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The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled that proposals on class size must be negotiated between a school district and a teachers' union.

In its action, the appellate court last month upheld a finding by the state employment relations board in a dispute involving the Tigard School District and the Tigard Education Association.

Under state law, class size is pertinent to "conditions of employment" and thus is included on the list of items to be negotiated during contract talks, the court said.

"Substantial evidence supports ... [the] finding that the [class-size] proposal significantly affects workload," the court said. "It determines the number of parent-teacher conferences, the number of papers to be graded, and the hours spent on assistance to individual students."

Karen Famous, president of the Oregon Education Association, said the district did not want to bargain over class size, while the union believed the issue was important.

The court's decision "affects all our members," she said. "We were thrilled."


Maryland's schools are inadequately preparing and motivating students to enter scientific and technological careers and are failing generally to foster scientific literacy, a state panel has concluded.

The Maryland Task Force on Mathematics, Science, and Technology, in a report released late last month, charges that the state "is facing a crisis" in mathematics and science education despite the fact that Maryland ranks third nationally in technology employment.

The panel found that schools in the state have produced a number of ''promising" math and science programs. But, it said, there is "little evidence of coordination among these programs or a clear connection of these separate programs" to statewide education-reform efforts.

The task force recommends a four-part plan for reform that would establish math, science, and technology as priorities in grades K-12; strengthen teacher-education programs; increase the number of children with access to "stimulating learning opportunities in math and science;'' and provide resources for math and science teachers.

It also recommended that the state consider assessing teacher competence, providing teachers time and additional compensation for retraining, creating a statewide demonstration laboratory for educational technologies, and establishing a state fund to compensate districts that offer competitive salaries to math and science teachers.

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