Federal News Roundup
A federal district judge last week released $4.3 million in U.S. Education Department funds to keep federally financed programs affected by the Chicago school-desegregation dispute alive for another month.
At the same time, U.S. District Judge Milton I. Shadur indefinitely extended his freeze on the remaining $43.2 million that he impounded in July after determining that the government had reneged on a 1980 agreement to "make every good-faith effort" to help finance the school district's desegregation plan.
The funding freeze affects the Title IV desegregation-assistance program, the Women's Educational Equity Act program, Follow Through, an education program for the Virgin Islands, and programs funded under the Secretary of Education's discretionary grant. The judge also acted on Sept. 26 to prevent the department's unspent fiscal 1983 funds from "lapsing" when the new fiscal year began on Oct. 1.
If a federal agency does not spend all of the money appropriated to it by the Congress before the end of a fiscal year, those funds automatically revert back to the U.S. Treasury. Lawyers for the Chicago school board estimated that approximately $3 million in department funds would have lapsed in the absence of the judge's order.
Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld Judge Shadur's decision to impound the money, but added that he acted too quickly when he said the federal government owed the Chicago board at least $14.6 million this school year and perhaps as much as $250 million over the next five years. The appeals court said the exact amount owed to the board would have to be negotiated by the parties. Judge Shadur has scheduled a hearing in the case for Oct. 5.
The U.S. Justice Department has not yet decided whether to appeal the case, U.S. v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In other court action, a federal district judge in St. Louis recently issued a long-awaited finance order in that region's landmark cross-district school-desegregation case.
On Sept. 22, U.S. District Judge William L. Hungate ordered that the state will have to pay $29 million and the city school board $17.7 million to finance the first year of the plan, which envisions the eventual voluntary transfer of 15,000 city students to suburban schools.
The U.S. Agriculture Department continued its investigation this week of two meat packers that together supplied 21 percent of the ground beef to the federal school-lunch program during the last school year but department officials reported that they had found no evidence of contamination in meat samples.
Responding to widespread public concern, however, the usda has set up a recorded message that provides updates on the investigation.
The department's inquiry was prompted by an investigation of the two suppliers conducted by the Better Government Association and NBC-tv's "First Camera" program. The bga and NBC alleged that the companies, Cattle King Packing Company and Nebraska Beef Packers Inc., used unsanitary practices and allowed meat from diseased animals to be processed.
John R. Block, the Secretary of Agriculture, barred the use of meat from the packers and prohibited further sales by them to the federal government pending the results of a usda investigation.
To date, the usda has taken about 300 samples. Of the nine analyses that have been completed by department scientists, none has shown evidence of a problem.
The bga, however, said the department should inspect the meat at the packing plants themselves, not the meat that has already been processed. "Our expert sources inform us that it is almost impossible to detect 4,000 pounds of diseased meat after it has been mixed with 1,000,000 pounds of ordinary hamburger," a bga spokesman said.
Federal News Roundup
Volume III, Issue 5, October 5, 1983. pp 2-4
Copyright 1983, Editorial Projects in Education, Inc.
Federal News Roundup
States News Roundup
A state advisory panel on teacher certification has recommended, in a report released last week, that the Connecticut board of education adopt broader teacher-certification standards, including the creation of a master-teacher rank.
The Certification Advisory Council recommended that the state board establish four levels of certification for teachers in the state. At each certification level--initial, provisional, professional, and master--teachers would be required to demonstrate their ability to teach effectively.
The proposed master-teacher status would be valid for seven years and could be renewable on the basis of continued exemplary performance, according to Velma A. Adams, spokesman for the department of education. The state currently has two levels for teacher certification, provisional and standard.
Ms. Adams said the recommendations on teacher certification have been endorsed by Commissioner Gerald N. Tirozzi and will be considered by the state board next month. She said, however, that it is unlikely that the recommendations will be implemented until after they have been publicly reviewed.
The recommendations, according to Ms. Adams, will also require action by the legislature.
A Mississippi federal district judge ruled last month that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does not have the authority to enforce the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
The Equal Pay Act mandates that men and women doing substantially similar work must receive equal pay.
U.S. District Judge William Barbour ruled in eeoc v. Allstate that the U.S. Reorganization Act of 1977 was unconstitutional in its transfer of Equal Pay Act enforcement from the Labor Department to the eeoc because the 1977 law contains an illegal one-house legislative-veto provision, according to a spokesman for the court.
