Federal

News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

May 30, 2001 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Texas Agrees To Help Districts With Teachers’ Health Plans

Texas lawmakers have agreed on a health-insurance program for school employees, achieving what teachers’ groups and legislative leaders alike called their top education priority for this year’s session of the legislature.

Initially, the plan would focus mainly on easing the woes of small school districts looking for affordable insurance, while providing some insurance help to every school system and every system employee. The cost is estimated at $1.2 billion in 2002-03, the first year of the program.

In that year, the smallest districts would be required to join a statewide plan, with larger districts given the choice of joining as early as 2003-04.

A House-Senate conference committee was expected to approve the proposal at the end of last week, with votes to follow soon in both chambers. Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, has said he supports a statewide health-insurance program for teachers, help that many other states already provide.

The compromise largely resembles the version of the legislation passed in the House, which teachers favored because it provided more funding overall and gave all employees an additional $1,000, which could be used for insurance costs or simply as a salary supplement. The Senate bill, with a price tag of about $1 billion the first year, would have allowed every district into the program in the first year.

Legislators said that the new plan would make sure that school employees anywhere in the state were reasonably covered by health insurance. The lack of such coverage and its high cost have aggravated widespread teachers shortages in Texas, educators say.

—Bess Keller


Ariz. Test Is Focus of OCR Complaint

A public advocacy group has filed a federal civil rights complaint alleging that minority students in Arizona are being hurt by disproportionate failure rates on the state’s graduation test.

Citing failure rates in excess of 80 percent for minority students on the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards test, or AIMS, the Tucson-based William E. Morris Institute for Justice filed a complaint in mid-May asking the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights to investigate and possibly penalize the state.

Unless the state “shifts its present course, the vast majority of minority high school students will be prevented from obtaining a high school diploma,” the group contends in its May 17 complaint.

The state’s recently appointed superintendent of education, Jaime Molera, and the state school board met May 17 with legislators to discuss the exam’s use as a graduation standard. Mr. Molera’s predecessor, Lisa Graham Keegan, recommended last fall that the board revisit the timeline for that requirement, saying that scores on the test suggested that some students were not being taught the material needed to pass the exam. (“Arizona Poised To Revisit Graduation Exam,” Nov. 29, 2000.)

Currently, the classes of 2002 and 2003 must pass the reading and writing sections of AIMS to graduate. The math requirement kicks in for the class of 2004.

—Darcia Harris Bowman


‘Cyber’ Charter Dispute Flares in Pa.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education can move forward with its plans to withhold an estimated $840,000 in state aid to about 100 school districts that refused to pay invoices from the Western Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, a state judge has ruled.

On May 11, Commonwealth Court Judge Warren Morgan refused a request by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and four school districts to block the state’s withholding. They have challenged the legality of “cyber” charter schools, which provide most instruction to students online.

State law allows a charter school to charge any of the state’s school districts a fee when it enrolls a student who resides in the district.

But the school boards and their state association claim that cyber charter schools— a handful of which have cropped up in the state—are a form of home schooling that does not meet the state’s definition of a charter school.

The school boards’ association is considering appealing the ruling to the state supreme court.

—Andrew Trotter

A version of this article appeared in the May 30, 2001 edition of Education Week as News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Biden Admin. Says New K-12 Agenda Tackles Absenteeism, Tutoring, Extended Learning
The White House unveiled a set of K-12 priorities at the start of an election year.
4 min read
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona participates in a roundtable discussion with students from Dartmouth College on Jan. 10, 2024, on the school's campus, in Hanover, N.H.
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona participates in a roundtable discussion with students from Dartmouth College on Jan. 10, 2024, on the school's campus, in Hanover, N.H.
Steven Senne/AP
Federal Lawmakers Want to Reauthorize a Major Education Research Law. What Stands in the Way?
Lawmakers have tried and failed to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act over the past nearly two decades.
7 min read
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, joins Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, as Starbucks founder Howard Schultz answers questions about the company's actions during an ongoing employee unionizing campaign, at the Capitol in Washington, on March 29, 2023.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, joins Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, at the Capitol in Washington, on March 29, 2023. The two lawmakers sponsored a bill to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Federal Will the Government Actually Shut Down This Time? What Educators Should Know
The federal government is once again on the verge of shutting down. Here's why educators should care, but shouldn't necessarily worry.
1 min read
Photo illustration of Capitol building and closed sign.
iStock
Federal Biden Admin. Warns Schools to Protect Students From Antisemitism, Islamophobia
The U.S. Department of Education released a "Dear Colleague" letter reminding schools of their obligation to address discrimination.
3 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the Department of Education on Sept. 20, 2023 in Washington.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview in his office at the U.S. Department of Education on Sept. 20, 2023 in Washington.
Mark Schiefelbein/AP