News in Brief
Bills that would allow the creation of charter schools in Alaska and Louisiana are awaiting signatures from their governors.
Gov. Tony Knowles of Alaska and Gov. Edwin W. Edwards of Louisiana, who are both Democrats, are expected to approve the bills.
Legislators in both states had killed previous attempts to establish charter schools, which are publicly financed schools that are operated outside the regular school system and free from many state and local regulations.
Under the Alaska bill, the state board of education would be able to approve five-year charters for up to 30 schools.
Local school boards would also need to sign off on charter applications and would have the authority to exempt the schools from local district requirements. The local board could also abolish a charter if the school failed to meet its stated student-achievement goals. The law would expire in 2005.
In Louisiana, the pending legislation would allow up to eight school districts to start at least one charter school. Those districts could launch one such school for every 20,000 students the district enrolls.
The schools would be exempt from most state laws and regulations, but would be subject to the control of local school boards. The boards would be required to cancel a charter if a school could not demonstrate students' academic improvement.
Ohio To Omit Choice Plan: The Ohio Senate is apparently prepared to abandon Gov. George V. Voinovich's proposal to use state funds to help pay students' tuition at private and parochial schools.
A budget crafted recently by Senate Republican leaders does not include funding for tuition vouchers. The Senate was debating that budget plan late last week, but it appeared that the voucher program would not be restored.
The Governor, a Republican, had included a statewide pilot program in his budget proposal, and the House earlier this year approved legislation that would make vouchers available for Cleveland students. (See Education Week, 4/12/95.)
Senate and House conferees will meet later this month to iron out differences between the budget proposals passed by their chambers. Some type of voucher program could be inserted into the final budget then.
Choice Debate Postponed: Gov. John G. Rowland of Connecticut announced last week that he would postpone his efforts to pass a school-choice bill.
Mr. Rowland had been pushing a proposal to give local districts the authority to adopt choice plans with or without private-school options or to create charter schools.
But he abandoned the plan just before the end of the legislative session, saying he wanted to drum up bipartisan support for those ideas.
This summer, the Republican Governor is expected to appoint a task force of lawmakers from both parties to study choice initiatives, a spokesman for Mr. Rowland said. The plan is expected to be his top priority when the legislature meets again later this year.
Official English: Gov. Stephen Merrill of New Hampshire late last month signed a bill making his state the third in three months to adopt legislation declaring English the state's official language.
The Governors of South Dakota and Montana signed into law similar measures this spring. All three states have Republican chief executives.
Democratic Gov. Zell Miller of Georgia recently vetoed similar legislation.
Before this spring, no state had adopted an "official English" law since 1990, according to a spokeswoman for U.S. English, an organization that advocates making English the official language of government.
A total of 22 states have enacted such laws, the spokeswoman said.
Vol. 14, Issue 38