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Texas Governor Signs Deregulation Bill

Gov. George W. Bush of Texas signed into law last week a bill that will streamline the state's education code and allow local school districts greater management flexibility.

The new law includes provisions implementing a proposal Mr. Bush made in last year's gubernatorial campaign to allow for the creation of "home rule" school districts, which could vote to operate under fewer state regulations in exchange for promising to improve student achievement.

It also softens the state's no-pass, no-play law, reducing from six weeks to three the amount of time failing students must sit out of athletics and other extracurricular activities.

The bill passed both houses of the legislature after a long debate in a joint House-Senate conference committee. (See Education Week, 5/31/95.)

Class-Size Mandate Retained: The education committee of Nevada's Assembly late last month killed a proposal that would have effectively undone a state law mandating reduced class sizes in the early elementary grades.

Under the current law, 1st- and 2nd-grade classrooms must have a pupil-teacher ratio no larger than 16 to 1.

Assemblyman John Carpenter proposed legislation that would have set the student-teacher ratios at 22 to 1 for kindergarten and grades 1 and 2; 24 to 1 for grades 3 and 4;, and 26 to 1 for grades 5 and 6.

Gov. Bob Miller proposed in his budget to apply the 16-to-1 requirement to 3rd-grade classrooms.

The education committee's co-chairman, Assemblyman Bill Harrington, said last week that crowded schools such as those in booming Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, cannot keep up with the requirements now and sometimes put 32 students in a room with two teachers.

Mr. Harrington said he did not expect the Governor's proposal to expand the requirements to win legislative approval.

Channel One Gains in N.Y.: A key New York State Assembly committee has approved a bill that would allow school districts in the state to sign contracts to show the controversial Channel One classroom news show.

The daily advertiser-supported show has been barred from public schools in the state since its inception in 1989 by action of the state board of regents.

Channel One, which was sold last year by Whittle Communications to K-III Communications Corporation of New York City, has lobbied the legislature for years to overturn the regents' ban.

The Assembly's education committee voted 24 to 6 last month in favor of a bill that would allow schools to show Channel One.

A similar bill died in the committee two years ago, but Channel One has hired well-connected Albany lobbyists to work for passage of the legislation in this session.

S.D. Agency Scrutinized: Gov. William J. Janklow of South Dakota is creating a task force to study the state department of education.

"With the elimination of many school rules last legislative session, and the implementation of a new state aid-to-local-education formula, this is exactly the right time to also examine the functions and activities of [the department]," Governor Janklow said in announcing the formation of the task force late last month.

The group, which will include about 20 people--such as parents, teachers, administrators, and business owners--will examine the mission of the department and make recommendations to the Governor by Sept. 1.

~A spokesman for Mr. Janklow said the task force is not intended to lead to the elimination of the education agency.

No Voucher Vote: The Oregon House has referred a bill that would have created a statewide school-voucher system to the rules committee, killing the measure for this session.

No vote was taken on the bill before it was consigned to legislative limbo last month, making it difficult to tell how much support there was for the measure.

The bill would have given students vouchers or "portable scholarships" that could be used at private schools, equal to half the funds the state spends on each public school student. The state's current per-pupil expenditure is $5,018 per year.

Supporters are expected to revive the proposal in the 1997 legislative session.

Kentucky Candidates: Lieut. Gov. Paul E. Patton of Kentucky, a Democrat, will face Larry Forgy, the former head of the state Republican party, in the state's gubernatorial election in November.

Mr. Patton won his party's nomination with about 45 percent of the vote in a May 23 primary election. His closest contender was Bob Babbage, the secretary of state, who collected 24 percent. Mr. Forgy easily won the G.O.P. nomination with 82 percent of the vote.

Gov. Brereton C. Jones is prohibited by the state constitution from seeking a second consecutive term.

Gubernatorial elections will also be held this year in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Vol. 14, Issue 37

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