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A committee of the Florida House has approved a controversial pregnancy-prevention measure that would allow school-based health clinics to dispense contraceptives.

The bill, adopted by the health-care committee this month, earmarks $12.7 million for a grant program for schools or districts with high pregnancy rates, a high incidence of low-birthweight babies, or a high level of infant mortality.

The grants could be used to hire more school nurses, social workers, or school psychologists, or to establish school-based clinics that, at the discretion of districts and parents, could distribute contraceptives.

The panel rejected an amendment, backed by anti-abortion forces, that would have prohibited the use of grant money for the clinics.

The bill also would require pregnancy-prevention instruction in grades 6-8, and instruction on the human-reproduction system in grades K-12. The measure would be funded by the elimination of a sales-tax exemption for fitness clubs that lack swimming pools.

Gov. Tommy G. Thompson of Wisconsin has signed legislation banning the use of tobacco on school-district property.

The prohibition, which takes effect in the fall, will cover tobacco consumption by school employees and students anywhere on school grounds. The only exception will be for noneducational groups that rent district facilities.

Four other states--Kansas, New Jersey, Utah, and Washington--also have some form of statewide ban on tobacco use in schools, according to Angela Mickel, director of the legislative clearinghouse for Tobacco-Free America.

But Governor Thompson has vetoed legislation requiring anti-rape education for all elementary and secondary students.

The bill would have mandated that students receive instruction on ways of preventing sexual assault--particularly "date rape" by acquaintances--at least three times during their school careers.

Mr. Thompson argued that the bill would have duplicated an existing state law requiring instruction against sexual abuse.

The Governor also objected to a section of the bill providing open-ended state funding for school districts' costs in implementing the mandate.

Tom Fonfara, the Governor's education aide, noted that Mr. Thompson recently had signed legislation requiring state universities to provide anti-rape education to their students.

Gov. Buddy Roemer of Louisiana has proposed a guaranteed-tuition plan for parents to help pay the future cost for their children to attend state colleges and universities.

Mr. Roemer has met with legislative leaders to discuss his plan, and plans to have legislation introduced this month, according to his aide, Bill Conway.

Under a guaranteed-tuition plan, parents or other benefactors invest a lump-sum payment for the current cost of tuition at a state college or university for their child. The state invests the money to cover the costs of college when the child is ready to enter.

Mr. Conway said Louisiana officials modeled their plan after the prepaid-tuition program in Florida, one of several states that have such a plan.

Some experts have urged state officials to move cautiously with guaranteed-tuition plans because of the difficulty of predicting future college costs and future earnings from the investment of program funds.

Less than one-third of 1 percent of Iowa public-school students will transfer to another district next year under the state's open-enrollment law, according to a report by the state education department.

The department said it had received 1,674 open-enrollment applications for the 1990-1991 school year and granted 1,484. Of the 190 applications that were denied, 163 were rejected by resident districts, which most often cited the fact that the requested transfer would exceed the 5 percent enrollment loss allowed by the law. The other 27 were rejected by receiving districts, which most often cited a lack of classroom space.

About 77 percent of the requests came from districts with enrollments of less than 1,000. Five of the state's larger districts were not included under the open-enrollment law next year, however, because of desegregation plans.

Most students applying for transfers cited the benefit of new educational programs, family convenience, or proximity as the reason for their request. Less than 1 percent of applicants requested transfers for such activities as athletics, the report said.

Vol. 09, Issue 31

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