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The Oregon House of Representatives has passed legislation requiring the state department of education to design a comprehensive "nuclear-age curriculum," but leaving the decision on whether or not to teach it up to local districts.

The legislation, which now goes on to the Senate, would make Oregon the first state in the nation to develop such a curriculum, according to Susan Alexander, associate director of the Boston-based Educators for Social Responsibility, a group that monitors nuclear-curriculum issues. Several school districts, including Los Angeles, Baltimore, and New York City, have developed similar curricula.

Critics of the legislation, which passed by a vote of 27 to 13, say it would frighten children into favoring unilateral disarmament. But supporters say a sound curriculum on nuclear issues would be balanced and factual.

According to Jan Coulton, assistant superintendent of education, the legislation calls for preparation of materials on the history of the arms race, the consequences of the use of nuclear arms, the effect of nu-clear-weapons procurement on the economy, and the changed nature of warfare in the nuclear age.

"It's fairly obviously opposed to nuclear war," she said.

The education department opposes the legislation, she said, because it could cost up to $50,000 to implement and the department is more concerned with trying to implement the state board's "Action Plan for Excellence."

"It'll just shift priorities," she said of the new curriculum.

The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled unanimously this month that a fundamentalist Christian couple who object to public-school teachings have the right to educate their children at home.

The ruling allows Larry and Michelle Delconte to teach their children in a home setting that they call the "Hallelujah School." The court found that under state law, the parents' educational program qualified as a legally acceptable nonpublic school and that their children were performing at an average or above-average level academically.

The opinion reverses a 1983 state court of appeals decision that found home instruction a violation of the state's compulsory-education laws.

The supreme court disagreed with the lower court, stating that recent changes adopted by the legislature were intended to "loosen, rather than tighten," standards for non-public education in North Carolina.

"The Delcontes are deeply religious fundamentalist Christians [who] believe the Bible is authoritative and obliges them to teach their children at home," the court stated in its unanimous decision.

A commission established by Kentucky's superintendent of public instruction to study the state's dropout problem has urged raising the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18 years old by 1990.

Kentucky's high dropout rate--the state ranks 50th in the country in the number of adults over age 25 who have high-school diplomas--has been a growing concern, according to David Jackson, director of the dropout-prevention unit in the state department of education.

The 25-member commission, appointed last July, suggested raising the compulsory-attendance age if the legislature funds other dropout programs it recommends.

The commission did not estimate how much its recommendations would cost, Mr. Jackson said, but may include funding estimates in its second report.

The group's first report, present-ed to the state board of education this month, will be reviewed by the education department, which will then decide which recommendations to implement and which to pass on to the legislature, Mr. Jackson said.

Saul Cooperman, commissioner of education in New Jersey, has authorized a comprehensive study of the state's 60 adult high schools following the discovery of irregularities in several programs.

In a memorandum dated April 24, the commissioner noted that 20 of the 34 adult high-school programs that had already been monitored failed to meet state standards.

According to Richard DiPatri of the commissioner's staff, problems included enrollment rosters that did not accurately reflect the number of students actually enrolled in the programs, instructors who were not certified to teach the subjects they were teaching, and budgets that did not adequately address the needs of the students.

The memorandum stated that the rest of the state's 60 programs would be monitored by the end of the school year, that a committee would compare diplomas awarded by adult high schools with those awarded by regular high schools, and that a review of adult high-school legislation would be conducted.

As the law stands now, Mr. DiPatri said, an adult high school can make a profit because officials are not required to spend all the state aid they receive for the program on program services.

According to education officials, the state's 60 adult high schools enroll 10,000 students at a cost of about $15 million.

Vol. 04, Issue 35

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