News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Calif. Gov. Vetoes Alternative to Flag Pledge
Pledging allegiance to the American flag will remain part of California schoolchildren's morning routine, thanks to Gov. Gray Davis' recent veto of a bill that would have let them recite part of the Declaration of Independence instead.
The bill, which had unanimously passed both chambers of the legislature, would have allowed school districts to use the first two sentences of the declaration to satisfy the state's requirement that students take part in "patriotic exercises" first thing every school day. Current regulations cite only the Pledge of Allegiance as fulfilling that requirement.
The bill also would have required those districts opting to use the passage from the declaration to hold classroom discussions of it, addressing such topics as whether its references to "all men" should be seen as covering all people.
In his Sept. 26 veto message to the legislature, the Democratic governor said "many inspiring passages" from both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution should be included in schools' curricula. But noting that "hundreds of thousands of men and women have fought and died to preserve the flag of this nation," Mr. Davis said he saw no reason to depart from the "time-honored tradition" of pledging allegiance to it.
Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, the Republican who had introduced the proposed alternative, was both surprised and disappointed by the veto, a spokesman said last week.
— Caroline Hendrie
Wash. Schools Chief To Run Unopposed in November
Terry Bergeson, Washington state's superintendent of public instruction, will be the only candidate standing for that office on the state ballot Nov. 7.
Ms. Bergeson, who was elected to her first four-year term in 1996, won the nonpartisan primary for the position on Sept. 19 by garnering 611,578 votes, or 57 percent of the total. The closest of her four rivals, Donald B. Crawford, received 165,632 votes, or about 15 percent.
Under state law, a candidate for the superintendency who receives an outright majority in the primary becomes the only named candidate on the ballot for the general election. Ms. Bergeson said she didn't mind coasting toward re-election with only write-in candidates to worry about.
"That gives me more time to spend on kids," she said.
— Andrew Trotter
S.C. Gov. Urges State To Meet National Pay Average
South Carolina's governor last week proposed raising the state's average teacher salary to the national mean, a big step for a state accustomed to using the lower Southeastern average as its benchmark.
Gov. Jim Hodges, a Democrat, estimated that the plan would cost about $300 million over the next six years, at which point teacher pay in the state would equal the national norm. As of the 1998-99 school year, the average salary of South Carolina's public school teachers was $34,506, placing the state 38th in the nation, according to the National Education Association.
That same year, the union reported, the national average stood at an estimated $40,582. Mr. Hodges offered few specifics about how to pay for the raises, but said economic growth would help provide money for a new teacher-pay scale. In addition, the governor called for giving bonuses to teachers who work in low-performing districts, as well as in schools where test scores improve.
Leaders of the Republican-controlled legislature responded to the plan by saying that the national average could be reached even sooner than Mr. Hodges proposed.
Vol. 20, Issue 6, Page 21