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Remembering 1989: The Year in Education

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January

President-elect George Bush promises to make parental-choice programs in the schools a key goal of his Administration.

A lone gunman, later identified as Patrick Edward Purdy, invades a Stockton, Calif., elementary school, killing 5 students and wounding 29 students and a teacher before commiting suicide. Most of the victims are the children of Indochinese refugees.

Striking a blow against "set aside" policies, the U.S. Supreme Court limits the ability of school districts and state and local governments to reserve percentages of their construction contracts for minority-owned firms.


February

The majority of homeless children in the United States do not attend school and lack access to the education services to which they are entitled, a report by the General Accounting Office finds.

In his proposed revisions to the 1990 budget submitted by President Reagan, President Bush asks the Congress for an additional $441 million for the Education Department, most of it earmarked for a series of new initiatives that include programs for "merit schools," alternative certification for teachers, and magnet schools.

The Montana Supreme Court unanimously overturns that state's school-finance system.

For the first time, a federal court upholds a bilingual-education program--that of the Berkeley, Calif., school district--that does not rely heavily on native-language instruction by certified bilingual teachers.


March

Seeking to end 15 years of court-ordered racial busing, the Boston school committee approves a new plan--criticized by black members of the panel--to allow parents to exercise "controlled choice" of schools within their geographic area.

Joining a growing wave of support for parental choice in the legislatures, lawmakers in Iowa and Arkansas approve measures allowing children to be enrolled in virtually any school district in the state.

After receiving heavy criticism from early-childhood educators nationwide, the Georgia board of education agrees to eliminate the use of pen-and-pencil tests of kindergartners' readiness for 1st grade.

Federal officials urge school districts not to react to reports of the potential health threat posed by Alar, a chemical used by apple growers, by removing that fruit from their school-lunch menus.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that 21 percent of the nation's schools failed to meet an October 1988 deadline for submitting a management plan for controlling school asbestos or requesting a deferral.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that schools retire the 77,000 school buses--22 percent of the total in use--that were built before 1977, when federal safety standards were tightened.

A team of testing experts concludes that John Jacob Cannell, a prominent critic of standardized tests, was "clearly right" when he asserted that most students in all states scored above average on achievement tests.


April

A coalition of special-education organizations warns in a report that serious shortages of special-education personnel constitute a "national emergency" that could jeopardize the education of handicapped children.

Calling for the "partial deregulation of education," President Bush indicates support for a plan to grant certain school districts relief from restrictions on federal aid if they agree to be held accountable for their results.

A group of Chicago principals files suit against a new state law giving parents unprecedented power to influence school governance--in particular, a provision giving parent-led councils at each school power over the hiring of principals.

Citing findings that one classroom in five may have elevated levels of radon, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urges schools to test for, and take steps to control, the cancer-causing gas.

A national survey finds that a quarter of all school buildings are overcrowded, obsolete, or in need of major repairs, and estimates that $125 billion in new spending on construction and renovation is needed.

The U.S. Supreme Court effectively upholds a court-ordered school-desegregation plan for Kansas City, Mo., that requires a wide range of school and capital improvements, including the creation of the nation's most extensive magnet-school program.


May

Angered by failure to reach a contract settlement after months of increasingly bitter negotiations with the school board, Los Angeles teachers stage an 11-day strike.

The nation's educational performance is "stagnant," Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos says in releasing his department's annual "wall chart" of state indicators.

A coalition of major national groups that represent school administrators calls for a total overhaul of how members of their profession are recruited, trained, and certified.

In a case with national implications, a federal appeals court rules that public schools must educate all handicapped children, regardless of how little they might benefit from such services. By declining to review the ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court later effectively upholds the decision.

Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos launches a "graduated" attack on the problem of federal student-loan defaults by promising to crack down on schools where a majority of students fail to repay their loans.


June

In a move of unprecedented scope, the Kentucky Supreme Court strikes down the state's entire structure of school governance and finance and orders the legislature to "re-create" the precollegiate-education system.

The South Carolina legislature approves a measure giving an unprecedented degree of regulatory relief to about one-quarter of the state's public schools.

