Published Online:

Federal News Roundup

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

The Education Department intends to ask the Congress to increase interest rates charged college students who receive federal funds under the National Direct Student Loan program, Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell said recently.

Speaking at a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education, Mr. Bell said raising interest rates for the program from 5 to 9 percent would bring the rates in line with those charged for Guaranteed Student Loans.

"I haven't been able to reconcile the reason for two different interest rates," the Secretary said.

The proposal was immediately opposed by members of the panel, who said that the guaranteed-loan program generally helps middle-income students, while the direct-loan program is geared toward low-income students.


The House Education and Labor Committee has finished work on a bill intended to provide additional food for the school-lunch program.

The committee, by a 27-to-2 vote on March 10, approved the surplus-federal-commodity measure sponsored by Representative Mario Biaggi, Democrat of New York. Representative Biaggi's bill, HR 1513, is similar to one approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee a week earlier. (See Education Week, March 16, 1983.)

The House version, which would require the Agriculture Department to distribute surplus commodities to schools, food banks, soup kitchens, and other charitable groups, differs from the Senate version in that it would require the government to pay five cents per pound for processing and distribution.

The original version of the Senate bill, sponsored by Senator Robert Dole, Republican of Kansas, had contained a similar provision but that chamber's Agriculture panel deleted it before sending it on for consideration by the full body.


A federal judge in Manhattan has issued a permanent, nationwide injunction prohibiting the federal government from implementing a new regulation governing federally funded family-planning clinics.

Earlier this month, Judge Henry J. Werker, barred the Department of Health and Human Services from enforcing its rule to require the clinics to notify parents when girls under the age of 18 were given prescription birth-control drugs or devices. The ruling, in which Judge Werker held that the federal government violated the spirit and the letter of the federal family-planning law, expanded on a preliminary injunction the judge issued Feb. 14.


National News Roundup

Lack of state and local financial support is the leading problem for school-board members nationally, according to a recent survey by the American School Board Journal and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Fiscal troubles were cited as their most pressing concern by 23.4 percent of the respondents, while 20 percent said the consequences of declining enrollments were their most troubling issue. Parents' lack of interest in school affairs was a concern of 12.6 percent of those surveyed.

The survey also noted that the number of female board members declined in 1982, reversing a nine-year upward trend. The survey found women constituting 28.3 percent of school-board membership in 1982 compared to 32.8 percent in 1981.


The College Board will no longer administer nine of its achievement tests in New York because of the cost of complying with the state's "truth-in-testing law," the organization announced earlier this month.

After June, students who wish to take the board's tests in European history and world culture, French, German, Hebrew, Latin, literature, level II mathematics, physics, and Spanish, will have to do so in a neighboring state.

The truth-in-testing law requires test sponsors to release the questions and answers for achievement examinations at least once every three years. The College Board says it spends $40,000 to $60,000 per test to write a new examination.

The board is only withdrawing those tests that are taken by fewer than 5,000 students, according to a Board spokesman. Fewer than 200 students in the state took the Latin test and 214 took the Hebrew test in 1981-82, the spokesman said.


States News Roundup

Juveniles convicted of crimes would be required to work up to 40 hours a week while serving their sentences under legislation passed almost unanimously earlier this month by the Arizona House of Representatives.

The bill, which will now be considered by the Senate, would require juvenile offenders to work 30 hours a week if they attend school and 40 hours a week if they do not.

The legislation, which passed by a vote of 50 to 3, would also require juvenile offenders to either pay restitution to their victims or to perform community service.


A bill that would have put a proposed constitutional amendment before Arizona voters to repeal tenure for the state's elementary and secondary teachers has died in the state's House of Representatives.

The bill was defeated by one vote on the House floor. Another bill that would streamline the dismissal process for tenured teachers has passed in the House and is now being considered in the Senate.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that Hawaii's former superintendent of schools may be held liable for damages for firing an employee who publicly accused the department of education of failing to comply with federal civil-rights laws.

