National News Roundup
The Reagan Administration, which last year supported a bill to establish tax benefits for companies that donate computers to schools, last week told a Senate subcommittee that two of this year's versions are too expensive.
John Chapoton, assistant treasury secretary for tax policy, told the Senate Subcommittee on Taxation and Debt Management that bills proposed by Senators John C. Danforth, Republican of Missouri, and Lloyd Bentsen, Democrat of Texas, would cost "10 times more" than the bill the Administration backed last year.
The Administration has not taken a position on four bills pending in the House, including a measure proposed by Representative Fortney H. Stark, Democrat of California.
Mr. Stark's measure--known as the "Apple bill" after the manufacturer that first proposed it--passed overwhelmingly in the House last year but never came to a vote in the Senate. A staff member for the House Ways and Means Committee said the bill would cost $35 million to $40 million in lost tax revenues.
The official said Representative Stark would emphasize the results of a similar tax law in California in hearings later this summer or early next fall.
A dispute among supporters of proposed constitutional amendments to restore prayer to public schools has for the second time in a month delayed action on the measures in a Senate Judiciary subcommittee.
At issue is the proper legislative "vehicle" for the amendment. The Reagan Administration, which sought the latest, two-week delay, favors a measure that would permit both silent and spoken prayers, led by teachers or students, in public schools. Senator Orrin G. Hatch, the Utah Republican who chairs the Subcommittee on the Constitution, has proposed a compromise measure that would permit only silent prayer or meditation.
The Senator's measure, however, is opposed by 21 groups that are the principal supporters of the school-prayer amendment.
At a May 26 session of the subcommittee, Senator Hatch complained that "some of our right-wing friends continue to badger and fight ... because they can't get their most extreme approach on a lot of these issues."
The Administration, he added, "has to get its act in order."
The Cincinnati, Ohio, school district has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to define how far a school district must go in "mainstreaming" handicapped students in regular classrooms.
The school district is appealing a decision in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit vacated a district court's ruling that the school district could place a handicapped student in a school for the mentally retarded rather than in regular classes. The Sixth Circuit sent the case back to the lower court, asking the court to determine whether the child could be served in a regular school or through a combination of services.
The appeals court maintained that the case differs from the Supreme Court's Rowley decision in that it involves the federal special-education law's requirement that handicapped students be educated with nonhandicapped students to the maximum extent possible. The Rowley case involved the question of whether a handicapped child's individualized education plan was "appropriate" and whether it was developed according to federally mandated procedures.
The National School Boards Association has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the appeal by the school district in the case, Cincinnati v. Roncker.
The American Federation of Teachers has invited Lamar Alexander, the Republican Governor of Tennessee, to discuss his controversial master-teacher proposal at the union's annual meeting in Los Angeles next month.
Gov. Alexander's proposal, which would pay better teachers higher salaries and link salary increases to proven ability, was sharply criticized by both the aft and the National Education Association when it was first announced earlier this year.
Aggressive lobbying by the nea's Tennessee affiliate helped defer the state legislature's consideration of the plan for a year.
But last week, Mr. Shanker said of the Tennessee plan: "It is not picture perfect, but it does provide for peer evaluation, significant salary increases for a large percentage of teachers, and teacher input into curriculum development." A spokesman for the 580,000-member union said, "We will probably be able to work out our problems with the Alexander plan."
Mr. Shanker also said that the aft's policymaking body has discussed the report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education with Education Secretary Terrel H. Bell and that the union's leadership concurs with many of the commission's recommendations.
Meanwhile, nea officials indicate that they may also be moderating the union's strong opposition to the master-teacher and merit-pay concepts. (See interview on page 6.)
States New Roundup
South Dakota will have a new state superintendent of elementary and secondary education effective July 1.
William Sundermeyer, the executive director of the South Dakota Education Association, will take over for James O. Hansen, who announced his resignation in early April. Mr. Hansen, who has held the state superintendency for the past four years, said he was stepping down for personal reasons.
Mr. Sundermeyer, whose nomination was recently approved by both the state board of education and Gov. William J. Janklow, has directed the state chapter of the National Education Association for the past five years. Previously, he served for two years as Uniserv manager for the Illinois Education Association.
