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More than half of the high-ranking corporate executives polled in a recent survey are "seriously concerned" about the nation's educational system, support prayer in the classroom, are in favor of merit pay, and endorse competency tests.

The Business Poll--a quarterly survey in which 108 top executives of Fortune 1300 companies are questioned on educational issues by the New York-based opinion firm, Research and Forecasts Inc.--found that 90 percent of those surveyed support educational improvements and 46 percent believe that education should be an "immediate" national priority.

Questioned about proposals to allow prayer in public schools, 82 percent of those surveyed said they be-lieve that "prayers should be allowed in the classroom."

On the subject of salaries, 57 percent said teachers should be paid on the basis of their performance and 43 percent said they should be paid on the basis of performance and length of service. None of the respondents suggested basing salaries solely on length of service.

And while 50 percent said they "approve strongly" and 38 percent said they "approve somewhat" of the creation of a master-teacher position as a way to advance and reward superior teachers, almost three-quarters of those surveyed said pay scales for all teachers should be increased.

Competency tests in English and mathematics were "strongly" approved by 85 percent of the respondents, with 12 percent approving "somewhat."

Among other findings:

Most executives--82 percent--said businesses should be more involved in education than they have been in the past. Sixty-three percent said corporate funding should be used to improve schooling and 85 percent said business representa-tives should participate in meetings of school boards and parents' organizations.

Ninety-two percent said public schools should be responsible for teaching students how to use computers.

Seventy-two percent strongly agreed with the statement that it is more important for students to learn how to think than to learn facts and figures; 21 percent agreed somewhat.

Respondents gave schoolteachers varied grades for their performance: 37 percent rated them "fair," 34 percent gave them a "good" rating, 16 percent said they are "poor," and 6 percent said they are "very good."

Most of the businessmen--84 percent--agreed that children should be taught to be competitive in school in order to succeed in business.

The special problems of Hispanic high-school students will receive closer scrutiny in the next six months.

A new panel, the National Commission on Secondary Schooling for Hispanics, was created last month by the Hispanic Policy Development Project, a nonprofit group formed last year to analyze policy questions that affect Hispanics.

The panel will conduct on-site studies of students and their problems in areas with the greatest concentrations of Hispanic residents.

The group will "assess the recommendations of recent studies on U.S. high schools as they relate to the Hispanic student" and will develop its own agenda of reform, according to a spokesman.

The group has scheduled meetings in five key urban areas--Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Antonio--where they will meet with school officials and members of the local Hispanic communities.

The Los Angeles meeting, the first, takes place this week.

The panel is co-chaired by Mari-Luci Jaramillo, an assistant dean at the University of New Mexico's education school, and Paul Ylvisaker, former dean at Harvard's education school.

Federal News Roundup

A coalition of women's groups, civil-rights organizations, and labor representatives last month accused the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of disregarding its obligation to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The National Committee on Pay Equity, made up of 150 organizational and individual members, including the National Education Association and the National Organization for Women, presented their charges on Oct. 27 to the House subcommittee on Employment Opportunities, which was conducting hearings on the eeoc

The pay-equity committee charges that the commission, under President Reagan, has made no effort to eliminate wage discrimination against women and minorities, according to Nancy Reder, chairman of the group. Rather, the commission has shown "a conscientious disregard for the laws which prohibit discrimination in employment and for the workers who are penalized by the enforcement agency's inaction on a daily basis," she said.

"The Reagan Administration--which has said it is committed to women's equality--has a responsibility to knock down illegal barriers to economic equity for women," said Joy Ann Grune, executive director of the organization. "Instead, its inaction gives a clear signal to employers that sex discrimination is okay."

The committee asked the Congressional subcommittee to insist that the eeoc carry out its statutory obligations, follow its own guidelines governing the investigation of sex-based wage-discrimination claims, and join with private parties in bringing lawsuits to enforce Title VII.

Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion.

Officials at eeoc were unavailable for comment.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against Secretary of Health and Human Services Margaret M. Heckler and other department officials, alleging that funds allocated under the Adolescent Family Life Act are being spent in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because they are being used to teach religious doctrine.

The suit, Kendrick v. Heckler, was filed late last month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs include several citizens, as well as a group of United Methodist ministers and the American Jewish Congress.

