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Governors Laud Federal College-Savings Plans

The nation's governors last week commended federal efforts to develop plans to help parents save for their children's college tuition, but urged that such programs complement, rather than pre-empt, similar efforts in the states.

In a resolution adopted at the National Governors' Association's annual meeting in Washington, the governors also agreed that "reduced [federal] revenue from tax incentives for savings for higher education should not lead to reductions in other vital higher-education programs.''

The resolution comes as college-savings-plan proposals are being considered in most state legislatures as well as the Congress.

These efforts have arisen, the resolution says, because of "widespread public concern" about the rising cost of tuitions.

"Polls indicate that a majority of the public is concerned that college costs are rising at a rate that will put college out of reach of most people in the foreseeable future," it states.

The resolution urges that federal savings plans be designed to increase the number of students entering and completing higher education.

It also recommends that the plans give "equal standing" to public and independent colleges, and allow for "portability" of savings from state to state.

Most state savings plans, such as the one enacted in Michigan in 1986, allow parents to save for tuitions only for public institutions in that state.

The Georgia and South Carolina Senates have passed measures that would require school districts to offer sex-education courses.

Both bills, which were approved last month, would require that abstinence be taught as the primary means of avoiding pregnancy and would allow parents to keep their children out of the classes.

Under the Georgia measure, the state board of education would decide in what grades the courses would be taught; the South Carolina bill would grant that authority to local officials.

The Washington Senate has approved a measure to ban all smoking by students and staff members on school-district property.

The bill, which would require districts to issue written policies forbidding the use of tobacco on school grounds, was approved last month after several amendments to weaken it were defeated.

Opponents of the bill argued that districts should set their own policies, and that staff members should be exempted because they are adults.

But proponents countered that the only effective policy would be one that completely bans the use of tobacco, with adults setting the example.

In other action, the Senate voted 27 to 21 to allow church-sponsored schools to bypass the state's minimum education requirements and forgo state accreditation.

The bill, which faces stiff opposition in the House, would allow churches to approve their own education programs.

Some Oregon school districts may receive an extra year to establish kindergarten programs under a new set of rules adopted by the state board of education.

The kindergarten requirement, which was approved by the legislature in 1981, is scheduled to take effect in July 1989.

State officials said the extensions would be granted only to those districts that can prove that financial circumstances prevent them from implementing the requirement.

Currently, only 57--or approximately 20 percent--of the state's 281 districts do not offer kindergarten programs.

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