News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

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Ark. Bill Would Shift Remediation Costs to Schools

An Arkansas legislator wants the states high schools to pay if their honor-roll graduates cannot meet college standards.

Rep. David A. Bisbee introduced a bill this month that would require high schools to reimburse tuition and other costs to B students who are required to enroll in remedial courses at state universities.

Under state law, students who score 18 or below on a subject area of the ACT college-entrance exam must take a remedial course if they attend a state university.

For students who earned a B or higher in a subject and fail to score higher than 18 on the ACT, Mr. Bisbee wants their alma maters to pay for whatever review course the state college requires.

"If you're an honor student, you should be scoring 24, 25, or 26 on the ACT," Mr. Bisbee said. If B students do not score that well, the school should pay up for misleading them, he said.

The average cost per course is between $200 and $300, he said. He did not have an estimate of the number of students who would qualify to be reimbursed.

As a Republican in a legislature dominated by Democrats, Mr. Bisbee may have a difficult time getting his bill to go anywhere.

"If I can get it out of the education committee, I can pass it," he said. "I'm getting some favorable feedback on it."

Ariz. High Court Upholds Finance Ruling

The Arizona Supreme Court turned down Gov. Fife Symington's petition to reverse a lower court ruling that found that the state's school finance system remains unconstitutional.

In 1994, the supreme court ruled that the finance system was unconstitutional because of sharp disparities among districts in school construction, building maintenance, and equipment. Last November, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge found that the legislature's new $100 million construction and repair fund and a 10-year plan that would include more school resources were an insufficient answer to the finance problems. The judge said officials must come up with a new finance system by June 30, 1998, or the state must stop distributing aid to schools.

In a Jan. 15 order, the supreme court upheld the lower court's ruling.

Mr. Symington, a Republican, had asked the high court for guidance on what the state should do to fix the current finance system, but the court's brief order did not provide any advice.

Okla. Officials Reach Consensus on School Goals

Fifty business, government, and education leaders hammered out a consensus on six education goals for Oklahoma schools after a day of brainstorming earlier this month. The closed-door session was led by Gov. Frank Keating and hosted by Phillips Petroleum Co.'s chief executive, Wayne Allen, at the company's headquarters in Bartlesville, Okla.

The recommendations, which now go to the state school board and lawmakers, call for a more demanding core curriculum, possibly by raising high school science, math, and social studies requirements to four years to match the English requirement. Other suggestions included higher standards for teaching, along with better teacher preparation and staff development, and increased school funding, including bonuses for successful teachers.

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