Cities News Roundup
The New York City school system will receive $3.5 million in federal aid that has been frozen since 1977, when the U.S. Office of Education (now the Education Department) ruled that the city's schools had failed to meet standards for racial balance on school faculties.
The city will receive money earmarked for integration efforts during the 1977-78 school year under the now-defunct Emergency School Aid Act. The funds had been withheld because the act's rules barred providing funds to districts that were not adequately desegregated.
In 1980, a federal appeals court directed the Education Department to ease the rules.
Last week Terrel H. Bell, the Secretary of Education, concluded that the city was making a good-faith effort to improve racial balance on its schools' faculties and now deserved the $3.5 million.
However, an additional $2.6 million in aid that was withheld for the same reason in 1978 is still being withheld by the federal agency. (See Education Week, June 9, 1982.)
A Philadelphia citizens' group recently released the results of a two-year study of student suspensions in the school system, which shows that nearly 16 percent of the city's 213,000 students were suspended at least once during the 1980-81 school year, a figure three times the national average.
Moreover, at the high-school level, every fourth student was suspended at least once during the 1980-81 period.
The study, entitled "Suspended Students--Suspended Learning," was conducted by Parents Union for Public Schools, a nonprofit organization. It also shows that minority students are suspended in Philadelphia at a markedly higher rate (18 percent) than whites (10.8 percent).
The parents' group estimates in the report that 70,000 school days were lost as a result of student suspensions in each of the four school years from 1977-78 to 1980-81.
After examining several city schools with both high and low suspension rates, the group concluded that schools with low suspension rates are characterized by good community-school relations and principals who emphasize instruction rather than "control."
For the first time in the 10 years that it has kept such statistics, the United Federation of Teachers has reported a sharp drop in the incidence of violence directed against teachers and other staff members in the New York City schools.
Figures released this month for the 1981-82 school year show a decrease of 22 percent (from 3,534 to 2,730) in the total number of reported assaults, robberies, larcenies, and other incidents of violence against staff members.
However, even with the reduction in crime, the union's figures include 1,639 physical attacks on teachers and other employees.
The 70,000-member union, which has frequently called the city's schools unsafe, attributed the lowered crime figures in part to recent efforts by the board of education to improve its office of school safety.
In the past year, the school system has enlarged its security force from 455 members to 1,705 and has begun to patrol junior-high schools as well as high schools.