News in Brief

September 13, 1989 6 min read

Kentucky Selects Experts To Assist in Redesign David W. Hornbeck, Maryland’s state school superintendent from 1976 to 1988, was selected last week to serve as a consultant to Kentucky legislators charged with redesigning the state’s school system.

The state supreme court ruled in June that the school system failed to meet the constitutional requirement for an “efficient system of common schools.” Kentucky legislators have until next spring to completely restructure the public schools.

Mr. Hornbeck, who joined the Washington law firm of Hogan and Hartson after stepping down from his Maryland post, will consult with the curriculum subcommittee of the legislative task force that is handling the redesign effort.

Mr. Hornbeck currently is the chairman of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

John Augenblick, of the Denver firm of Augenblick, Van de Water, and Associates, also was hired last week, to be a consultant for the school-finance subcommittee.

Mr. Augenblick formerly was the director of the education-finance center for the Education Commission of the States.

In addition, the task force selected Vic Hellard, executive director of the state’s legislative research commission, and Thomas Dorman, Gov. Wallace G. Wilkinson’s legislative liaison, to serve as overall coordinators of the effort.

Luvern Cunningham, a retired professor from Ohio State University, had already been chosen to aid the governance subcommittee.

Thompson Vetoes Parts Of Sex-Education Bill

Gov. James R. Thompson of Illinois has struck down major portions of a sex-education bill passed with nearly unanimous support by the legislature in June.

The legislature should not dictate the content of sex-education and family-life courses taught in the state’s public schools, Governor Thompson said last month in using his “amendatory veto” powers to change the bill.

The Governor believes that school districts should have the same freedom to determine the content of sex-education classes as they do in all other courses, said Gail Lieberman, his chief education aide.

Ms. Lieberman said Mr. Thompson also deleted a portion of the bill that would have ordered the state board to conduct a survey of the sexual habits of high-school students because no funding was provided to meet the requirement.

Illinois lawmakers will decide whether to override the Governor’s action when they return for amendatory-veto sessions next month.

Iowa officials are pushing to resolve the state’s long-running debate over home schooling before prosecutions of parents and uncertified church-school teachers begin.

A one-year moratorium on enforcing the state’s compulsory-education law expired in July, after the legislature was unable to reach an agreement on a new policy. (See Education Week, May 17, 1989.)

Gov. Terry E. Branstad last month urged the legislature to ease the attendance laws, adding that county attorneys should make their own decisions about whether to prosecute violators.

But state Director of Education William L. Lepley has urged that prosecutions be delayed until the state board of education clarifies the issue.

The California Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal in a case involving the state’s unique constitutional guarantee of a safe school environment.

In May, the First District Court of Appeals ruled in Hosemann v. Oakland Unified School District that the parents of Stephen Hosemann, a former Oakland student, were not entitled to damages after another student repeatedly attacked the boy in 1982. (See Education Week, May 31, 1989.)

That decision overturned a lower court’s ruling that the safe-school guarantee gave students “an inalienable right” to a safe campus and made schools liable for violent incidents.

Georgia legislators were scheduled to begin a special session this week to consider taxing the pensions of teachers and other state and local retirees.

Henry Thomasson, economic adviser to Gov. Joe Frank Harris, said lawmakers will consider a measure that would subject state and local retirees’ benefits to state taxes. The measure also would exclude from taxation the first $8,000 in 1989 income, increasing to $10,000 in 1990, for all retirees, including those in the private sector.

Governor Harris called the special session after he and legislative leaders agreed on a plan that would conform to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring that states tax the pensions of state and federal retirees equally.

Kansas law prohibits a professor at a state university from serving on the state board of education, a state judge has ruled.

Shawnee County Judge James P. Buchele also ruled, however, that Everett L. Johnson, a professor of electrical engineering at Wichita State University, may continue to serve on the board while the case is being appealed. Mr. Johnson joined the board in April.

Judge Buchele upheld the constitutionality of a law that bars state employees from serving on the board.

Maryland schools should be subject to closure or state takeover if they fail to meet minimum standards under a proposed accreditation system, a legislative advisory panel has recommended.

In a report to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, the 11-member Commission on School Performance last month urged the establishment of a two-tiered system of “rewards and sanctions” for the state’s 24 school districts and 1,201 public schools.

The report’s eight-point plan to improve academic performance in the state also includes a call for the elimination of state regulations that “constrain school staffs in applying their professional abilities and creativity.”

State tax revenues in 1988 were 7 percent above the previous year’s level, according to a new study by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Collections from sales, income, and other taxes totaled $264 billion in 1988, the study found.

Texas, Florida, and six other states had revenue increases of more than 15 percent above the previous year, while three states--Wyoming, Oregon, and West Virginia--experienced revenue decreases.

Copies of “State Government Tax Collections in 1988" (GF88, No. 1) are available for $3 each from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

The Georgia Board of Education has approved a career-ladder program for teachers.

If the legislature allocates funding, 33 districts will implement the program, which is expected to cost $3 million in its first year.

Under the program, teachers who show improvement in at least one of four areas and demonstrate a willingness to take on new tasks will be eligible for up to $14,500 a year in additional pay.

The career ladder is one of the few remaining unfunded provisions of the state’s 1985 Quality Basic Education Act.

Gov. Rudy Perpich of Minnesota will ask state lawmakers next year to adopt an alternate route to teacher certification.

Such a program, modeled on one in New Jersey, could increase minority representation in the teaching force and address shortages of qualified teachers in such subjects as science and mathematics, said Patrice Vick, a spokesman for the Governor.

Mr. Perpich’s legislative agenda will also include a proposal for a statewide mathematics and science academy, funding for educational technology, and the creation of 10 demonstration schools based on Washington State’s Schools for the 21st Century Program, Ms. Vick indicated.

An Indiana task force will develop a pilot school “choice” program, Superintendent of Public Instruction H. Dean Evans has announced.

The task force, part of a 25-member panel Mr. Evans plans to appoint to advise him on education initiatives, is scheduled to make a proposal for consideration in the 1990 legislative session.

Mr. Evans said he envisions a plan under which the state would provide funds for districts to participate on a voluntary basis in programs giving parents more freedom to select a school outside their district.

Gov. Bob Martinez of Florida has appointed a 12-member panel to recommend reforms for the elementary and middle grades.

The panel was directed to focus on ways to meet the needs of minority students and to lower the state’s dropout rate.

Mr. Martinez asked the group to submit its preliminary recommendations by Dec. 15 to permit him to include them in his budget proposal. The group’s final report is due Feb. 1.