National News Roundup
The Agriculture Department released a report last week that it claims proves that the new school-lunch application forms schools began using last year "are helping to curb fraud and abuse" in the $438-million program.
Beginning in the fall of 1981, applications for free and reduced-price lunches were required to include the Social Security numbers of all adult household members and a listing of their current incomes. Previously, the forms had asked only for names, household size, total income, and the signature of the child's parent or guardian.
The study, which examined 13 school districts across the country, found that the new applications resulted in 10-percent fewer applications being approved for free-meal benefits. Furthermore, the schools reported that reduced-price eligibility was reduced by 15 percent at schools where the new forms were being used as compared to those where old forms were still in use.
The report also contended that the new applications resulted in the reporting of an average annual increase in income of more than $500, "suggesting that the new application is at least partially sucessful in preventing income underreporting."
"It looks like the new application process is working effectively against misstatements of income in the school-lunch program," said Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Mary Jarratt in a prepared statement. ''That means money available for special assistance for free and reduced-price meals is going to those for whom it was intended--the needy."
Employees of state education departments will no longer be permitted to serve as administrative hearing officers when parents appeal school districts' decisions regarding special education, according to a new rule proposed by the Education Department.
Although an announcement of the changes has not yet been made in the Federal Register, the department has informed states--half of which currently use their employees as hearing officers--that they must end the practice.
Two federal appeals courts have held that the practice violates students' due-process rights, according to a spokesman for the department's office of special-education programs. The department had included the hearing-officers regulation in a set of regulations proposed last August, but the rule was withdrawn when the entire package of regulations--some of which were considered controversial--was withdrawn for further consideration.
A new national mathematics competition, designed to improve the mathematical know-how of junior-high-school students, has been announced by a coalition of private industry, government, and education groups.
Called "mathcounts," the program is sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the cna Insurance Companies, and the National Science Foundation.
The program has two components, according to the sponsors. First, working with materials provided by the mathcounts program, teachers will coach junior-high students in accelerated topics in mathematics--linear algebra, probability and statistics, and polynomials, for example.
After working with the materials, students will be eligible to participate in a series of local, state, and national competitions.
The students will compete in both oral and written examinations, individually and in teams. The finalists will compete in a national competition, which will be held in Washington.
The sponsors chose junior-high students because "this is the age of greatest impact, when students are forming lifelong attitudes towards math and technology."
States News Roundup
Volume 2, Issue 23, March 2, 1983, pp 2-3
Copyright 1983, Editorial Projects in Education
States News Roundup
Gov. Robert Graham's proposed budget for the fiscal year 1983 would provide a substantial increase in funding for education. In his proposal, presented to the Florida legislature last week, the Governor recommended $3.4 billion for education--up $350 million from the current budget.
The increased spending would be paid for through a series of proposed tax increases, including an increased tax on alcoholic beverages, a rise in taxes on stocks and bonds, and an increase in the "required local effort"--that is, property taxes for public education. The property-tax provision would bring in an estimated $241 million in fiscal 1983, and $194 million the following year.
The new funds would be used for a variety of programs, some of which were suggested by a recent report issued by the Governor's Commission on Secondary Education, according to a spokesman for Governor Graham.
Teachers' salaries would go up an average of about $4,000 over the next two years, with $1,800 of that to be provided next school year. Currently, the average salary for teachers in the state is $18,540; by the end of fiscal 1983, it would increase to $20,121.
The Governor's proposal also in-cludes several measures designed to improve mathematics and science education. During fiscal 1983, the Governor proposes to spend $2.87 million to fund inservice programs for teachers in these fields. Another $2.4 million would be spent on a mathematics and science "adjunct faculty" program, which would bring technically trained industry personnel into the schools for a year. The Governor has also proposed a summer enrichment program for students who have a strong interest in these fields and a tutorial program that would pay teachers to work after school with students who wanted to do extra work in these areas.
The Ohio Senate last week approved a permanent 90-percent increase in the state's personal income tax, putting into place the last major piece of Gov. Richard F. Celeste's package of budget-balancing tax hikes and spending reductions.
Although the proceeds from the income-tax increase will not avert a $190-million cut in aid to elementary and secondary education this spring, part of the new revenue will be used to replenish the state's emergency loan fund for schools. State officials expect high demand for the emergency loans as districts try to cope with a 9-percent average cut in general state aid for the re-mainder of this school year.