Thomas K. Gilhool, Pennsylvania's schools chief, resigns in the face of a public furor over changes in the state's system of paying for special-education programs.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts outlines a compromise national youth-service bill under which volunteer programs would be closely linked to the schools.

The Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development calls for major changes in the way the middle-school grades are managed, taught, and supported.

The U.S. Supreme Court rules that states are immune from lawsuits seeking damages for alleged violations of the federal special-education law.


July

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards releases its guidelines for developing assessments that would enable teachers to become certified, and startles some by saying an education-school degree would not be required.

The Oklahoma City Public Schools must abandon a neighborhood-school policy and restore a 1972 desegregation plan that includes mandatory busing for elementary students, a federal appeals court rules.

Delegates at the National Education Association's annual convention vote overwhelmingly to oppose all state or federally mandated parental-choice programs.


August

Spending on education during the 1989-90 school year will rise by 6.8 percent to a record $353 billion, the U.S. Department of Education predicts.

An Illinois state judge rules against principals and administrators seeking to block the landmark Chicago school-reform law.

The annual Gallup Poll on education finds Americans ready for a national curriculum and national achievement standards.

A federal district court strikes down a Texas school district's policy of requiring students involved in extracurricular activities to submit to drug tests.

California's public schools receive a record-high 12.5 percent funding increase in the first state budget passed since voters approved Proposition 98, a constitutional amendment governing education spending.


September

Detroit voters approve bond issues to pay off the district's huge debt and to fund extensive reforms for the troubled school system.

President Bush unveils a national strategy for fighting drugs that will require schools to adopt tough anti-drug policies or forfeit federal funds.

West Virginia voters overwhelmingly reject Gov. Gaston Caperton's referendum to abolish an independent state board of education and school superintendent.

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education votes not to support the work of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Hurricane Hugo crashes into the Carolina coast, closing schools and causing tens of millions of dollars in damages to hundreds of schools.

President Bush and the nation's governors meet in Charlottesville, Va., in a much-publicized "education summit" at which they agree to establish national performance goals.


October

The Texas Supreme Court declares the state's method of funding public education unconstitutional.

The New Jersey Board of Education authorizes a full state takeover of the Jersey City schools.

States have made "only modest" progress in meeting the goals set forth in the landmark 1983 report A Nation at Risk, a new study says.

In Chicago, 285,000 parents, teachers, and community residents turned out to elect the city's first local school councils.

San Francisco's two rival teachers' unions end 20 years of acrimonious relations by signing a merger agreement said to be the first of its kind in the nation.

Gov. Ray Mabus of Mississippi unveils a sweeping, $500-million education-reform package to be funded in part by the creation of a state lottery.


November

An initiative to curb the busing of schoolchildren in Seattle wins by a narrow margin, while voters in Michigan and Washington overwhelmingly reject ballot proposals to raise taxes for education.

Business groups work to promote a plan to create a system to assess high-school graduates' skills and make the results available to potential employers.

A Senate panel proposes the gradual reduction of federal oversight for Indian programs and the rechanneling of billions of dollars in aid--including education funds--directly to tribal governments.

The United Nations General Assembly adopts an international pact that seeks to guarantee specific rights--including the right to an education--to children.

The Congress approves a measure that would require schools to have anti-drug programs in place as a condition for receiving federal funds.

The California Board of Education adopts a science curriculum framework that includes evolution as a key theme of instruction.

A school district must supply a sign-language interpreter for deaf parents who want to attend school conferences on their children's academic progress, a federal judge in White Plains, N.Y., rules.

In a break from the Reagan Administration stand, the head of the Education Department's office for civil rights acknowledges that the agency should have done more to enforce anti-discrimination laws.

Congressional leaders postpone action on child-care legislation until 1990, creating concern among child-care advocates that the bill will die.


December

Women high-school teachers nationwide earn an average of $2,300 to $3,300 less than their male counterparts, a study by a University of Michigan researcher concludes.

The Washington State board of education adopts a tough new code of professional conduct setting moral and ethical standards for all certified school personnel.

President Bush announces the formation of a high-level task force to suggest goals and strategies for improving the educational attainment of Hispanics.

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