State News Roundup
A proposal to abolish undergraduate majors in education at Maryland's public colleges has won the support of the two universities with the largest teacher education programs in the state.
Towson State University and the University of Maryland at College Park have endorsed a state task force's recommendation that aspiring teachers earn baccalaureate degrees in the liberal arts and sciences before undertaking a fifth year of professional training.
The task force presented its findings--the culmination of a yearlong study on teacher preparation--to the state's higher education commission this month.
Although a similar plan was introduced two years ago by the state secretary of higher education, it was dropped due to a lack of support from officials at state colleges and universities.
But the endorsement of the two schools that graduate most of Maryland's teachers could bolster a campaign to restructure teacher preparation there.
College students interested in teaching would not be required to take any education courses under the task-force model. But those students seeking admission to graduate programs in education would be asked to pass an examination measuring their basic literacy and their proficiency in subjects they studied as undergraduates.
The higher-education commission, the state school board, and the governing boards of public colleges are expected to vote on the plan next year.
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts was scheduled to hear arguments this week in the appeal of a ruling that the state welfare department illegally denied child care to women on welfare seeking education and training to help them become self-sufficient.
Anticipating a shortage of revenues, the administration of Gov. William F. Weld in mid-September froze child-care benefits for welfare recipients whose education and training plans had been approved after Sept. 4 and placed them on a waiting list. It later decided to continue benefits only for those candidates who were teenagers in either a high school or General Educational Development program.
Responding to a lawsuit filed by welfare recipients affected by the freeze, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Margot Botsford ruled last month that the state's action violated the federal welfare-reform law, which requires states to guarantee such benefits to Aid to Families with Dependent Children recipients who are in approved education or training activities under the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training program.
Judge Botsford issued a preliminary injunction Nov. 12 ordering the state to restore child-care benefits to some 1,200 welfare recipients. The Weld Administration appealed the decision, however, and was granted a stay of Judge Botsford's order until the appeal is decided.
Deborah Harris, a staff lawyer with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, said advocates are hopeful that child-care benefits, which she called "absolutely critical'' to the success of welfare reform, will be restored to those pursuing education activities before the start of the new school term next month.
Infractions involving school buses accounted for more than one-third of traffic violations at Southern California railroad crossings in a recent study undertaken by state officials.
Thirty-four school buses were among the 84 vehicles that monitors at various railroad crossings observed violating traffic laws during a 13-day period, officials of the California Public Utilities Commission reported this month.
The violators included 32 school buses that while carrying children failed to stop before crossing railroad tracks.
In response to the study, the utilities commission has begun a
campaign to educate school-bus drivers about traffic safety and traffic
laws at railroad crossings.