Sex-Education Measures Advance in 3 States

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South Carolina lawmakers have approved a bill requiring all school districts to offer sex education.

The measure, which Gov. Carroll A. Campbell Jr. is expected to sign, would grant parents the right to remove their children from the classes and require that teachers stress sexual abstinence before marriage. The bill also stipulates that boys and girls be taught pregnancy-prevention methods separately and that the discussion of homosexuality be limited to a unit on disease prevention.

Lawmakers in Mississippi and Tennessee, meanwhile, are trying to reconcile differences in sex-education bills passed by both legislative chambers.

In Mississippi, the Senate version of the bill would require schools to obtain parental consent before teaching such courses and to separate students by sex during instruction. The House version would require schools to stress sexual abstinence before marriage.

The bill passed by the Tennessee House would force districts in counties with more than 19 pregnancies per 1,000 school-age girls to offer a sex-education curriculum that is at least as stringent as one approved by the state board of education. The Senate measure would require public hearings before such courses could be offered, and would allow parents to keep their children out of the classes.

Blanchard, House Allies Unveil Reform Proposal

Gov. James J. Blanchard of Michigan and fellow Democrats in the House have unveiled an education- and tax-reform plan that that would provide less tax relief to businesses and more to homeowners than a similar measure approved last month by the Republican-controlled Senate.

The proposal outlined by the Governor and Speaker of the House Gary Owen on April 11 would cut property taxes for homeowners by an average of 44 percent and for businesses by an average of 12 percent. That compares with cuts averaging 25 percent for homeowners and 35 percent for businesses under the Senate's bill.

Both measures would raise the state's sales tax from 4 cents to 6 cents. Democrats say their plan would raise aid to schools by $620 million over this year's spending level; Republicans say their proposal would increase state aid by about $250 million.

The competing plans also call for a wide range of school reforms. Both would establish a statewide core curriculum and programs to lower the dropout rate.

The Democratic plan also calls for smaller class sizes, a major expansion of preschool efforts, and greater parental choice in education. The Republican bill would mandate that 12 percent of the state's general fund be earmarked for schools in every fiscal year, that school-level improvement plans be required, and that high-school students pass a test to obtain a new state-endorsed diploma.

The House taxation committee opened hearings on the Democratic plan April 13. Final action in both chambers is expected before the legislature begins its summer recess.

Nebraska Governor Signs Modified Consolidation Bill

Gov. Kay A. Orr of Nebraska has signed into law a school-district reorganization bill that represents a compromise between pro- and anti-consolidation forces.

The measure, sponsored by Senator Ron Withem, chairman of the education committee, began as a bill that would have required elementary-only school districts to merge or affiliate with districts that provide high-school-level instruction.

When opponents of consolidation threatened to kill the measure, Mr. Withem eliminated the mandatory-reorganization provisions.

The bill asks the Governor to create a panel to develop by 1990 a plan to ensure that all students attend school in either a K-12 district or one that is affiliated with a K-12 district.

"The bill preserves the right of elementary-only districts to exist,'' Governor Orr said in a letter to lawmakers. "Everything from our own heritage to the advice of national experts tells us we need to nurture our rural schools.''

Vol. 07, Issue 31

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