Relations between teachers and principals in New York City, which are never easy, became more strained recently when leaders of the United Federation of Teachers, the New York City affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, asked the organization's 70,000 members to evaluate the performance of their school principals to determine "whether the principal fosters or impedes a collegial relationship with the faculty."
The city's teachers were to fill out a survey that appeared in the April issue of United Action, the union's monthly newsletter. The survey instructs teachers to rate their principals in a number of areas, such as instructional leadership, support to faculty, and use of financial resources to improve instruction.
According to Susan Glass, a spokesman for the uft, teachers have responded well to the evaluations, which will be used to "identify problem areas" and to promote better relationships. The results will not be publicly disclosed.
Albert Shanker, president of the uft and the American Federation of Teachers, wrote in the April newsletter that he hoped the Council of Supervisors and Administrators, the New York City affiliate of the American Federation of School Administrators/afl-cio, "will regard this effort as a step in the right direction."
But Ted Elsberg, president of the administrators' local, wrote in a letter to Mr. Shanker last month that "the evaluation can only be interpreted as a slap in the face to the 4,000 supervisors and administrators in the New York City system who, as you well know, do a fine job under difficult circumstances."
"The use of this evaluation survey is divisive and serves no constructive educational purpose," Mr. Elsberg added.
The director of the Washington-based National Council for Better Education, a self-described "anti-nea" organization claiming 4,000 individual members, last week invited the National Education Association to sue for assertions made in her recently published book, nea: Propaganda Front of the Radical Left.
In a letter to Don Cameron, executive director of the nea, Sally Reed called on the association, and "any team of lawyers you care to assemble, to convince a jury of our peers that the nea union is not all that I have said--and even worse."
Before delivering her letter to Mr. Cameron, Ms. Reed said, she went before a notary public and swore under oath that all the charges in her book are "truthful and accurate."
The letter, Ms. Reed said, was prompted by a Feb. 20 debate she participated in with Mr. Cameron at the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington. According to Ms. Reed, Mr. Cameron repeatedly referred to her as a "liar" during the debate and called her book "libelous."
Nancy Kochuk, a spokesman for the nea, said last week that Mr. Cameron will not respond to Ms. Reed's challenge.
Ms. Reed said the challenge to sue is "just the beginning" of an all-out effort to draw nationwide attention to the "devastating discrepancy between what the nation's educators say they need and what the union hierarchy says it wants."
nea members will vote this summer on the creation of "a substitute-teacher membership class for teachers who are employed on a day-to-day basis," according to proposed amendments released this month by the organization's committee on constitution, bylaws, and rules.
If the amendment is approved by a majority vote this summer at the nea's annual meeting, substitute teachers will have a choice of joining the nea as substitutes, with annual dues of $10, or of becoming regular members. The special class of substitutes would not have voting rights but would be eligible for liability insurance.
The intent is to encourage substitutes to join the nea, said Larry Koenk, treasurer of the Minnesota Education Association, who wrote the proposal.
To help ease the shortage of mathematics and science teachers facing American schools, Teachers College at Columbia University is launching a fellowship program designed to attract 50 liberal-arts students each year into teaching.
According to Bruce R. Vogeli, professor of mathematical education at Teachers College, the program is designed for students who attend liberal-arts colleges that offer mathematics and science degrees but do not offer education courses.
Participants will receive $1,800 in tuition assistance and a chance for early admission to graduate study at Teachers College. They will attend Teachers College in New York City during the Christmas break of their senior year for intensive instruction and return the following summer to complete the 18 graduate credits needed for certification.
For an application, college juniors and seniors should write to Mr. Vogeli at Teachers College, 525 West 120th St., New York, N.Y., 10027.
The National Education Association of New Mexico has announced a new inservice program to teach public-school employees how to identify child abuse and neglect.
"School employees see children daily and are often the only adults in a position to help an abused child," said Jude Mason, president of the state affiliate.
While all 50 states have laws requiring educators to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect, research indicates that school employees are reluctant to report suspected abuse, Ms. Mason said.
The Pomona Unified School district in California is coordinating a summer trip to Japan that will provide an unusual opportunity for American educators to compare their educational approaches with those of Japan. More information is available from Ginger Friedman at the Pomona Unified School District, Pomona, Calif. 91766; (714) 623-5251, ext. 264.--cc