State News Roundup

May 03, 1989 3 min read

The Minnesota Department of Education has approved a proposal that could lead to an interdistrict desegregation agreement between St. Paul and neighboring suburban districts.

Ruth Randall, the state commissioner of education, last month accepted an amendment to St. Paul’s current desegregation plan that calls for the district to begin negotiations with suburban districts aiming toward metropolitan desegregation.

The amendment also calls for development of a staff-training program to help metropolitan districts prepare to meet the needs of a culturally diverse student population.

The proposed initiative can go forward only if the legislature funds it and suburban districts agree to participate, state and local officials noted.

Seven Mississippi counties next month will hold school-board elections that are expected to result in an increase in black representation, under an agreement worked out between state officials and the U.S. Justice Department.

The agreement, signed last month, stems from a Justice Department lawsuit charging that school-board districts in 30 of the state’s counties were drawn in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

By last year, 22 of the districts challenged in the suit had redrawn their boundaries, and all but one of those had held elections.

The elections permitted by the most recent agreement are scheduled for June 20.

Many smaller Minnesota high schools would be required to offer additional courses in mathematics, foreign languages, and other subjects, under a rule being considered by the state board of education.

The rule, which the board is expected to vote on in June, is scheduled to go into effect in September 1990. It is aimed at ensuring that all students who graduate from the state’s high schools have an opportunity to meet entrance requirements for the University of Minnesota, according to Wayne Erickson, director of curriculum services for the department of education.

“Some small districts offer two years of a foreign language, but to get into the university, they have to have three years,” he said. “When students enter the university, they have to take a one-credit foreign-language course for no credit, just to get in. That’s unfair.”

Children who belong to a religious sect should not be excused from public-school classes on aids because the curriculum violates their religious beliefs, Commissioner of Education Thomas Sobol of New York State has ruled.

Mr. Sobol last month rejected a request by the Plymouth Brethren to exempt their children from state-mandated aids classes. The group claimed that such instruction conflicted with their prohibition on sex outside of marriage and belief that children should be taught about sex and morality only by members of their religion.

Plymouth Brethren children will be required to learn about the disease and how it is transmitted, Mr. Sobol decided. But they will be able to opt out of lessons about how to prevent the disease by using condoms or by not sharing intravenous needles.

More needs to be done to head off a potential shortage of school administrators, a draft report by a Wisconsin task force has recommended.

The task force on leadership, training, and licensure projected that up to 47 percent of superintendents and as many as a third of principals in the state will retire within 10 years.

The panel argued that teachers are reluctant to apply for administrative jobs because of the low salaries in some positions, lack of job security, longer hours, and more stressful work.

Panel members, who will submit their final report to Herbert J. Grover, the state superintendent, favor revisions in the licensing program for administrators, salary incentives for districts that hire women and minorities, and multiyear contracts for entry-level administrators, officials explained last week.

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