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News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

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Eastin Pushes for Enhanced Arts Ed.

State Superintendent Delaine Eastin is calling on Californians to resuscitate arts education, which in recent years has been strangled by tight fiscal constraints in many of the state's schools.

Ms. Eastin last month endorsed arts education recommendations for schools, state lawmakers, business leaders, and volunteers. Among them: requiring at least one art class for high school graduation; adding arts education standards to those the state is adopting in language arts, math, science, and social studies; and offering tax breaks to arts and entertainment companies that volunteer time, expertise, and other resources to schools.

In announcing the recommendations--which resulted from seven months of study by a task force Ms. Eastin convened--the state chief argued for the practical value of arts education. Not only has research suggested that studying the arts enhances academic achievement, she said, but one out of every five California high school graduates will likely work in jobs that require knowledge of the arts.

HOPE Extends Aid to Home-Schooled

As part of a one-year pilot program, home-schooled students in Georgia can now qualify for the same lottery-financed scholarship program available to students who graduate from regular high schools. ("States Adjust to Growing Home School Ranks," Sept. 17, 1997.)

If they earn a B average during their 1997-98 freshman year in college, home-schooled students will be reimbursed by the HOPE program for the money they spent on tuition, fees, and textbooks. And HOPE--which stands for Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally--will continue to pay their college expenses as long as the students maintain the B average.

In addition, the home-schooled students' scores on the SAT II: Subject Tests will be used to determine minimum scores required for HOPE eligibility in the future. Home-schooled students might then be able to receive HOPE scholarships at the beginning of their freshman year, just like students who graduate from accredited high schools.

This fall, 11 home-schooled students were admitted to state colleges and universities, and 92 entered private colleges.

Ga. Incentive Program Helps Schools

Fifty-eight Georgia schools are receiving a combined total of close to $6.7 million through the state's voluntary "pay for performance" program, which is designed to encourage excellence in school administration, student achievement, and faculty collaboration.

Schools that apply for the program describe their goals, and the proposals are reviewed and approved by a "reader panel" before the applicants can participate. To receive the incentive pay, schools must meet 80 percent of their objectives.

The award money--which comes out to about $2,000 per certified staff member--can be used for school improvements or for salary bonuses.

The program began in 1994, and the number of schools participating has steadily increased. Last year, 100 applications were submitted, 37 were approved for the program, and 29 received awards.

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