Published Online:

States News Roundup

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

A majority of Utah residents believe that too little emphasis is placed on the teaching of moral values in the state's schools, according to a recent survey conducted by a Salt Lake City polling firm for The Salt Lake Tribune.

Fifty-six percent of men and 55 percent of women among 800 people polled said moral instruction is being ignored by the education system.

Six of 10 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [Mormons] expressed concern over the lack of moral-values teaching, compared to four of 10 among members of other churches.

The survey found that people under the age of 30 are less concerned with the "lack" of morals education.

Thirty-seven percent of the under-30 group polled said too little emphasis is placed on morals in education, compared to 61 percent of those over 30.

Eight percent felt there is too much stress on values in schools.

The designers of cigarette advertising may think that they offer young people a convincing case that smoking is glamorous, but a new survey from the University of Michigan suggests that the majority of them see through the ploy.

"Frankly, we were surprised at just how many young people associate negative connotations with smoking and how few associate positive ones with it," said Lloyd Johnston, the social psychologist who directed the study.

The national survey, which included 18,000 high-school seniors, found that only about 7 percent agreed with the statement "when a guy (or girl) my age is smoking a cigarette, it makes him (or her) look, calm, and in control."

In contrast, about 50 percent said that they thought smoking made girls appear "insecure," and 43 percent said that cigarette-smoking teen-age boys appear unsure of themselves.

Many teen-agers also seem find the image of the rugged male smoker unconvincing. Eleven percent of those surveyed said that they thought that smoking makes a man look "rugged, tough, and independent,' but 24 percent said that they though smoking makes men look "conforming."

The notion that a cigarette confers on the smoker an aura of sophistication was also discounted by the majority of the seniors. Less than 9 per-cent said that smoking makes teen-agers look "old and mature." More than two-thirds, however, said that teen-agers who smoke are "trying to appear mature and sophisticated."

Rates of smoking among teen-agers as a group have dropped in recent years, although rates for teen-age girls have increased somewhat. But the decline seems to have leveled off in 1982, according to the Michigan researchers.

National News Roundup

A group representing opponents of President Reagan's tuition tax-credit proposal last week delivered to the Congress petitions bearing the signatures of 500,000 people who called for the defeat of the measure.

Senator Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina and Representative Timothy E. Wirth of Colorado, both Democrats, accepted the petitions from the Coalition for Public Education.

"The Administration's proposal was a bad idea when it was first proposed, and it remains so today," said Senator Hollings, who has been leading the Congressional opposition to tuition tax credits since 1978.

The House of Representatives last week voted to create 100,000 public-works jobs for youths and young adults, in a measure patterned after the Civilian Conservation Corps programs of the 1930's.

The measure now goes to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain, largely due to opposition from the Reagan Administration.

The proposed $60-million program, known as the "American conservation corps," would provide jobs in forestry, conservation, historical preservation, urban revitalization, and energy conservation. Out-of-work young people aged 16 to 25 would be eligible for full-time work for up to 24 months, and students aged 15 to 21 could participate during the summer.

The measure--which would be funded largely through the Interior and Agriculture Departments--was approved by the House last year, but it failed to pass in the Senate.

The Reagan Administration's new rules linking federal student aid and draft registration are running into opposition in both the Congress and in colleges across the country.

Late last month, a number of Congressmen urged their colleagues on the House subcommittee on postsecondary education to take action that would delay implementation of the rule until July 1.

Representative Patricia Schroeder, the Colorado Democrat who has sponsored a bill to that effect, said that she is concerned that the gov-ernment is "deputizing the private sector--banks and colleges--to enforce a federal law."

Representative Schroeder said the effective date of the regulations needs to be delayed in order to avoid fiscal and administrative "chaos" in those institutions.

The new regulations, unveiled earlier this year, require all applicants for student aid to provide documentation that they have registered for the draft if they are required by law to do so. If they have not registered, they must provide proof that they are exempt from doing so. Failure to comply with the new rules will lead to the termination of a student federal grants and loans.

