News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

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Kentucky Education Officials To Name Panel To Examine Academic Achievement Gap

The Kentucky Department of Education has announced plans to form a 40-member task force to study the problem of lagging academic achievement among minority students.

African-Americans, by far the state's largest student minority group, have trailed their white counterparts on state tests in every subject in Kentucky, a problem found in many other states. ("Lags in Minority Achievement Defy Traditional Explanations," March 15, 2000.) Black students in the state also are overrepresented in special education classes and under-represented in classes for the gifted and Advanced Placement courses.

"It's just unacceptable to us,'' said Lisa Y. Gross, the spokeswoman for the state education department .

The task force's members will include representatives from across the state as well as from the five districts with the highest concentrations of black students: Jefferson, Fayette, Christian, and Hardin counties and Paducah Independent. The group's first meeting is slated for May 17.

—Debra Viadero

N.H. Panel To Weigh Impact of School Funding Options

Gov. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire last week named 14 members to a new commission charged with exploring the economic impact of different ways to finance schools.

The Granite State has been without a permanent school funding formula since last year, when the state supreme court struck down a statewide property tax enacted to pay for schools. ("Under Threat of Closings, N.H. Revives Property Tax," Nov. 10, 1999.) To avert school closings, legislators temporarily enacted a scaled-down version of the tax.

"Before we enact a long-term solution, we must know, not guess, what the impact will be on our economy," said the Democratic governor, who has been resistant to using a statewide property tax to pay for schools.

But critics accused the governor of using the new panel to sidestep a hard issue at a time when she is up for re-election.

David T. McLaughlin, a former president of Dartmouth College and the current chairman of the board of CBS Corp., will chair the panel, which also includes economists, business professors, and corporate leaders. The group's final report is due by next January.

—Debra Viadero

Students Getting Voice on Vermont School Board

Two high school students will join the Vermont state board of education, under a law signed by Gov. Howard Dean last month.

The law adds a nonvoting seat for a high school junior, and gives a senior voting privileges on the seven-member board, which meets monthly. The governor will appoint the students based on applications and recommendations from school officials.

Mr. Dean, a Democrat, signed the bill at a Brattleboro high school on March 27, flanked by students who had advocated the measure.

According to the National Association of State Boards of Education, 11 states and the District of Columbia have a student seat on their boards. Not all of those students are allowed to vote, however.

—Joetta L. Sack

Vol. 19, Issue 31, Page 34

Published in Print: April 12, 2000, as News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
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