District News Roundup
A Los Angeles Unified School District policy requiring students to maintain a C average in all classes in order to participate in outside activities has improved grades, district statistics suggest.
The number of students ineligible to participate in extracurricular activities under the rule declined by about 4 percent in the 1983-84 school year. The board of education instituted the policy in the spring of 1983 for the 4th through 12th grades.
The new figures show that districtwide ineligibility fell during the year from 15.4 percent after the first 10 weeks of the 1983 fall semester to 11 percent after the 1984 spring semester. At the high-school level, the percentage declined from 19.4 percent to 16.2 percent for the same time period.
Within the ineligible group, the number of students who were denied participation because they failed a class, even though they maintained a C average or higher, declined during the year from 5.3 percent to 2.9 percent districtwide, and from 7.7 percent to 5.0 percent for high-school students.
"I would attribute the drop to students and parents realizing that we meant what we said when we put the policy into effect," said Sheldon Erlich, public-information officer for the district. "Academics are a top3priority. This signifies to us that kids are getting serious about their study habits."
County education officials in New Jersey this month asked school districts to check their science laboratories for radioactive materials after low-level radioactive rocks and isotopes were discovered in schools in six Monmouth County school districts.
A maintenance man for the Monmouth County schools first discovered two small radioactive chips in a warehouse used by the Howell Elementary School in Howell Township. District officials reported the finding to Monmouth County Superintendent Milton G. Hughes, who sent a notice to all districts in the county to investigate for radioactive materials.
All of the materials found emit relatively low levels of radiation and do not pose a danger to students, Mr. Hughes said. The materials were all wrapped or enclosed in lead to protect the students and the environment.
Mr. Hughes added, however, that officials were concerned about how to dispose of the materials. And they are worried, he said, that some of the materials--which are used in physics classes and to test geiger counters--might be improperly stored or placed in unprotected areas of the schools.
All 21 of New Jersey's county school superintendents are now contacting their districts to check for the materials.
Teachers in Cobb County, Ga., public schools have received from school officials a list of "taboo" topics--including abortion, homosexuality, and Communism--and in-structions to prohibit or restrict classroom discussion on those subjects.
Thomas Tocco, superintendent of the school system, said the action was prompted by a complaint from a parent who argued that "secular humanism," in the guise of "values clarification," was being taught in her daughter's drug-abuse-prevention program.
Under the new guidelines, any discussion of homosexuality or of abortion as a means of birth control is prohibited. Discussion of evolution; abortion as a social, political, or governmental issue; Communism; religion; and witchcraft and the supernatural is allowed, but only in conjunction with instructional materials already approved by the curriculum department.
Teachers would need permission from district officials before introducing material not previously approved, Mr. Tocco said.
The guidelines are an attempt to fend off "unnecessary" controversy, he said, adding that school officials preferred to clarify their position on discussing sensitive topics, rather than to "respond in a knee-jerk fashion every time someone complains."