States News Roundup
In an unusual move reflecting the controversy over bilingual education, the California State Senate last week postponed confirmation of two appointees to the state Board of Education.
Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., had nominated Uvaldo Palomares, a San Diego education consultant, and Robert Arroyo, associate dean at Fresno City College, proponents of programs to maintain Hispanic students' native language and culture.
Senate confirmation of governors' nominees has been routine in the past. But legislators recently have become concerned about the future of bilingual education and have accused Governor Brown of naming "single-issue" candidates to the board.
The Senate is expected to consider the appointments in January. In the meantime, Mr. Palomares and Mr. Arroyo will serve on the board in a temporary capacity, with full voting rights.
"For the most part they are apparently doing a sufficient job," said William C. Dean, assistant commissioner of education. "But I can almost guarantee that there are major pieces of instruction not provided for--maybe even faulty instruction."
During the board's discussions, William Ball, lawyer for the Association of Christian Schools, termed the rules "flatly unconstitutional.''
The board's decision is a setback, Mr. Dean said, but not the end of the matter. "We've got 181 school districts that are still scratching their heads over what they will do now," he said. "I have a sense that there will be some litigation."
The Connecticut State Board of Education has adopted a policy on academic freedom intended to protect the rights of teachers and other educators to choose instructional materials.
The "Free to Learn" policy asserts that communities must respect the constitutional and intellectual rights guaranteed school staffs and students by American law and tradition.
The policy is believed by many experts to be the first by a state board of education on the issue.
Commissioner of Education Mark R. Shedd, who drew up the policy, said in a letter to the board that restrictions faced by educators include censorship of books, promotion of political or religious viewpoints in classrooms, rejection of certain teaching methods, and criticism of districts' hiring practices.
The academic-freedom policy, which drew vocal reaction from both supporters and opponents during a day-long hearing on Sept. 9, also encourages local school boards to establish procedures for responding to criticisms of public-school practices and programs.
The law, recently signed by Governor Hugh L. Carey, makes most of the state's 41,000 per-diem substitute teachers official employees of the school districts for which they work. Thus, they qualify for collective-bargaining rights under the state's public-employee laws.
Ronald W. Frantz, a legislative official of the New York State United Teachers, said the teachers' group drafted the legislation because school boards were paying the "unprotected" substitutes low wages to cut costs.
Henry F. Sobota, a lawyer for the New York State School Boards Association, said the law will increase costs, increase the possibility of a statewide strike, and pressure substitutes to seek jobs through union hiring halls.
Beginning in 1985, students entering schools and departments of education will have to have at least a 2.5 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale and maintain it through graduation to be certified; a 2.0 is now required.
As the result of previous board action, would-be education students will have to pass, beginning in 1983, competency tests in mathematics and communication skills. (See related story and Databank on pages 14 and 15.)