Published Online:

The Week [States, National, etc.]

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

Thousands of federal employees who have defaulted on their federal student loans can expect to see their paychecks cut by as much as 15 percent under a new "get-tough" policy recently announced by the Reagan Administration.

Earlier this month, Education Department officials sent sealed envelopes containing the names of 41,000 suspected delinquent borrowers to various department and agency chiefs.

The officials are to cross-check the ed lists with their own personnel records to determine whether the borrowers still work for the government and, if they do, to seek the repayment of the loans.

The employees will be given until Sept. 1 to make good their debts or to arrange a payment schedule with the department under the new policy. If they do not respond to requests for repayment by Nov. 15, the department will request that a portion of their salaries be garnisheed..

U.S., In Effort To Recovers Funds, Sues School Board

The federal government last month filed a civil suit to recoup funds it says were taken from two high-school building projects in Union City, N.J., by city officials who have been convicted of racketeering and taking bribes.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark claims the Union City Board of Education, former Union City mayor William Musto, and seven others used the money in a series of bribes and kickbacks.

The government is seeking $1.9 million, twice the amount of missing funds. The former mayor and the school board, the government claims, received $4.46 million from the federal Economic Development Administration for improvements at two high schools. About $940,280 of that sum disappeared, according to U.S. attorneys.

R.I. School Systems Ask High Court To Decide Aid Dispute

Three Rhode Island school districts have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against a six-year-old state law that requires them to provide transportation to private-school students because, they maintain, busing for such students is more expensive than transportation for public-school students.

The districts, Jamestown, Chariho, and Charlestown, were ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to continue the busingbecause the Supreme Court had previously ruled in favor of similar practices in other states.

The districts, however, contend that cross-district busing of students to private schools creates a "disproportionate and excessive cost.''

U.S., In Effort To Recover Funds, Sues School Board

The federal government last month filed a civil-action suit against the Union City (N.J.) school board, former mayor William Musto, and several others to recoup funds it says were taken from two high-school building projects by city officials who were convicted of racketeering and taking bribes.

The former mayor, the school board, and several others, the government claims, received $4.46 million from the federal Economic Development Administration for improvements at two high schools. About $940,280 of that sum disappeared, according to U.S. attorneys, who claim the money was used for kickbacks and bribes. The government's suit seeks nearly $2 million.

Meanwhile, the school board is suing the bonding agents for $2 million for selling invalid bonds.

U.S. Appeals Court Rules Dallas Schools Still Segregated

A federal appeals court earlier this month upheld a 1982 decision by a lower court, in which the judge refused to declare the Dallas Independent School District "unitary," or fully desegregated, and to retain jurisdiction in the case.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit also upheld all but one attendance-boundary change that Judge Barefoot Sanders ordered into effect last year in order to improve racial mixing in the 127,000-student district.

The only portion of Judge Sanders's opinion that was reversed on Aug. 11 involved attendance-zone changes for three East Dallas high schools. The appeals court agreed with motions filed by a parents' group arguing that the changes would disrupt a naturally integrated setting.

Dallas school officials have indicated that they would not ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court's ruling.

In other school-desegregation-related activity:

New Jersey's commissioner of education recently announced that he would allow the Hillside Public Schools district to desegregate its elementary schools in two phases rather than enforce an unpopular plan designed to fully integrate classrooms when classes resume next month.

Under the new plan, the school district will be allowed to delay the integration of students in kindergarten through 5th grade until the beginning of the 1984-85 school year. Students in grades 6 through 8 will be assigned to new schools before classes begin on Sept. 6.

City officials and black parents in St. Louis recently filed motions with a federal appeals court seeking to delay the scheduled implementation next month of a county-wide voluntary school-desegregation plan.

Lawyers for the city are contesting a part of U.S. District Judge William L. Hungate's order requiring the city to raise taxes to help pay for the plan. The parents, meanwhile, have claimed that the plan, which envisions the eventual transfer of 15,000 black students from the city to surrounding suburban schools, will strip city schools of their finest black students.

Nebraskans Support Higher Teacher Pay, But Not Tax Hikes

Respondents in a survey conducted by the Governor's Task Force on Excellence in Education in Nebraska said they favor higher pay for teachers but do not want higher property taxes.

Some 84.9 percent of the respondents favored higher pay for teachers and 60 percent supported the establishment of merit-pay programs for outstanding teachers. But only about 31 percent said they wanted an increase in property taxes to support school-improvement projects.

Some 600 people attending four "town-hall" meetings to determine citizen priorities in education responded to the survey.

About 78 percent of those responding said state aid to education should be increased.

The survey also indicated that residents would like to see more required courses in high school, but they do not want longer school days or a longer school year.

