State News Roundup

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Montana Unions Play Host to NEA and ATF Presidents

The presidents of the nation's two major teachers' unions delivered a joint keynote address at a Montana educators' conference last week.

Keith B. Geiger, the president of the National Education Association, and Albert Shanker, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, addressed about 3,500 educators at the conference.

The two leaders appeared together because Montana's teachers' unions now hold a joint conference after being longtime rivals, said Eric Feaver, the president of the Montana Education Association.

Montana and Minnesota are the only states whose two teachers' unions host a joint yearly meeting.

Authority Revoked

Massachusetts officials have been stripped of their authority to regulate a state-financed center that uses aversive therapy to treat autistic young adults.

A superior court judge ordered this month the state to reimburse the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center Inc. more than $1 million in legal fees and sharply rebuked state regulators for what he called "unfounded ethical attacks" against it.

State officials had challenged the center's use of techniques that combine painful punishments, such as electric shocks, with rewards to shape behavior.

The judge will appoint a receiver to oversee the Providence, R.I.-based organization, which serves most of its 46 students in group homes in southeastern Massachusetts. State officials plan to appeal.

Basic Skills

The Minnesota school board has voted to keep seven basic-skills tests as requirements for high school graduation.

The board rejected a request last month from the state education department that it require only two of the minimum-competency tests--in reading and math--and postpone development of the other five.

Vol. 15, Issue 08

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