According to the complaint, the act requires that grant recipients involve religious groups in their program. However, the complaint charges that only those religious groups that view abortion as an "unacceptable alternative" may receive funds and that this discriminates against those groups that do not counsel against abortion.

One example cited by the aclu involves a Catholic charity in a Virginia suburb of Washington, which "uses the money to teach that premarital sex and abortion are sins."

Because the act does not require that the funds be used only for secular purposes, the group alleges, it violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge John Sirica. No date has been set for a hearing.

The U.S. Education Department's office for civil rights provided lawyers involved in what is often called the most important civil-rights litigation pending in the nation with two massive reports last week. The reports--detailing the office's enforcement activities over the past six months and outlining its budget and staffing decisions over the past year--were mandated in a federal district judge's March 11 order in Adams v. Bell and Women's Equity Action League v. Bell.

The two cases stemmed from charges by civil-rights groups that the Education Department had failed to process discrimination complaints on a timely basis.

Court orders entered in the case require the ocr to adhere to strict timeframes in the investigation and disposition of such complaints. Separate orders require the office to report regularly on its activities to lawyers for the groups and individuals that filed the lawsuits.

A lawyer for the naacp Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc., which represents plaintiffs in the Adams section of the case, said the two reports were received on Oct. 31 and are being reviewed.

States News Roundup

An Ohio high school that closed its doors last year will be brought to life again with Hollywood magic.

Central High School, which was closed in 1982 when the Columbus Board of Education reorganized city schools, has been chosen as the site of a $10-million motion picture called "Teachers." The film, which stars Nick Nolte, is the story of a disillusioned teacher who regains his desire to teach.

Gov. Richard F. Celeste said state officials are expecting the Aaron Russo and mgm production to provide jobs for more than 4,000 Ohio citizens. The film makers will hire local technical assistants and actors for some speaking roles, and many Ohio high-school students will be used as extras in the film.

The producers were looking for an empty, urban high school, said Nikki Spretnak, manager of the Ohio Film Bureau, which is responsible for coordinating the effort, and although "there must be hundreds of those," she said, Central was their final choice. Ms. Spretnak attributed the producers' preference to the cooperation they have received from state and local officials and to the "fabulous" condition of the recently closed school.

Gov. Joe Frank Harris of Georgia next year will seek a compulsory school-attendance law to replace the statute struck down by the Georgia Supreme Court, an aide said last week.

Last month, the court ruled that the current law is too vague in its definition of what can be considered a private school. The law, which requires children aged 7 to 16 to at-tend a public or private school, was challenged by a Stephens County couple who taught their children at home for religious reasons.

The state board of education earlier this year proposed defining a private school as a place used primarily for education with certified teachers and at least 15 pupils. But Governor Harris asked the board not to act on the proposal until he could study the issue.

Russell N. Sewell, executive counsel to the Governor, said Mr. Harris and many legislators would prefer that such regulations be passed by the legislature rather than the board. Mr. Sewell said the Governor would make a proposal by the time the legislature convenes next January.

The Governor has not indicated, Mr. Sewall added, whether he regards home schooling favorably or unfavorably.

Oklahomans care more about solving problems such as those in education than about keeping taxes low, a survey commissioned by the Oklahoma Department of Education has found.

According to the pollster Peter D. Hart, 62 percent of the 603 citizens questioned in the August survey said the state should spend more money on its education system. Fifty-nine percent said they would favor property-tax increases to improve education, Mr. Hart said.

The survey also found that 51 percent of those surveyed consider education one of the top two issues facing the state. Twenty-two percent said "holding the line on taxes" was one of the state's top two concerns, Mr. Hart said.

Residents of the state are evenly divided on whether the state's schools need improvement. Blue-collar workers are more satisfied with the schools than are professionals and executives, he said.

Mr. Hart and state legislative leaders interpreted the results of the $20,000 poll as a mandate for increased public spending. "The public has really offered a challenge to the leadership," Mr. Hart said. "What they say is, 'We expect a better educational system, and indeed we will support it."'

A preliminary report released late last week by a Washington State task force recommends that the state require exit tests for graduating high-school seniors and competency tests for candidates for teaching positions.

Members of the Temporary Committee on Educational Policies, Structure, and Management presented the preliminary recommendations of their interim report on Nov. 3 before the Legislative Educational Forum. The committee's formal interim report will be released in January, and its final report will be finished in January 1985, according to William Chance, executive director of the 13-member group.

