News in Brief

April 05, 1989 3 min read

The Idaho Senate adjourned last week without taking final action on a statewide open-enrollment bill, thus killing the measure for the year.

The House-approved measure, which would have taken effect in 1990, would have allowed parents to enroll their children in any school district in the state. Districts would have had the option to refuse to accept any transfer students, but would have been barred from preventing their own students from leaving.

The bill would not have provided additional funding for students’ transportation costs, and it would have barred students from leaving their home district solely for athletic reasons.

Minnesota became the first state to adopt a statewide school-choice program last year. Similar laws have been enacted this year in Iowa and Arkansas. A third measure won approval in the Nevada Senate, but died in the House.

Children of Texas teachers would receive free tuition at state universities and partial tuition at private universities under a measure adopted by the Senate last month.

If enacted, the measure would be a “positive incentive” for experienced instructors to stay in the classroom and would help ease the state’s shortage of teachers, said Senator Chet Edwards, the bill’s chief sponsor.

Mr. Edwards said a recent survey by the Senate education committee found that of the few high-school students aiming to become teachers, 9 out of 10 were the children of teachers. By providing those students with college tuition, the state would go a long way toward easing its teacher shortage, he argued.

The bill, now pending in the House education committee, would provide tuition only to children whose parents had taught in Texas schools for eight or more years.

In other recent action, the Senate adopted and sent to the House a measure that would require school districts to disclose to parents which of their instructors lack certification for the subject they are teaching.

Kentucky’s school superintendent has created a task force to develop a model “character and values” curriculum for all grades.

According to Superintendent John Brock, the voluntary curriculum, to be ready by March 1990, will identify a “common core of values in a democratic and pluralistic society.”

“I personally disagree that teaching values is teaching religion,” Mr. Brock said.

Values that could be addressed by the curriculum, Mr. Brock said, include compassion, courtesy, critical inquiry, due process, equal opportunity, honesty, human worth and dignity, justice, knowledge, and respect for others’ rights.

Nebraska should rely less on property taxes and more on sales and income taxes to give its public schools more stable financial and political support, a new report to the legislature advises.

“The narrow property-tax support base and inadequate state support for education is one of the reasons that school reorganization has been resisted in Nebraska,” the state’s 16-member School Finance Review Commission said in a report presented to the legislature’s education committee.

The report recommended that the state either approve a new 1-cent sales tax or raise other existing taxes, and earmark 20 percent of all income-tax proceeds for the districts in which they are collected.

Site-based school management offers the best hope for improving education in Utah, Gov. Norman H. Bangerter said at a recent statewide conference of educators.

“It is my firm belief that it is now time to move the responsibility for the improvement of education from the state house to the school house,” Mr. Bangerter said.

The Governor said he would ask the legislature next year to expand a current pilot program in which six school districts receive all state aid in the form of block grants. Mr. Bangerter said all districts should be allowed to join the experiment.

Mr. Bangerter said other school-improvement strategies that merit a closer look include:

Personalizing schooling for students through parental choice and better use of education technology.

Performance rewards for high-achieving schools and outcome-based school accreditation.

Career ladders and and alternative certification for teachers and administrators.

Partnerships between businesses and schools.

A version of this article appeared in the April 05, 1989 edition of Education Week as News in Brief