As many as 3,200 school employees could be laid off, the Department of Education announced yesterday. The cuts would mainly affect part-time school aides and would not affect teachers and instructional aides.
Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige has come under fire for saying he thinks it is important for schools to teach Christian values. Paige's remarks show "an astonishing mix of disrespect for both American's religious diversity and the public schools," said Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he would consider alternatives to the FCAT as a graduation requirement for students who continually fail the exam. Separately, the Los Angeles school board said it would consider establishing a moratorium on the California High School Exit Exam.
In a voice vote yesterday, the Texas Senate approved a measure to require students to observe a moment of silence -- to be used for prayer, meditation or reflection. A senator who opposes the measure says it is "a smokescreen to have prayer in schools."
President Bush has proposed cuts to "impact aid," funds that go to school districts whose area encompasses large tracts of federal land, and the move has angered educators. Many schools that receive the funds educate the children of military personnel, prompting one official to call the proposal's timing, given that the country is on the brink of war, "incredibly poor."
The Buffalo school district on Dec. 3 laid off 105 teachers and 60 teacher's aides. The cuts, which so far haven't noticeably increased average class sizes, are part of a budget-trimming campaign that will eventually eliminate more than 400 teacher jobs.