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Districts in Idaho and Rhode Island have filed school-finance lawsuits in state courts.

Both suits contend that the states' funding formulas are unconstitutional because they do not provide enough money for low-wealth districts. The Idaho suit was filed in June, while the plaintiff in Rhode Island filed suit last week.

The Rhode Island case, Central Falls v. Board of Regents, is expected to go to trial in a few months, according to the Central Falls superintendent. The district is the only plaintiff in the suit, which was filed in state superior court.

In Idaho Schools for Equal Educational Opportunity v. Evans, a coalition of 21 districts has filed suit in state district court. According to a lawyer for the plaintiffs, the case may go to trial as early as October.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Herbert J. Grover of Wisconsin has filed a legal brief seeking to block implementation of the state's controversial new school-choice program.

The program, which is being strongly backed by Gov. Tommy G. Thompson, will allow 1,000 public-school students from low-income families in Milwaukee to enroll in private, nonsectarian schools at state expense, beginning this fall.

In his brief, filed last month, Mr. Grover said the plan violates the state constitution because the private schools involved would not be held to the same standards as public schools.

A similar argument was made in an unsuccessful suit filed against the new program by a coalition of public-education groups. (See Education Week, June 20. 1990.)

Mr. Grover was responding to a lawsuit brought against him by some of the parents and private schools who want to participate in the new program. They said Mr. Grover was thwarting the effort through use of extensive application requirements for participating schools.

Paul F. Hubbert, the executive director of the Alabama Education Association, has won the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Guy Hunt.

Mr. Hubbert clinched the nomination in a June 26 runoff election with Attorney General Don Siegelman. Mr. Hubbert won 54 percent of the 307,000 votes cast in a contest marked by low voter turnout.

Mr. Hubbert's victory had been presaged by his unexpectedly strong showing in the six-candidate primary election June 5. (See Education Week, June 13, 1990.)

North Dakota schools will not be able to recover money cut from the state budget in 1988, the state supreme court has ruled.

In 1988, the state office of management and budget ordered a 2 percent across-the-board cut in spending--including $7.4 million for education--to offset a projected shortfall in tax revenues. That year, voters approved a referendum to repeal two new taxes adopted by the legislature in 1987.

The Council of School Administrators and three school districts sued to have the money restored after the state budget director rejected a proposal to boost school funding when tax receipts exceeded earlier projections.

The court, in a unanimous decision last month, said the law that allows the budget director to make cuts when revenues fall short does not compel him to restore funding when tax receipts improve.

Gov. Buddy Roemer of Louisiana last week vetoed legislation requiring that stickers be placed on phonograph records warning of explicit lyrics.

The bill would have been the first in the nation to require warning stickers on records. It targeted lyrics that advocate or encourage rape, incest, bestiality, sadomasochism, prostitution, homicide, unlawful ritualistic acts, suicide, bias crimes, and unlawful use of drugs or alcohol.

Under the bill, records with warning stickers could not be displayed or sold to unmarried minors under age 17. Retailers, distributors, or manufacturers who sold a labeled record to an underage person could be fined up to $1,000 and jailed up to six months.

States are moving on several fronts to meet the growing demand for high-quality, affordable child care, a new report indicates.

The report by the National Governors' Association Center for Policy Research says that 31 states authorized funds to expand existing child-care programs in 1989, while 16 increased child-care subsidies for low-income families and 12 approved legislation to regulate "family day care" provided in private homes.

Forty-four states reported spending a total of more than $1 billion in state aid for subsidized child care in fiscal 1989, the report says. States are also raising the income limits on such care and funding on-site care for state employees' children.

In addition, the survey showed, states are setting up loan-guarantee funds to stimulate more centers and day-care homes, approving pay raises to curtail staff turnover, offering dependent-care tax credits, and liberalizing parental-leave policies.

The survey, funded by two private foundations and the U.S. Labor Department, showed that 28 states now fund "resource and referral" agencies to help parents find child care, and that 21 will expand those programs this year.

It also indicated that states are requiring criminal-records checks on child-care workers and are expanding laws that require such workers to report suspected child abuse.

The report is available for $15 from n.g.a. Publications, 444 N. Capitol St., N.W., Suite 250, Washington, D.C. 20001.

Superintendent of Public Instruction C. Diane Bishop of Arizona has been cleared of conflict-of-interest allegations.

Newspaper reports had contended that Ms. Bishop had misused her position to benefit her husband, a University of Arizona professor.

But Attorney General Robert K. Corbin said last month that Ms. Bishop's efforts to aid her husband were not illegal.

A quarter of the states have laws that require some sort of instruction about religion or spiritual and moral values, according to a new national survey.

The survey of state laws, regulations, or guidelines on the discussion of religious, civic, or moral issues was conducted by Charles Kniker, editor of Religion & Public Education, the journal of the National Council on Religion and Public Education.

The survey also found that 15 of the 49 responding states have a law or regulation about equal access to school facilities for extracurricular activities, while 13 states permit teaching about religion in social-studies classes.

Further information about the report can be obtained from Mr. Kniker, who is assistant dean in the College of Education at Iowa State University, E262 Lagomarcino Hall, isu, Ames, Iowa 50011.

Vol. 09, Issue 40

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