State News Roundup
Maine has become the eighth state to join Re:Learning, a cooperative education-reform initiative sponsored by the Education Commission of the States, the Coalition of Essential Schools, and participating states.
Nine school districts in Maine will participate in Re:Learning, a research-based effort that encourages teachers and administrators to redesign their schools to get all students more directly involved in their learning.
"Our investment in Re:Learning becomes even more important during these difficult times," said Gov. John R. McKernan Jr. "I am convinced that the changes we make today will pay off many times when our economic recovery begins."
More than 350 schools around the country are using the Re:Learning approach. Indiana is expected to announce its participation later this month.
Texas state officials must close at least one state school for mentally retarded individuals and move 600 residents of similar facilities around the state to placements in the community, under a settlement approved last week in a long-running federal court case.
The agreement is the third approved in the 17-year-old lawsuit challenging the quality of care in state institutions for the mentally retarded. The plaintiffs charged that residents are often inappropriately warehoused or are abused and neglected in the state schools.
In his order, U.S. District Judge Barefoot Sanders said "significant and lasting improvements had been made" in the state's system of care for those individuals.
Judge Sanders said the lawsuit could be dismissed seven days after the first school is closed and residents are relocated.
The court also will monitor the community placements for two more years.
A task force appointed by the state legislature is already at work trying to determine which, if any, of the state's 13 institutions should be closed. The panel is expected to make a recommendation to the governor by March.
Some parents had opposed the agreement because they said their children would not be able to function in the community-based programs. It was favored, however, by other advocates for the mentally retarded, including representatives for the plaintiffs.
Vol. 11, Issue 16, Page 4