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Most Americans say that the public schools are "in need of vast improvement," and that both the federal and state governments should spend more money on education, according to a poll by the Los Angeles Times published earlier this month. However, a majority of the respondents said they would be willing to pay higher sales taxes to improve the quality of schools.

About 60 percent of the 1,658 adults from around the nation who were surveyed said the schools are "not basically sound" and are "in need of vast improvement." Some 65 percent said they would be willing to pay an extra sales tax of one cent toward the cost of improvement.

Respondents called for more government aid for schools at both the national and state levels. More than half said the federal government should pay more for education, while 7 percent favored cutbacks. Fifty-eight percent said states should spend more, while 4 percent favored cutbacks on the state level.

But at the same time, respondents emphasized that an increase in funds alone will not provide an answer to the problems that beset the schools. When asked which is more important "for a pupil to succeed in school, a proper home environment or a proper school environment," more than 60 percent of respondents said home was the more important environment, compared with 10 percent who said that school was more important.

Greater parental involvement was the most common suggestion for improvement in education. When asked whether teachers, parents, government, taxpayers, or students were to blame for the condition of education today, the largest group--42 percent--blamed parents.

Forty percent of respondents said they hoped the Reagan Administration would go through with its plans to abolish the Education Department; 49 percent said the department should retain its Cabinet-level status.

Some 51 percent of those surveyed said they support the introduction of tuition tax credits; 45 percent were opposed to the measure.

Employers Lead In Job Training, Study Suggests

Employee training is the nation's largest job-training system and costs between $20 billion and $30 billion annually, according to a study released last month by the American Society for Training and Development.

The study, co-authored by Anthony P. Carnevale, an astd economist, and Harold Goldstein, former assistant commissioner for manpower and employment statistics for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, examines 1980 census statistics to assess the size and scope of American employee-training programs.

The authors estimate that the public- and private-sector costs of employee training is equal to more than half the cost of all higher education in the U.S.

These are some of the points made in the study:

Men received proportionately more training than women did;

Training increases dramatically for employees between the ages of 25 and 34, and declines only slightly for employees between the ages of 34 and 44;

For both men and women, employee training is relatively minor between the ages of 17 and 24; Better-educated workers receive a disproportionely large share of the training.

According to the authors, high-technology jobs are not "the previously assumed panacea" for unemployment. They argue that the skills shortages in individual professions and occupations "are in quality, not quantity of workers."

The astd characterized the 84-page report, entitled "Employee Training: Its Changing Role and An Analysis of New Data," as the first comprehensive review of employer-based training in the U.S.

Students Sue E.T.S. Over Cheating Issue

Four recently graduated Millburn (N.J.) High School students have sued the Educational Testing Service after receiving letters from the test-making organization that suggested they cheated on the Scholastic Aptitude Test in May 1982.

Stanford von Mayrhauser, ets's general counsel, said the letters were among approximately 2,000 that ets sends each year to students who are considered through a routine statistical examination of answer sheets to have not completed the test "independently."

He said there was "extraordinary agreement among the answer sheets" of the four Millburn students and that "statistical analysis suggests that it is extremely implausible that it could have happened by chance."

The students, who as members of the school's tennis team were allowed to take the college-entrance examination together under the supervision of their coach, have said that they did nothing wrong and that their reputations and educations have been compromised by allegations based only on statistical assumptions.

Their suit, filed in the Chancery Division of Superior Court in New Brunswick, N.J., seeks unspecified damages and an injunction to bar ets from cancelling their scores or notifying the colleges that have accepted the four students for admission this fall.

The case was heard last week.

N.C.A.T.E. Votes Major Changes in Accrediting Process

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education voted 21 to 3 earlier this summer to make major changes in the way it evaluates teacher-training programs.

These include:

Shifting accreditation from individual programs to departments, schools, or colleges of education as a whole.

Replacement of the current seven-year evaluation cycle with an annually updated "databank" that would include such factors as an institution's student/teacher ratio or the number of courses taught by faculty below the level of assistant professor, combined with less extensive campus visits.

The creation of a relatively small, specially trained board of examiners to conduct such campus evaluations.

A revised set of standards for accreditation.

A closer working relationship with state accreditation officials.