The U.S. Supreme Court last June ruled that the legislative veto of decisions made by the executive branch violates the constitutional separation of powers; the Court noted that, according to the Constitution, both houses of Congress must approve a bill and the President must sign it before it can become law.
The eeoc has filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court "because of questions of constitutionality posed by the decision of the federal circuit court," according to Michael Torres, a spokesman for the eeoc
The Virginia Congress of Parents and Teachers, an umbrella group for 1,000 parent-teacher organizations, last month endorsed merit pay for exceptional teachers, but advised the state to come up with a plan to rid schools of poor teachers.
"Merit pay does not address the opposite end of the spectrum," said George D. Meek, president of the vcpt, at a meeting of the State Board of Education. "We all know [poor teachers] are out there. We must weed them out."
Although the congress does not have a specific proposal for identifying and dismissing incompetent teachers, "there are still a number of teachers that should be evaluated out," Mr. Meek said.
The vcpt supports the concept of merit pay, Mr. Meek said, and advocates that teachers be evaluated on the basis of student performance and the assessments of their peers and supervisors. But Mr. Meek said he and his group are awaiting the findings of the merit-pay task force named last month by Gov. Charles S. Robb before advocating a more specific plan of action.
Saying education must be more closely linked with economic development, Gov. James R. Thompson has named three business leaders with strong credentials in public schools or civic affairs to the Illinois State Board of Education.
Appointed to the 17-member board were Ronald Blackstone, manager of financial and legal sales for R. R. Donnelly & Sons of Chicago; Carroll Ebert, chairman of the board of the Chicago-based department store chain Carson Pirie Scott and Co., and David Juday, vice-chairman of the board of Ideal Industries, a family-owned electrical- component manufacturing firm in northern Illinois.
"I have been concerned of late that with the increasing emphasis on economic development as the foundation of the state's policy toward all other areas of state government experience, it is important to seek to add to the board greater representation from the world of business, particularly from the corporate world," the Governor said.
Mr. Thompson said he has seen emerging "not only in Illinois, but across the nation, a greater and greater relationship between economic development and education."
Members of a new citizens' group in Alabama are putting their money where their concerns are--in a new political-action committee focusing on student issues.
"kid-pac," as the committee calls itself, is not affiliated with any association or organization, according to one of its organizers, Randy Quinn, who is also the executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards. "It is an independent, nonpartisan political-action committee which has the sole purpose of giving parents and other concerned citizens a direct voice in electing public officials who are committed to good schools," said Mr. Quinn.
A secondary purpose is to offer lawmakers the opportunity to be identified as "pro-education" without having to follow the dictates of any particular special-interest group.
kid-pac's goal is to raise $500,000 by 1986. The money will go to political candidates who have shown students first consideration when drafting and voting on legislation, Mr. Quinn said.
Following a three-week trip to the Far East to promote trade, agriculture, and government interests, Gov. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri returned to the U.S. last month with job offers for some of the state's teachers.
The Missouri Trade Office in Tokyo, working with a private Japanese firm, will offer 30 to 50 one-year teaching jobs to Missouri-educated teachers, according to Glen Boos, director of international business in the Governor's office. Trade office officials hope to increase the number of teachers to 300 within four years.
Those who are chosen for the jobs, which start next April, will teach English to Japanese secondary-school students, Mr. Boos said. Applicants must have a four-year degree in education or a degree with a major emphasis in education from the University of Missouri or another accredited university in the state, he said.
The Japanese firm, which Mr. Boos declined to identify, will provide round-trip transportation, housing and utilities, and a salary of approximately $1,150 a month, Mr. Boos said.
In a related development, Japanese citizens living in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area are so pleased with the education their children are getting in American schools that they are sending 10 area school officials on a two-week, expense-paid trip to Japan. The field trip is being funded by the Japanese residents and their employers.
The University of North Carolina's education school received a "slap on the wrist" last month when the state board of education denied full accreditation to several of its programs, said the school's dean.
"It was quite a shock," said Frank Brown, who took over as dean at the school last July. "This is unusual for Chapel Hill."
The board granted only a one-year temporary accreditation, instead of the usual five-year approval, to three of the school's 33 programs, but Mr. Brown said the problems raised by the board would be solved soon. Another review will take place next September.
The three programs that received only temporary approval were the intermediate education, foreign- languages, and curriculum-instruction-specialist programs. In the case of the foreign-language program, the board found that the staff was too weighted toward the instruction of younger students, Mr. Brown said.
One reason for the difficulty was that the board issued new guidelines last month, and the education school had been awaiting the changes before making staffing changes, he added.
Minnesota students may be learning their 3 R's, but an H is missing.
