transfer of authority would eliminate ''the problem of [centers] being inspected by many different agencies.''
The human-services department would continue to regulate private day-care centers.
The Governor also said that he had asked the state insurance commissioner to design a plan that would reduce the "excessively high liability rates" for day-care centers. He said the high rates "are causing our child care centers to be closed all over the state."
A key Republican lawmaker in Connecticut has criticized the Democratic governor's handling of a trust fund used to finance teacher-salary increases.
Representative Robert G. Jaekle, the House minority leader, said Gov. William A. O'Neill violated the legislature's intent when he temporarily transferred $10 million from the trust fund to meet general-fund expenditures.
The trust fund was designed to remain separate from the general fund in order to earn interest, Representative Jaekle said.
But Governor O'Neill, citing findings from state auditors, defended the transfer as a prudent way of managing state funds.
The trust fund, established by a 1986 school-reform law, provides state aid to districts to raise teachers' minimum salaries and to provide raises for veteran instructors. It is expected to be phased out this year.
The temporary transfer did not disrupt any district programs, according to a spokesman for the state department of education.
The New Jersey Senate has passed a bill requiring high-school students to take a proficiency test in the 11th grade, instead of the 9th.
The Senate version of the bill, which passed in the Assembly earlier this year, would also make the test more difficult. Students are required to pass the test to graduate.
The bill would provide districts with funds for remedial programs for students who fail the assessment, or are considered likely to do so.
Opponents have charged that the testing program is an "arbitrary" requirement that puts an undue burden on urban districts.
In addition, they say, the effects of the 9th-grade test have not been sufficiently studied. This year's seniors were the first to have taken the 9th-grade test.
The bill hase been sent back to the Assembly for a vote on the Senate amendments.
Mississippi school districts would have to levy a 25-mill property tax to qualify for state funding, under a proposal by the state board of education.
The board last month agreed unanimously to incorporate the concept of "equity funding" into a package of proposals it will present to lawmakers when they convene in January. The legislature has rejected similar suggestions in the past.
The board's plan would require 45 of the state's 151 districts to raise school taxes, said Andrew P. Mullins, a spokesman for the education department. Currently, districts' tax rates range from 12 to 56 mills.
Gov. Ray Mabus also has said he may suggest the equity-funding prol to lawmakers in the upcoming session.
No South Carolina school districts have been designated as being "seriously impaired" this year, state officials report.
The state education department has been evaluating districts and declaring those with the lowest ratings "impaired" since the passage of a reform law in 1984. Officials said this is the first year since the program started that no district has earned the rating.
Districts are evaluated on the basis of their students' performance on standardized tests and on "quantitative" goals, such as student-teacher ratios and the number of books in their libraries.