National News Roundup
Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution are being encouraged to protest the use of the "new nuclear curricula," which Phyllis Schlafly, who is a DAR leader, says "thrusts an adult problem on the children."
A resolution recently passed by more than 2,000 voting delegates at the DAR's 93rd Continental Congress encourages members to "investigate and monitor local-school curricula, protest the use of the 'new nuclear curricula' in schools, and urge the elimination of politically motivated, anti-American material from the classroom."
Ms. Schlafly, the national chairman of national defense for the DAR, said last week that none of the nuclear-war courses in use in the public schools are "good history or good science."
"They are courses," Ms. Schlafly said, "that promote despair and depression. They are courses that have an overt psychological effect on the student, and they contain political propaganda in favor of pacifism and against a strong national defense."
"That's silliness," responded Lyle Hamilton, manager of public-relations services for the National Education Association, which has published a curriculum-related booklet on nuclear war. "It reminds me a little of the people who don't want to show war pictures on television or in the newspapers because [the pictures] are too ugly. They just want to have a big war and have it over with, but don't show the ugly part because it might just get the people aroused and get them thinking. And if you get them thinking, they just might not want war."
Ms. Schlafly mentioned a booklet called "Choices" as one of five "new nuclear curricula" in use in the schools. She credited the NEA with producing it.
But Mr. Hamilton said "Choices," which has been in use for about a year, is merely a "resource booklet" published by the NEA and produced by the Union for Concerned Scientists.
A new study of teacher-incentive plans has concluded that the successful implementation of such plans, including both monetary and non-monetary factors, "is a complex and difficult undertaking."
Conducted by the Urban Institute for the National Institute of Education and scheduled to be released late last week, the survey of past research and school-system practices found that for incentive plans to be successful, they must have the cooperation of teachers, provide "significant" awards of $1,000 a year or more, and use a "reasonably fair and objective" system of evaluating teachers.
"If any one element is done poorly or breaks down," the study concludes, "the whole process can sour."
The report's authors, Harry P. Hatry and John M. Greiner, studied two types of incentive plans: merit pay, in which at least part of a teacher's pay is linked to his or her performance; and non-monetary "performance-by-objective" plans that set targets for teachers at the beginning of the school year against which they are evaluated later in the year.
Other characteristics of successful incentive plans outlined in the study include: allowance of ample time for the design and implementation of a plan; regular evaluation of the plan; the ability of teachers to select from a number of different types of rewards, including non-monetary ones; and making the plan voluntary.
The NIE was also scheduled to announce last week that it is distributing an extensive survey to 17,000 school administrators and teachers in a scientifically selected sample of 500 school systems as part of an effort to identify the conditions in schools that most affect teaching.
Preliminary results of the survey are expected to be available early next year, according to the agency, which is also sponsoring surveys of schools' community-service programs, vocational education, and guidance and counseling programs.
A federal judge in California has awarded the Educational Testing Service $1.4 million in damages from a Taiwan-based school that provides coaching on how to take ETS-administered tests.
The testing service sued the school following the 1981 theft of some of its examinations.
U.S. District Judge William W. Schwarzer of California's Northern District granted the judgment against Merica Association, which operates two language and test coaching schools in Taipei.
In October 1981, ETS proctors at a test center in San Francisco noticed that two students were stealing pages from their Graduate Record Examination test booklets. The students, Che-tang Wang and Jean Chen, were arrested. Jean Seto, the secretary for Merica Association in the U.S., was also arrested when police found eight cartons of test-preparation publications containing illegally copied materials in her home, according to Russell Martin, an associate general counsel with the testing agency.
The most widely copied examination found in Ms. Seto's possession was the Test of English as a Foreign Language but there were also copies of the Graduate Record Examination and the Graduate Management Admission Test, Mr. Martin said.
The $1.4-million award in Educational Testing Service v. Merica is the highest ever obtained by ETS for a copyright violation, according to Mr. Martin. He said the award would cover the cost of labor involved in determining what materials had been disclosed and replacing test questions ($990,000), as well as legal fees and punitive damages ($479,000).
Mr. Martin warned that the agency will continue to sue coaching schools and publishing houses when its copyrights are infringed.
"We have an obligation both to the test-takers and the institutions that use those tests to assure that no candidate has an unfair advantage," Mr. Martin said.
The National Committee for Citizens in Education, which maintains a toll-free number for parents seeking information, reported recently that the largest category of calls to the hotline concerned discipline problems in the schools.
Since mid-February 1983, the organization has handled more than 3,800 telephone calls from parents of school-age children. Of that total, about 16 percent were requesting information pertaining to parent and student rights related to school suspensions, expulsions, or corporal punishment, according to Nancy Berla, a case worker for the organization, which is based in Columbia, Md.
The second largest number of calls, according to Ms. Berla, were from parents of handicapped children seeking guidance on their rights related to services, testing, and placement of their children in special-education classes. About 14 percent of the calls were in this category, she said.
Ms. Berla said about 9 percent of the calls concerned the promotion or retention of students and student-teacher conflicts; and about 7 percent involved family rights to privacy and the rights of noncustodial parents.
Ms. Berla said that about 7 percent of the calls were from parents seeking information on how to organize their own advocacy group and the remaining calls concerned school dress codes and search-and-seizure issues. About 97 percent of the calls were from parents.
Ms. Berla said the organization plans to continue operating its toll-free number (800-network) and is in the process of preparing a list of parent groups for support and assistance in each state.