States News Roundup
Tennessee's state board of education voted last month to increase high-school graduation requirements in science and mathematics from one to two years each.
Although the state's education commissioner recommended delaying the change until 1984 to avoid creating unexpected costs for districts, the board's majority voted to implement the change this fall. Students who begin the 9th grade then will be the first class to be affected by the change.
The board's action was prompted in part by test results that it received this month. Those results showed that Tennessee's high-school seniors rank in the 37th percentile in science, according to Sidney Owen, a spokesman for the state education department.
The Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the parents of a handicapped student who was expelled from school because of his disruptive behavior, and has ordered the Adams Central School District to reimburse the student's parents for their expense in placing him in private facilities.
In reaching its decision, the court held that a state that accepts federal funds is legally obligated to provide all handicapped children with a free, appropriate public education. Because of its failure to provide an adequate education program, the school district is liable for the parents' expenses and must reimburse them, the court wrote in its opinion.
David C. Rasmussen, the lawyer for the state board of education, said the court ruled that the student's expulsion amounted to a change in placement and that school officials should have transferred the youth to "an appropriate, more restrictive environment."
The court ruled, however, that the district is not obligated to provide compensatory education beyond the student's 21st birthday, which the hearing officer in the case had recommended, according to Mr. Rasmussen.
In an unusual lobbying effort, Gov. Robert Graham of Florida has issued a direct appeal to the state's high-school students, asking them to write to their state representatives to urge them to meet his budget request. Mr. Graham is asking for an increase of $1.5 billion for ed-ucation over the next two years.
The Governor sent a two-page letter to 255 high-school newspapers in the state, challenging students to "schedule the toughest courses you can handle" next year and to "call or write your legislators at the Capitol ... and tell them to support the Governor's education budget."
"Just as you are held accountable for your performance in the classroom, our lawmakers are to be held accountable" for how well they deal with a crisis in education, the Governor said.
In requesting $3.8 billion for public-school programs in 1983-84 and $4.3 billion in 1984-85, Governor Graham is exceeding funding levels proposed by the state House by $200 million and those proposed by the Senate by about $450 million, according to Stephen Hull, a spokesman for the Governor.
The North Carolina Board of Education has adopted new standards designed to prevent teachers from teaching subjects for which they have no certification.
Under the new regulations, which go into effect July 1, no new teacher will be allowed to teach a subject in which he or she has less than 18 hours of college credit. Teachers currently working in North Carolina schools must earn six credits in each of the next three years in a subject they are teaching in order to retain their certification in the subject.
The 18 hours of college credit, however, only afford teachers a newly created "endorsement" on their regular certificate, and only teachers who spend less than half of their time teaching a particular subject may do so under such an endorsement, according to J. Arthur Taylor, director of teacher certification in the state's department of public instruction.
"The old system [of allowing teachers to teach a subject regardless of their training in the area] was much too lenient," Mr. Taylor said, noting that a recent survey found nearly 20 percent--one in five--of the state's teachers teaching subjects in which they are uncertified.
Nationally, 36 states require their teachers to hold some sort of certification in the subject they teach.
A Pennsylvania legislator has introduced a bill that would legalize gambling in the state and use betting revenues to fund education.
The bill, sponsored by Representative Mark Cohen of Philadelphia, would allow residents to gamble on collegiate and professional sporting events by buying tickets similar to lottery tickets. Eighty percent of the gambling revenues would go to schools in the district in which the ticket was bought. The rest of the money would be distributed to public-school districts according to the state-aid formula and to private schools for peripheral expenses.
Urban school districts would benefit the most from the bill, said Mark Volavka, an administrative assistant to Mr. Cohen. He added that teachers' union officials were "semi-positive" in early discussions, and that the legislator had not yet consulted school administrators.
Revenues from the gambling could be "anywhere between $2 million and $500 million," Mr. Volavka said. Mr. Volavka pointed out that an additional benefit of the bill would be to reduce the control of sports betting by organized crime.
The Iowa legislature, which ad-journed its 1983 session on May 14, has passed a 1983-84 general school-aid bill of $680 million.
The 1982-83 figure for the general school-aid allocation was $643.3 million, according to the education specialist for Gov. Terry Branstad.
The 1983 legislative session also saw the passage of:
A bill, which the Governor is expected to sign, to improve mathematics and science teaching in the state;
A bill already signed by Governor Branstad that gives local school districts more flexibility in determining the beginning and ending dates of the school year. Under the bill, districts must maintain a 180-day school year, but they will be able to modify starting dates or establish four-day school weeks;
A bill, also signed, that allows districts to "tuition out" their junior- and senior-high-school students to other districts. According to the Governor's education spokesman, this measure allows a district that does not wish to maintain a grades 7-through-12 program--but that does want to keep a K-6 program--to avoid having to consolidate with another district.
Every public school and some private schools in California will be the beneficiaries of the largest microcomputer-giveaway program to date, thanks to a tax break signed into law last year by former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.
Apple Computers Inc. announced earlier this month that it would donate 9,250 computers to the schools this July. The giveaway will cost the company $1 million and the state treasury $4 million, Apple officials said.
Each school will receive one Apple II-e personal computer, which carries a retail cost of about $2,200. The retail value of the equipment would be about $21 million.
Under the state's new tax law, computer companies can write off 75 percent of the profit they would have made by selling the computers. Apple estimated that it would have made a profit of about $4 million on the computers.
A bill that would create tax breaks for computer companies that donate equipment to schools nationwide is pending before the U.S. House of Representatives.
A similar bill was passed overwhelmingly by the House last year, but did not come to a vote in the Senate.