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Stunned state officials are sifting through applications from more than 82,000 Michigan families hoping to join the state's pioneering college Tuition Assistance Program.

Officials had predicted that only about 5,000 families would seek to enter the program when it began last month.

Proposed by Gov. James J. Blanchard and passed by lawmakers two years ago, the program allows families to invest money with the state, which guarantees that their children will receive four years' tuition at any state college or university regardless of future costs. Eight other states have created similar trust funds.

The state of Washington, meanwhile, recently sold $50 million worth of college-savings bonds, another higher-education financing option that is gaining momentum in the states.

Under the Washington program, an investor pays $2,531 for a 10-year bond, then receives $5,000 at the maturity date. The state also sold 15-year and 20-year bonds.

Iowa Planning Statewide

Education 'Report Card'

Iowa education officials are developing a statewide annual education "report card" in an effort to make school districts more accountable to the public.

The program was proposed this summer by State Superintendent of Schools William Lepley and has4been endorsed by Gov. Terry Branstad. It would include such data as district revenues and expenditures, staff levels, demographic characteristics of the student population, graduation and dropout rates, and average scores on the American College Testing program, said Leland Tack, an aide to Mr. Lepley and the coordinator of the program. He noted that districts would not be ranked by the state on the card.

Mr. Lepley "is very interested in this area of being accountable," Mr. Tack said. "We need to inform the legislature and the citizens how their money is being spent."

A draft of the first report card is expected to be ready by next summer.

Backers of a constitutional amendment that would provide Colorado families with vouchers for private-school expenses have failed to collect enough signatures to place the initiative on the November ballot.

Organizers of the petition drive collected only about 30,000 signatures, far short of the 51,000 needed by the Aug. 8 deadline.

The proposal would have allowed parents to spend their children's share of the state's per-pupil funding for education at the public or private school of their choice.

Arizona's attorney general has backed the legality of a controversial rule requiring residents of retirement communties to pay school taxes.

The advisory opinion, issued last month, upholds a bill adopted by the legislature in the spring that requires people who do not live in organized school districts to pay Continued on Page 33 Continued from Page 30

school taxes.

Two lawmakers who represent retirement communities had requested the opinion, saying they opposed the new requirement because their constituents would have no say over how school funds were spent.

Public-school teachers in New Mexico are not prohibited by state law from serving in the legislature, two state courts have ruled.

The courts' rulings last month came in cases filed by Attorney General Hal Stratton, who had previously issued an opinion that teachers were state employees and thus barred from serving as lawmakers. The lawsuits involved four school employees from Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Representative Barbara Perea Casey, a teacher at Goddard High School in Roswell, said she hoped the issue would eventually be addressed by the state's highest court.

"I think it is wrong that they are trying to prevent education employees from participating in government," she said.

Gov. Guy Hunt of Alabama called lawmakers into special session last week to reconsider education and general-fund budget bills that stalled in the regular session last spring. (See Education Week, May 18, 1988.)

The legislature's failure to appropriate education funds for the current school year has prevented school systems from complying with a new state law requiring them to lower pupil-teacher ratios.

The measure, which takes effect this fall, calls for reducing the size of kindergarten classes, which now range from 25 to 30 students, to a maximum of 17 pupils, and would lower class sizes in upper grades over a 10-year period.

A voter initiative in Missouri calling for a sales-tax increase for education has failed to gather enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The tax-increase measure, which was sponsored by the Missouri State Teachers Association, received sufficient support in only five of the state's nine Congressional districts, according to an msta official. State law requires that an initiative receive support from a minimum of six Congressional districts in order to qualify for the ballot.

Officials of the rival teachers' union, the Missouri National Education Association, hailed the failure of the petition drive, saying it "saves education from an embarrassing defeat in the November election.''

Gov. Wallace Wilkinson of Kentucky says he will call a special session of the legislature in January to reconsider a school-reform package that it rejected in its regular session this year.

Lawmakers shelved Mr. Wilkinson's reform proposals--which included a program of cash bonuses to high-achieving schools--because they feared that funding for previously enacted reforms would have to be reduced to finance the new efforts.

Mr. Wilkinson also said he would call a special session in November to establish a state lottery if voters in November lift a constitutional ban on such games of chance.

Vol. 08, Issue 01

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