Several ncate committees will begin working to implement the changes, which might be in place within 18 months or two years, according to George Denemark, the interim director of the national, non-profit accrediting body.

Mr. Denemark, former dean of the College of Education at the University of Kentucky, assumed the directorship of ncate for one year beginning July 1.

U.S. Judge Orders Reconsideration of Peoria Teacher Case

A federal appeals court has ordered U.S. Judge Michael Mihm to reconsider the verdicts in the First Amendment case of a Peoria teacher who was awarded $514,333 in damages from his employer, a Peoria school district.

Terry Knapp was awarded the sum in February after a jury agreed that his talks with school-board members about job issues had led to his firing as a high-school assistant baseball coach, to negative teaching evaluations, and to his transfer from a high-school science position to an elementary school. The judge also ruled that Mr. Knapp's First Amendment rights were violated by school administrators' interpretation of a school-board policy on communications.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, however, asked that Judge Mihm reconsider the case in light of an April 20 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. In that case, Connick v. Myers., a New Orleans assistant district attorney claimed her firing violated her free-speech rights. The attorney had circulated a questionnaire among her colleagues after she was transferred to a position with which she was unhappy. The Court reversed two lower-court rulings that the attorney was entitled to reinstatement to her job because the questionnaire was "protected speech."

Judge Mihm has asked attorneys to file additional briefs; he is expected to rule this fall on whether the Connick case affects the Knapp verdict.

Nat'l Science Board Affirms Importance Of Education Effort

The National Science Board, in a vote taken at its June meeting, affirmed that "precollege science education is a high-priority activity of the National Science Foundation."

At the same meeting, the board approved a plan that they want foundation officials to consider as they "undertake to develop a program that can be expected to have a significant impact upon precollege science education."

nsf officials, the board said, should both build on existing programs and create new ones as necessary.

The components of the plan outlined by the board reflect, to a large degree, those that have emerged in reports and hearing testimony from the board's commission on precollege math, science, and technology education.

The board suggests six general topics for the foundation to consider. In the area of curriculum and teaching methods, the list includes the development and dissemination of improved course-content models and teaching methods, and research in the improvement of teaching methods and techniques.

Addressing the shortage of qualified teachers, the board urges the consideration of programs that would improve the skill of teachers now in the classroom, and, possibly, others that would help to develop undergraduate science-teaching programs.

The board also recommends that the nsf develop a system for assessing and evaluating the condition of precollege science education, and "extending and broadening the foundation's nascent program in the nation's understanding of the importance of science education at the precollege level."

Students Endorse Tougher Standards, Higher Teacher Pay

Schools should impose tougher standards, but requiring more homework and more hours in school may not be the best way to improve education, according to a survey of student leaders who convened last month in Shawnee Mission, Kan., for the 47th annual National Association of Student Councils conference.

About 73 percent of the more than 700 delegates who responded to the survey indicated that they opposed increasing homework or lengthening the school day or school year as a means of improving education.

Some 1,300 students from all 50 states attended the conference, which was sponsored by the student-activities division of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Delegates were asked to react to six proposals endorsed by the National Commission on Excellence in Education this spring.

About 95 percent of respondents agreed with the Commission that teachers should receive higher salaries, while 97 percent agreed that "people preparing to become teachers should be required to meet high educational standards, to demonstrate competence in an academic area, and to demonstrate an aptitude for teaching."

Eighty-four percent also said that textbooks should be upgraded.

S.R.E.B. Report Questions South's Pursuit of High Tech

Providing better training and modernizing existing industries might be a more realistic economic strategy for the South than attempting to attract high-technology industries, according to a recent report of the Southern Regional Education Board.

"The success of California's Silicon Valley, Route 128 around Boston, and North Carolina's Research Triangle has prompted many state to seek similar developments," the reports state. "It is highly unlikely, however, that all who are now mounting such efforts will succeed."

The report then points out that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected the employment-growth rate for such high-technology industries to be 18 percent over the next 10 years. The growth rate for jobs that incorporate technology into traditional tasks will be 30 percent, according to the agency's figures.

Because of the differing growth rates, a training strategy that depends on higher-level technological employment is less likely to succeed than an emphasis on modernizing the all industries, the report said.

The report is entitled "Technical Manpower in the South: High Tech Industries or High Tech Occupations."

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