Magazine article Techniques

State Update

Magazine article Techniques

State Update

Article excerpt

State Update features education news at the state and local levels. Readers are encouraged to send submissions to: Techniques, 1410 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314, fax 703-683-7424 or e-mail acte@acteonline.org.

FLORIDA--The school tuition voucher law signed by Gov. Jeb Bush in June is under fire by several national civil rights groups, and is being branded a blatant violation of both the Florida and federal constitutions. The legislation allows students at "failing" public schools to attend private schools at taxpayers' expense. Under the law, Florida public schools will receive a grade of A, B, C, D or F. Students at schools with a failing grade can choose to transfer to another public school or to attend a private institution with tax dollars that would otherwise go to a public school. Opponents filed a lawsuit in state court in Tallahassee the day after the law was signed.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Florida's teacher unions, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Jewish Congress and People for the American Way. The well-financed alliance aims to block the legislation because it "won't stand up for our schoolchildren, for our Florida Constitution and the U.S. Constitution," argues Lisa Versaci, Florida director of People for the American Way. Opponents base their lawsuit on a section of the Florida Constitution that bars the state from spending tax dollars to "directly or indirectly" support religious institutions.

Bush's legal team is preparing to defend the legislation.

LOUISIANA --Students across the state now must mind their manners in school or be in violation of the law. The state House and Senate passed a bill in June that requires K-5 students to address their teachers as "ma'am" or "sir" and to use the appropriate courtesy title--Mr., Miss, Ms. or Mrs.

The law, Gov. Mike Foster's idea, takes effect this fall. It will be phased into the higher grades over the next several years. Students found in violation of the law cannot be suspended or expelled. Each of the state's 66 school systems will decide separately how to discipline students who refuse to be polite.

NEW MEXICO --Santa Fe High School students in the building trades program are learning construction skills and at the same time helping ease teachers' housing problems. …

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