State News Roundup
Gov. L. Douglas Wilder's rejection of Virginia's move toward an outcomes-based education plan has halted the state board of education's interest in the initiative.
The proposed O.B.E. program is now dead, James P. Jones, the president of the board, said last week.
In May, the board adopted a Common Core of Learning, which set standards and goals for the skills and abilities students were expected to acquire by age 16. Critics argued that the program elevated instruction in values and self-esteem over academics.
Supporters said that while the program was intended to bolster student learning, it was never clearly explained.
Governor Wilder announced last month that he would not support the program.
"Widespread misunderstanding'' was at the root of the initiative's failure, Mr. Jones said. "Education reform has to speak more clearly and simply about what its goals are.''
The Texas and New Mexico state boards of education were set to meet last Friday at an unprecedented joint meeting.
Board members were expected to discuss immigration, the possible effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and other common concerns.
The joint session marks the first time any two state boards have met together, according to the National Association of State Boards of Education.
"State boards simply haven't found it necessary to meet together over issues before,'' Andrew Stamp, a spokesman for the association, said. "But when you're talking about such issues as immigration and trade, these border states see shared concerns.''
The meeting in El Paso was also expected to include discussion of overcrowding in schools, lack of bilingual-education teachers, and new reform initiatives.
Both Commissioner of Education Lionel R. Meno of Texas and Superintendent of Public Instruction Alan D. Morgan of New Mexico were scheduled to address the meeting.
A Hartford, Conn., judge has upheld the state's system of reimbursement for private special-education and psychiatric centers.
The judge ruled last month against a challenge brought by the Connecticut Association of Child Caring Agencies, which argued that the 14 centers it represents should be paid in full by the state for costs associated with the care of seriously disturbed children.
Under a state law in effect since 1990, the state is responsible only for "reasonable'' expenses, which state officials maintain do not include all of the funds agencies say they need to care for the children.
The funding the centers receive from the state falls about 20 percent short of the amount the centers need to provide services to roughly 1,000 children and adolescents, 90 percent of whom are placed by the state, according to Ray Gorman, the director of the association.
Some agencies have had to make such drastic staffing cuts that they are "flirting dangerously on licensure requirements,'' Mr. Gorman said, while others have had to cut off some of the services they have traditionally provided.
In some cases, agencies have already begun plans to turn away children the state would have placed with them. Although the agencies' original charters may mandate that they care for such children, Mr. Gorman said, "in many cases, they are being forced out of that.''