"I look at this as the greatest challenge of my career," Mr. Sundermeyer said of his appointment. "I think that the general public now recognizes the crisis that we are facing in public education. If we can present a good case for change at this time, perhaps for the first time in history we can take our proper place in the arena with respect to funding and assistance at all levels of government."
The Alabama Supreme Court last month ruled against a parent's contention that a school district was liable for an injury his child received in a physical-education class.
In upholding last year's jury deci-sion by the Calhoun County Circuit Court, the court ruled that there was no cause of action in the suit.
Major Brown, the father of Robert Brown, argued that the county board of education reneged on an "implied contract" to protect students from harm.
But the court ruled that the claim was not specific enough. The plaintiff must show a duty that, neglected, led to the injury, the court ruled.
The boy, then 11, received a concussion and lost the hearing in his right ear after another student accidently hit him in the head with a baseball bat. The incident occurred during a February 1980 physical-education class at Walter Welbourn Elementary School in Anniston.
Missouri school officials have been told not to plan on any additional state aid next year because of the state Senate's defeat of a $34.3- million supplemental appropriation measure earmarked for local education programs.
The supplemental appropriation would have raised state school aid to $733.7 million for fiscal 1984, according to John E. Moore, Missouri's assistant commissioner of education.
The supplemental-aid measure, which had been approved by the state's House of Representatives, will now be addressed during a conference of House and Senate representatives, according to Mr. Moore.
Mr. Moore said the Senate rejected the bill because of members' concern about the state's financial problems. "Some good friends of education have not voted for it," he said.
Regardless of the outcome, Mr. Moore said, school districts will not have to cut programs, since a new one-cent increase in the state's sales tax is expected to raise about $100 million for education next year.
A budget cut of $2 million by the 1983 Mississippi legislature will force school districts in the state to send more than twice the normal number of textbooks to state prisons for rebinding.
In previous years, the 100 inmates at the Parchman state penitentiary rebound about 16,200 books annually. This year, preliminary estimates show that prisoners will rebind about 35,000 schoolbooks because of the funding cut, according to Gil Evans, director of Mississippi correctional industries at the 4,000-inmate penitentiary. Mr. Evans said inmates could gear up to rebind as many as 100,000 books, with 200 prisoners put to work under the program funded by state department of corrections.
Gov. John Carlin of Kansas has organized a group of education leaders to discuss solutions to the state's major education problems and to aid him in his plan to make education the top priority in next year's legislature.
The "Governor's Education Cabi-net," made up of officials from groups such as the Kansas Board of Regents, the Kansas chapter of the National Education Association, and the associations for college faculty and school administrators, will meet monthly, according to an aide to the Governor.
The group will study a range of education issues, from teacher improvement and salary increases to school finance.
About 60 percent of Maryland's 9th graders have failed a new state proficiency test in mathematics.
Scores ranged from a 35-percent failure rate in affluent Montgomery County to an 82-percent rate in the Baltimore city schools.
State education officials said that they were not expecting the low scores and that teachers will have to spend more time on basic concepts in the future.
"The shock was greater than we expected," said Glen Cutlip, chief of the basic-skills division of the education department.
The test is the second part of Maryland's Project Basic, which began in 1977 with a reading-skills test.
Passage of that test is required for graduation now, and the mathematics test will become a graduation requirement in 1987.
Gov. Terry E. Branstad of Iowa vetoed a bill last month that would have altered the procedure for firing or laying off teachers in the state.
Under the bill, an impartial hearing officer would have made the final decision to terminate teacher contracts. Teachers who were under consideration for termination would have been able to request an informal meeting with board members in an attempt to reach an amicable solution.
Currently, decisions on firings and layoffs of teachers are made by local school boards.
Governor Branstad had opposed the bill on the grounds that it would have weakened the authority of the locally elected school board to make important educational decisions. He also argued that the bill would have adversely affected the state's collective-bargaining process.
Gary Olney, a consultant for the state department of education, said the Governor had also opposed a provision in the bill that would have given teachers who also serve as state legislators the right to retain their teaching jobs.
In an article in the June 1 issue, Bob Jones 2nd, chancellor of Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C., was incorrectly identified as the founder of the university. Mr. Jones's father, Bob Jones Sr., founded the university in 1927.
The same article cited a lawsuit pending before the U.S. Supreme Court as Wright v. Reagan. The correct name of the case is Wright v. Regan; the defendant is Donald T. Regan, Secretary of the Treasury.
