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

School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
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
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education

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 Use Your 'Teacher Voice,' Jill Biden Urges in a Push for Political Activism
Voting in the midterms is a critical step educators can take to bolster democracy, the first lady and other labor leaders told teachers.
5 min read
First Lady Jill Biden speaks during the American Federation of Teachers convention, Friday, July 15, 2022, in Boston.
First lady Jill Biden speaks during the American Federation of Teachers convention in Boston.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Federal Federal Initiative Leverages COVID Aid to Expand After-School, Summer Learning
The Education Department's Engage Every Student effort includes partnerships with civic organizations and professional groups.
3 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks at an event on June 2, 2022, at the Department of Education in Washington.
U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks at an event at the Department of Education in Washington in June. The department has announced a push for expanded access to after-school and summer learning programs.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Federal Restraint and Seclusion, and Disability Rights: Ed. Department Has Work to Do, Audit Finds
The Government Accountability Office releases a checklist of how the U.S. Department of Education is performing on a list of priorities.
4 min read
Flags decorate a space outside the office of the Education Secretary at the Education Department in Washington on Aug. 9, 2017.
Flags decorate a space outside the office of the Education Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. The Government Accountability Office has released recommended priorities for the Education Department that target special education rights.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Federal Biden Administration Boosts Grants for Community Schools, Sharpens Funding Priorities
The Education Department will award $68 million through its Full-Service Community Schools program.
2 min read
First-graders Rhiannon Hanson, left, and Holden Ashbrook make fruit skewers in class at Lincoln Elementary School in Dubuque, Iowa, on Jan. 20, 2022. Project Rooted has partnered with Dubuque Community Schools for a pilot program in which it provides monthly boxes containing local foods and a project to first-grade classrooms.
First-graders Rhiannon Hanson, left, and Holden Ashbrook make fruit skewers at Lincoln Elementary School in Dubuque, Iowa. The U.S. Department of Education is providing grants to high-quality community schools that provide wraparound services like the nutrition programs at Lincoln Elementary.
Jessica Reilly/Telegraph Herald via AP