Meanwhile, Swarthmore College, the Quaker institution outside Philadelphia that was a prominent site of student resistance to federal policies during the Vietnam War era, joined a lawsuit opposing the regulations filed in Minnesota by the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group.

School districts spent $4.7 billion on construction projects in 1982, according to School and College Construction Reports, a construction-trade newsletter. That is 6 percent more than they spent in 1981, but below the 1980 level.

About half of the money went toward new buildings, and about half went toward additions to and modernizations of old buildings. Officials broke more ground for new elementary schools than for new high schools, the report noted, with California, Texas, and Alaska leading the states in construction. Modern-izations and renovations of old buildings rose 16 percent from 1981, while new building projects declined 1.2 percent, the report found.

The U.S. Supreme Court last week said it will not hear a case in which a Nebraska parent was seeking monetary damages against the Omaha school district under the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (P.L. 94-142).

The plaintiff in the case sought damages because the district allegedly violated procedures mandated by the law. The Court's action in Rose v. State upheld a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit that damages were not available because no civil-rights violation occurred.

The Justices had ruled last October that monetary damages may be available to handicapped persons in lawsuits brought under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, a civil-rights law for handicapped persons, but they had refused to extend the right-to-sue to P.L. 94-142.

The Court also refused last week to review a case in which a deaf student in Wilson County, N.C., claimed she was improperly assigned to a regular classroom instead of a special school for the deaf. Lower courts had ruled in the case, Harrell v. Wilson County Schools, that the school district had complied with federally mandated evaluation and placement procedures.

In addition, the Court, in eeoc v.Wyoming, held last week that the Congress acted within its constitutional authority in 1974 when it required state and local governments to comply with the federal age-discrimination law.

People News

David P. Gardner, who serves as chairman of the National Commission on Excellence in Education--a panel appointed by President Reagan to recommend improvements in schools and colleges--has been selected by a search committee to become president of the University of California system.

The appointment of Mr. Gardner, who has been president of the University of Utah for the past 10 years, must be approved by the board of regents of the California system.

The system includes nine universities and five medical schools and has an annual operating budget of $4 billion.

Mr. Gardner, whose commission is scheduled to deliver its final report in April, is a former vice president of the California system and a former vice chancellor of the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The Tennessee legislature has passed a bill requiring public-school classes to begin each day with a minute of silence. Gov. Lamar Alexander has not indicated whether he will sign the bill.

A 1982 law requiring a minute of silence for purposes of meditation or prayer was declared unconstitutional last October by a U.S. district-court judge. The new bill does not mention prayer.

A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee said the group will wait until the bill becomes law and is put into effect before deciding whether to take any action against it.

Hearings began last week on what is expected to be the final stage of Florida's literacy-test case, Debra P. v. Turlington. The class action, filed in 1977 on behalf of 10 black students, involves the question of whether the state-mandated high-school "exit test" discriminates against minorities. An earlier ruling held that the test itself is not biased, but that the state should delay its use until those students educated in segregated systems would no longer be affected.

At issue in the current hearings is whether the material included in the test is taught in Florida public schools. The nonjury trial, which is being conducted in the U.S. District Court in Tampa, was expected to last through last week.

Ralph Turlington, Florida's commissioner of education, has said he is "optimistic" that the court will rule in his favor. Meanwhile, the state is advising school districts that passing the test is a requirement for graduation for this year's high-school seniors.

Colorado, North Carolina, and Ohio will be the first states to participate in a new national science-education program funded by the Standard Oil Company of Ohio and directed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (See Education Week, Feb. 23, 1983).

The program, Science Resources for Schools, will provide teachers, administrators, librarians, and other school personnel with information, ideas, and materials designed to improve science education. It will focus on junior-high students, and will be introduced in the schools in the fall of 1983.

About 15,000 pupils in New York City will not lose their free bus service on March 1, as was planned. "Vociferous" objections from some sections of the school district staved off the action, a district spokesman said.

State Senator John Marchi of Staten Island was one of several city leaders who led behind-the-scenes meetings that came up with the $1.8 million in city and state funds needed to continue bus service. Many Staten Island pupils would have been affected by the busing reduction.

