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North Carolina must intensify its school-reform efforts or risk failure of its initiatives, a new study warns.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina, a group of educators, business leaders, and elected officials that has been a leading proponent of school reform, last month issued the report, which contained a number of specific recommendations for changes in the state's schools.

The group's proposals, some of which would require action by the legislature, included changing the state superintendency of education from an elected to an appointed position; lengthening the school year from 180 to 200 days; making teaching a full-time, year-round job, rather than a 10-month position; revamping principals' training; and developing local coalitions to push for higher school standards.

"If we fail to meet the challenge of school reform,'' said John Dornan, the forum's president, "we may be dooming our children to becoming the first generation of Americans who have a lower standard of living than their parents'. The reform movement is at a critical juncture, and we can't be found wanting.''

A new Georgia law requiring all public-school students to have Social Security numbers could keep thousands of immigrant children out of school, advocacy groups are warning.

The legislation, signed by Gov. Zell Miller last month, seeks to aid educators in following students' progress through the school system and keeping track of them if they drop out.

But representatives from several organizations that work with immigrants and refugees argued that the measure could prevent foreign-born children from enrolling in school.

"For the foreign-born children of either legal or undocumented aliens, obtaining a Social Security number often is impossible,'' Bruce R. Larson, the president of the Atlanta chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, wrote in a letter to the Governor.

By the time foreign-born children do obtain Social Security cards, Mr. Larson said, they may have been out of school so long that they require expensive remedial education.

Citing an estimated cost of $15 million, the joint appropriations committee of the Connecticut legislature has rejected a bill to require safety monitors to ride on all school buses carrying elementary-school students.

The bill's supporters had pointed out that 20 Connecticut children have died over the past two decades in accidents involving school buses, usually as a result of being hit by the bus while getting on or off. The parents of a 6-year-old boy who was run over by his school bus two years ago led the lobbying efforts in the legislature.

There have been no school-bus fatalities in neighboring Rhode Island since that state passed similar legislation about two years ago, noted Senator Michael P. Meotti, a supporter of the measure.

Vol. 11, Issue 33

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