Teachers' Union Will Poll Localities In Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Teachers Association announced plans recently to poll local communities in the state in an attempt to gauge public sentiment towards the state's schools.

The telephone survey will be conducted by local union members in 25 to 30 communities, according to Stephen Wollmer, communications director for the mta The random-sample survey will concern issues addressed in the reports of the various national commissions on education, he said.

Mr. Wollmer said the union's leaders are undertaking the survey to ensure local leadership in the state's reform efforts. "We want to have some say in what comes down in Massachusetts," he said.

The union's survey is scheduled to be completed before Dec. 1, the deadline for filing new legislation in the state. Mr. Wollmer said the survey's results could lead to legislation proposed by the union. The mta represents 55,000 teachers in 351 communities statewide, according to Mr. Wollmer.

Boston Files Suit Questioning Legality of Union Insurance

The City of Boston has filed a lawsuit in Suffolk County Superior Court challenging the legality of the city's contribution to a teachers-union health plan.

Lance Pomerantz, special assistant corporation counsel for Boston, said the city has asked the court to decide whether the city's funding of the Boston Teachers Union Health and Welfare Funds should be discontinued.

He has also asked the court to determine whether the money paid by the city treasurer into the funds should be returned to the city.

The city is arguing that state law prohibits health-benefit plans such as the one sponsored by the union, Mr. Pomerantz said.

He added that the teachers' benefits under the union plan exceed the benefits of other municipal employees and that city funds should not be used to support it. More than 90 percent of the money for the funds comes from the city, according to Mr. Pomerantz.

He said the city is also claiming that it is entitled to all interest from money reinvested by trustees of the health fund.

The health plan was approved several years ago, according to Mr. Pomerantz, by the Boston School Committee as part of the teachers' contract negotiations with the city.

75,000 Children Participate in Big Apple Games

More than 75,000 children in New York City took part in this year's Big Apple Games, a summer-long program of instruction and competition in all major sports that is underwritten by the Mobil Oil Corporation.

Youngsters from the 5th through 12th grades took part in the programs in baseball, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, tennis, volleyball, swimming, fencing, and weight training.

The Games lasted from late June until early this month.

The program--which was supervised by 190 teachers and 350 recreation assistants paid through the Mobil grant to the city's board of education--took place at about 100 fields, tennis courts, and swimming pools throughout New York.

Among the current or former professional athletes who taught at clinics were Cal Ramsey, Tom Seaver, Wilt Chamberlain, Hershel Walker, Earl Monroe, and Althea Gibson.

Mobil spent $400,000 for the instructional activities and competition this year, a spokesman for the company said.

The spokesman said the program, started last year, probably would have Mobil's financial backing again next year.

Alabama District To Challenge Law On Dues Deduction

The Muscle Shoals, Ala., board of education has announced that it will file suit against the Alabama Education Association in an effort to clarify a dues-checkoff system that involves funds for the association's political action committee.

The law, enacted during the 1983 legislative session, allows teachers' groups to deduct dues automatically from members' paychecks. The aea, however, approved a "reverse checkoff" system that automatically includes a contribution to the association's A-Vote, a political-action unit, unless the member requests otherwise.

The school board is questioning the legality of using public funds--such as the salaries of office staff who handle teachers' payrolls--to process contributions to a private political action committee, according to Donald Heidorn, superintendent of the Muscle Shoals district.

Mr. Heidorn noted also that re-verse-checkoff systems have been declared illegal at the federal level.

The teachers' association said that it included the contribution in the dues-checkoff because of a perceived need to standardize contributions, and make the process of deducting the funds easier for school districts.

Heat Prevents Opening Of Schools In Two States

The persistent heat wave in the Middle West and Southeast has postponed the opening of school in some Nebraska and Tennesse school districts.

In the Nashville school district, where about 1,200 classrooms have no air-conditioning, schools were scheduled to open at the beginning of last week, but officials said they closed them after they found that the temperature reached 100 degrees in some rooms.

In Nebraska, at least two districts extended their summer vacations an extra week because they do not have air-conditioned buildings, administrators said. Others held school for only a half-day session. Nebraska state law requires that schools operate a minimum of 175 days, but officials said most schools are in session 180 days.

Virginia District Bans Fantasy Game

Concerned about reports that linked suicides and bizarre incidents with the fantasy game "Dungeons and Dragons," the Arlington, Va., school board this month voted to ban the game as a sanctioned extracurricular activity.

The unanimous vote to end endorsement of the game came after the parents of a Hanover County, Va., student filed a $1-million suit against a public high school there. The parents charged that their child's suicide resulted from playing the game as an "organized school activity."

