States News Roundup
Michigan School Ban
On Private Students
Challenged in Court
A Michigan state attorney this month asked the state's supreme court to reverse two lower-court rulings that allowed a public school to bar a private-school student from one of its music classes.
Gerald Young of the state attorney's office told the court that that the Charlotte Public School District would need to demonstrate a "compelling state interest" if it wanted to bar a private-school student from the class.
At issue in the case is Brenda Snyder's attempt in 1981 to enroll in a Charlotte Junior High School band class. The school that Ms. Snyder attended, the Charlotte Christian Academy, did not offer a band program.
Mr. Young said Ms. Snyder's case did not involve issues of state aid to private schools, despite the possibility that private schools could tailor their programs to take advantage of public-school programs. "This is a case involving equal access to public schools," he said.
Michael Eisenbach, the lawyer for the Charlotte district, said allowing Ms. Snyder to attend the public-school class would create administrative and financial problems for the school. He said that, although schools may allow private-school students in their programs, there is no constitutional requirement to do so.
The Eaton County Circuit Court of Michigan and the Michigan Court of Appeals both have decided in the district's favor.
An End to Paddling
Nearly two million Michigan public-school children may be spared the rod under a measure to abolish corporal punishment that is being considered by the state legislature.
Michigan law now allows school employees to use "reasonable physical force" to discipline students, though each of the state's 529 school districts may prohibit such punishment in their own schools.
Under the new measure, which has received bipartisan support, physical force could only be used by school employees to protect themselves, other students, or property from injury or damage; to obtain possession of a weapon; or to escort an unwilling student to the principal's office.
The bill would prohibit paddling, hitting, kicking, shaking, pushing, or grabbing students. In addition, it would forbid confining pupils to an "uncomfortable space" or forcing them to eat an "obnoxious" substance.
In 1980, corporal punishment was meted out to about one in every 100 public-school students in the state, according to figures from the U.S. Education Department's office for civil rights.
Corporal punishment fell disproportionately on black students, the figures showed, who were over three times as likely as white students to be on the receiving end of a paddle.
About 10 percent of the state's school districts have already abolished the practice in their own schools, said a spokesman for the Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment.
Despite wide-ranging legislative support, the bill is being opposed by the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association, which wants to retain local control of the matter.
The measure is scheduled for a hearing in both houses of the legislature later this month. If the measure passes, Michigan will become the fifth state in the nation to adopt an outright ban of corporal punishment.
Idaho High Court
Says Teacher Entitled
To Extra Pay
The Idaho Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a Minidoka teacher who sought extra pay for teaching an additional class.
In a recent 4-to-1 decision, the state justices said W. Monte Robinson was entitled to extra-duty pay during the 1978-79 school year for teaching six classes, rather than the required five.
Because Mr. Robinson had signed a contract stating that he would teach the extra class without additional pay, lawyers for Joint School District 331 argued that the teacher was not entitled to the special compensation.
But since district policy at the time routinely provided payment of additional wages to compensate teachers who put in more employment time than was normally required, the justices ruled in favor of Mr. Robinson.
According to Byron Johnson, the teacher's lawyer, the court said that even though Mr. Robinson had signed a contract that included the requirement that he teach the additional class, he did not waive his right to the extra-duty pay normally provided by the school district.
State's Essay Contest
Will Honor Truman
Prints of Harry S. Truman, valued in all at more than $300,000, will be awarded as prizes to Missouri schools whose students win an essay contest honoring the state's only U.S. President.
The best essays on "Why Harry S. Truman will be remembered as a great President" will win for the students' schools framed limited-edition prints of the former President valued at up to $1,200. The portraits will be presented to the schools in the name of the student who writes the school's winning essay.
The contest, sponsored by the Missouri Education Association, the Harry S. Truman Farm Home Foundation, and Calarimo Marble Art Inc., honors the centennial of the former President's birth and was designed to encourage the study of Mr. Truman in Missouri schools, said Lona Lewis, president of the Missouri teachers' group.
Two Ky. Panels
Begin Work on
A committee of Kentuckians that two years ago developed a long-range blueprint to improve the state's higher-education system is now turning its attention to elementary and secondary education in the state.
With an expanded membership, the panel, headed by Edward F. Prichard Jr., a Lexington lawyer, plans to review the state's public-school program and make recommendations to the 1984 and 1986 sessions of the Kentucky General Assembly. The work of the committee is being financed by foundation, individual, and corporate contributions. Members of the panel, however, are paying most of their own expenses.
A second 28-member task force, sponsored by the state's Chamber of Commerce, is also drawing up a plan to improve public education.
The panel includes representatives of business and industry, teachers, administrators, legislators, and members of statewide associations.
The chairman of this group, called Kentuckians for Excellence in Education, is James Ratcliffe, a Louisville accounting executive who is vice-chairman of the state board of education. The group plans to make recommendations to the 1984 General Assembly.
Va. College Study
Calls For Stiffer
A study of Virginia's public universities and colleges has found that an increasing number are including high-school-level courses in their curricula because students enter with inadequate preparation.
The state-level task force on remedial education that conducted the study recommends that all Virginia colleges tighten their admission requirements and give placement tests in an effort to "protect the integrity of the college curriculum."
The study also recommends that a limit be placed on the number of times a student can re-enroll in a remedial course, and that these courses not count toward college credit, said David Potter, coordinator of academic programs for the State Council on Higher Education, which sponsored the study.
About 10 percent of Virginia's college students take remedial courses at an annual cost to the state of about $16 million, Mr. Potter said.
Texas Ed. College
Expects New Test
To Cut Enrollment
Officials at the University of Texas at El Paso's education school predict that the new state-mandated basic-skills admissions test for education majors will seriously cut their enrollment, which is now 51-percent Hispanic.
To offset the loss, they have begun to design a new graduate program in special education, said William Dunlap, dean of the university's education school.
The basic-skills test, administered by the Educational Testing Service, is the same one adopted by Florida, where a disproportionately high number of minority students failed the exam this year.
At El Paso, some potential students are already changing their minds about an education career because of the test, Mr. Dunlap said.
But he added that there is no way he can estimate how severely the school's enrollment will be affected until state education officials set a cut-off score for the test early next year.
The first test is scheduled for March 5, he added.
El Paso, one of the largest education colleges in Texas, now graduates about 500 graduates a year, he said, but the state has a worsening teacher shortage and is importing increasing numbers of teachers from northern states.
First Jr. High School
Sold in Nebraska
The first junior high school built in the U.S. was sold last month when the University of Nebraska Foundation bought it from the Lincoln (Neb.) Board of Education for $500,000.
Whittier Junior High School, which was constructed in 1923, was the first building designed exclusively for use as a junior high school. Officials at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said the building will be used for research and to attract new industry. It will also be used for temporary university classrooms, offices, and storage space, officials said. The building has been on the market since 1977, when, because of declining enrollments, students were transferred to other junior high schools.