A statewide coalition of public-education groups reluctantly endorsed the cuts, saying that this late in the fiscal year, the Governor and legislature had no choice but to trim education spending.
In an effort to meet the growing demand for science and mathematics teachers, the Massachusetts Department of Education will establish a clearinghouse that will collect and distribute information on prospective teachers, jobs, exemplary programs, and equipment. The clearinghouse may begin operating in the fall of 1983, according to a spokesman for the education department.
The plan, which received the preliminary approval of the state board of education last month, was prompted by a department report on the supply of and demand for science and mathematics teachers.
According to that report, Massachusetts now has a slight surplus of science and mathematics teachers because of layoffs prompted by Proposition 2. About 300 science and mathematics teachers were laid off following the passage of the tax-limitation measure.
However, the surplus won't last long, officials say, given the increasing personnel demands of in-dustry and the likelihood that schools will require students to take more science and mathematics courses.
The clearinghouse will also work with industry and foster efforts to develop personnel-exchange programs and related measures.
In an opinion that defines for the first time the extent of a teacher's responsibility to supervise students, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled this month that an instructor in Charlotte was not responsible for an accident that left a pupil blind in one eye.
The court said the foreseeability of harm to students in the class determines the extent of the teacher's duty to safeguard them from dangerous acts of fellow students.
The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by Larry James of Charlotte, father of Kristin Marie James, who was injured in February 1978 while her 6th-grade teacher was out of the classroom. During the teacher's absence, two students began "sword fighting" with their pencils, and one of the pencils flew back and hit Kristin in her left eye. She ultimately lost the sight in that eye.
Mr. James sued the teacher, Susan Stewart, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, claiming that his daughter's injury was caused by the defendants' negligence.
Writing for the court, Judge Hugh A. Wells said the controlling question was whether Ms. Stewart "was under a duty to remain in her classroom at all times while her pupils were present in the class." The court determined that she was not.
The court noted that there were no previous holdings on that question and that other states had "significantly different standards of care required of public-school teachers."
Several dozen schools across the midwest were closed temporarily late last month, and those that remained open reported unusually high rates of absenteeism, as a strain of influenza identified as type A Bangkok swept across the region.
The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, the federal agency that monitors infectious diseases, reported scattered school closings nationwide and a higher-than-normal number of flu-related deaths.
Bangkok A, which is characterized by chills, high fevers, general body aches, and coughing, has been the most common form of influenza reported in the past few weeks, said Betty B. Hooper, a spokesman for the agency.
Public-health officials warn against treating children who may have influenza with aspirin or related drugs because of a suspected link to Reye's syndrome, a condition that may cause death or brain damage.
As of mid-February, 15 states had reported regional outbreaks of influenza and 22 had reported sporadic cases, Ms. Hooper said. "It's very difficult to assess [how widespread the disease is] in the middle of the season," she said, in part because coun-ty and state health departments are not required to record and report each case. Some states, she added, were still reporting their first cases last week, indicating that the disease was continuing to spread.
A recent decision by the Vermont Supreme Court invalidating state regulations governing the licensing of polygraphers--administrators of lie-detector tests--has raised legal questions about the Vermont Board of Education's authority to certify teachers.
The state attorney general's office has filed a motion asking to reargue several issues not resolved by the the state supreme court's earlier decision, according to Robert B. Luce, general counsel for the state department of education.
In its decision last month, the court ruled that the state's authority to license polygraphers automatically expired in 1981, six years after it initially took effect, under provisions of the "Sunset Law." Enacted in 1977, that law limited state agencies' licensing authority to six years, unless acted on by the state legislature, according to Mr. Luce.
The state board of education's authority in teacher-certification matters is in question, Mr. Luce said, because that law was enacted in 1969 and amended in 1975. In ruling that the Sunset Law was "clearly a catch-all provision," the court decision may also have invalidated the teacher-certification law.
A local creationism controversy in Michigan may be resolved without legal action, according to Howard L. Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.
The group recently filed a complaint with the state attorney general over a course on "controversies in science" being taught in the Western School District in Jackson County, Mr. Simon said.
A panel of educators sent by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Phillip E. Runkel to evaluate the course concluded earlier this month that it made a "biased presentation toward creationism."
Mr. Runkel has been negotiating with the district, and the matter may be settled soon, Mr. Simon said.
Nearly 500 high-school students gathered on the steps of the Boise, Idaho, statehouse during a lunch hour late last month to protest proposed cuts in the education budget.
