States News Roundup
The Virginia House of Delegates has passed a bill that would force new teachers to successfully complete a two-year probationary period before they are granted permanent certification.
By a 79-14 vote, the delegates overruled a recent decision by Virginia's state board of education to continue its practice of issuing a permanent teaching license to any education-school graduate who wants to teach.
The proposed law, which now goes to the state Senate for consideration, would permit the state board to decide how a teacher is to be evaluated at the end of the two-year period.
S. John Davis, state superintendent of public instruction, had submitted a similar probation plan to the state board in December, but the board narrowly rejected it. Under the Davis plan, teachers after two years would have had to pass an evaluation by a three-member panel as a condition for earning a permanent license. George W. Grayson, the bill's sponsor, said he supports this concept.
The temporary-licensing program has been endorsed by the Virginia Council on Higher Education and the Southern Regional Education Board, but is opposed by the state's teacher-education schools.
While it has taken no public position on the bill, the Virginia Education Association is very skeptical of the plan, according to Mr. Grayson.
Supporters of a Catholic pupil barred from a parish school in Decatur, Ill., planned last week to ask the Pope's emissary to the U.S. to investigate the matter.
Vicki McIntyre, a sixth-grade student at Our Lady of Lourdes school, was expelled from the school last month by the parish pastor, the Rev. Kevin B. Sullivan. According to the girl's mother, Darlene McIntyre, the reason for the expulsion was a rule requiring that Catholic parents whose children are enrolled at the school attend Sunday Mass regularly. Ms. McIntyre said she is unable to attend Mass because it conflicts with one of her two jobs, and her husband is not Catholic.
Father Sullivan would not confirm or deny that the child was expelled because if her mother's failure to attend Mass. Ms. McIntyre and two other parents who have been working for the rule's removal have met with the pas-tor and subsequently asked officials of the Springfield Diocese to intercede, but they have declined to do so.
The parents now plan to ask Archbishop Pio Laghi, Pope John Paul II's apostolic delegate to the U.S., to look into the matter.
Father Sullivan has invited the girl back to school, her mother said, on the condition that Ms. McIntyre begin attending Mass regularly. But Ms. McIntyre said she cannot go to church, and Mr. McIntyre will not allow Vicki back into school until the rule is changed, because he fears his daughter will be expelled again.
Father Sullivan said that for pastoral reasons he cannot discuss the case, but added that it "breaks my heart to expel the child."
Maine's high-school principals are evenly divided on the need for the state's compulsory school-attendance law, according to the results of a recent survey which also found "overwhelming" support for the law among other school administrators and among state legislators.
Nelson Madore, a professor of history and government at Thomas College, said his survey, which was conducted as part of his doctoral research, demonstrates that an "overwhelming majority" of the state's legislators (70 percent), school-board chairmen (77 percent), and superintendents (67 percent) support the law because it helps teach values, citizenship, and skills-training, and "assists parents in child-rearing."
Mr. Madore said the principals were less enthusiastic about the law in large part because they bear major re-sponsibility for enforcing it and because they know from experience the problems that it can cause.
Mr. Madore said the survey's results should "put to rest" any further questions on "the need for compulsory education." In 1980, he said some legislators attempted to repeal the compulsory-attendance law, but were defeated.
The Mississippi State Department of Education has released a series of public-service announcements aimed at countering the "misconception and hearsay" that officials believe form the basis for much public opinion of education.
Based on the theme, "When You Look at the Facts, You Can See What's Right with Education in Mississippi," the eight 30-second announcements have been sent to the state's 138 commercial radio stations and 11 commercial television stations, as well as to the Mississippi Educational Television network.
The announcements cover a variety of subjects, according to officials of the department of education. For example, one offers evidence to counter the belief that the state's public-school teachers are of low quality: More than 43 percent of the teachers have at least a master's degree, and students' test scores have improved.
Other spots focus on enrollment, safety, vocational education, and the training of handicapped workers.
The project itself was educational for some students; the department produced the spots through the University of Southern Mississippi, with students working as film editors and as camera operators.
In 1980 the Lemmon, S.D., school board fired Lloyd Dale, a biology teacher who also preaches in a nearby Baptist church, after deciding that students were not learning enough biology in his classes.
The court agreed that the board was within its authority in firing the teacher. One justice wrote: "He wanted to be a preacher, not a teacher."
In another development on "scientific creationism," Maryland's attorney general has advised the state legislature against passing a bill that would require equal time for the theories of creation and evolution.
In a non-binding advisory opinion issued last week, Maryland Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs said that the bill, if passed, would constitute unconstitutional advancement of religion by the state.
Bruce C. Robertson, a student and chairman of a state organization called Citizens Against Creation Science, said, "I guess this does it in."
But Delegate Patrick C. Scannello, sponsor of the bill, could not be reached for comment.