Teacher-Licensing Bill Is Tabled in Arkansas

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Arkansas legislators have set aside a bill that would have established an autonomous board, made up primarily of educators, to oversee teacher certification and training.

The bill would have created an 11-member board--including six teachers--to issue and revoke teacher and administrator certificates and review training programs.

The measure, which would have stripped the state education department of its authority over certification, was passed by the full House and the Senate education committee. But the full Senate opted to refer it to a "joint interim committee on education" for further study, thus killing it for this session.

Representative Kevin L. Hatfield, the Huntsville Republican who sponsored the bill, said some legislators were "uncomfortable" about passing the measure in view of objections raised by the state directors of education and higher education. Gov. Bill Clinton, who has argued aggressively at both the state and the national level for higher pay and greater "empowerment" for teachers, had also opposed the measure.

Ed Bullington, president of the Arkansas Education Association maintained that the bill was "in line with the national effort" to upgrade the teaching profession. But, he2p4said, it became bogged down in "turf battles."

South Dakota's legislature has approved Gov. George S. Mickelson's proposal to earmark 56 percent of all sales-tax revenues for education.

Proponents of the Republican Governor's bill said it would increase state aid for education by $11.8 million in the upcoming fiscal year. But the House's Democratic minority leader, Representative Robert Duxbury, called the bill "misleading," noting that the state had already allocated more than 56 percent of sales-tax revenue for schools in past years.

"It's like giving children a 50-cent allowance, and telling them you'll guarantee them 45 cents," he said.

Representative Jerry Lammers, the Republican House majority leader, countered that the measure would ensure schools a growing tax base for the first time. If sales-tax revenues increase by 10 percent as anticipated, "education will automatically share in the increase," he said.

A Washington State voters' initiative to raise state aid for education and child services has been passed by the House but faces strong opposition in the Senate.

Senate Republicans pledged last week to block the House-approved Children's Initiative, a measure that was placed before the General Assembly after petitions were signed by more than 200,000 voters.

The initiative calls for $360 mil8lion in additional funding for education, children's programs, and welfare grants.

Senator Linda Smith, chairman of the children and family services panel, has said she will not allow the proposal to come to a vote. In addition, the Senate Republican caucus issued a statement opposing the bill.

If lawmakers fail to pass it, it will automatically appear on the state ballot next fall.

Vol. 08, Issue 24

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