News In Brief
Copyright 1988, Editorial Lyn Crosby, a specialist on the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program in the state human-services department, said her office will ask state lawmakers to give final approval to the plan next month. It was tentatively approved as part of a sweeping welfare-reform package passed by the legislature last year.
"The theory behind it," she said, "is that a high-school education at a minimum is needed to get off welfare."
In Minnesota, Ms. Crosby added, the average teen-age mother living on her own receives $437 a month--of which $250 is designated for the child.
Under the proposal, which could take effect as early as next fall, a parent who is under 18 and does not attend school could face three levels of sanctions.
First, half of the monthly benefit could be removed from the teen-ager's control and paid directly to a landlord or a designated money manager. If the young parent continued to skip school, all the monthly payment would then be sent to the third-party manager.
The final sanction would be the loss of the teen-ager's share of the monthly payment.
Ms. Crosby said some teen-agers may be exempted from the requirements for "good cause."
Acting at Gov. James J. Blanchard's direction, Michigan lawmakers have passed a fiscal 1988 school-aid bill that slices $20 million from the amount that they had agreed to appropriate last summer.
The measure approved Dec. 16 and signed by the Governor earmarks $2.34 billion in general and categorical aid to schools, up from $2.25 billion in fiscal 1987.
Lawmakers had passed a $2.36-billion aid bill last June, but Mr. Blanchard vetoed the entire $757-million portion of it earmarked for categorical programs, including transportation and special, bilingual, and compensatory education.
He asked the legislature to reduce funding for categorical programs by a total of $20 million as part of an effort to trim state spending in the face of lower-than-anticipated revenues.
As a result of the Governor's veto, school districts received no categorical aid in October and December. Gary D. Hawks, the interim state school superintendent, said payments to districts delivered late last week included the categorical funds they were entitled to for those months.
Oklahoma's state school chief has urged lawmakers to approve a $74-million package of reforms that features a longer school year and tougher standards for high-school graduation.
In announcing his proposals to the state board of education last month, John M. Folks conceded that he did not expect lawmakers to act on all of his recommendations during their six-month session beginning Jan. 5. But he asked that they at least be considered.
Under his plan, the school year would be extended from 180 to 190 days, with five of the extra days for instruction and the others for teacher inservice training.
The proposal also calls for:
Lengthening the school day from six to seven periods.
Increasing the number of units needed for high-school graduation from 20 to 22.
Permitting students to transfer from one district to another with only the approval of the receiving district. Most such transfers now occur in rural districts and require the approval of both the sending and receiving districts.
The establishment of an "honors" diploma for students meeting strict state standards and scoring well on a state competency test.
Requiring students who do not enroll in a college-preparatory curriculum by their junior year to enroll in vocational-technical courses.
Most Alabama school districts routinely ignore deadlines for filing financial data with the state education department, which in most cases has taken no steps to penalize them, a report by the legislature's fiscal office concludes.
The report released last monthfound that, contrary to state law, only 26 of the state's 129 districts had filed their fiscal 1987 budgets with the department by Oct. 1, 1987, as required, and only 61 had filed financial statements for fiscal 1986 by the Nov. 1, 1987, deadline.
Wayne Teague, the state school chief, said on Dec. 10 that he had been "extremely reluctant" to withhold state aid from districts that failed to comply with the law because such action "penalizes innocent children and ultimately works to their harm."
The Minnesota State High School League could be required to adopt stricter spending guidelines in the wake of two highly critical reports last month by state auditors.
The league, a private, nonprofit association that establishes guidelines for interscholastic athletic, music, and art competitions, has "imprudent ways" but has not broken any laws, said Roger Brooks, the legislature's deputy auditor, whose office analyzed the league's governance.
A second financial audit conducted by the state auditor's office found that the league's spending was "luxurious," with top employees receiving such perquisites as a new car every year. Financial accountability, the audit found, was "virtually nonexistent."
Mr. Brooks said the legislature is expected to consider measures to bring the league under greater state control.
Vol. 07, Issue 15 & 16