Successful completion of competency tests, the committee recommended, should be required of all new teachers as a prerequisite for hiring, after which the new teachers would be on probation for a period of three years.

And all the state's high-school seniors should be required to pass a competency test before graduating, the committee recommended. Currently, less than one-third of the state's high schools require their students to pass an exit test, according to Mr. Chance.

The panel also recommended:

Restructuring school curricula, eliminating the general high-school curriculum and establishing requirements in science, the arts, the humanities, or vocational studies.

Tightening graduation requirements to include four years of English; three years of mathematics, science, and social studies; and one year of a foreign language.

Last spring, shortly before the release of the report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, the Washington State Board of Education approved a plan to upgrade high-school graduation requirements. Subsequently, Mr. Chance said, some in the state argued that the board's new requirements were not stringent enough. His committee, he explained, agreed on the need for stiffer requirements.

Consolidating the elementary-school grades into two blocks of K-3 and 4-6 to provide more flexibility in dealing with the varied growth rates of pupils. "By doing away with grade levels, you could deal with children as individuals," Mr. Chance said.

Developing a career-ladder approach to teachers' salaries, including a master-teacher rank for the most skilled. The committee is still considering approaches to teachers' salaries and levels but is "headed in the direction" of the master-teacher approach, Mr. Chance said.

Establishing special certification for primary-school teachers, early-childhood education teachers, and some intermediate-school teachers. This recommendation is based on findings that "working with these very young children requires special training and certification," Mr. Chance said.

Gov. Robert D. Orr of Indiana unveiled a program last month that is designed to better prepare students for the world of work.

At a meeting of the Indiana Council for Economic Education, the Governor said he will appoint a task force by the end of the year to implement a program in which professionals will visit schools, work with students and teachers, and provide a "realistic picture of the business world."

"Today's schoolchildren are tomorrow's workers," Governor Orr told members of the economic council. "If they aren't prepared for what's ahead of them, if they don't know what tomorrow's employers will need and expect, if they don't have the skills to fill the jobs of the future, then your business and our economy will come to a standstill."

The panel, which will be responsible for establishing the structure and budget of the program, will convene by next spring, according to John R. Hammond 3rd, executive assistant to the Governor.

The program will provide as much as $200,000 in "seed money" to help members of the business community, who will administer the project, bring the working world into eight to 10 "test" schools in the state, according to Mr. Hammond. Funding will come from a combination of public- and private-sector resources, he said. Over a 3-to-5-year period, staff members of the Governor's office would phase out their involvement in the program. Based on "Partners in Education," which was developed by the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce in 1979, the program is scheduled to begin in the fall of 1984, Mr. Hammond said.

An early-childhood education bill has been passed by the House committee on children, youth, and families of the Missouri legislature, and is now being sent to the full House for approval.

The bill, which was introduced during the legislature's special session last month at the request of Gov. Christopher Bond, would establish a program to screen students for learning disabilities. The bill would also provide financial incentives to schools that help parents develop the learning abilities of young children.

The bill calls for voluntary screening of preschool children for language, hand-eye, and motor development as well as for vision and hearing impairments and other problems that can inhibit learning. The state would reimburse school districts up to $25 for each child younger than age 5 who participates in the program, according to Nancy S. Vessell, the Governor's press secretary.

Under the bill, the state would also reimburse school districts $100 for each family involved in a program to "help parents become their children's first teachers," according to Ms. Vessell. In this program, schools would provide parents with information and guidance on child development and home learning.

The legislation would also establish a program to help parents work with "developmentally delayed" students at home, Ms. Vessell said. The program would reimburse schools $300 for each participating child.

The child-development legislation would cost the state $2.5 million in the first year, $6.4 million in the second, and $10.7 million in the third, according to estimates from the Governor's office.

A similar bill was passed by the House but failed to win Senate approval during the regular session of the legislature this year.

Last week, Gov. Robert Graham and his cabinet approved emergency rules drafted by Ralph D. Turlington, state education commissioner, that allow Florida to implement loan and scholarship programs to reduce teacher shortages in six critical areas: foreign languages, industrial arts, mathematics, science, special education, and speech therapy.

The rules allow graduates of approved teacher-education programs one year of loan forgiveness in return for two years of teaching in a shortage field. Teachers who agree to work in specific geographical areas--such as sparsely populated rural schools or poor urban schools, will receive a year of loan forgiveness for each year of teaching.

In addition, the rules allow the state education department to award low-interest loans of up to $4,000 per year, for up to two years, to eligible students enrolled in teacher-education programs in the state. During the first two years, half the loans will go to prospective mathematics and science teachers.

Already employed public-school teachers can receive full tuition reimbursement for taking additional coursework in critical subject areas.

District News Roundup

Seven students at Elk River (Minn.) High School who led a demonstration in front of their school last week to protest U.S. involvement in Lebanon and Grenada were suspended for a day by the school's principal. Another 13 were suspended only for the hours that corresponded to the time they missed classes.

All were required to attend school during the suspension periods, but were permitted only to study, not to attend classes, said Nicholas Olsen, the school's principal.

The protesters had been warned that they faced suspension, Mr. Olsen said, adding that "it was a peaceful demonstration by some good kids."

Two seniors, who had originally proposed the demonstration, said they had expected 200 of the schools' 1,201 pupils to turn out. But after consulting with school authorities and the police, the pair changed their minds about the wisdom of a demonstration and advised fellow students not to leave classes for the protest; 20 nonetheless did so.

Officials of the Dade County (Fla.) Public Schools last week began taking steps to smooth the way for implementing a new teacher-evaluation system scheduled

Under the new system, evaluations will be conducted by a state-trained panel, including a subject-area specialist from outside the teacher's school system.

Last week, officials introduced the new process, called the Teacher Assessment and Development System, to some 8,000 teachers through a series of telecasts shown at daylong workshops in 24 high schools. Booklets "several inches thick" were available to answer additional questions that teachers might have, said Kathleen Osborne, a district spokesman.

The district also invited representatives of the teachers' unions and educational consultants to attend the workshops; the goal of the workshops, Ms. Osborne said, was to enable each teacher to learn "how this would affect him personally."

As a further preparatory move, district officials are piloting the system in 24 Dade County schools this year.

When Nobody's Left but the Waterboy: Punt

Board Blows Whistle on Clippers' Season

Clippers: 8; Opponents 143: Injured List: 19

Like a referee stopping a prize fight because a boxer has received too many bloodying blows, the board of education in Clayton, N.J., has cancelled the rest of the Clayton High School football team's season.

Injuries had reduced the Clippers' ranks from 32 players to 13 when Joseph Mucci, the athletic director, stepped in and said he would be "an idiot" to allow the team to play its fifth game. And last week, the school board decided to call off the rest of the season even though many of the injured players said they were now healthy.

The school's 13 healthy players protested when Mr. Mucci decided to forfeit Clayton's game with Woodstown High School.

Despite being on the short end of a cumulative season score of 143-8, many Clippers complained about the forfeit. Typical was a comment by Robert Gonzales, the team's center and nose guard: "At least let's go out and try. If they beat us, they beat us."

Even Mr. Mucci complained when the board decided to end the season. By the day of the season's scheduled sixth game, the team had 27 healthy players, including 10 seniors.

Because of the school's small population of 350 students in four grades, the team has periodically seen its ranks thinned over the past 22 years, he said; at one point, the team played with 18 players. "We've always tried to salvage the varsity program, even if you end up ending the junior-varsity program," he said.

This year, the junior-varsity team is the winner. It will take on most of the healthy players left idle by the truncated varsity season.

People News

California's former state superintendent, Wilson C. Riles, has criticized the state's massive education-reform measure, saying the programs it calls for have little chance of success because they are inadequately funded.

Mr. Riles, who lost his elected position to Bill Honig last year, said in a recent interview that many of the reforms contained in the Hughes-Hart Education Reform Act of 1983, the omnibus bill passed by the state legislature last summer, are "gimmicks" designed to justify spending an additional $800 million on the states' school districts after years of budget cuts.

"We all want educational quality," Mr. Riles said, "but instead of this rhetoric and pointing blame, the leadership must develop a consensus on what we want to do and fund it, otherwise we will not accom-plish anything and two or three years down the road we'll go through the same cycle again."

"There's little continuity in what we have discovered in education,'' Mr. Riles added. "If physicians followed the same pattern that we followed in the schools, they'd still be back doing sorcery."

Mr. Riles now runs a consulting firm in Sacramento.

Frank W. Epperson, inventor of the Popsicle, died last month in Fremont, Calif., at the age of 89.

Mr. Epperson created the first frozen treat at age 11 when he placed a stick in a glass of soda-water powder and water and left it on his porch one cold winter night in 1905.

It was not until 1922, however, that Mr. Epperson, a real-estate investor, introduced his invention to the public at a fireman's ball. By 1924, he had patented the frozen confection, which he called an "Epsicle." The Popsicle Corporation bought his patent in 1929.

News Updates

The Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has asked the state's supreme court to reconsider its recent decision that the state legislature has authority to determine education policy in the state.

The board claims that the legislature overstepped its authority in passing a law that requires schools to teach "creation science" along with "evolution science."

The state agency claims it has complete control over education policy under the state constitution approved in 1974. (See Education Week, Oct. 26, 1983.)

Meanwhile, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana is expected to rule on whether the law violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the substantive issue originally raised in the case.

H. Ross Perot, the chairman of a committee that is studying proposals to reform public education in Texas, says the state legislature cannot be expected to act on the proposals until next summer at the earliest.

Mr. Perot, who has attracted attention with his attack on the emphasis placed on interscholastic athletics by many schools in the state, says legislators will be too concerned about the May primary election campaigns to devote time to education reform. (See Education Week, Sept. 28, 1983.)

"It's a tough time to get great enthusiasm in the legislature for a special session," Mr. Perot said of proposals to call a special session for education.

Gov. Mark White, who has said he wants a special session this fall, said it would make "no sense" to call one until legislators indicate a willingness to act.

A federal district judge refused last week to grant a temporary injunction that would have prevented President Reagan from removing two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from office.

U.S. District Judge Norma H. Johnson ruled on Oct. 31 that the two ousted commissioners, Mary F. Berry and Blandina Cardenas Ramirez, failed to make the necessary showing that they would have a "substantial likelihood of success" when their case came up for oral arguments on Nov. 7.

"Some likelihood, yes, but not a substantial one," Judge Johnson said before turning down the dismissed commissioners' motion.

Mr. Reagan fired the commissioners and a third holdover, Rabbi Murray Saltzman, in order to make room for nominees whose views on civil rights are closer to his own. (See Education Week, Nov. 2, 1983.)

While in office, the three dismissed commissioners had regularly criticized the President's positions on such issues as school desegregation, women's equity, and affirmative action.

William B. Dalton, the principal of Congress Heights Elementary School, a District of Columbia school recently "adopted" by President Reagan, hasn't wasted any time cashing in on the chief executive's interest.

He has already suggested to his contacts in the White House that the President's grounds crew do some landscaping around the school, that the White House contribute its regularly replaced fresh flowers to his students, who would make them into bouquets for senior citizens in hospitals, and that the President lend some of his computer program\6mers to Congress Heights as tutors.

"We've inquired about some surplus equipment, too," said Mr. Dalton, who also asked that the White House help arrange field trips for his students to nearby federal agricultural, radar, and weather-bureau installations.

Since the President adopted Congress Heights to dramatize his new "Partnerships in Education" initiative, Mr. Dalton has received calls from educators all over the country seeking his advice on how to set up such partnerships--especially with the White House, he said. (See Education Week, Oct. 19, 1983.)

And how is all the publicitiy affecting his students? "It's making the kids feel proud of the school," Mr. Dalton said, adding that "another good spinoff" is that the students are more apt to read the newspaper and watch the news. "They're looking for their quotes," he said.

The U.S. Agriculture Department's investigation of two major suppliers of ground beef to the school-lunch program is still underway, with a total of about 18 of the 300 samples showing contamination so far.

The investigation, which is being conducted by the department's inspector general, was prompted by an investigation conducted by the Better Government Association in Chicago and NBC-tv's "First Camera." (See Education Week, Sept. 21, 1983.)

Investigators alleged that Cattle King Packing Co. in Denver and Nebraska Beef in Gering, Neb., sold diseased or contaminated meat to the government for use in the school-lunch program.

According to a usda spokesman, insect fragments have been found in about 12 of the samples, and "small, metal staples" have been found in another six samples. The department does not know "how the staples got there" and may need to expand the sampling further, the spokesman added.

Meanwhile, none of the beef--an estimated 6.5 million pounds--is being released.

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