The Senate Judiciary Committee of the California legislature, in an effort to nullify the effects of a decision by the state's highest court, has approved a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to lend textbooks to private-school students.
The proposed amendment, which is now being studied in the Senate Constitutional Amendments Committee, would also have to be approved by a majority of the state's electorate. Final legislative action must be taken by the third week in June if the amendment is to be placed on the November ballot.
Last year the state Supreme Court, in California Teachers Association v. Riles, unanimously struck down a 1972 statute that made textbooks available free to non-public school pupils at an estimated annual cost to the state of $4 million.
The court ruled that the program violated a state constitutional ban on state aid to religious schools and churches.
The amendment would change the language in the California constitution that made the old law unconstitutional, and would grant the legislature the authority to provide textbooks to private schools.
Pennsylvania Gov. Dick L. Thornburgh has signed a law granting "transfer rights" to teachers in the state's 29 regional education centers who are furloughed when local school districts take over the programs they teach in.
In Pennsylvania, local school districts frequently pay the independent, so-called "intermediate education units" to provide instruction in certain subjects--usually special education.
But the local district at any time can remove its students from the regional centers and provide its own classes for them within the public-school system.
The new law, which received overwhelming support in the Pennsylvania legislature, requires local school districts to hire the teachers from the regional centers to work in any classes that have been "taken back" from the regional center, unless the local district already employs a teacher who is qualified to teach the class.
Under the law, the transferred teachers retain both their salary and their seniority.
Helen E. Caffrey, executive director of the state Senate's education committee, said the law--which does not apply to teachers transferring from one local school district to another--was passed because last year several school districts that set up their own special-education classes "were hiring teachers right out of college on the open market at much lower salaries" than they would have had to pay the experienced teachers from the regional centers.
The teacher-protection law would have saved the jobs of about 20 teachers last year, according to Ms. Caffrey. It was strongly opposed by the state's school boards association, which contends it is too costly and "unduly" restricts the hiring practices of local boards.
Vol. 01, Issue 24