News In Brief

May 02, 1990 3 min read

A committee of the Pennsylvania Senate has approved a plan to provide $10 million to a financially troubled student-loan program run by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.

Pheaa officials say the money is needed to guarantee continuation of a loan program next year for students who do not qualify for federal Stafford student loans. (See Education Week, April 11, 1990.)

The $10 million would be used for the pheaa’s contribution for a proposed $100-million bond issue. The bond issue is needed to continue the loan program for some 55,000 students from middle-income families.

Gov. Robert P. Casey has said he would support the pheaa’s request for the $10 million, but as part of the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The plan endorsed by the Appropriations Committee would transfer money from a housing and redevelopment fund in the current budget.

Another committee of the Pennsylvania Senate, meanwhile, has begun hearings on a proposal to force the state to pay for any services it mandates.

The legislation, sponsored by Senators Vincent J. Fumo and Frank A. Pecora, would allow cities and counties to ignore future state laws requiring them to spend money--un8less the state provided sufficient funding.

Coming at a time when the Governor has proposed an unusually tight state budget, “the idea is becoming very popular,” according to an aide to Mr. Fumo.

The bill was endorsed at a hearing of the local-government committee by Mayor Wilson Goode of Philadelphia and a number of other city and county officials.

The Kentucky legislature has agreed to extend the life of the task force that wrote the state’s massive school-reform law.

Under a measure approved by lawmakers last month, the Task Force on Education Reform will provide “guidance and oversight” for implementation of the new law through the end of the year.

The legislature also passed a bill containing technical amendments to the reform statute, which calls for fundamental changes in the finance, governance, and curricula of the state’s schools. (See Education Week, April 4, 1990.)

Virginia’s public colleges and universities will be required to limit their tuition increases next year, under an amendment proposed by Gov. L. Douglas Wilder and adopted by the legislature.

Under the amendment to the state’s two-year budget, the Governor will have the authority to withhold state funds from four-year colleges that seek to increase their undergraduate tuition next fall by more than 6.5 percent, or two-year colleges that seek increases of more than 7.5 percent.

Facing fiscal problems as a result of declining tax revenues, the state recently cut its higher-education budget by 5 percent. Mr. Wilder has called on state institutions to demonstrate they are running “a tight ship.”

Efforts to reform Florida’s schools should focus more attention and resources on the early years, a panel appointed by Gov. Bob Martinez has argued.

“The reform movement has reached the point of overkill in myriad exhortations for the reform of secondary education, while ignoring the alarming status quo of traditional elementary education,” according to a summary report by the Governor’s Commission on Reform of Education.

“The result is a terrifying sameness in elementary schools,” the summary report continues. “By doing what they have always done, the schools are getting what they have always gotten.”

Urging “radical” changes in elementary and middle schools, the panel proposed a long list of steps, including parental choice, magnet schools, site-based decisionmaking, ungraded K-3 classes, lengthening the school day, and an end to the use of corporal punishment.

Members of the task force also called on educators to “discontinue the practice of classifying an excessive number of students as having learning disabilities for no other reason than to obtain increased funding.”

A version of this article appeared in the May 02, 1990 edition of Education Week as News In Brief