A State Capitals Roundup
Md. Reaches Deal on Giving More
To Baltimore Schools
The Baltimore schools will receive an additional $55 million in fiscal 2002 to settle a lawsuit over the state's obligation to provide city students with an adequate education.
Maryland officials have dropped an appeal that would have challenged a circuit court judge's finding that the state had failed to meet its obligation to the low-performing district.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening decided to drop the appeal after agreeing to add more money to aid Baltimore's system. The state struck a deal in 1997 with the city and the Baltimore district by which Maryland agreed to provide $250 million over five years in exchange for increased oversight and management restructuring of the troubled system.
But last year, Baltimore students, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, won additional funding in court when Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Joseph H. Kaplan ruled that the state needed to spend an additional $200 million to $260 million each year.
Gov. Glendening said last week that the additional $55 million should be enough to "satisfy everyone." But that didn't include Susan Goering, the executive director of the aclu of Maryland, which represents several Baltimore students in the case.
"What's in the governor's budget is not enough, in our opinion," Ms. Goering said.
Bill on National Motto Debated in Va.
Members of the Virginia House of Delegates voted overwhelming last week to pass a measure that would require all schools to post the national motto, "In God We Trust," in a prominent place.
The proposal, which was approved by a vote of 84-14 on Jan. 29, is now awaiting consideration in the Senate, which, like the House, is controlled by Republicans. Gov. James S. Gilmore III, also a Republican, has expressed support for the plan.
The bill has drawn strong opposition from the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which contends that forcing schools to post the statement would be violate the First Amendment's prohibition against a government establishment of religion.
But the measure's primary sponsor, Del. Robert G. Marshall, argues that the national motto is not a religious symbol.
"It's on all of our dollar bills," Mr. Marshall said. "It's an expression of hope for our country. It's representative of our history."
—Jessica L. Sandham
Ariz. Releases Test Questions
After a year of pressure from the local press and some legislators, the Arizona Department of Education released 63 questions last week from the first round of its controversial test for high school students.
The department disclosed 51 mathematics, seven reading, and five writing questions from the spring 1999 Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards test.
The Arizona Republic, the state's largest newspaper, sued the department for a copy of the test last year after a large number of students failed it and parents and teachers began questioning the fairness of requiring students to pass the AIMS tests before they could graduate. A court ruled in favor of the Phoenix-based newspaper, but the state has appealed.
The questions released last week will not be used on future tests, said state schools Superintendent Lisa Graham Keegan.
She cautioned people not to jump to conclusions when reviewing the questions—particularly those from the math portion of the exam, which only 12 percent of sophomores passed. "The point is not whether adults can answer this, but whether our students are being taught this," she said.
—Darcia Harris Bowman
Vol. 20, Issue 21, Page 16