State News Roundup
A state advisory council in Texas has recommended that every school in the state begin providing "age-appropriate sex education'' to schoolchildren from kindergarten through 12th grade.
The Adolescent Parenting and Pregnancy Advisory Council advised the state education agency to adopt "age-appropriate, scientifically valid, and developmentally appropriate information about human sexuality.''
The council also called on the legislature, which is expected to take up the matter this session, to give priority to abstinence in such courses, and it recommended that parent-advisory councils be created in each district to help design the courses.
Currently, no sex-education curriculum is mandated under state law, and classes vary from school to school, said Larry Shaw, one of the council's chairmen.
Conservative Christian critics in the state have objected to the council's plan, saying it undermines parental authority and could pose a danger to children by exposing them to too much information too soon.
But, Mr. Shaw stressed, parents could withdraw their child from a sex-education class if they found the material objectionable.
Citing the fact that one-third of all high school dropouts in Texas are pregnant at the time they leave school, Mr. Shaw said that improved sex education is "critical to stemming an alarming trend.''
A California appeals court has sided with the state school board in its long-running dispute with the superintendent of public instruction over budgetary and other powers.
The state's 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled last month that board members should have greater authority than the schools chief over budgeting and should be allowed to increase the size of their staffs.
Bill Honig, a Democrat who was forced to relinquish the nonpartisan post after his conviction last month on conflict-of-interest charges, had vigorously opposed the board's pursuit of such powers. The board is dominated by Republican appointees.
Mr. Honig was sentenced last week. (See related story, page 22.)
The appeals court also ruled that the state education department should pay $150,000 in legal costs the board had incurred as a result of the power struggle with the state superintendent.