Margaret Bocek, the school-board member who introduced the resolution to ban the game, in which players pose as characters from the Middle Ages, said she has seen studies that demonstrated that the game had more negative than positive effects.

The game--which has an estimated 3 million to 4 million players in the country--is based on a fantasy world in which players act as if they are dragons, monsters, wizards, and dwarfs.

The game has been played as a extracurricular activity for gifted and talented students at Swanson Intermediate School, a spokesman for the Arlington district said. The spokesman said 10 students took part in the game last year.

Science educators from 24 countries met last week at Columbia University to join in the development of a uniform approach to analyzing the data being collected for the second international study of science achievement. (See Education Week, July 27, 1983.)

The study is sponsored by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. In the U.S., researchers have gathered data from 7,500 children and 500 teachers. Comparable information is being amassed by researchers in other nations. The study will examine the levels of achievement in different countries and the factors that affect students' performance. The U.S. researchers expect to issue preliminary findings in the spring of 1984.

Four recent graduates of Millburn (N.J.) High School who earlier this month lost a court challenge to the Educational Testing Service's invalidation of their college-admissions scores have decided to appeal the decision to a higher New Jersey court.

Meanwhile, the four colleges that had accepted the students for this fall have reviewed their applications, even though Superior Court Judge Richard S. Cohen in his Aug. 4 ruling prohibited the testing service from officially invalidating the students' scores and from notifying the colleges of the action.

The students are Lloyd Berkowitz, Richard Becker, and James Denburg, all of Short Hills, and Stephen Haskin of Springfield.

Emory University in Atlanta has withdrawn its admission of Mr. Becker and the University of Richmond, where freshmen are scheduled to arrive on campus on Aug. 27, still has Mr. Haskin's case "under review," according to Thomas N. Pollard Jr., dean of admissions.

The University of Colorado at Boulder will allow Mr. Berkowitz and Mr. Becker, who was admitted there as well as at Emory, to begin school this fall. Each student has voluntarily submitted additional scores from ets-administered standardized tests taken before the May 1982 examination questioned by ets, said Millard Storey, director of admissions at the university.

These scores are now under review by the university, Mr. Storey said. If they are high enough, the two students will enter under regular status; if they do not meet the university's standards, the students would be placed on academic probation for one semester and would thus have to earn a grade-point-average of 2.0 or better over that period, Mr. Storey said.

Mr. Denberg was to begin his first year at Carnegie-Mellon University last Thursday. He recently took the sat again under an administration arranged by ets and "did very well on it," said Deborah B. Mall, associate director of admissions.

Willard B. McGuire, president of the National Education Association, will return to teaching 8th-grade mathematics at Maplewood Junior High School in Maplewood, Minn., when his term expires at the end of this month.

Mr. McGuire has held the top position in 1.6-million-member teachers' union for the past four years; prior to being elected president, he was vice president of the union for five years.

When he departs from Washington, D.C., Mr. McGuire will leave behind the $71,000 annual salary of the nea president; a spokesman for the union estimated that Mr. McGuire will take a cut in pay of about $40,000 annually.

Mr. McGuire holds bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.

B. Frank Brown has been named the chairman of the Florida Quality Instruction Incentives Council, a 15-member panel charged with developing ways to implement the state's newly enacted merit-pay plan and other education reforms.

Mr. Brown, an education consultant, chaired a Governor's task force on secondary schools whose report recommended many of the reform programs subsequently enacted by the legislature.

The new council will have broad areas of responsibility: working with the board of education to develop a workable merit-pay plan and subject-area tests for master teachers and associate master teachers; establishing teacher-evaluation standards and training those who will evaluate the teachers; recommending funding levels that would determine the amount of merit pay provided; and overseeing other reforms enacted by the legislature.

The Bus Driver's Tapes: An Open-and-Shut Case

The potentially sticky situation seems to have been patched up: The Armstrong County (Pa.) School District has decided not to recommend the firing of a school-bus driver who gave misbehaving students the option of being sent to the principal or having their mouths taped shut.

A group of parents had asked for the transfer or dismissal of Shirley Stubrick, a 25-year-old bus driver who transports students in from the outlying regions surrounding the town of Elderton.

Ms. Stubrick admitted before the board that taping had occurred, but said she never taped children herself.

Children who chose tape over a visit to the principal taped themselves, she said.

The board ordered that the taping cease, according to E. Samuel Hatfield, president of the school board.

The southwest Pennsylvania dis3trict is spread over a large geograph-ic area; about 90 percent of its students are bused. The district hires private bus companies that have the power to hire, fire, and discipline their own drivers.

Any taping incidents occurred two years ago, and the recent complaint against Ms. Stubrick was "the culmination of many charges and complaints against her," Mr. Hatfield said.

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