They weren't left standing long. Gov. John V. Evans himself came out to speak with them and told them he supported their request, said Richard Kuntz, an administrator in the Boise Independent School District.
And soon afterwards, Governor Evans vetoed a $7-million cut in education funds proposed by the legislature, Mr. Kuntz added. The legislature, however, could override his veto.
At the request of a coalition of Mississippi branches of the naacp, the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has begun an investigation into allegations of racial discrimination in the Calhoun County, Miss., public schools.
The district has a "notorious and longstanding history" of racially discriminatory practices against black students and teachers, according to Morris Kinsey, chairman of the naacp of Mississippi's education committee.
The investigation, which began Feb. 14, was prompted by the naacp's charges that the school district's practices are in violation of several federal statutes, as well as a 1970 desegregation order. On the basis of its own investigation of the district, the group alleges that the district has failed to hire and promote black administrators and teachers and that black teachers are placed in "less stable," federally funded positions that are more likely to be cut, according to Mr. Kinsey.
Currently, the district employs 37 black teachers and 133 white teachers. Nearly 40 percent of the district's students are black.
The group also alleges that the district discriminates against black students in its disciplinary practices, its placement of students in special-education programs and gifted and talented programs, and its transportation of pupils.
According to Mr. Kinsey, the district maintains a dual busing system with separate buses for black and white students.
A separate investigation is being conducted by the Justice Department, Mr. Kinsey said.
Districts News Roundup
Volume 2, Issue 23, March 2, 1983, pp 3, 15
Copyright 1983, Editorial Projects in Education
Districts News Roundup
A suburban Denver school district has added a full year of computer science as a graduation requirement, beginning with students who enter either of two three-year high schools in the fall.
Ali Joseph, superintendent of the 12,000-pupil Westminster School District, said that as a result of the local school board's action, he believes his will be "one of the first--if not the first"--school districts in the country to require computer training for high-school graduation.
Because Colorado is what Mr. Joseph termed "pleasantly notorious for local control," it was possible for Westminster school officials to add courses in computer science, mathematics and science, and both the fine and practical arts to existing high-school graduation requirements without violating state law.
Mr. Joseph said the district will also begin offering courses for parents, "so we can avoid the modern mathematics syndrome" in which parents cannot understand what their children are being taught.
Voters in Jackson, Miss., have rejected a $42-million bond issue that would have upgraded physical facilities for the city's public schools. About 52 percent of those who cast ballots last week favored the proposal, but it needed 60-percent approval to pass. The totals showed that 15,610 voted in favor of the measure, and 14,399 opposed it.
Renovation of existing school buildings had been described as a critical need. School officials offered no clear plans on how to provide for school renovations after the bond measure was defeated.
"Basically, I think it failed because people were scared of a tax increase," said Rowan Taylor, chairman of the Jackson Board of Education.
A judge in Nebraska, in turning down requests for a lighter sentence, has sent a 17-year-old to the state penitentiary and told him that he must earn a high-school diploma before he is released.
Richard Dobesh pleaded guilty last month in Dodge County District Court to one felony count of burglary after being charged with attempting to sell equipment stolen from a karate school in Fremont.
A probation officer and Mr. Dobesh's lawyer had requested that Mr. Dobesh be sent to the Youth Development Center in Kearney. But the judge rejected their request and sentenced him to spend 18 months to three years at the Nebraska Penal and Correctional Complex in Lincoln.
The sentence could turn out to be open-ended, a spokesman for Judge Mark Furhman said, if Mr. Dobesh does not earn a high-school equivalency degree. The judge set that goal, the spokesman said, because Mr. Dobesh showed a need for a "structured environment" and a better education.
Representative Harold Washington, a member of the Education and Labor Committee of the U.S House of Representatives, last week won the Democratic mayoralty race in Chicago.
If Mr. Washington--who won the nomination by a small margin--wins the general election, he would become the first black mayor of the nation's second-largest city.
The 60-year-old Representative, who began serving his second term in the House this year, defeated the current mayor, Jane M. Byrne, and the Cook County state's attorney, Richard M. Daley.
A student injured in a 1980 playground accident will receive health-care payments for the rest of her life under an out-of-court settlement with the Tuscon, Ariz., Unified School District.
In a suit filed on behalf of Lisa Monjer in Pima County Superior Court, Sherrilyn Cotner, the child's mother, charged the school with negligence in treating the child after she fell from a high bar during physical-education class.
