State News Roundup
Tennessee lawmakers can have until June 30 of next year to devise a new method for funding education, the state court judge who ruled this summer that the state's existing school-finance system was unconstitutional said last week.
In setting the deadline, Chancellor C. Allen High said he would refrain from offering any guidance on how state officials should go about replacing the current system, which he said unfairly benefits wealthy districts and those with high levels of commercial activity. The judge cited the state constitution's separation of powers as keeping him from interfering with legislative matters.
The judge's decision was a disappointment for representatives of the 77 small school systems that had prevailed in the July ruling. The plaintiffs had asked Mr. High to offer guidelines for the General Assembly.
State officials said the deadline sets the stage for an appeal of the ruling, possibly to the state supreme court.
Tennessee observers speculated that the decision will make the school-finance issue a top priority for the legislature when it convenes in January. Gov. Ned McWherter said last week that he is considering a revised tax-reform plan based on a graduated personal-income tax.
Michigan should establish a state "education warranty" under which high schools would be billed for the remediation of incompetent graduates, Gov. John M. Engler has proposed.
The proposal, one of several initiatives outlined by the Governor this month in a special education address, would be aimed at assuring employers that the public-school graduates they hire will be competent.
In his address, Governor Engler also called for the chartering of innovative new public schools and for increased funding for school restructuring, choice programs, teacher training, math and science education, and other programs.
Mr. Engler's fellow Republicans in the legislature generally praised his initiatives, while most Democrats said the Governor's plan was overly broad, offered little that was new, and failed to adequately address issues related to school funding.
California students would have to be given information about AIDS prevention at least once in junior-high school and once again in high school, under a bill approved by the legislature.
The measure would allow parents to pull their children from class if they objected to the lessons.
Lawmakers passed a similar measure last year, but it was vetoed by former Gov. George Deukmejian.
Gov. Pete Wilson has yet not indicated if he will approve or veto the measure, according to a spokesman.
Vol. 11, Issue 04, Page 2