News in Brief
Nearly one-sixth of the Milwaukee teenagers required to attend school under Wisconsin's controversial "learnfare" rule have been found to be in violation of the regulation, according to state and local officials.
The rule, which took effect this year, requires that the teenage children of welfare recipients and teenage parents on government assistance continue attending school in order to receive full benefits. Dropouts and those with unsatisfactory attendance records will have payments reduced by an average of $102 a month.
Statewide, officials reported, 9.7 percent of the nearly 30,000 teenagers affected by the rule had either left school, accumulated too many unexcused absences, or failed to provide information needed to verify their enrollment, which will force reductions in their December welfare checks.
In Milwaukee, the families of 2,322 of the 14,350 teenagers affected will have their benefits reduced due to noncompliance.
Kentucky Boards Issue
Report on Nepotism
Kentucky lawmakers should create an office of inspector general for education to investigate allegations of nepotism and other improper activity in school districts, a select committee formed by the Kentucky School Boards Association has recommended.
The panel, which included legislators, school-board members, and representatives from education and business organizations, noted that although "there are a number of laws which seem to prohibit, or are a remedy for questionable practices," they are often unenforced.
The proposed office, they said, would have sole responsibility for investigating charges of conflict of interest, illegal political activity, and gross mismanagement by school administrators.
The group also suggested that all district employees be prohibited from participating in campaign activities, and that the state board of education issue rules governing district staffing levels.
The Tennessee constitution requires only that the state school-finance system be developed in a rational--and not necessarily an equitable--manner, the state attorney general has argued.
Attorney General Charles W. Burson offered that opinion last month in a brief filed in response to a lawsuit challenging the legality of the current finance system. The state has asked Judge C. Allen High to dismiss the suit, which was filed by 66 rural school districts in July.
"All that is constitutionally required is some legislative scheme for funding public education that has a rational basis," the state argues in its brief. "These requirements have clearly been met."
The Pennsylvania legislature has passed a bill that sets guidelines for home education.
The House and Senate both approved the bill unanimously late last month, and Gov. Robert P. Casey is expected to sign it before the end of the year.
According to Timothy Potts, a spokesman for the secretary of education, the bill would require parents teaching their children at home to have a high-school education or its equivalent; to file a proposed course of study with local officials annually; and to keep a portfolio of their children's work.
Children would have to take standardized state tests at the 3rd-, 5th-, and 8th-grade levels. Local officials could order that children be returned to school if they were found to be making inadequate progress, but parents could appeal such decisions.
A Georgia school district facing a state-aid cutoff has hired an interim superintendent who says he hopes to "clear up" problems in the rural, one-school system.
The Quitman County school board recently announced that it has selected Eddie Daniels, a retired regional director for the state education department, to head the district while its elected superintendent, James J. Gary Jr., is on medical leave.
Mr. Gary has been cited for neglect of duty by a state ethics panel and has been reprimanded by the county board.
The Georgia Board of Education voted last month to cut off the district's funds for its failure to comply with state requirements.
Missouri should impose a tax on smokeless tobacco products and use the revenues to hire more school nurses and expand student-health services, the state board of education says.
Chewing tobacco and snuff are currently exempt from the state's tax on tobacco. Eliminating the exemption could raise about $5 million per year, the board estimates.
State officials say that half of Missouri's 545 school districts do not employ school nurses, and that some 90,000 students have no access to public-health services.
The board is seeking a legislator to sponsor its proposal during next year's session.
Georgians have little familiarity with the state's education-reform efforts, a new study commissioned by the state education department has found.
Sixty-seven percent of citizens and 57 percent of parents surveyed said they had no knowledge about the Quality Basic Education Act, the comprehensive 1985 school-improvement program, according to a survey conducted for the agency by an Atlanta public-relations firm.
Only 40 percent of the respondents said the state's public schools were improving. In addition, a majority of Georgia college admissions directors interviewed said the state's high school graduates were inferior to those from other states.