News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

January 12, 2000 2 min read

California Supreme Court Lets Stand Ruling on Proposition 227 Waivers

The California Supreme Court has refused to consider an appeal from two school systems that sought districtwide waivers of Proposition 227, a voter-approved initiative that required state schools to replace bilingual education with English immersion.

The state’s highest court left intact a ruling by a state appellate court in October that the Berkeley and Hayward districts could not seek waivers of the law’s requirements. A county superior court had ruled in favor of the districts in 1998, but the appellate court overrode that decision.

The supreme court’s refusal to consider the districts’ appeal means students will be able to receive bilingual education only at the request of individual parents, said Rae Belisle, the staff counsel for the California board of education.

“The default has changed,” Ms. Belisle said. “It used to be bilingual education. Now it’s an English-immersion program.”

A spokeswoman for the 23,000-student Hayward Unified School District said the school system would continue to provide bilingual education for a number of students whose parents had requested it.

—Mary Ann Zehr

Mississippi House Elects Musgrove Governor

Lt. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove of Mississippi was elected governor last week by the state House of Representatives. The unusual 86-36 vote came after neither Mr. Musgrove, a Democrat, nor Republican candidate Mike Parker won the constitutionally required majority of the popular or electoral college votes Nov. 2.

Mr. Musgrove, 43, succeeds Gov. Kirk Fordice, a Republican who served the maximum two terms. The new governor was supported by both the Mississippi Association of Educators, an affiliate of the National Education Association, and the Mississippi American Federation of Teachers, primarily for his strong support of the 8 percent raises the state’s teachers received last year.

Unlike his opponent, Mr. Musgrove did not favor tying the pay increases to teachers’ classroom performance.

The House vote was the first in state history under a provision of the constitution adopted in 1890 after Reconstruction.

—Ann Bradley

Rutland, Vt., Chief Named State Commissioner

The Vermont board of education last week chose David S. Wolk, the superintendent in Rutland, Vt., to become the state’s next commissioner of education.

Mr. Wolk had entered his name in the national search at the last minute, after residents urged him to consider the post and the state board upped the salary from $75,000 to $90,000 a year.

The 46-year-old has been the superintendent of the 3,000-student Rutland district since 1996. He formerly served as a state senator, the chief of policy for Gov. Howard Dean, and a high school principal.

Former Commissioner Marc Hull retired last fall because of health problems. Mr. Wolk will begin serving in his new position Feb. 14.

—Joetta L. Sack

A version of this article appeared in the January 12, 2000 edition of Education Week as News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup