State News Roundup
A federal judge has threatened to drag the state of Arkansas back into the Little Rock desegregation case unless it does more to monitor the district's compliance with court orders.
U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright last month ruled that the state had not complied with the terms of a 1989 settlement that released it as a party in the case.
Judge Wright said the state had done well in fulfilling its financial obligations under the settlement, but had not kept its pledge to monitor minority-student achievement in the three districts involved: Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Pulaski County.
The judge gave the state until March 15 to address its shortcomings or risk being reinstated as a party in the case.
In the wake of the ruling, State Sen. Mike Beebe, a member of a legislative council that oversees school desegregation, called for the disciplining of state education department officials for being lax in monitoring duties.
Gifted Primary Programs: The Kentucky state board of education has adopted a plan that would prohibit advanced programs or other efforts to group gifted students in the primary grades. The plan also would make it harder for schools to group gifted students in the higher grades.
Officials said the decision was made because schools in Jefferson County that are operating under a desegregation order have created advanced programs that tend to work against integration.
Officials also said the new policy will discourage separating children by academic ability at an early age and will force schools to beef up supplemental services rather than creating specialized programs.
Course Standards Raised: The Texas state board of education has adopted a more rigorous set of high school courses, which some local officials are concerned will cause problems for football programs.
Under the voluntary guidelines, which were adopted last month, districts could require students to take 24 credits to graduate, instead of the minimum of 21 mandated by the state.
The new standards also spell out specific courses. If districts opt for the newer standards, students would take algebra I and II and geometry instead of two unspecified units of mathematics.
Some officials said they were worried that the additional coursework could interfere with the time allocated to football practice.