In its decision, the court ruled that Charles Clark was not protected under federal immunity statutes and remanded the case to district court for a new hearing.

The appellate-court decision, however, is being appealed by attorneys for Mr. Clark and Thomas Yamashita, director of the Hawaii edu-cation department's civil-rights office and also named in the lawsuit, according to Charlene Aina, deputy state attorney general.

The lower court ruled in 1978 that the First Amendment rights of two department of education employees were violated when their jobs were terminated.


A New Mexico House-Senate conference committee has cut funds from the legislature's budget that would have given the state's teachers a 5-percent pay raise.

Both chambers endorsed the elimination of the $14.3-million package from a $1.2-billion budget bill it sent to Gov. Toney Anaya.


The school code of Illinois has been challenged by a class-action lawsuit seeking to overturn provisions that allegedly unfairly limit K-12 school systems' access to local property taxes.

The Rockford School District has asked the Sangamon County Circuit Court to declare unconstitutional a portion of the state law that allows separate elementary and high-school districts--known as dual districts--greater combined tax rates than K-12 districts--called unit districts in Illinois. There are 451 unit districts in the state, and 436 elementary and 125 secondary systems.

Rockford claims that the school code gives dual districts greater access to local revenue sources by permitting them higher tax rates without voter referendum than unit districts are allowed.

The Illinois State Board of Education has tacitly acknowledged the disparity in legislative proposals aimed at enticing dual districts to consolidate. The board's plan would permit a newly formed unit district the same taxing authority that the separate districts enjoyed before consolidation.


The Texas State Teachers Association is backing legislation that calls for a $1.6-billion increase in teachers' salaries. Bills introduced in both houses of the state legislature early this month principally seek to raise entry-level pay.

Under the proposals, the beginning salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree would jump from the current $11,110 to $14,500 in 1983-84, and from $14,500 to $15,100 in 1984-85. The beginning salary for teachers with master's degrees would jump from the current $11,880 to $15,500.

Hopes for passage of the bills were dampened, however, when the state comptroller released new figures last week showing the state's estimated revenues have dropped $800 million, said Jack Kelly, the association's legislative specialist.

Two years ago, Texas teachers also made a bid to increase salaries about $1.6 billion--and they succeeded, Mr. Kelly said, bringing Texas up to 25th among the states in annual teacher-salary levels.


Cities News Roundup

Linus Wright, superintendent of Dallas schools, has written the chancellor of the area's community colleges proposing that some of the colleges' faculty members "moonlight" as instructors in Dallas's public schools.

Mr. Wright said that such an arrangement "is about the only way we are going to put qualified teachers in many [mathematics and science] classrooms." He said he envisions the community-college mathematics and science faculty members teaching one or two periods a day beginning next fall, if the Texas Education Agency grants the school system's request to waive its certification requirements for part-time instructors in the Dallas area.

Jan LeCroy, chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District, has agreed to explore the idea, while the Dallas teachers' unions have been "cool" to the concept, a school-system spokesman said.


Two 3rd-grade boys were suspended from a Miami school after an incident earlier this month in which a loaded .45-caliber gun was found in-side one boy's desk.

The other boy had brought the gun to school, hidden in the waistband of his pants, according to school officials' reports.

Dade County school regulations call for expulsion of students who bring firearms to school, Ray Hayes, a spokesman for the district, said. However, the principal of the school requested a waiver for the boys after a school investigation of the incident concluded that they merely wanted to "show off" the gun and had meant no harm, Mr. Hayes said. The waiver request is now being considered at district headquarters, he said.

If the boys are expelled, they cannot return to a Dade County public school until the 1984-85 school year, but the schools would provide some course work for them in the interim.

Meanwhile, in Olympia, Wash., 5th-grade pupils turned out to lobby for gun control at a state legislative hearing. Four children read speeches urging the legislators to support a bill to tighten gun-control laws. They said their class chose gun control as a study topic.


