Cities News Roundup
Administrators in Philadelphia turned to the courts last week in an effort to end the bitter teachers' strike that today enters its fourth week. But the threat of a walkout in Boston ended when union members rejected their leaders' recommendation for a strike.
In Philadelphia, picketing teachers harassed administrators as special classes opened for high-school seniors and for the severely handicapped. The schools for seniors opened last Wednesday with 10,400 out of 11,700 seniors showing up, and most of the 400 administrators and other non-striking personnel were there--under protest--to teach them. The Philadelphia Association of School Administrators filed suit last week against the school district, objecting to Superintendent Michael P. Marcase's order that administrators teach at the schools.
Since the strike began, a few dozen teachers have been arrested following scuffles between picketers and administrators trying to enter schools. "It's getting close to goon tactics out there," said a spokesman for the school system.
The school district is seeking two legal remedies against the 22,000-member Philadelphia Federation of Teachers: a back-to-work order and a contempt-of-court citation against the union for blocking school entrances in violation of a court order. As of last Wednesday, no decision had been reached in either case, although four union staff members were cited individually with contempt for blocking school entrance
In Boston, teachers rejected a strike by 1,404 votes to 836. Observers there believe the union members feared that Superintent Robert Spillane would carry out his threat to fire striking teachers. And, the observers say, Boston teachers did not think a strike would accomplish their goals (see related story on page 7).
Honors courses won't be among the victims of budget-cutting in Jefferson Parish, La., where a proposal last week to eliminate the courses brought protesting high-school students to the district's headquarters.
Instead, officials of the suburban New Orleans district have consolidated some honors courses, so that there may be fewer sections of a course in, for example, advanced history. But with some judicious schedule-juggling, students will still be able to take the popular courses.
"No academic subjects will be curtailed," district spokesman Joe M. Miller said. "We're very happy that by reworking things, we were able to reinstate the honors courses." The only subject that will be curtailed significantly, Mr. Miller said, is driver education. But even that will still be offered at all of the high schools.
The debate on "scientific creationism"--expected to go national this fall on television and in the courts--continues apace at the local level.
In Florida's Hillsborough County school district, which voted last spring to test alternate theories of origins, a recent debate between an evolutionist and a creationist attracted 1,500 people to an auditorium designed for 600.
The debate, between Kenneth Miller, assistant professor of biology at Brown University, and Henry Morris, director of the Institute for Creation Research, was held in Tampa's Jefferson High School.
The forum was for "public information, not to decide a winner or loser," said a spokesman for the state education department. The crowd, however, seemed predisposed to favor one side. "Most of them came in church buses," the spokesman noted.
The district is setting up a pilot project in three schools this fall, in which "creation science" will be introduced into the curriculum.
For the first time, intermediate and junior high schools in New York City have security guards this year.
And to promote "a friendlier atmosphere," guards this year are wearing blue blazers and gray slacks instead of the customary uniforms.
The guards were added to intermediate and junior high schools, according to city school officials, because half of the 1,673 assaults in the school system last year occurred in such schools. A new mobile security team also has been established this year to help combat the increasing number of serious disciplinary problems in the system, the nation's largest.
For example, the number of reported cases involving weapons rose to 661 last school year from 457 in 1979-80, said Schools Chancellor Frank J. Macchiarola.
"A sense of security must precede learning," Mr. Macchiarola said in announcing the changes.