News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Calif. Adult Ed. Programs Reportedly Under Investigation
The California Department of Education has turned over thousands of documents to federal officials investigating the possible misuse of funds by organizations paid to run adult education programs.
"We're working to provide whatever material they ask for," said Doug Stone, the spokesman for state schools Superintendent Delaine Eastin. "Our posture is to provide what they want."
News of the probe became public last month when TheLos Angeles Times reported that the office of the U.S. Department of Education's inspector general was investigating 10 organizations that received federal funds to provide English and citizenship classes.
Federal and state officials declined to confirm whether an investigation was being conducted. According to the newspaper, the possible irregularities include payments for classes that were not offered and equipment that was not purchased.
A management team appointed this spring by Ms. Eastin to run the state's adult education program, which oversees $38 million in federal grants, has moved to remedy past problems, Mr. Stone said.
Court Rejects Finance Case
A small Texas district is not exempt from having to surrender nearly half of its property-tax revenues to the state's school finance system because of its impressive academic performance, a state court has ruled.
The 200-student Miami school district sued the state last year, arguing that it was not legally bound by the state's share-the-wealth finance law because it is an "exemplary" district with high test scores and low dropout rates. Under Texas law, high-achieving districts are exempted from state education requirements, except for those set out in the law. The school finance requirement, under which Miami pays roughly $1 million a year to the state, is not among the listed exceptions. But District Court Judge Scott McCown ruled May 22 that district officials were trying to create a "loophole" in the law.
The district will likely appeal the decision, Superintendent Danny Cochran said.
Mass. Reverses Award Rules
For the first--and probably last--time, the Massachusetts education department will not consider candidates for the state's "teacher of the year" award this year unless they have a master's degree.
After the award recipient is announced this summer, the winner will receive a full-time, yearlong paid sabbatical to travel across the state offering his or her teaching expertise to other schools and districts. The master's qualification was put in place under former Commissioner of Education Robert V. Antonucci as a way to make the requirements for the state's top teacher similar to those for other teachers with paid sabbatical positions with the state education department.
Following complaints that highly qualified teachers were being barred from consideration, the department decided that a master's degree will not be required during next year's selection process.
Vol. 17, Issue 38, Page 13