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The Georgia legislature has approved Gov. Zell Miller's proposal to create charter schools that would operate free of most state rules governing education.

The bill, passed this month, calls for the charter schools to work with local school boards and parents to define their missions and create their own learning environments.

The state plans to give the charter schools a blanket waiver from standard regulations, while requiring them to create methods and measures for evaluating their performance.

The charter schools also will be asked to pledge, under the terms of a renewable three-year agreement with the state board of education and their local boards, to work toward the six national education goals.

Georgia is the third state to approve charter-schools legislation, joining Minnesota and California. (See Education Week, Sept. 30, 1992.)

A tuition-tax-credit bill has died in the New Mexico legislature after coming close to final approval.

The bill, which would have provided an income-tax credit of about $1,400 per child in private school, based on current state spending figures, passed the Senate this month by a vote of 18 to 15 and was approved by the House education committee.

The bill made it to the House floor on the final day of the legislative session. Opponents maneuvered to have it assigned to the House tax and revenue committee for further consideration, however, effectively killing the measure.

The bill, which was introduced as a voucher measure before being amended into a tax credit earlier in the session, would have granted a tax rebate to low-income families with children in private schools.

The Maryland House has killed a controversial school-choice bill that would have provided tuition vouchers to 200 Baltimore students to attend public or private schools, including religious schools.

The $581,000 pilot program, which faced strong opposition from union and education groups, was struck down this month by the House appropriations committee on a vote of 23 to 1.

The program was proposed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

The Idaho supreme court has dismissed part of a challenge to the state's school-funding system, but sent another part of the suit back to a lower court for further consideration.

The plaintiffs, a group of parents and 40 school districts, had alleged that the school-finance system is unconstitutional because it does not provide enough resources to support a "uniform and thorough'' system of public education as required by the state constitution. They also maintained that disparities in funding between districts caused by a property-tax-based method created a non-uniform system of education.

Citing a similar 1975 case, the court ruled this month that disparities in funding levels do not violate the uniformity requirement.

However, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the plaintiffs' claim that the school-finance system does not provide enough money to enable schools to offer a "thorough'' education, and remanded the case to the lower court for further proceedings.

Gov. Mike Sullivan of Wyoming has signed legislation giving the state teacher-standards board policymaking authority.

Control over certification policy will shift from the state board of education to the 13-member Professional Teacher Standards Board.

The standards board has acted as an advisory panel to the state board since 1983.

The bill was supported by the Wyoming Education Association, which will have the right to nominate six teacher members of the panel, and opposed by the state board.

The New Jersey Assembly has passed legislation requiring all school districts to "stress abstinence as the only completely reliable means of preventing áéäó and avoiding pregnancy.''

The bill, which passed on a vote of 54 to 7 this month, would amend the state's nine-year-old sex-education mandate, which currently leaves decisions on course content up to local school officials.

Before it can become law, the bill must pass the Senate and be signed by Gov. James J. Florio, who has expressed concern about a legislatively mandated curriculum. However, the margin of passage in the Assembly suggests that backers of the bill would be able to override a veto.

Vol. 12, Issue 27

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