News in Brief
The Minnesota Board of Education has approved the state's first mandatory statewide test, an examination in mathematics.
The board's action last month came shortly after Gov. Rudy Perpich proposed a second, more comprehensive testing program to lawmakers.
The state board's testing program was mandated by the legislature in 1987 in an effort to enable school officials and parents to rate the performance of their school districts in comparison with others.
The math test will determine whether a sample of students in grades 6, 9, and 11 are achieving a set of learner outcomes, including higher-order thinking skills. The board plans to develop similar examinations for several other subject areas.
Governor Perpich has proposed the development of basic-skills tests to measure the progress of individual students annually in grades 6 and 10.
Kentucky officials have decided to conduct periodic checks of school-bus drivers' driving records in the wake of a church-bus crash last May that killed 27 people.
The new policy was adopted last month by the state departments of education and transportation and a task force on bus safety convened by Gov. Wallace G. Wilkinson.
Since the fatal crash last spring, two county school-bus drivers have been charged with drunken driving while on the job. In addition, a bus driver with a suspended license was involved in an accident last month that injured more than 40 students.
Under the new state policy, the education department will provide a list of all bus drivers to the transportation agency, which will periodically check their driving records. Districts will be informed of any license suspensions or traffic violations.
The state board of education previously approved regulations requiring criminal-record checks for current and new drivers, and prohibiting drivers with recent drunken-driving convictions from being hired, a spokesman for the board said.
An Iowa House committee was to open hearings this week on a Senate-approved statewide "open-enrollment" bill.
The Senate measure, which was passed on a vote of 33 to 16 on Jan. 24, would allow no more than 5 percent of any district's students to transfer to other systems in the state. Transferring athletes would be prohibited from playing sports for one year in their new district.
Representative Art Ollie, chairman of the House education committee, said there had been a "perceptible change in public opinion around the state" on the parental-choice concept. He attributed the shift to the state's proximity to Minnesota, which adopted the nation's first statewide open-enrollment program last year.
A Tennessee chancery-court judge has denied the state's request to dismiss a school-finance lawsuit brought against it by 66 property-poor districts.
Attorney General Charles W. Burson has asked Chancellor C. Allen High to postpone the trial in the case to allow him to appeal the ruling to the state supreme court.
In his Jan. 19 decision, Chancellor High held that the districts could raise claims under the state constitution's equal-protection provisions. He denied their claims, however, under the state constitution's education provisions and the U.S. Constitution's equal-protection clause.
The chancellor also announced that in judging the constitutionality of the current finance system, he would employ a relatively stringent ''balancing test" that would "weigh the detriment to the education of the children of certain districts against the ostensible justification for the
Mr. Burson said he would also appeal that ruling. The constitution, he contended, only requires the state to demonstrate the finance system has a "rational basis," a less demanding legal standard.
A Colorado House committee has defeated, for the second time in two years, legislation to require school districts to offer full-day kindergarten programs.
The House education committee voted 7 to 4 last month to reject the bill. Opponents argued the state was unable to finance cost of the expansion, which they estimated at $80 million annually.
The bill's sponsor, Representative Wilma Webb of Denver, said the switch to full-day programswould have cost only an additional $18 million a year.
Iowa school districts would be allowed to levy certain taxes without voter approval to finance asbestos containment and removal projects, under a bill passed by the Senate and two House committees last month.
Gov. Terry Branstad vetoed a similar measure passed by lawmakers last year.
Under the measure, a school board could levy a combined surtax on property and income, with the proceeds earmarked for asbestos projects. The surtax could remain in effect for up to three years.Voter approval would be required, however, if a board wanted to use property-tax revenues alone to pay for asbestos-related activities.
Vol. 08, Issue 20