State News Roundup

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An interim report issued by a committee appointed by the New York state board of regents recommends that the state adopt a unitary graduation system in which all students must compile a portfolio of work in order to receive a diploma.

The report proposes that the regents replace their tracking-based, bifurcated graduation system with a single one based on performance rather than on the courses that a student takes.

Under the proposal, on graduation, students would receive diplomas identifying them as "proficient, highly proficient, [or] distinguished.''

Diplomas might also note that the students earned distinction in such specialities as mathematics or social studies, according to the report.

The recommendation is but one of several the New York State Curriculum and Assessment Council proposed last month that are intended to improve curriculum, instruction, and student assessment.

The council is charged with developing a plan to carry out the principles embodied in the regents' New Compact for Learning, a blueprint for outcome-based schooling.

The regents are likely to discuss the interim report at their November meeting, although they are not scheduled to take any action.

Women should be allowed to attend a now all-male, publicly funded military academy in South Carolina, the state's commissioner of higher education concluded in a report released last month.

Commissioner Fred Sheheen urged the trustees of The Citadel, a state school in Charleston, to admit women to avoid a sex-discrimination suit that would be difficult to win.

Mr. Sheheen also said the school should open its doors to women for ethical reasons.

"The Citadel should abandon its resistance to the admission of women, not only for legal reasons but also for reasons of ethics and equity,'' he said.

The Citadel and the Virginia Military Institute are the only state-supported military schools in the nation.

Last month, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit declared the men-only admissions policy at V.M.I. to be unconstitutional. The panel did not mandate particular remedies, but said they could include admitting women, providing equal opportunities for women elsewhere, or ending the flow of public monies to the school.

A federal district court is supervising state remedies in Virginia.

In a decision closely watched by schools throughout the state, a Mississippi judge has ruled that a longstanding lease on school-trust property in the Brandon district must be renegotiated--a decision that could allow schools to reap greater funds from the trust lands.

The decision on the half-acre Brandon parcel, leased for 99 years in 1946 for a one-time payment of $150, requires that the land be reappraised, taking fair-market value into consideration. About 150 similar lawsuits are pending and being monitored by school officials critical of the discount leases of plots known as "16th-Section lands,'' originally set aside in the 19th century to generate revenue for schools.

Leaseholders in the Brandon case are expected to appeal the ruling last month by Chancery Judge Roger Clapp. School officials are waiting to hear whether the judge will require the defendants to pay $20,000 in appraisal fees, back rent, and legal fees.

Vol. 12, Issue 10

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