The reduction was one of many economy moves proposed when the state withheld $40 million from the New York City school system last fall in a dispute over funds for the handicapped.

A compromise was reached early this year that included a raise in school-lunch fees and the busing cuts.

Marilyn Turner, a chemistry and physics teacher in Ludington, Mich., has been named Michigan's High School Science Teacher of the Year.

Earlier accounts in the press said David Bolhuis, a high-school biology teacher in Hudsonville, had received the award. He was a finalist.

Mr. Bolhuis and another Hudsonville biology teacher, William Van Koughnet, attracted the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan for teaching creationism, according to the group's executive director, Howard L. Simon, and for distributing a two-page religious handbook to students called "A Biblical Account of the Past."

District News Roundup

Van Wyck Junior High School in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., will remain closed indefinitely while efforts are made to determine the cause of an outbreak of illness among students and teachers.

The school's 1,660 students will begin attending split sessions this week at two other schools in the Wappingers Falls School District while the state department of health coordinates efforts of district, county, and national health officials to examine the school.

Students and teachers at the school have suffered burning sensations, irritated eyes, a metallic taste in the mouth, low-grade headaches, and nausea, according to Linda Nieman, public-information officer for the school district.

About 700 parents met in two public hearings late last month to urge the school board to close the school. The parents believe that new polyurethane foam insulation pumped into the walls of the building last January through April may be responsible for the illness, according to Ms. Nieman.

She added that only a few days after the school was closed, students and teachers at Roy C. Ketcham High School and John Jay High School, also in the Wappingers Falls School District, began complaining of similar symptoms.

Those high schools had the same foam insulation installed late last spring, according to Ms. Nieman.

U.S. District Court Judge Eugene H. Nickerson ruled last month that New York City education officials have failed to provide handicapped students with the special-education programs he ordered in 1979.

In ordering a magistrate to make proposals for the district to comply with the order, Judge Nickerson said in a 37-page ruling that the district's failure thus far was "manifest and extensive."

Richard F. Halverson, the acting schools chancellor, said he was surprised at the judge's "strong language." Mr. Halverson said that, since the order three years ago, "all but a handful" of the system's handicapped students have been placed in special-education programs.

In the ruling, the judge ordered the district to meet state regulations for evaluating handicapped students or seemingly handicapped students within 30 days of written notification that the students might need special education.

Placement in the program is to occur within 30 days of the evaluation under the order.

Those procedures have taken place in New York schools after a "preliminary evaluation" for each case, a spokesman for the acting chancellor said. "It's a matter of when you start the clock," the spokesman said. "We started it after the preliminary evaluation."

A committee established to study the salary structure in the Arlington, Va., school district has proposed that the district abandon its automatic pay raises in favor of merit pay.

But Evelyn Reid Syphax, chairman of the school board, said that the proposal, which she opposes, will not be on the board's agenda "in the near future." And both the Arlington Education Association and the American Association of State, County, and Municipal Employees immediately rejected the idea.

The panel, appointed by the board, said it would take two or three years to develop evaluation procedures for a merit-pay plan involving the system's 4,000 employees.

Ms. Syphax said any merit-pay system for teachers would "create a competitive atmosphere that [would have] a negative impact on teaching.'' She said the plan would encourage teachers to avoid cooperating with each other.

All school employees may now receive raises through cost-of-living adjustments, longevity payments, transfers, annual step increases, and some minor merit-pay provisions.

The Philadelphia school system has agreed to collaborate with a private social-research group in the development of a "job-search" curriculum that will eventually be implemented in 30 high schools in the district.

The project is being supported by a $2-million grant from the Pew Memorial Trust, a Philadelphia-based foundation. The program will be administered by the Work in America Institute, located in Scarsdale, N.Y.

The course will be aimed at help-ing high-school students to develop employment and job-readiness skills, according to Albert I. Glassman, executive director of the district's career-education programs. "We will be adapting successful job-search techniques taught to various adult groups throughout the country," he said.

