Gov. Lawton Chiles of Florida last week delivered a State of the State Address devoted principally to enhancing the lives, education, and safety of children.
Mr. Chiles asked for a moment of silence in memory of James Adams, the superintendent of the Lee County schools, who was shot to death in his office only the day before. (See story, page 8.)
He called on the legislature to pass his “safe schools’’ plan, which he unveiled late last year in his fiscal 1995 budget.
The Governor adopted a get-tough approach to dealing with juvenile offenders, some of whom would be sentenced to boot camps.
He also called for security personnel and devices for schools, alternative schools for disruptive students, and after-school and Saturday programs for middle school students.
“Today, too many of our school children have a better chance of being handed a gun than a diploma,’' Mr. Chiles said.
The Governor would use a 6.65 percent increase in education funding to upgrade school libraries, teacher training, and technology, and add full-service schools and preschool programs.
Mr. Chiles also called on the new education commissioner, Douglas L. Jamerson, to halve the state bureaucracy in terms of both personnel and regulations.
“That amounts to emptying at least five floors at the Florida Education Center,’' Mr. Chiles said.
Decreased red tape at the state level should enable local districts to cut their bureaucracies in half as well, he added.
Mr. Chiles also asked the legislature to end the state’s welfare program, as it currently exists, within five years. In the interim, he proposed limiting benefits to two years, during which recipients would be eligible for job training and child care.
Mr. Chiles also told lawmakers that more revenue will be needed in the future for safety measures.
“It is not an answer to rob education or the children’s lifeline services to fund justice,’' he said.
Weicker Defends Desegregation Plan
Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. of Connecticut last week defended his state’s sweeping desegregation plan and proposed school reforms.
Under the regional-desegregation plan, passed by the legislature last year, local councils and school boards are expected to devise plans this year incorporating magnet schools, interdistrict programs, or other integration strategies.
In his State of the State Address, Mr. Weicker said residents “will hear regional-planning efforts described as ‘forced busing’ and ‘the end of local control.’''
But “your future will be underwritten by children you will never know, children from communities and cultures unlike your own,’' he added. “When selfish voices whisper that these children are expendable, turn your head away.’'
The Governor also reiterated his support for the recommendations of the Commission on Educational Excellence for Connecticut, which outlined a plan last month for a performance-based education system. (See story, page 15.)
To prevent violence in and near schools, Mr. Weicker would spend $4 million on after-school and weekend recreational programs.
He also proposed $8 million for community-health centers and an increase in the number of school-based health clinics.
His budget also includes $5 million for school-to-work programs and summer jobs.
Thompson Proposes Huge State-Aid Hike
Gov. Tommy G. Thompson of Wisconsin has proposed an increase in state aid for schools that he called the largest in the state’s history.
He pledged in his State of the State Address to double state school aid to $200 million as part of an effort to drive down property taxes and wean districts from them.
Mr. Thompson also proposed sending an additional $25 million to the state’s 100 poorest districts to help equalize funding.
The Governor also unveiled plans to crack down on juvenile criminals and to build a facility for violent offenders.