News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

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Louisiana Parents Sue To Block State’s Use Of Test Scores To Promote or Retain Students

A New Orleans parents’ group sued the state of Louisiana last week in an effort to prevent officials from using a new exam to determine whether 4th and 8th graders should be promoted to the next grade.

"Children have not been adequately prepared for tests with such harsh consequences, and don’t have a fair opportunity," said William P. Quigley, a lawyer for the group, Parents for Educational Justice.

The group does not oppose having the test administered, but opposes how it will be used, said Mr. Quigley, the academic dean at Loyola University’s law school in New Orleans, where the case was filed in federal court.

Although the test was given last year, this year it will be used for the first time to determine whether 4th and 8th graders proceed to the next grade. Students who fail during testing this month will be offered free summer school and a retest in July. The state education department projects that 30 percent of the 120,000 students taking the exam will fail the first time, and that 15 percent to 20 percent of all test-takers will be held back after a second try.

Cecil J. Picard, Louisiana’s state superintendent of education, called the lawsuit counterproductive. "The test is not punitive," he said. "The punishment is promoting kids year after year before they’re ready."

—Erik W. Robelen

Democratic Legislator Enters Florida Chief’s Race

Florida state Rep. James Bush III formally announced his candidacy for state education commissioner last month, saying he would work to dismantle the state’s new voucher law.

The former teacher, who has represented a Miami district in the legislature since 1992, is the first Democrat to enter the race. The state’s Republican leadership has thrown its support behind Charlie Crist, a former state senator known for his support of tough-on-crime initiatives.

The position is being vacated by Tom Gallagher, who is running for the U.S. Senate and will leave his Cabinet post in January.

Whoever is elected education commissioner in November will be guaranteed only a two-year term, because the position will shift to a gubernatorially appointed post after the 2002 elections.

Mr. Bush—who is no relation to Gov. Jeb Bush—is barred from seeking re- election to the legislature this year because of a state term limit that prohibits legislators from serving more than eight years in office.

—Jessica L. Sandham

Vol. 19, Issue 26, Page 28

Published in Print: March 8, 2000, as News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
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