The first of the Houston school district's employee-competency tests was administered earlier this month, and many of the more than 3,000 teachers required to take it showed their resentment by openly cheating, according to a local union spokesman.

The testing program is one component in Superintendent Billy R. Reagan's new "Houston Plan for Excellence in Education" adopted last October; the testing program has been controversial because of the unusual provision that requires testing for teachers already hired.

On March 3, a third of the district's teaching staff took the basic-skills test after Mr. Reagan had rejected last-minute appeals from a coalition of teachers' unions and minority groups asking him to postpone the test.

Teachers found some testing rooms poorly lighted, noisy, or overcrowded, said Amy Anderson, a staff representative for the Houston Federation of Teachers, which has opposed the concept of testing teachers after they are hired. Others experienced delays of many hours, she said. Still others reportedly exchanged answers.

Mr. Reagan has assured teachers that the test will not be used as a basis to fire anyone, but simply to assess district needs. The test was written and administered by the Educational Testing Service of Princeton, N.J..


New York City officials, faced with the prospect of 2,800 7th-grade students being held back for the fourth straight year, have modified their policy on promotion. (See Education Week, Sept. 15, 1982.)

Starting in September 1981, 4th- and 7th-graders were not permitted to be promoted unless they received a passing grade on a reading test. Almost 2,800 students have already failed the test twice, and Acting Chancellor Richard F. Halverson said he expects 2,000 of them to flunk again this year.

Under the new policy, the students will be able to advance to higher grades as "non-matriculating" students. That is, they will be able to earn the high-school credits necessary to graduate, but they will be required to pass the 7th-grade test before receiving a diploma.

The students will receive remedial instruction, just as they did under the old policy.

The courses will be held in high schools, however.

District officials said the students who had failed the tests were taunted by their younger classmates. Many of the "double holdovers" are 16 years old. The new policy will affect about 5,000 students in 30 high schools starting next fall, district officials said.

In a related development, school officials anounced that 13.9 percent of the system's 278,094 high-school students dropped out of school during the 1981-82 school year. The figure was 13.6 percent for the last school year surveyed, 1977-78.


Black and Puerto Rican leaders in New York City have asked Deputy Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr. to withdraw his name from consideration for the chancellorship of the city's schools. But Mr. Wagner said he would remain an active candidate because he has the knowledge of budgets that the position requires.

Mr. Wagner was persuaded by Mayor Edward I. Koch to seek the position vacated by Frank J. Macchiarola last month. But the minority leaders say that the district should have a black or Hispanic chief executive because minorities make up 70 percent of the district's population.

A caucus of minority leaders endorsed Thomas K. Minter, a black who is the deputy superintendent for instruction, to head the nation's largest school system.

Board of Education officials said they had received almost 70 applications for the position and would not make a selection until later this spring.

The board is composed of two nominees of Mayor Koch, and one nominee of each of the city's five borough presidents.

Richard F. Halverson has been acting chancellor since Mr. Macchiarola stepped down this month.


District News Roundup

The Roseville, Mich., school board has decided to put all of its school buildings up for sale, including the administration building, in an effort to raise money for the district.

In offering all of the district's 19 buildings for sale, the board is trying to determine which of its properties are the most valuable, said Leroy Herron, assistant superintendent for instruction and curriculum.

Mr. Herron said the district had planned to close two schools this year and two more next year. This approach allows the district to make the choice based on the amount of money the property will generate. In the past 10 years, the district has lost more than 7,000 students, Mr. Herron said. Last year, voters rejected a $2-million millage request.

Mr. Herron said the district has already sold the administration buildings and two others. He said some members of the community are frightened by the school board's decision, "so we had to do a good public-relations job to show that this isn't just to create chaos."


A week after 28 7th-grade boys were allegedly stripped and searched for missing money by two teachers and a principal in the Sandoval, Ill., school system, the town's school board voted to ban such treatment of students.

