National News Roundup
Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., the site of the famous confrontation between federal troops and the state National Guard over integration, has been denied national landmark status by the National Park Service.
Officials of the Park Service, while acknowledging the school's significance in the history of desegregation and the civil-rights movement, said the Little Rock school system's request for the designation did not include enough documentation.
The park service may, however, change its position after further study, officials said.
Central High became famous in 1957, when then-Gov. Orval Faubus mobilized the Arkansas National Guard to prevent nine black students from entering the all-white school, although integration had been ordered by the federal courts. The students were admitted only after President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal troops.
The National School Boards Association has sided with the Seattle school board in its fight to retain the city's locally initiated desegregation plan.
In a friend-of-the-court brief filed this month, the school-boards association claims that Initiative 350, a state antibusing law enacted by referendum in 1980, undermines local control.
The school systems in Seattle, Pasco, and Tacoma have desegregated without having been ordered by the courts to do so. The Seattle board is leading the challenge to Initiative 350, which prohibits school boards from assigning students outside their neighborhoods.
Initiative 350 has been held unconstitutional by a federal appellate court, and the Supreme Court has agreed to consider the case, State of Washington v. Seattle School District No. 1. The U.S. Department of Justice, which supported Seattle in lower-court proceedings, last fall changed its position and has asked the Court to uphold the antibusing law.
Although there has been some resistance to busing in Seattle, the nsba's brief contends, the locally initiated plan is preferable to what a federal court would likely have imposed had the district been sued.
The Seattle school board, "which sought to avoid the adverse consequences of court-ordered desegregation...now finds itself being told by the state of Washington, and also by an inconsistent federal government, that it may not solve its problems by itself," the nsba brief says. "It must wait to be sued to do so....That such a proposition defies all logic is self-evident."
Although there are no funds for elementary and secondary science education in the proposed federal budget for 1983, the National Science Foundation is taking steps to maintain some involvement in a field that many observers believe has serious problems.
Pending approval by the General Services Administration, the foundation's governing board will appoint a 15-member Commission on Precollege Education. The members are to include scientists and science educators.
The commission, with a proposed budget of $700,000 for fiscal 1982, will conduct studies of science education, examine its status in the U.S., and encourage both state and local authorities and private organizations to help improve science education, according to a spokesman for the foundation.
Numerous scientists and educators have called for the creation of such a commission, which they suggested be modeled after the Department of Education's Commission on Excellence. And the foundation's director, John B. Slaughter, has a long-standing commitment to science and engineering education, the spokesman said.
The foundation has cooperated with the Education Department in creating the new commission, he added.
School districts undertook nearly $4.5-billion worth of construction projects last year, a drop of 10.9 percent from 1980, according to a national survey.
The School and College Construction Reports of Larchmont, N.Y., a privately owned information service, also found that districts are spending increasing proportions of their construction budgets on improvements and renovations of existing buildings, rather than on new schools.
School systems, however, are clearly anticipating an end to the decade-long decline in school enrollments, said Paul Abramson, president of the firm.
"A tremendous number of elementary schools are on the drawing boards, indicating that school districts are beginning to feel--and to gear up for--the influx of students that has been predicted as the children of the post-war baby boom begin producing children of their own," he said.
Mr. Abramson noted a few other trends revealed in the firm's survey of school districts and colleges:
Almost no school district in the past few years has reported building "open-plan" schools, while several have reported that they are building walls to convert their open-plan buildings to more conventional schools.
Language laboratories, which nearly disappeared from the survey responses for a few years, appear to be making a strong comeback. Mr. Abramson speculated that the new language laboratories include not only facilities for foreign-language teaching, but also computer terminals that are used in teaching a variety of subjects.
School systems appear to be using wall-to-wall carpeting less extensively in classrooms and corridors than they did in the financially flush 1960's and early 1970's, but carpeting is still often used in libraries, auditoriums, and administrative offices.
A bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives last week would channel $1.25 billion in federal aid to state vocational-education boards to train workers for jobs in defense-related industries.
The measure, called the Defense Industrial Base Revitalization Act, would reauthorize the Defense Production Act of 1950 and amend it to provide for the strengthening of "domestic capability and capacity of the nation's defense industrial base."
The bill was introduced by Representatives James J. Blanchard, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the House subcommittee on economic stabilization, and Stewart B. McKinney, Republican of Pennsylvania. An aide to the subcommittee said its chances for approval are "excellent."
One section of the bill directs the President to establish a five-year national program in cooperation with "state boards of vocational education" to train workers for jobs in "priority industries" that face shortages of skilled workers.
In fiscal 1983, some $250 million would be available to state boards that submit a five-year plan for training.
In the first year, the states would be required to pay 10 percent of the training costs, including "in-kind" contributions of equipment, facilities, or services. By the fifth year, the states would assume half of the costs.