News In Brief
Gov. Steve Merrill of New Hampshire last week vetoed a $60 million school-aid bill that would have fully funded the state's nine-year-old school-aid formula for the first time since its inception.
The legislature passed the proposal, which would have more than doubled the amount of money the state currently sends to districts, in late April. (See Education Week, May 11, 1994.)
"The proponents of this measure know that there is no money in the bill to pay for the funding it requires,'' Mr. Merrill charged.
To finance the bill, Mr. Merrill asserted, the state would have to cut aid to cities and towns, which could force them to raise local property taxes.
"Yet the bill completely fails to identify which programs should be cut, which agencies should be downsized, and which tax increases the sponsors endorse,'' the Governor maintained. "This failure demonstrates complete disregard for the taxpayers and for fiscal responsibility.''
Desegregation Funding: Gov. Arne H. Carlson of Minnesota has signed an omnibus education bill that begins financing the state's ambitious plan to desegregate the Twin Cities and their suburbs.
The measure that Governor Carlson signed last month contains $1.5 million to pay for the creation of new magnet programs and $200,000 to help districts recruit minority teachers.
Faced with a veto threat, a legislative conference committee decided to drop a component of the desegregation plan that Mr. Carlson deemed too expensive. It would have provided an additional $49 million to districts with large concentrations of poor children.
Some lawmakers said the loss of the money would severely impede efforts to implement a voluntary-desegregation plan for the Minneapolis-St. Paul area devised by the state board of education this year. (See Education Week, Feb. 2, 1994.)
Finance Suit: Plaintiffs from five North Carolina counties filed a lawsuit last week challenging the state system of financing education.
The suit, filed in Halifax County Superior Court, seeks to dismantle a finance system that it says shortchanges students in low-wealth counties and thus violates the state constitution's requirements of "a general and uniform system of free public schools'' and "equal opportunities'' for all students.
Tax Bill Dies: The Colorado Senate finance committee has killed a sweeping measure that would have eliminated property taxes for education, beginning in 1996.
The House in April approved an amendment to a routine property-tax bill that would have required next year's legislature to decide whether to replace $1 billion in property taxes for education with increased sales or income taxes.
The Senate panel last month voted to kill the measure on the last day of the legislative session.
Standards Panel: Gov. Robert P. Casey of Pennsylvania has created a commission to oversee the development of performance and assessment standards for students.
Content standards describing what students should know were approved last year as part of the state's reform effort, known as outcomes-based education, which has been attacked by some parents and conservative groups.
The Governor's new commission will spell out what students should be able to do and how educators will judge their performance.
Youth Crime: Gov. Lawton Chiles of Florida has signed a package of bills designed to prevent youth crime and toughen penalties for juvenile offenders.
The new laws will create a juvenile-justice department, increase the number of residential-treatment slots, and authorize a maximum-security program for violent and habitual offenders.
The law also provides for the sale of "Save Our Children'' license tags. The proceeds will go toward crime-prevention programs.
Lawmakers also passed legislation to create after-school programs for middle school students who are at risk of ending up in the juvenile-justice system.
Black History: Also last month, Governor Chiles signed a measure requiring the state's public schools to teach about black history.
The law requires schools to teach about slavery, the passage of blacks to America, the abolitionist movement, and the contributions of African-Americans.
Mr. Chiles earlier signed a law requiring Holocaust education in Florida schools.
Student Coverage Vetoed: Gov. Walter J. Hickel of Alaska has vetoed a bill that would have required the state to provide workers'-compensation coverage to students in unpaid work-study jobs.
The Governor said the measure would have given school districts immunity from liability and eliminated incentives for districts and employers to provide a safe work environment.
Districts are responsible for the safety of educational facilities.
"The state should not be part of these decisions, nor bear any financial responsibility for the outcome other than providing state aid for public schools,'' the Governor said.
State Directory: The Council of Chief State School Officers has published a new edition of the Directory of State Education Agencies.
The book lists addresses and telephone and fax numbers for key federal, state, and education-association officials.
Copies of the directory are available for $19.50 each for council members and $25 for nonmembers from the C.C.S.S.O. Publications Office, 1 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20001-1431; or by fax at (202) 408-8072.
Vol. 13, Issue 36