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.