States News Roundup

January 23, 1991 2 min read

Rejecting the recommendations of a state advisory committee, the Alabama state school board voted last month not to approve 10 textbooks that include controversial passages on human sexuality, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and suicide.

The books--among more than 200 health, mathematics, and vocational-education textbooks up for review this year--had been the target of an intensive lobbying campaign by the Eagle Forum, a conservative group.

The books did not provide adequate information on the failure rates of condoms. The group condemned one book for portraying homosexuality in a “favorable” light and said. they feared another book that listed suicide symptoms could encourage teen-agers to take their own lives.

The chairman of the state textbook advisory committee, a majority of whose mem bers had recommended adopting the texts, sharply criticized the board’s 4-to-3 vote.3

“If we continue to make decisions based on minority opinions, this could create problems in the future,” the chairman, Bob Neighbors, said.

Alabama school districts are not permitted to use state funds to purchase textbooks not approved by the state school board.

The Texas teachers’ pension fund seized ownership of two large commercial properties earlier this month when the developers fell behind in their payments.

The trust fund, which posts one of the highest teacher-pension surpluses in the nation, took title to a shopping mall in El Paso and a 20-story office building in suburban Dallas.

Also at risk of being seized by the pension system was the Loews Anatole Hotel in Dallas. Jack Cooper, acting chief investment officer of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, said the fund and the developer were continuing to negotiate on delinquent payments for the hotel.

Trammell Crow, one of the country’s largest commercial developers, missed payment on a $46-million loan for the office complex, and Conrad Cafritz, a Washington, D.C., builder, missed payments on a $56.8-million loan for the mall, according to Mr. Cooper. Trammell Crow is also in ar,: rears to the trust for a $75-million loan for the hotel.

Mr. Cooper said the acquisition of the properties posed no risk for the fund. “The mall is greater in value than what we invested in it,” he said. “It is continuing to operate, and it is profitable. We will suffer o loss of any kind.”

Although the office building is not fully occupied, Mr. Cooper predicted a bright future for it, too.

More than 60 Kentucky school districts that suffered high absenteeism and a corresponding loss of state aid because of a predicted earthquake have been denied financial relief by the state school board.

Saying they had no authority to grant a request that did not correspond to an actual disaster, state school-board officials said 5 this month they would continue to seek some remedy for the districts that lost money when they held classes on Dec. 3 and 4, the days a New Mexico climatologist said were ripe for a quake along the New Madrid Fault. (See Education Week, Oct. 3, 1990.)

Across Kentucky, 55 districts, including the state’s easternmost school system--some 400 miles from the fault line--canceled classes to avoid losing state aid, which is based on attendance counts.

In other action, the board delayed sanctions against the Boyd County district despite a report showing that the officials had implemented only 13 of the 54 administrative recommendations the state had prescribed for the financially troubled schools.

The state board asked Delmis Donta, the district’s superintendent, to explain the delay in writing by March.

A version of this article appeared in the January 23, 1991 edition of Education Week as States News Roundup