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Ind. Dropouts Could Face Loss of Driver's Licenses

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The Indiana legislature has approved a bill that would authorize the state bureau of motor vehicles to invalidate or deny driver's licenses for students under age 18 who drop out of school.

A provision in the bill would exempt students who had to drop out because of financial hardship, if the claims were found valid by the students' school principals.

Opponents of the bill, which passed late last month and awaits Gov. Evan Bayh's signature, proposed changing the mandatory school-attendance age from 16 to 18 instead. But proponents said that the possible loss of a driver's license would be a stronger motivation for students to stay in school.

In a separate action, the legislature last week overrode Governor Bayh's veto of a bill that blocks teachers' unions from collecting dues from nonmembers. The Governor argued that communities should decide whether nonunion teachers should be forced to make payments to the unions under collective-bargaining agreements.

Fla. Charter Schools: Despite sharp opposition, the Florida House has approved a charter-school bill.

The House voted 98 to 20 last month to grant businesses, teachers, and parent groups the option of launching self-governing public schools free from most district rules. Under the House bill, districts with more than 50,000 students could set up three such schools, while smaller school systems could open one each.

The Senate approved a similar measure earlier in April.

Critics charge that charter schools might imperil funding for other public schools and lead to a segregated educational system.

But Diane McCain, a spokeswoman for the state education department, said the idea would give "education a needed dose of innovation and competition."

Legislators are consolidating the bills to send to Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, who is expected to sign the measure.

Voucher Plan Opposed: A recent survey shows that a solid majority of Wisconsin residents oppose Gov. Tommy G. Thompson's proposal to expand the Milwaukee school-voucher program to include religious schools.

The proposal was opposed by 56 percent, and favored by only 38 percent, of the 410 adults surveyed last month by Wisconsin Public Radio and St. Norbert College in De Pere. The other 6 percent of respondents were undecided.

Even the Governor's fellow Republicans appeared divided over the voucher proposal, the statewide poll found, while Democrats solidly rejected it. A narrow majority of Milwaukee residents endorsed it.

The survey also found that 70 percent of respondents wanted to continue to elect the state superintendent, while just 25 percent favored giving the Governor the power to appoint the schools' chief, as Mr. Thompson has proposed.

Hefty Aid Package: The Oregon legislature has approved a $3.5 billion education-aid package, the largest sum ever set aside for the state's public schools.

The bill--which cleared both houses last month--would add $100 million to Gov. John Kitzhaber's school-aid proposal.

A spokeswoman for the Republican Governor said last week that he had not seen the final bill. But observers expect him to sign it, despite concerns that it could cut into spending in other areas.

Illinois Day Care: Illinois's day-care programs should have more educational content, and the state should increase child-care subsidies, a task force appointed by Gov. Jim Edgar has concluded.

In recommendations published last month, the Governor's Work Group on Early Childhood proposed grants for child-care centers and family day-care homes that incorporate early-childhood programs run by trained teachers.

The 53 members of the task force also recommended that the state increase the child-care subsidy paid to low-income parents in each of the next three years.

State Sen. Frank Watson, a co-chairman of the group, introduced a bill incorporating many of its recommendations, which would cost about $30 million next year.

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