A survey, described in the June 1 issue of Education Week, of participants in a program that brings older volunteers into the schools was incorrectly identified by officials of the National Volunteer School Program as having been done in the Washington, D.C. schools. The survey was conducted by the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Social and Urban Research and involved 20 school districts in Western Pennsylvania.
First Grader's Celestial Savvy Enlightens Editors
A 6-year-old's knowledge that Venus is hotter than Mercury may have made a few science editors at McGraw-Hill Book Co. red in the face. James E. Brown 3rd, a 1st grader at Eisenhower Elementary School in Clearwater, Fla., wrote the publishing company earlier this year after he found a technical error in one of its science textbooks.
"When I read in your book that Mercury is the hottest planet, I said, 'This is mixed up!'," Jim wrote the publisher, referring to its Reading About Science, Skills and Concepts Level C, published in 1981.
Jim's favorite subject is science, especially space and dinosaurs, according to his teacher, Deborah Austin. The straight-A student started reading the McGraw-Hill textbook as a supplement earlier this year after finishing the class's regular science book.
After spotting the error, Jim looked up the information on a "space calendar" he had at home to verify that Venus is the hotter planet. ''I would like to hear back from you regarding this matter," he wrote in his letter to the publisher.
Ms. Austin also wrote a letter to the publisher, explaining that her student "was troubled by the contradiction of information."
Three weeks later, John F. Mongillo, editor-in-chief of the Webster Science division at McGraw-Hill, responded, praising Jim for his careful research and thanking him for bringing the error to his attention.
"It's our responsibility to answer letters as they come in and to acknowledge a youngster [who] took the time to do that work," Mr. Mongillo said.
The student's information will be put in a correction file and incorporated into the book's next edition, he said.
Jim's discovery has thrown him into the national spotlight. Last month, he and his mother and Ms. Austin were on Good Morning America. And they are scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show on June 10.
District News Roundup
Judge Luke Brown of South Carolina's 14th Circuit Court has agreed to dismiss criminal indictments against the Beaufort County (S.C.) Board of Education after the board signed an agreement saying that it would no longer exceed the budget set for it by the Beaufort County Council.
Circuit Solicitor Randolph Murdaugh Jr. said that 10 current and former members of the board and Robert Salisbury, the district's superintendent, had been indicted last month by a grand jury following an investigation that indicated that the board had exceeded the council's budget from 1979 through 1982 by a total of $650,000.
Beaufort County is the only county in the state that has a law making it illegal for school districts to exceed budgets set by the city council, according to Mr. Murdaugh.
Detroit's school district has begun experimenting with an early-retirement program that officials there hope will cut costs and save younger teachers' jobs.
All teachers between 55 and 62 years old who have at least 30 years' experience--including 10 years in Detroit schools--who voluntarily retire early will receive a bonus of $5,000 a year from the district until they reach age 62. The plan was negotiated last month by the school board and the Detroit Federation of Teachers.
Detroit teachers with master's degrees can earn as much as $29,700, while beginning teachers with bachelor's degrees earn $15,000. The plan assumes that the teachers at the top of the salary scale will retire and be replaced by beginning teachers.
The plan will become cost-effective if 70 or more teachers accept the district's offer, said Paula Dent, its assistant director of personnel. If fewer than 70 teachers sign up, the district will cancel the program, Ms. Dent said.
Letters to eligible teachers went out two weeks ago and so far "a great deal of interest" has been shown, she said.
The Roman Catholic school system of the Diocese of Cincinnati has returned stock donated by Warner Amex, holder of the city's cable-television franchise, because the cable firm has added the Playboy channel to its local offerings.
The Rev. Jerome A. Schaeper, superintendent of schools for the diocese, said that when Warner Amex was awarded the city's cable franchise, the firm donated stock to about a dozen local civic institutions, including the city public-school system, the Catholic schools, colleges, and the ywca
Because the cable franchise is new, Father Schaeper said, he did not know how much the stock was worth; press accounts have estimated that the Catholic schools could have earned more than $70,000 per year in dividends.
"When they decided to bring the Playboy channel in, because the philosophy of the Playboy group is antifeminine and hedonistic, we felt it would not be appropriate for the Catholic schools to own the stock, so we returned it," Father Schaeper said. Xavier University, also a Catholic institution, is the only other recipient that returned the stock.
