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Number of Expulsions Soars in Wisconsin

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Wisconsin schools expelled about 70 percent more students last year than in 1992-93, the result of "get tough" disciplinary policies in many districts, state education officials said.

During the 1993-94 school year, 918 students were expelled, of the state's total enrollment of 844,001, according to a state school-performance report. In 1992-93--the first year such statistics were kept--536 students were expelled,out of 829,415 students.

State education officials began keeping track of expulsion rates after state legislators called for yearly school report cards.

Robert Gomoll, a deputy state superintendent, last week attributed the increase to heightened concern about violence in communities and schools. He said administrators also are worried about student safety, liability issues, and the national rise in violence and drug abuse.

In addition to acts of outright violence, students can be expelled for possessing drugs or weapons on school grounds, committing crimes outside of school, or threatening a school employee or school board member.

The expulsion figures do not include students in alternative programs.

Mr. Gomoll said that, ideally, many students would be "expelled with services," such as enrollment in correspondence courses or relocation to other school districts. But that is not always the case, he added.

"There should be a safety net for [expelled] they're not condemned," Mr. Gomoll said. "In the long range, we would hope that these students would be able to continue their schooling."

Ranking Education High: Most Georgians are concerned with improving education in their state, but many believe little is happening to achieve that goal, a new study says.

The study, commissioned by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, found that 85 percent of residents think improving the quality of public schools and education is a top priority.

It also found, however, that Georgians "are frustrated because they see clear courses of action to address their concerns, yet see little movement in these areas." That, the study says, leaves many residents unwilling to pay higher taxes to support schools until those concerns are addressed.

Copies of the report, "Conditions for Change," are available for free from the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, 233 Peachtree St., Suite 200, Atlanta, Ga. 30303; (404) 223-2280.

Basis for Comparison: Oregon officials have released a study that will serve as a starting point for assessing the condition of young children as they enter school.

The study gauged the language and literacy skills, health status, and motor skills of 814 randomly selected children entering kindergarten in the state in 1993. A similar study will be conducted in about four years to provide a comparison.

Among other findings, the study showed that children from families who spend more time interacting together and with relatives tend to have higher levels of language and literacy development.

It also compared Oregon children's physical and language development with that of children assessed nationally on similar measures in the 1970's and 1980's, the most recent comparable data available.

The Oregon Progress Board, a citizens' group that oversees the tracking of various performance measures set by the state, issued the study. The Northwest Regional Laboratory in Portland conducted the study, which was financed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation as part of its Kids Count project, an effort to develop profiles of the status of children in every state.

Management Assailed: The executive director of the Texas Teacher Retirement System has resigned amid harsh criticism of the management of the $38 billion pension fund.

Wayne Blevins submitted his resignation to the pension fund's board this month after a report from the Sunset Advisory Commission hammered the retirement system's administration.

The commission, a legislative group that regularly reviews state agencies, said that while the fund is "robust" and the state could afford to pay heftier pensions to retired teachers, lavish spending by top staff members should be curtailed. A spokesman for the pension system said last week that officials would not comment until after a meeting of the agency's board.

John Sharp, the Texas comptroller, had previously criticized purchases of china for the executive dining room, expensive artwork, and a posh health club.

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