The course will be offered as an elective, Mr. Glassman said, to either 11th- or 12th-grade students. He added that there are plans to establish a "training institute" once the curriculum is refined. It will be used to help other school systems across the country to implement similar efforts.

The Prince Georges County, Md., school board has been ordered by a circuit-court judge to provide home instruction for an 8th-grade student who was expelled from school under a new discipline policy approved by the board.

Judge Vincent Femia issued the preliminary injunction last month pending the outcome of a hearing on the constitutionality of the new discipline rules.

Under the board's new policy, students are automatically expelled if caught with a weapon on school grounds. The court challenge to the school board's policy was initiated following the expulsion of Derrick Lee Stevens in January after he drew a penknife during a fight with another student.

Until the legality of the policy is decided, Mr. Stevens will receive 6 hours of home instruction each week from school-system teachers.

Since enacting the new policy against drugs and weapons this year, officials said, they have expelled more than 100 students, compared with only one expulsion last year.

The policy has been criticized by parents, who claim it ignores the circumstances of an infraction and violates students' right to a fair hearing.

The Omaha, Neb., school board is considering a three-year, $800,000 program to expand the use of microcomputers in the classroom.

Officials in the district of 42,100 students say they are will buy only Apple computers because that brand is compatible with more commercial software programs than others.

If the board approves the plan developed by Fred E. Anderson, coordinator of media for the district, each elementary school would eventually have three computers, each junior high would have 10, and each high school would have 13.

Knowledge of the keyboard and simple commands are now stressed in the elementary schools, Mr. Anderson said. Mathematics and science are the main computer-based subjects in junior high, and programming is stressed in high school.

Vermont students with an interest in either science or the arts will have a chance to apply for two newly created "Governor's Institutes" in these fields.

All students in grades 7-12 may apply to participate in both institutes, which will be held for the first time this summer.

Participants in the arts program will be chosen by the superintendents of the state's 59 districts. Four students--two from grades 7-9 and two from grades 10-12--will be chosen from each of the districts. Science-institute participants will be chosen from the pool of applicants by a committee of scientists, educators, and parents.

The arts program, which will be held on the campus of Lyndon State College, will use professional artists as faculty members. Students will choose a major and a minor in music, drama, dance, writing, or the visual arts, according to the state education department.

The 35 students chosen to participate in the science program will spend one week working with scientists employed by Chettenden County industries and agencies. The students will hear presentations by scientists, visit local businesses and industries, and spend each afternoon working with a scientist.

The Vermont Department of Education, the Vermont Council on the Arts, and the Vermont State College System are co-sponsoring the arts institute. The state education department will sponsor the science institute.

A majority of Utah residents believe that too little emphasis is placed on the teaching of moral values in the state's schools, according to a recent survey conducted for The Salt Lake Tribune.

Fifty-six percent of men and 55 percent of women among 800 people polled said moral instruction is being ignored by the education system.

Six of 10 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [Mormons] expressed concern over the lack of moral-values teaching, compared to four of 10 among members of other churches.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled last month that a lower-court judge committed procedural errors when he ordered that a severely retarded student be withdrawn from a Cincinnati public school and placed in a county-operated school for handicapped children.

The case, Mary Ann Roncker v. Franklin B. Walter, was filed in 1980 by the mother of Neil Roncker on the grounds that her son's placement in the school for severely retarded children would not provide an "appropriate" educational placement. Ms. Roncker argued that her son had benefited from the exposure he had to nonhandicapped students, according to Willis Hollings, Cincinnati's assistant superintendent for student services.

The appellate court remanded the case to U.S. District Judge Carl B. Rubin for a hearing on a request that the lawsuit be allowed to represent all handicapped students in the state. The district court had refused to grant such a hearing. The appellate court also ruled that Judge Rubin relied too heavily on testimony of school officials in reaching his decision.

"The parents have not challenged the evaluation of the child; that is not the issue," Mr. Hollings said. "The issue is mainstreaming and whether he would benefit from contact with nonhandicapped children," and that, he said, is an educational determination.

Web Only

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login | Register
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories