States News Roundup
Calif. Teachers May Lose Licenses Over Fraudulent Credits
A state credentials committee has recommended that 94 teachers in the Los Angeles area lose their licenses for participating in a fraudulent inservice-credits scheme that won them higher salaries.
The fraud was exposed in 1981. (See Education Week, March 17, 1982.) A Los Angeles district attorney's investigation resulted in criminal charges of grand theft. The teachers were asked to repay the funds.
About 50 of the teachers are employed by the Los Angeles Unified School District; the others work in smaller, nearby districts. Some received as much as $10,000 in salary increases for submitting credentials for courses they never attended, said Walt Taylor, a member of the credentials-committee staff.
"It's virtually unique," Mr. Taylor said. "We've never seen anything on this scale before."
The 94 teachers have all been sent letters warning them that their licenses will be revoked unless they can prove the charges are false, Mr. Taylor said. The teachers have 30 days to respond to the letters and can appeal the charges in state administrative court.
The fraudulent scheme was started by a Los Angeles Community College instructor and his wife who set up a "continuing-education office" in their garage and forged signatures of instructors on documents forwarded to several affiliated colleges, officials said. The colleges then granted credits that made the teachers eligible for raises.
Minn. School Boards Reject Call for Competency Tests
The Minnesota School Boards Association's delegate assembly has voted to reject State Commissioner Ruth Randall's proposal for statewide competency testing unless local school boards are given the authority to administer the tests.
Willard Baker, executive secretary of the association, said the voice vote at the annual meeting attended by 115 delegates appeared to be unanimous. The issue, he said, was who would write the tests.
Mr. Baker said he was sure Ms. Randall's viewpoint "was not set in stone," adding, "our position is that districts are different, students are different, and there ought to be local community involvement."
Ms. Randall last month proposed statewide achievement tests that would eventually replace credit-based graduation requirements. She has not, however, drafted a formal proposal for the legislature. She outlined her views at the school boards' meeting here prior to the adverse vote.
Many school boards fear, Mr. Baker said, that such a state-directed centralized test would risk "stereotyping our programs." The association's policy resolution on competency testing also has asked the legislature to permit boards to hire as part-time teachers those with special expertise who are not licensed. The resolution suggested that teachers with special skills--such as computer expertise--be exempted from seniority rules. Andit urged the state to go slowly in any plans to increase the number of mandated courses for high-school pupils.
N.Y. Deans Propose $20-Million Program To Improve Teaching
A group of education-school deans from 11 public and private universiies in New York has asked the state legislature to establish a $20-million program to improve teaching in the state.
The New York Council of University Deans late last month asked the legislature to provide 200 scholarships and grants, each worth about $6,500 in addition to tuition, to graduate students hoping to make teaching a career and to raise starting salaries of teachers with master's degrees from $14,000 to $19,000.
The council has presented the proposal to the chairman of the state Senate and Assembly education committees as well as to Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, according to Robert Koff, council chairman and dean of education at the State University of New York at Albany.
Justice Marshall Refuses Appeal By N.Y. District
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall last month refused to prevent the New York Board of Regents from revoking the high-school diplomas awarded to two handicapped students by a Long Island school district.
Justice Marshall turned down the request of the Northport-East Northport Union Free School District for an order that would have prevented the state commissioner of education from invalidating the students' diplomas until after the Supreme Court decides whether it will hear the district's appeal.
Attorneys for the district filed a petition with the Court last month asking it to review the decision of the New York Court of Appeals upholding the legality of the state board's policy requiring students to pass a competency exam before they can graduate.
The district had awarded diplomas to the two handicapped students in 1979 even though neither of them passed state-required reading and mathematics tests.
As of late last month, the Supreme Court had not decided whether it would hear the district's appeal. Meanwhile, according to Seth Rockmuller, senior attorney for the state department of education, the department has told the district it must notify the two students that their diplomas are invalid and must record the information in the students' permanent files.
Court To Decide W.Va. Governor's Role in Lawsuit
A West Virginia advocacy group for the handicapped has gone back to court in an attempt to force Gov. John D. Rockefeller 4th to allocate some $2.7 million next year for educational programs in state-operated facilities.
The Appalachian Research and Defense Fund has asked U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver to include Governor Rockefeller as a defendant in the class-action suit that originally was filed in 1978.
The organization also asked the court to find the State Superintendent Roy Truby in contempt for failing to comply with the terms of a 1981 consent decree, which required the state department of education to provide educational services to handicapped residents of state institutions.
During last month's hearing on the group's petition, the judge declined to act immediately on either request, but said he would announce his decision later this month.
Vermont To Fund State-Aid Payments Through Bank Loan
Vermont officials have negotiated a $40-million loan through a Boston bank to meet the first of two state-aid payments to school districts due this month.
Officials said the bank loan was required because of a $30-million deficit left over from the last fiscal year. In previous years, the state has sold public bonds as a stopgap measure until income taxes are collected in April, according to one state official.
But this time the state treasurer, Emory A. Hubbard, decided not to sell the bonds because it would have required the disclosure of the state's budget deficit, and that could have lowered credit and bond ratings for the state, a spokesman in the treasurer's office said. A lower credit rating would have forced the state to pay higher interest, he noted.
The state legislature will consider means of reducing the budget deficit when it convenes in January.
Kansas Legislature To Seek Reduction In Excess Cost Aid
A special committee of the Kansas legislature has voted to reduce the amount that school districts are reimbursed for the "excess cost" of educating special-education students.
The committee is now drafting a report recommending that the state legislature pay 95 percent of the excess cost of educating handicapped students and make school districts responsible for the remaining 5 percent. The matter will be considered by the legislature in January.
Dale M. Dennis, assistant com-missioner for financial services, said the state currently pays 100 percent of such local expenses. But he said state revenues have been low during the past year, prompting state officials to cut costs.
The special-education budget this year was $132 million, up from about $119 million the previous year, according to Mr. Dennis. The increase in special-education costs, he explained, is due to a state mandate requiring programs for gifted students and handicapped children of preschool age.
N.J. Residents Differ on Quality Of State Schools
The extent to which New Jersey residents are satisfied with the state's public-school system depends in large part on what segment of society they come from, a recent statewide survey indicates.
The telephone poll of 804 people by the Newark Star Ledger and the Eagleton Institute of Rutgers University found that New Jerseyans generally give schools in the state and in their own districts high marks.
Forty-eight percent of the respondents said schools were excellent or good, and 32 percent said they were fair; only 12 percent said poor. Fifty percent said enough money was spent on education.
Differences emerged when respondents were classified by race. Fifty-five percent of all whites said enough money was spent on education, while only 25 percent of all blacks and Hispanics found education funding sufficient.
The newspaper reported that many respondents gave unsolicited views on the problems of schools. Drug abuse and discipline were listed by those respondents as public education's most serious problems, the newspaper said.
The poll was conducted during the latter part of October.
Survey Finds Pupils in North Carolina Do Little Homework
Fewer than 25 percent of the 6th and 9th graders in North Carolina's public schools spend as much as five hours a week on assigned homework, according to a study conducted by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
But students in those grades who devote a lot of time to homework tend to score higher on achievement tests, according to the study, which was submitted to the State Board of Education on Nov. 2.
The statewide report was based on a survey of more than 87,000 6th graders and more than 83,700 9th graders who took the California Achievement Test in the spring of 1982 and the spring of 1983.
Those students were questioned about the amount of time they spent on homework, and their answers were compared with their cat scores.
About a third of all the students said they did one to three hours of assigned homework a week, the report showed.
An additional 25 percent did three to five hours of assigned homework a week.
The study found that almost 2 percent of 6th graders and almost 3 percent of 9th graders said they did none of their assigned homework.
Most of the 6th graders--59.1 percent--and most of the 9th graders, 57.5 percent, said they completed one to five hours of assigned homework a week.
Most students in each grade--62.0 percent of 6th graders and 67.6 percent of 9th graders--said they did less than an hour of assigned homework a week.
On hearing the results of the study, C.D. Spangler Jr. of Charlotte, chairman of the state board of education, told the board, "The average child in that age group watches 24 hours of television a week."