Saturday, May 19, 2007

Education 5-18-07

The House Education Committee passed House Bill 1366 designed to combat bullying in schools. It would require school administrators to impose new policies forbidding harassment and bullying. The bill includes ways to report bullies and guidelines for investigating such acts and punishment for them. The bill describes bullying as an act of discrimination and alerts teachers and administrators about people at risk of bullying because of their race, gender, disability, and sexual orientation. The support was divided along party lines, with the opposition claiming that there is no need to specifically protect children deemed at risk.

The House Education Subcommittee on Pre-School, Elementary, and Secondary Education held its second public hearing recently as part of an initiative to improve high school graduation rates. The audience included its chief supporter, Speaker Joe Hackney, Subcommittee chairs Fisher and Parmon, other legislators, as well as local school administrators, teachers, parents, students, local leaders, and concerned citizens. Several shared insights about how to reduce the number of dropouts. The group may hold additional hearings and will then develop guidelines for how to award grants to pilot programs that may reduce the dropout rate. The budget proposed by the House includes $7 million for dropout prevention programs.

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