A state law requiring all public schools to give lessons in Minnesota's heritage one day a year, is frequently violated, according to a 1983 survey of 113 public schools.
The survey, ordered by the state board of education, asked questions about the schools' compliance with its rules and state law. The survey was designed to locate schools having difficulty complying with laws. "It's not a punitive effort," said Roy Talley, a state education official who worked on the the survey.
The 1959 law says that on May 11, the day Minnesota joined the Union in 1858, "all public schools of the state shall give special attention to exercises devoted to matters of interest pertaining to the state of Minnesota and its geography, history, industries, and resources."
The Nebraska Supreme Court has refused to reconsider its ruling ordering officials of the Adams Central School District to reimburse the parents of a handicapped child for the tuition they paid to send him to a private school.
The court had ruled earlier this year that the school district expelled David Deist improperly and that it failed to provide him with an appropriate education as required under P.L. 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act.
In its decision, the court ruled that the expulsion was a change in placement and that it constituted a violation of the due-process provision of the federal law.
The suit was filed by the student's parents, who had first placed him in a state mental hospital in 1977, but then transferred him to a private psychiatric hospital. The student, who was 15 years old at the time, was diagnosed as mentally retarded, autistic, and epileptic.
The district has not decided whether it will appeal the decision; the case is Adams Central School District v. Deist.
In a similar case, a federal judge has ordered the Spring Branch, Tex., school district to reimburse the parents of a learning-disabled student for the money they spent on private schools.
U.S. District Judge Carl Bue rejected the parents' claims for damages under P.L. 94-142, but ruled they were entitled to reimbursement under Section 504 of the Rehabilitative Services Act.
The case, David H. v. Spring Branch, is being appealed by district officials.
A panel of educators, legislators, and state officials in Vermont has approved a set of seven recommendations to improve mathematics and science education in the state.
The recommendations were formulated by the Vermont Education Seminar, an informal but official group created by Lt. Gov. Peter Smith about a year and a half ago to discuss and help bring about improvement in the state's public-education system. The Lieutenant Governor also chairs the group.
The recommendations included increasing the requirements in those disciplines, providing financial incentives for good teachers, redesigning curricula, measuring student achievement, and improving teacher training.
The Lieutenant Governor acknowledged last week that the proposals were not novel, but said that the panel's aim was to develop workable recommendations and to target them to the state agency best suited to carrying them out. Having formed subgroups to study the specific recommendations, the panel's next step will be to "flesh out" the recommendations.
The recommendations will then be offered to the state legislature, the education department, or whatever agency is best suited to carry them out.
"I think we've got some good ideas. I think we're less concerned about the fanfare than we are about agreeing on five or six things that, if we do them, will result in better education for students and a better working environment for teachers," Lieutenant Governor Smith said.
He said he expects the legislature and the board of education to consider the recommendations on their upcoming agenda.
New York's Commissioner of Education has overturned a local school board's decision to fire a physical-education teacher who locked a learning-disabled student in a darkened equipment closet as punishment for disruptive behavior.
In rejecting the decision of the board of the Granville Central School District, Commissioner Gordon M. Ambach upheld a hearing panel's ruling that the teacher should be suspended for 60 days without pay.
The district filed abuse charges against the teacher, who has taught for 30 years, and had planned to fire him despite the hearing panel's ruling.
In reaching his decision, Mr. Ambach said the teacher "clearly exercised poor judgment" but should be allowed to keep his job because there was no evidence to suggest the student was harmed by the incident.
School officials across the state next month will consider a proposal by the Kansas State High School Activities Association to schedule many athletic activities during the summer.
The summer-sports proposal was prompted by the recent series of reports on education, which recommend that students spend more time in the classroom, according to an association official. The group sets rules for interscholastic sports in the state.
Nelson L. Hartman, executive secretary of the association, said a proposal to hold some high-school sports in the summer was defeated five years ago. But, he added, recent attention given to education nationally might improve the proposal's chances for approval.
Under the plan, the baseball, golf, tennis, and softball seasons would start in May and conclude in late August. Those sports were selected because they require daylight more than do other sports, Mr. Hartman said.
Other measures under consideration by the association would prohibit any after-school activities before 3 P.M., require junior-high-school activities to end before 9 P.M., limit the number of classes a student is allowed to miss for interscholastic activities, and prohibit students with less than a C average from missing classes for sports programs.
The regional meetings will be held to assess "grassroots" support for the plan, Mr. Hartman said. The association's 50-member board of directors has authority over the proposals.