News in Brief

May 03, 1989 5 min read

The quality of teaching has improved in North Carolina school systems participating in a pilot career-ladder program, but the state should proceed with caution in expanding the effort, according to a new study.

The report was prepared by the Research and Service Institute of Brentwood, Tenn., to guide the legislature in determining whether to implement the program, which is in its fourth and final test year, on a statewide basis.

Gov. James G. Martin and the state board of education support implementation, but the move is opposed by the North Carolina Association of Educators.

The program, now operating in 16 school systems, offers teachers opportunities to advance their careers and earn extra pay by improving their performance and taking on new duties.

The report cites a variety of data indicating that the program has improved teacher performance by “focusing attention on effective instruction and staff development.” But it says that “no evidence was found to support a conclusion that other aspects of effective schooling are improving” more in pilot sites than in other districts.

The program’s success “hinges on a well-planned and well-implemented effort for program expansion,” the report concludes. Expanding it too quickly would result in “chaotic” implementation, it warns.

School-Construction Needs

Said Unmet in Alabama

Although a new report by the Alabama education department calls for nearly $1.6 billion for school construction and other capital improvements, funds for such projects will decrease by about $39 million in fiscal 1989 under a budget passed by the legislature last month.

Under the $2.4-billion education budget cleared by a House-Senate conference committee last month, schools will lose $10 million in maintenance funds and another $29 million in one-time funds approved last year for capital outlays.

The budget, which awaits Gov. Guy Hunt’s signature, also calls for a $2-million cut for textbooks, a $4-million reduction for vocational equipment, and a $5.25-million decrease in state funds for teacher pay raises, said Earl Gates, a legislative specialist for the department.

A report released by the department last month concluded that the state is “failing to invest adequately in capital facilities” for public schools.

It called for more than $520 million in funds for new school buildings; $310 million for new classrooms; $282 million to repair and renovate existing facilities; $230 million for physical-education facilities, cafeterias, band rooms, and media centers; and $73.5 million to replace 2,260 school buses.

Wayne Teague, the state superintendent of education, said the state ''must look beyond bond issues as the sole solution” to financing capital improvements. He noted that voters have not approved a school bond issue since 1985.

All new teachers and school administrators in Nebraska will be required to have training in the education of the handicapped, under a bill signed recently by Gov. Kay A. Orr.

The unicameral legislature voted 40 to 2 to pass the bill, which takes effect in September 1992. It stipulates that prospective educators must have three semester credits in special education in order to obtain entry-level certification.

Senator Dennis G. Baack, the bill’s sponsor, said the requirement is necessary because about 90 percent of the state’s handicapped students have been “mainstreamed” into regular classrooms.

The Washington State legislature has passed a bill directing the state school chief to develop a policy barring students who use steroids from participating 8in high-school athletics.

State officials said Gov. Booth Gardner is expected to sign the measure, which also would require public schools to post signs in athletic departments warning students about the health risks posed by steroids, and the penalties for their possession and sale.

In addition, the bill would punish those convicted of possessing more than 200 steroid tablets with up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine, and would bar doctors from prescribing the growth-enhancing hormones for the purpose of improving athletic ability.

The Massachusetts House has put off debate on a statewide open-enrollment bill until late September.

The measure has been endorsed by Gov. Michael S. Dukakis but is strongly opposed by the state’s largest teachers’ union.

The House education committee is divided on the issue. Faced with an April 26 deadline for reporting legislation, the panel agreed to postpone a decision for five months and to hold additional hearings.

Because there is no comparable bill in the Senate, the delay makes it unlikely that a choice plan will be implemented before the 1990-91 school year.

Several members of the House panel objected to the bill, saying it could cost millions of dollars at a time when the state’s fiscal problems may result in steep cuts in aid to school districts.

The Texas Senate has passed a bill that would bar school officials from paddling children if the students’ parents have filed a written objection to corporal punishment.

The bill is sponsored by Senator Craig Washington of Houston, where parents have organized to ban spankings in that city’s schools. Two years ago, a Senate committee killed a measure sponsored by Mr. Washington that would have banned corporal punishment in schools statewide.

Oklahoma’s governor has vetoed a bill that would have moved local school-board elections from November to April.

According to a spokesman, Gov. Henry Bellmon rejected the measure because he felt the change would have decreased public participation in local school affairs.

Last year, the legislature passed a bill that moved the board elections from the spring to the fall. The sponsor of the vetoed measure that would have moved the date back to April said he “just didn’t think November was a good time to have an election.”

A proposal to give Texas’s school chief final decisionmaking authority in disputes over the state’s no-pass, no-play law has died in the Senate.

Senator William Haley offered the bill after the Dallas school district filed suit challenging Commissioner William Kirby’s power to decide student athletes’ academic eligibility. The case, which is still pending, was brought after the commissioner declared a star high4school football player ineligible for six weeks.

Senator Haley withdrew his bill from the Senate floor after an amendment was attached to it that would have made eligiblity hearings subject to the state’s administrative-procedure law. Mr. Haley contended the amendment changed the intent of his bill and would have lengthened the review process.

Last month, Gov. Richard F. Celeste became the first Ohio governor in 30 years to testify before the state legislature.

Mr. Celeste appeared before the House ways and means committee to defend his controversial proposal to increase state taxes by $1.8 billion to finance school-reform projects.

A version of this article appeared in the May 03, 1989 edition of Education Week as News in Brief