Although school officials declined to discuss the details of the incident in light of pending lawsuits by parents, they say that the male students were searched during a gym class after a student in the class reported some money was missing.

About 100 citizens gathered in the school system's high-school cafeteria to discuss the incident as the school board deliberated in private.


News Update

The House appropriations committee of the Vermont legislature has rejected Gov. Richard A. Snelling's request for $320,000 in the fiscal 1984 budget to fund early-childhood-education programs in the state.

The money would have been used to cover the start-up cost of early-education programs for children aged 3 to 8 in about five school districts. (See Education Week, Feb. 23, 1983).

The legislative initiative, which was promoted by Governor Snelling during his re-election campaign, also would have meant additional state aid for school districts by allowing districts that now offer preschool programs to include those children in their student-enrollment counts for funding purposes.

The program's elimination last week by the House committee was part of an overall 2 percent reduction in the Governor's budget request for state education programs, according to Joyce Wolkomir, spokesman for the state department of education. The Governor had requested a 6 percent increase for education programs in the state.

Despite the committee's action, according to Ms. Wolkomir, the department intends to continue to plan and to train teachers for the program.


Hillsdale College plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether the federal government can cut off tuition aid to the college's students because the college refuses to pledge that it will not discriminate on the basis of sex.

Late last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled partly in favor of the small private college located in southeastern Michigan in its lawsuit against the Education Department. The appeals panel, however, also ruled partly in favor of the government in that case, and it is that part of the ruling that the college plans to ask the high court to overturn, according to Joe Gillette, the college's public-affairs director.

In its Dec. 16 decision, the appeals panel ruled, in part, that the college was a "recipient" of federal aid because its students received federal grants. It also ruled that the government could cut off aid to the students if the college continued to refuse to sign an "assurance-of-compliance" form stating that it would not discriminate on the basis of sex.

"Those two points open the door for future harrassment," Mr. Gillette explained. "They are a threat hanging over the heads of our students for years to come."


Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey have abandoned their efforts to seek testimony from some of the legislators who passed the state's mandatory "moment of silence" law in December.

Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise, who is overseeing the case, said last week that "basically, we should be able to get any evidence we need elsewhere," according to Jeffrey E. Fogel, executive director of the state aclu

"There will probably be no direct interrogation of them" regarding their motives for passing the law, Mr. Fogel said.

The law was passed Dec. 16 by a legislative override of Gov. Thomas H. Kean's veto, and the aclu quickly filed suit charging that the law violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In January, Judge Debevoise halted the law pending outcome of the court challenge.


Alternative Student 'Voice' Will Be Heard After All

An "alternative" newspaper produced by a group of students at the Sir James Douglas School (K-7) in Victoria, British Columbia, was recently confiscated by school officials and then released for distribution on condition that the school's name be removed from its masthead.

The offending newspaper (called The Children's Voice) was neither lewd, sacrilegious, or overtly political--it was simply unsanctioned.

According to its editor, 13-year-old Marisa L. Crowcroft, the paper was produced by a group of students who wished to prove they were as talented as students in the school's gifted, talented, and creative program, who produce the officially sanctioned monthly paper, Kids Only. Only students in the "gtc" program are allowed to work on this paper, Ms. Crowcroft said.

"We were given the gtc paper and I brought a copy home, complaining because I couldn't work on it," she said.

"My dad said, 'Don't complain. Write your own."'

"I don't want to criticize their paper. But I felt it could be improved on," Ms. Crowcroft said.

The paper was produced using hand-lettering on a master copy that was sent to a commercial photocopying service. Total cost: $70.

Among other things, it contained interviews with British Columbia's education minister, Bill Vander Zalm, and Randy Wagner, a member of the Canadian Olympic volleyball team. Using newspaper clippings, the staff wrote a story about the educational budget troubles of other countries, such as Holland.

The school's principal confiscated the paper on Wednesday, March 9. It was distributed last week.

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

Viewed

Emailed

Commented