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Gov. Mark White of Texas is likely to declare education an emergency subject when the legislature convenes in January so that certain elements of the Educational Opportunity Act of 1984 can be fine-tuned, according to a state official.

"I would expect Governor White to declare education matters an emergency issue so the House and Senate can take action in the first months," said Steve Collins, legal counsel for the Legislative Education Board. That board has the statutory duty to review and oversee the implementation of education policy passed by the legislature, including the education-reform act, HB 172, enacted last July. (See Education Week, Aug. 22, 1984.)

The state constitution specifies that the legislature spend the first 30 days of its session introducing bills, the second 30 days in committee hearings, and the final 30 days voting on bills, Mr. Collins said. That order of business can be suspended by legislative action or by a gubernatorial emergency declaration.

One of the education measures that could undergo fine-tuning, Mr. Collins said, is the requirement3that high-school students pass all courses with a grade of 70 to be eligible to participate in sports or other extracurricular activities. That measure is scheduled to go into effect in January.

Brian Wilson, an education analyst in Governor White's office, said, however, that he had not received any information from Governor White regarding his intention to make an "emergency" move.

Lynn Simons, the state superintendent of public instruction in Wyoming, has put her stamp of approval on a number of proposed educational reforms, including increased high-school-graduation requirements, competency testing for elementary students, and higher professional standards for teachers.

Ms. Simons, basing her comments on recommendations presented to her in September by the Wyoming Blue Ribbon Committee on Quality Education, told the state board of education this month that prospective teachers should be required to graduate from a state-certified teacher-training program. Currently, teachers are required to obtain a bachelor's degree and take certain education courses. (See Education Week, Sept. 26, 1984.)

She also said she would request funding from the legislature for dis-tricts that devise model staff-development systems that include sabbaticals and study grants.

The legislature probably will not act on proposed reforms until its 1986 session, according to Dennis J. Kane, a spokesman for the state education department. Both the revised graduation requirements, which have not yet been set, and the competency-testing program will require approval from the state board.

North Carolina's "Basic Education Program"--whose goal is to offer every student in the state a standard curriculum of uniform quality--would cost the state $691.3 million and would require 31,574 more school jobs, state education officials have estimated.

The 1984 General Assembly last summer asked state officials to develop the program to equalize educational curricula across the state. (See Education Week, Aug. 22, 1984.) The plan's cost estimates were presented to the state board of education this month and will now proceed to a legislative study committee.

The plan, which state officials have asked the legislature to fund over six or eight years, would increase state per-pupil funding toel5l$3,200-$3,500 per year. Currently, the total average per-pupil expenditure, including federal, state, and local funds, is $2,664.

The California State Board of Education has unanimously approved a regulation that gives teachers a stronger role in deciding when children in bilingual-education programs are ready to enter English-only classrooms.

The controversial regulation was recommended by Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig and had been strongly opposed by several Hispanic and Asian groups. (See Education Week, Sept. 26, 1984.)

Until now, California students identified as limited-English-speaking remain in the bilingual program if they do not score at least at the 36th percentile on standardized tests of reading, written language, and mathematics.

Under the new regulation, a language-appraisal team may assign a low-scoring bilingual-eduation student to the regular program if the student has enrolled in bilingual classes for at least three years, has received English-reading instruction during the year before the transfer, has instructional support in the English-only setting, and has parental consent.

Vol. 04, Issue 13

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