Push Ahead on Reforms, Ky. Lawmakers Urged
Gov. Brereton Jones of Kentucky last week urged lawmakers to move ahead with the state's embattled school-reform programs.
In his State of the Commonwealth Address, Mr. Jones emphasized the need to bolster the training and certification of teachers while increasing incentive funding for schools with high local tax rates and building more family-resource centers.
"We must be leaders rather than followers, winners rather than losers in our educational-reform efforts,'' the Governor told lawmakers, who have become increasingly restive over some aspects of the state's 1990 reform law. (See Education Week, Jan. 26, 1994.)
The Governor said his budget will increase professional-development funding from $10 million to $14.5 million by the end of the two-year budget. The budget plan will also provide for changes in the state's teacher-certification program, based on criteria to be set by the Educational Professional Standards Board.
The Governor also asked lawmakers to spend an additional $30 million over the next two years on the family-resource and youth-service centers created by the 1990 law. The increase, he explained, would increase the number of centers from 373 to 673, thus reaching all eligible schools.
"Teachers, in many instances, must teach children who are ill-prepared to learn,'' Governor Jones said. "Teachers today are not allowed to exert proper discipline in the class, are not given sufficient support and encouragement to excel.''
While state funding still remains tight, he added, teacher-pay raises should be the top priority of every local school board.
Roberts Seeks Doubling Of School-Based Clinics
Gov. Barbara Roberts of Oregon has announced a proposal to double the number of school-based health centers as part of a drive to reduce unwanted teenage pregnancy in the state.
The expansion would be financed by a combination of state funds and support from private foundations, Ms. Roberts said in her State of the State Address last month.
The Governor said she will also appoint a special assistant to report on the most effective programs to reduce teenage pregnancy.
"The costs of failing to curb teenage pregnancy are high: low-weight babies, more delinquency and crime, more school dropouts, and more families that can't support themselves,'' she said. "We need a crusade.''
Another critical issue is the rise in gang activity and juvenile crime, Ms. Roberts asserted.
"The number of kids committing crimes is skyrocketing,'' she said. "We respond too late, with no certainty of penalty and no accountability for behavior. And that failure to demand responsibility is turning our kids into criminals and our communities and schools into war zones.''
Governor Roberts announced the creation of a task force to study how to reduce juvenile crime and violence. She also pledged to add new beds for juvenile offenders in existing correctional facilities in the 1995-97 budget and called for an expansion of community-policing efforts.--MEG SOMMERFELD
Casey Speech Tackles Health, Crime, Welfare
Gov. Robert P. Casey of Pennsylvania, who received lifesaving heart and liver transplants last year, used his State of the Commonwealth Address last week to call for comprehensive legislation that would offer health-insurance coverage to people who lose their jobs and forbid insurers to deny coverage of pre-existing conditions.
In addition to health care, Mr. Casey focused on crime, welfare, and tax cuts, but touched only fleetingly on education.
"All of us in state government enjoy an excellent health-care plan,'' Mr. Casey said. "No one knows this better than I. How can we justify not moving now on health care for all our fellow citizens when we are so blessed?''
To help stem juvenile crime and violence, Mr. Casey called for a law prohibiting juveniles from possessing firearms in most instances.
The Governor also proposed establishing a high-security facility for what he called "the most dangerous juvenile offenders.''
As part of a package of incentives to remove people from the welfare rolls, Mr. Casey proposed that welfare recipients who take jobs be guaranteed a period of child care.
He further recommended helping low-income families by doubling tax
exemptions for each child, to $3,000. Under such a scheme, he said, a
couple with three children and an income of $18,000 would pay no state
income tax.--KAREN DIEGMUELLER
Vol. 13, Issue 19