County prosecutors have reportedly been investigating the Playboy channel for possible violations of obscenity laws.
The Cleveland school-bus drivers' strike continued last week, as the school board and the drivers' union failed to reach agreement on the one remaining issue: the board's right to subcontract some transportation to private, nonunion firms.
The school board went to U.S. District Court seeking a back-to-work order on the grounds that the strike was impeding court-ordered desegregation, but U.S. District Judge Frank J. Battisti declined to issue the restraining order. The board has not, however, invoked the Ohio law prohibiting strikes by public employees.
The strike by 450 drivers, which began on May 11, has forced the school system to spend nearly $250,000 on public-transportation passes for students and has severely strained the city's bus and rapid-transit system. Absenteeism remained high last week, with only about half of the 30,000 students who are normally transported in attendance.
A crack-down in disciplinary policy in the Dade County Public Schools is paying off, officials say.
A quarterly report of incidents of vandalism and possession of drugs and weapons, issued in April, shows a drop of more than 20 percent fromlast year's figures, according to Fred Young of the district's special investigative unit.
Arrests for robbery, assault, and trespassing dropped an average of 15 percent, Mr. Young said.
The new and tougher policies, which became effective two years ago, include penalties such as mandatory 10-day suspensions, Mr. Young said.
New York's City Council has acted to establish all-day kindergarten classes in the public schools, and one official who has promoted the idea says the proposal will cost the city little money.
Edward Sadowsky, who is chairman of the council's finance committee, last week expressed support for an education budget that would allocate an extra $22 million for the kindergarten program.
Charlotte Frank, executive director of the New York City school system's division of curriculum and instruction, said the city would receive about $20 million in extra state aid the year after the program is implemented.
Ms. Frank said the program would also attract families to the public-school system who might otherwise send children to private schools. She said many working parents enroll students in private schools when they learn the city does not run an all-day kindergarten.
Studies have shown that early education also reduces the cost of re-medial programs, Ms. Frank said.
But Mayor Edward I. Koch has expressed skepticism about the possibility of adopting the plan, which is part of a larger spending proposal, without a tax increase.
The mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., has been ordered to comply with an arbitration panel's ruling that awarded salary increases under new contracts for about 1,200 teachers and 92 school supervisors and administrators.
Superior Court Judge Edward F. Stodolink ruled last month against Mayor Leonard S. Paoletta, who had sought to have the state arbitration panel's decision on the two contracts nullified. Mr. Paoletta had challenged the terms of the new contract because they were decided by an arbitration panel, according to Richard Callahan, business manager for the school board.
The new three-year contract for the teachers will go into effect July 1. Mr. Callahan said the new rate will increase salaries by an average of 8.8 percent.
Jackson, Miss., voters have again defeated a $29.7-million school-bond issue.
It was the second time this year that a school-aid measure failed in Jackson, the state's capital. In February, voters defeated a $42-million capital-improvement and school-bond issue.
The bond issue needed the approval of 60 percent of the voters to pass, but it received support from about 52 percent. Voter turnout was light because of massive flooding in the city.
By a voice vote, the Florida House of Representatives decided to strike the enacting clause on a bill that would have replaced a required high-school course on "Americanism vs. Communism" with a course that presented a comparative view of world economic systems. The parliamentary maneuver effectively killed the bill in the House.
A bill still under consideration in both the House and Senate would provide $1 million for the 1983-84 school year to introduce a course in "Fundamentals of Democracy" that would be taught in addition to (but would not replace) the controversial course in "Americanism vs. Communism."
But with only three days left in the legislative session, education officials said last week that it was "very unlikely" that the bills would be brought out of appropriations committees and discussed on the floors of the House or Senate.
Alice G. Pinderhughes has been appointed superintendent of the Baltimore City Schools. She has been acting as interim superintendent since December, 1982, when John L. Crew retired after seven years as superintendent of the 125,000-student system, which is one of the nation's 10 largest.
Ms. Pinderhughes has made her career in elementary education and has been with the Baltimore City School system for 40 years as a teacher, assistant principal, supervisor, project director, and executive director of elementary education. She served as assistant superintendent from 1976 through last December.
She will earn $70,000 a year and has an indefinite contract.