The district has already paid the former elementary-school student $200,000 as part of the settlement, reached last December. She will receive monthly payments for the rest of her life and larger payments at times in which she needs additional care for the injuries.
The district put from $400,000 to $500,000 into an annuity fund, which will be used to make the payments, said Thomas Murphy, the district's lawyer.
The payments to Ms. Monjer could reach $3.2 million over her lifetime, Mr. Murphy said.
Ms. Cotner said that her daughter has had four hip operations and might require another operation soon to replace an artificial hip joint. The student missed one semester of classes because of the injury.
The Grand Rapids, Mich., board of education has aroused the anger of religious and black community leaders because of its recent decision to fire the school superintendent, John Dow, by March 1.
The school board's decision was criticized during a rally called last month by the Inter-Denominational Ministerial Alliance of Grand Rapids and Vicinity, a coalition of religious leaders, whose main speaker was the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
The group believes that Mr. Dow's firing was racially motivated, according John V. Williams, who heads the alliance's education committee. Mr. Dow is one of the nation's relatively few black superin-tendents. David Doyle, spokesman for the school system, said that the action taken by the school board leaves many questions unanswered because Mr. Dow had renegotiated a new contract that does not expire until 1986.
He said the superintendent's current contract does not expire until 1984.
Lawyers for the school board and the superintendent are negotiating the contract issues, but according to Mr. Doyle, the question remains as to which contract is in force.
"There is a perception in the community that there is racism involved," said Mr. Doyle. "Whether it's right or wrong, that perception should be dealt with [by the school board]," he added.
The board has not, however, scheduled a meeting to make a determination on Mr. Dow's employment status, according to Mr. Doyle.
Volume 2, Issue 23, March 2, 1983, p 15
Copyright 1983, Editorial Projects in Education
A Reagan Administration proposal to require family-planning clinics that receive federal funds to notify parents when the clinics prescribe contraceptives for minor children has been rebuffed for the second time by a federal district judge.
In a case brought by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and other organizations representing the federally funded clinics, Judge Thomas A. Flannery of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia temporarily enjoined the Department of Health and Human Services from implementing its parental-notification rule.
Judge Flannery said the rule violated the spirit and the letter of the law authorizing federal funds for family-planning services.
A federal district judge in New York City last month reached the same conclusion in issuing a preliminary injunction in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. (See Education Week, Feb. 23.)
The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking to find out why many New Jersey state legislators voted in favor of a law for a mandatory "moment of silence" in the public schools. But lawyers for the legislature are trying to stop the organization.
The aclu, which is challenging in U.S. District Court the law that was passed over Gov. Thomas H. Kean's veto last fall, sent lists of questions to 54 current and former legislators. The organization plans to use the information in court.
But Lawrence T. Marinari, the lawyer for the legislature, said the lawmaking process is a "privileged area of the law" and members should not be required to tell the motivation behind their votes.
"I have no objection to proper questioning, but not for motivational questions," Mr. Marinari said. "Questioning of motivation hasn't been permitted since 1776."
The National Education Asso-ciation's Albuquerque affiliate has postponed its plan to try to regain its role as collective-bargaining agent for the city's 4,500 teachers until next school year. (See Education Week, Dec. 15, 1982.)
Mickey Ibarra, a New Mexico-nea offical assigned to the city, said the union will not call a representation vote this spring, as originally planned, because it plans instead to focus its efforts on "prying as much [school aid] out of the state legislature as possible." The state pays 95 percent of the cost of local education in New Mexico.
Jewel L. Hall, president of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, which became the bargaining agent in 1979 after 40 years of nea representation, said the challenge was postponed for a different reason.
"They did a survey of the city's teachers and found that their credibility is minus zero," she said.
The aft affiliate has about 2,400 members, compared to the nea group's 250 members, Ms. Hall said.
A bill requiring a minute of silence at the beginning of each school day has passed in the Tennessee Senate and is expected to come before the House this week.
A Tennessee law requiring one minute of silence for "meditation or prayer or personal beliefs" was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge last October. But the new bill does not mention prayer.
"Not mentioning prayer is one thing we emphasized," said State Senator Frank P. Lashlee, vice-chairman of the Senate education committee and sponsor of the bill.
David Bolhuis, a high-school biology teacher in Hudsonville, Mich., has not been named Michigan's High School Science Teacher of the Year, as has been reported. (See Education Week, Feb. 23, 1983.)
However, Mr. Bolhuis was among the finalists in the competition as of late last week.