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Dollars For Choice:

Two Milwaukee organizations—the Bradley Foundation and Partners Advancing Values in Education—have announced a new school choice initiative that will help children from low-income families pay for private school tuition. The program is modeled on the CHOICE Charitable Trust, a privately funded program in Indianapolis. To launch the Milwaukee plan, the foundation pledged $500,000 a year for three years, which is expected to be matched or exceeded by other donors. Under the program, eligible low-income families that reside in the city school district may apply for grants for one-half of private school tuition, up to $1,000 annually per child.

More Mistakes:

The Texas State Board of Education voted this summer to assess $860,000 in new fines against publishers for 147 mistakes in textbooks purchased by the state. The board's action marks the second time this year it has fined publishers for errors in textbooks. The latest round of fines stems from mistakes in 27 new editions that were already certified by publishers to be error-free. They include some of the history textbooks that came under criticism several months ago as well as texts in pre-algebra, geometry, physics, English, and office skills.

Age Discrimination:

A California appeals court has ruled that a state law prohibiting disabled teachers over age 60 from collecting disability benefits violates federal regulations against age discrimination. The case involved Naomi Smith, who, at age 64, suffered injuries on a school playground that prevented her from teaching for a period of more than a year. Smith had to retire after her sick leave ran out because the law did not allow a person of her age to receive disability benefits. That age restriction, the appellate court said, violates federal law because it amounts to involuntary retirement.

High Marks:

Some 71 percent of high school juniors and seniors rate their teachers as “excellent” or “good,” while only 36 percent give their schools similarly high marks, according to a survey of 1,365 students from 20 schools conducted by the National Association of Secondary School Principals and Sylvan Learning Centers.

Special Education:

Enrollment in special education programs grew at its fastest rate in a decade during the 1990-91 school year. According to the U.S. Education Department, 4.8 million students were served in special education programs that year, a 2.8 percent jump over the previous year and the largest one-year jump since 1981-82. Demand for special education teachers, the department says, far exceeded supply. In 1990-91, states faced a shortage of 26,310 teachers. Although the shortfall was slightly smaller than the previous year, schools still needed one additional special education teacher for every five they employed.

One-Parent Families:

The proportion of black children living with one parent has climbed to nearly 58 percent, up from 32 percent in 1970, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. As of 1991, 57.5 percent of black children lived with one parent, compared with 19.5 percent of white children and 29.8 percent of Hispanic children. Black children were also three times as likely as white children and twice as likely as Hispanic children to live in their grandparents' homes.

A Bad Grade:

A California advocacy group, Children Now, has given the state the grade of D minus on a “report card” assessing the well-being of children in the state over the last four years. During that time, the group says, the youth homicide rate increased 45 percent, the youth incarceration rate rose 23 percent, and the rate of teenage births grew 25 percent. The rate of youth unemployment, it notes, has jumped from 15.6 percent to 20.1 percent in just one year.

Vol. 04, Issue 01, Page 11

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