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News in Brief: Indiana Judge Refuses To Block Testing; Gambling Education

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Indiana Judge Refuses To Block Testing Program

A judge in Indiana has refused to step into the ongoing battle between four state lawmakers and the state education department over a student-assessment program.

A request to block the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress was rejected last month by Marion Superior Court Judge Patrick L. McCarty, who said the courts should not get involved in disputes between the legislature and the executive branch.

"If the legislator plaintiffs want to change the means of testing, or the goals, they need to garner 47 more votes in the House and 26 votes in the Senate and convince the governor to sign their product," Judge McCarty wrote.

John R. Price, a lawyer who represented test opponents in the case, said they will not appeal the ruling, but will continue to push for change in the legislature.

Last spring, the legislature approved adding short-answer and essay questions to the test, which has included only multiple-choice items for the past five years. The four lawmakers, as well as two parent groups, were seeking an injunction blocking the use of the essay portion of the exam, arguing that the questions are too personal.

The exam is scheduled to be given to more than 200,000 of the state's 3rd, 6th, and 10th graders in March.

Gambling Education

A proposal to add efforts to warn students about the dangers of compulsive gambling to school curricula has passed the New Jersey Assembly.

The Assembly, the lower house of the legislature, voted 65-9 late last month to approve the bill, which would place gambling in the state-mandated health curriculum, alongside alcohol and drug abuse.

Supporters said students are particularly susceptible to the lure of gambling in New Jersey, which boasts five horse-racing tracks, the Atlantic City casinos, and a popular state lottery. Awareness of the issue was raised last spring when criminal charges were brought against three Nutley high school students in connection with an illegal bookmaking operation that allegedly took in as much as $7,500 a week.

But John Henderson, a lobbyist for the New Jersey School Boards Association, said that a new law requiring the state to back new mandates with money--approved by voters last month as an amendment to the state constitution--will hinder the bill's movement through the Senate. (See Education Week, Nov. 15, 1995.)

That amendment and threatened cuts in education funding, Mr. Henderson said, "really make the gambling bill's future very dicey."

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