National News Roundup
A grant from the Ford Foundation will enable the Education Commission of the States (ecs) to expand its education-policy seminars to the people who increasingly are making educational decisions--the state legislators in charge of appropriations.
"We're trying to involve not just education-committee chairmen, but finance-committee chairmen, house speakers, the types of legislators who traditionally haven't come to education meetings," said Robert C. Andringa, executive director of the Denver-based interstate commission. "The [education] committees don't really have leverage on the funds. Those decisions are now made by the finance committees."
The $625,000 Ford grant, which will be matched with grants from other foundations and from the commission's own budget, also will strengthen the commission's ability to respond to state leaders' questions about legal issues, effective instructional practices, school finance, and labor issues, Mr. Andringa said.
"The expectations for ecs are increasing almost weekly as people come to realize that money for studies, money for technical assistance, the setting of a national agenda--all of that is going to be severely restricted in the next few years," Mr. Andringa said.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson's push\excel program for high-school students will receive its much-disputed Education Department grant after all, a department official said last week.
The program's $825,000 award for fiscal 1981--the final installment of a three-year grant given to push-excel the Carter Administration--was revoked on Sept. 11 because push officials allegedly refused to cooperate with a federal review of the program's accounting procedures (see Education Week, Sept. 21).
George Rhodes, a special assistant in the office of elementary and secondary education, said department auditors were subsequently allowed to conduct the review. Department officials were satisfied with the auditors' findings, he said.
The decision on whether to reinstate the grant had to be made before last Wednesday, the last day of fiscal 1981, Mr. Rhodes said.
In a generally quiet year for school strikes, Philadelphia remains the largest exception--but the state of Minnesota may be facing up to 34 strikes in the next few weeks.
Of the 56 teachers' strikes reported this year, only 14 were in progress at midweek, according to the two leading unions, the American Federation ofachers and the National Education Association.
The walk-out by the 22,000-member Philadelphia Federation of Teachers enters its fifth week today with no sign of progress. The school district's suit seeking a back-to-work order has not yet been decided.
In Minnesota, a liberal new collective-bargaining law for public employees has encouraged 202 local and statewide units of the nea to file notices of intent to strike, as required by the law. More than 30 locals have taken the more serious step of voting to authorize a strike. By last Wednesday, 175 teachers in two towns had struck.
Under the old law, the unions could not strike unless the school boards refused to seek arbitration or rejected an arbitrator's opinion. With a revised law that took effect last year, the unions are now free to strike on their own. All contracts expired last July.
Donald C. Hill, president of the Minnesota Education Association, says, "We're very frustrated, and it does no good to be reasonable regarding teacher salaries." Entry-level salaries in the state average $11,200; locals are seeking raises of up to $5,000 per year for beginning teachers and proportionate increases for more senior teachers.