Caperton Spending Plan Delays Raises for W.Va. Teachers
Struggling to cope with the "static revenues" created by a sluggish state economy, Gov. Gaston Caperton of West Virginia has delayed expected raises for teachers and imposed a government hiring freeze.
In his State of the State Address, Mr. Caperton asked lawmakers and citizens to take "some difficult steps" to ensure a balanced budget. The spending plan he presented is "a very tight one," he acknowledged.
"I must say to you in sincere disappointment that the budget I am presenting tonight does not include additional salary increases for educators," the Governor said. "The revenue shortfall of the past few months has simply eroded the base necessary to fund an additional raise."
Mr. Caperton's decision not to ask for the salary increase raised the ire of many lawmakers.
In a press conference held the day after the Governor's Jan. 10 speech, 17 senators and representatives criticized Mr. Caperton's position on the issue.
Educators feel "betrayed" by Mr. Caperton's proposal, said Senator Sondra Moore Lucht, chairman of the Education Committee, who noted that the number of public-school jobs in the state has fallen by 1,200 in the past two years.
In his speech, Mr. Caperton promised that if state tax revenues exceed estimates, "I will not hesitate to convene the legislature to provide that increase."
Subsequently, however, he indicated that he would adhere to his original budget plan.
Proposed spending in the budget on education programs by all state agencies showed a small increase over last year.
"I am convinced that the consolidation, downsizing, and more efficient utilization of resources are essential steps to providing the resources we need to improve public education," the Governor said.
Although he gave no specifics, Mr. Caperton announced plans for a4computer-aided "basic-skills program" that would be funded with lottery revenues. He said he would reveal details of the proposal within two months.
Mr. Caperton also said he would increase the budget for the state department of health and human resources--the only department to receive additional funds.
"We clearly must make children and their families the highest priority" of this department, he said, citing "alarming facts" about child abuse and drug use among the young.
Proclaiming 1990 as the "Year of the Teacher," Gov. Roy Romer of Colorado used his State of the State Address to outline a broad package of education proposals that includes an alternate route to teacher certification and reduction of class sizes in the early grades.
"We simply cannot build a world-class education system unless we engage the energy and the creativity of teachers," Mr. Romer said. "School-based management offers teachers greater opportunity to exercise their professional judgment. As teachers enjoy new responsibilities and discretion, they will be compensated accordingly."
He proposed that teacher-certification requirements be rewritten by July 1991, with the input of teachers. The new standards should "reduce the complexity in the current law," he said, and allow alternative certification for professionals from fields other than education.
In addition, the Governor said he would create a task force to review the state's tenure law. He urged that the law be changed to allow for the dismissal of teachers with unsatisfactory performance records, while still protecting due-process rights and academic freedom.
In his Jan. 11 speech, Mr. Romer also endorsed:
Consideration of extending the school year from 180 to 200 days by 1995.
- A proposal by the Colorado School Finance Commission to provide funding to enable districts to reduce class sizes in kindergarten through 3rd grade to no more than 24 students. In some districts, the Governor noted, classes now have 30 students or more.
- Expansion of a state early-childhood-education program by 1,500 students this year, to a total of 3,500.
- Creation of a Center for Educational Excellence, which would be a private think tank responsible for providing research-based support for change in the schools.
- A $1.5-million program of incentives for schools that make significant progress in increasing student achievement.
- Creation of a math and science academy for top students.--mw
Celeste Encourages 'International' Degree
Ohio high schools should respond to global challenges by offering an "international baccalaureate" program, Gov. Richard F. Celeste said in his State of the State Address last week.
The program is an internationally recognized course of study that will soon become the standard for high-school graduation in the European Community.
The rigorous curriculum of accelerated courses in all subject areas, including foreign languages, is currently offered in three Ohio high schools, Mr. Celeste noted.
"We should become one of the nation's leaders in making this opportunity available to our young people," the Governor proclaimed. By the end of the decade, he urged, 25 percent of those graduating should receive the "international baccalaureate."
Carla Edelfson, the Governor's education aide, said Mr. Celeste will not introduce legislation on the plan, but will encourage schools to undertake the program voluntarily.
Mr. Celeste also urged careful review of the first year of a statewide testing program that will be launched this summer. The program was a part of an education-reform package passed by the legislature last year.
The results of the test should be candidly evaluated, he said, for clues about changes that are needed in the schools.
The Governor also expressed support for legislative efforts to "rethink" the current school-finance formula.
But while proposals for a new formula will be studied and debated this year, Ms. Edelfson said, adoption of changes in the funding method appears unlikely in this session.
In his speech, Mr. Celeste also laid out a broad program aimed at developing "peacemaking" skills in Ohioans. As part of that effort, he encouraged the state Commission on Dispute and Resolution and Conflict Management to identify and encourage mediation-skills curricula. By the end of the decade, he said, every Ohio student should be taught such skills.--rrw
Goldschmidt Urges Head Start Expansion
Oregon should provide Head Start funding for every eligible child by dedicating 30 percent of revenues from the state lottery to the program, Gov. Neil Goldschmidt has proposed.
In the first of four State of the State Addresses--others focused on crime, the environment, and postsecondary education--the Governor also called for drug-rehabilitation programs for addicted pregnant women and for children.
The Head Start proposal would be a constitutional amendment, which requires approval by the legislature and a voter referendum. The legislature is not scheduled to meet until next year, however, and the referendum would not be until May 1991.
Mr. Goldschmidt is up for re-election this fall.
Currently, the Governor said, about 11,000 of the state's 15,000 eligible children do not participate in Head Start programs.
Channeling lottery funds into the program would provide more than the $35.2 million a year needed to fully fund it, aides estimated.
In his Jan. 9 speech, the Governor said he would ask the legislature for the $5 million needed to fund his drug- and alcohol-rehabilitation program for teenagers and pregnant women.
Mr. Goldschmidt made no proposals concerning the state's school-finance system, which is the subject of a pending lawsuit. But he promised to "do everything in my power" to help the legislature develop a solution that would be submitted for voter approval.
The school-finance issue "can stop us dead in our tracks," the Governor said, adding that he has been meeting with teachers throughout the state to discuss the problem.--mn
Vol. 09, Issue 18