State News Roundup
The Blandin Foundation, a Minnesota-based philanthropy that focuses on rural issues, has given $2.3 million to the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota to establish a Center for School Change.
The five-year grant is intended to produce "dramatic improvement in Minnesota's public schools," Paul Olson, the foundation's president, said in announcing the grant.
"This is not a grant about educational theory," he added. "It will help educators and communities build new kinds of educational programs."
While most of the emphasis will be on rural communities, Mr. Olson said, the ideas funded by the center could be replicated in urban districts.
Joe Nathan, a senior fellow at the institute and a member of President Bush's advisory committee on education, will be the center's director.
The center's funds will go to develop models of restructured schools, provide funding to such projects, and pay for assessment studies and dissemination of the results.
The center will also sponsor a series of meetings in the state on school-reform issues.
Grants of $15,000 to $20,000 each will go to approximately 30 districts next year to develop new ideas for improving schools. Additional grants are expected in following years. The institute also plans to provide training for educators carrying out the ideas.
James W. Dyke Jr., Virginia's secretary of education, has recommended that the state board of education consider adopting a year-round school schedule.
Mr. Dyke urged the state board to study whether a school year with short vacations spaced throughout the year would help prevent Virginia students from losing academic ground over the long summer break.
The board agreed to study Mr. Dyke's recommendations, which also included overhauling high-school programs to better prepare students who do not plan to attend college.
Establishing year-round classes will be easier for rapidly growing Texas school districts in light of the state education board's decision to assist districts interested in the alternative schedule.
Adopted last month, the board's decision would alter testing calendars and allow state education officials to adapt regulations to conform to year-round schedules.
Under the plan, student vacations in districts that adopt the year-round calendar would be staggered to reduce class sizes, but students would be required to attend the same number of school days. Two more readings of the plan are required for final approval.
In addition to the classroom modifications, the Texas plan also would allow students to participate in extracurricular activities even if the events occurred during scheduled vacations, state officials said.
Superintendent of Public Instruction William B. Keene of Delaware resigned last month, four months after the resignation was announced in a haze of uncertainty by Gov. Michael N. Castle.
When Mr. Castle announced Mr. Keene's resignation last May, the superintendent refused to say whether he would be departing. Instead, Mr. Keene--who, with 10 years in office, was one of the nation's senior state chiefs--would acknowledge only that the state board had renewed his contract for one more year.
The two men had disagreed over a number of issues. Elizabeth Bingham, a spokesman for the Governor, noted last spring that Mr. Castle had ''not been entirely pleased" with Mr. Keene's performance, and that the Governor would be "looking for new leadership in education."
Mr. Keene's resignation takes effect Dec. 31, at which time he will join the University of Delaware as special assistant to the dean of the College of Education.