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Refuse Aid for Toddlers, Pa. Governor Urges

Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania wants out of a federal program that pays for educational services for disabled infants and toddlers, saying there are too many strings attached to the money.

As part of his budget, the Republican governor proposed pulling out of part H of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, which sets rules for early-intervention services for children from birth to age 3 and requires participating states to guarantee certain coverage.

If the legislature agreed, Pennsylvania would be the first state to turn down part H dollars.

Gov. John G. Rowland of Connecticut made a similar proposal last year, but his plan died in the legislature there after coming under attack from disability-rights advocates and parents. (See Education Week, March 15, 1995.)

Pennsylvania stands to lose roughly $12.6 million per year from the federal government under Mr. Ridge's proposal.

But the governor also recommended boosting state funding for the early-intervention program by $6.5 million, to a total of $41.6 million

Mr. Ridge also proposed capping the program's per-child expenditure at $5,400. On average, the state now spends more than $8,000 per child.

Teacher Proficiency Appeals

Florida teachers who cannot pass the state's proficiency tests could appeal to a peer-review board in an effort to keep their teaching certification, under a new rule adopted by Gov. Lawton Chiles and his Cabinet.

Supporters of the new policy said it will help bilingual teachers in south Florida, who have had a hard time passing all sections of the reading, writing, and mathematics tests.

Gov. Chiles said that if a teacher can prove he is competent to a group of his peers, he should be able to seek a waiver from the state's testing requirements.

The governor, a Democrat, said that the value of a teacher's work should be factored into any decision to revoke certification.

But Frank Brogan, the state's Republican education commissioner, argued that state officials should not swerve from the present cutoff.

"Everyone espouses higher standards, but when it's time to belly up, it's amazing how people get cold feet," Mr. Brogan said.

State officials said that 700 of the 700,000 teachers who have taken the College Level Academic Skills Test have not passed all of it. The test, which is set at a 10th-grade level, is also required for Florida college students, who cannot get a bachelor's degree without passing.

The issue may not be settled. Mr. Brogan's office must still approve any waivers recommended by a peer-review group.

Tax-Time Donations

A House committee in Hawaii has passed a bill that would allow taxpayers to make a $5 donation to the state's education system on their state income tax returns.

The voluntary contribution would be added to any tax owed by the donors, and would be divided evenly between K-12 and higher education.

The bill also provides that such contributions could not displace any appropriations for the state department of education or the University of Hawaii. No more than 1 percent of the proceeds could go toward operating expenses and overhead.

The House committees on education and on higher education and the arts jointly reported the measure Feb. 13. It must still be approved by the House and sent to the Senate.

Vol. 15, Issue 23

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