Private Schools

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The state of Connecticut has agreed not to meddle with religious instruction in its more than 300 private schools, closing three months of negotiation between religious leaders and education officials over proposed revisions in state standards.

The state board of education is expected to act next month on the proposals, which would require schools seeking state approval to submit a written philosophy and statement of goals accompanied by a written curriculum consistent with those goals.

While state approval is voluntary for private schools, it allows them to receive transportation grants and is widely believed to provide them with an edge over non-approved schools in the growing competition for students. State approval may be granted for up to five years.

The revisions include a statement recognizing that parents, and not state officials, have the primary responsibility for choosing where their children should be educated. It further stipulates that the state has no jurisdiction over religious training or the teaching of values in church-related schools.

Meanwhile, Nebraska's bill to resolve the controversy over state regulation of private church schools is still alive, and a compromise amendment has improved its chances for passage, according to a legislative researcher in the state.

L.B. 652 would allow church schools to obtain waivers of teacher-certification requirements. As it currently stands, the only standards teachers would have to meet would be those set by a church school's lay governing board.

But the compromise amendment would require that teachers of kindergarten through grade 9 have at least 60 semester hours or the equivalent of college work. Teachers in grades 10 to 12 would need 120 semester hours. Both plans would take effect at the end of a four-year phase-in period.

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