News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Texas school districts would generally be barred from starting school before the week of Aug. 21 under a measure that has been approved by both houses of the legislature, though in slightly different forms.
From the start, the bill had the support of business owners who wanted to keep their teenage workers on the job—and vacationers on the beach—through at least the first part of August. More recently, they were joined by some parents and a group called Texans for a Traditional School Year. Many Texas districts start school in early August.
The bill's author, Democratic Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., agrees with the businesses and also argues that a later starting date would give migrant students the time they need in the summer to catch up on schoolwork that they have missed.
The House version of the bill, passed May 16, would allow school districts to get a three-year waiver of the rule from the state education commissioner, a change that could be accepted or rejected by the Senate or negotiated in a House-Senate conference committee.
Teachers Union Sues Ohio Over Charters
A coalition of Ohio teachers' unions and other education groups filed suit against the state last week, charging that the state's charter school system violates state law and diverts money from public schools.
The lawsuit was filed on May 14 by a coalition that includes the Ohio Federation of Teachers, the Ohio School Boards Association, and other education groups. It contends that the state's charter school program violates a provision in the state constitution calling for a system of common schools. The suit also asserts that the involvement of for-profit management companies in Ohio's charter program is illegal under state law. ("Challenges to Charter Laws Mount," May 2, 2001.)
The school groups are not opposed to charter schools, but rather to the way they have been implemented in Ohio, said Tom Mooney, the president of the OFT, the state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.
A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Education said that state officials would not respond to the charges until they had had a chance to review the suit in depth.
—Jessica L. Sandham
Vol. 20, Issue 37, Page 21