Magnet high schools that draw students aspiring to be teachers have formed their own association--the Teacher Education Magnet School Corps--under the auspices of the Association of Teacher Educators.
Currently, the corps consists of educators from nine magnet schools in Houston, Los Angeles, Washington, Atlanta, New York, Pittsburgh, Miami, Milwaukee, and Columbus, Ohio.
Membership is open to faculty members in any teacher-education magnet school that offers specialized education coursework in conjunction with a college-preparatory program.
Although the corps has a number of objectives, such as minority and male recruitment, corps officials say its main thrust is to generate overall interest in and respect for the profession.
In an attempt to help increase the supply of black teachers, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will offer a pilot program intended to prepare teacher candidates for the National Teacher Examination. The program, to be held at Morgan State University in Baltimore beginning this month, will offer three hours of classes twice a week for eight weeks.
"The importance of this program is underscored by the fact that African-Americans tend to do less well on the N.T.E. than others," Beverly P. Cole, the N.A.A.C.P.'s education director, said in announcing the pilot. "This is reflected in the decreasing supply of black teachers at a time that minority student enrollment is increasing."
An analysis projects the failure rate for blacks taking the NTE at from 33 percent to 88 percent among the 10 states studied, according to the N.A.A.C.P.
"While we have some questions about the correlation between a teacher-competency test and effective teaching," Ms. Cole said, "we recognize that such tests are here to stay, and we must act accordingly."
The Bank Street College of Education has received a $500,000 grant from the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund to expand its scholarship program for graduate students who are members of minority groups. The award comes on the heels of a $250,000 grant the fund made to the college last year.
The $750,000 scholarship fund will be used to provide 80 percent tuition reimbursement to students chosen from among per-diem teachers and others within the New York City public-school system.
In return, the students will be expected to teach in the city for at least three years after graduating.
Eighty percent of the students in the city's public schools are members of minority groups, while 19 percent of the teachers are black, and 9 percent are Hispanic, according to Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez.
Meanwhile, Missouri this fall joins the list of states requiring prospective teachers to take the NTE in order to receive their teaching certificate.
The neophytes, however, will not have to worry about passing the examination until next fall, when the state will have collected enough data to establish a passing score.
Teacher candidates also will be required to go through an "exit assessment" that includes interviews and an evaluation of their student-teaching performance.
With the addition of Missouri, 33 states use the N.T.E. as a component of teacher licensure. The NTE, which is developed and administered by the Educational Testing Service of Princeton, N.J., is currently being redesigned.
A poll commissioned by the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers shows that the city's teachers support making fundamental changes in the way schools are organized, although they have identified increasing salaries as their top priority for union leaders in upcoming contract negotiations.
Some of the clearest signals sent by teachers concerned student testing. Almost 90 percent of the 1,300 Cincinnati teachers who responded to the survey "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that standardized tests take up too much time and distort what is taught.
The teachers overwhelmingly support developing broader assessment tools requiring students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.
They also favored establishing school-based management councils in the schools to give teachers a greater voice in school policies, with 63 percent of those responding to the poll agreeing that it is "very important" for parents to be represented on the councils.
Nearly three-quarters of the teachers also said they thought it was very important that teachers should make up 50 percent of the councils' membership.
The survey found, however, that teachers' support for the councils was contingent on the need to negotiate the process and set the ground rules in the union's contract.
The Georgia Association of Educators plans to go to court to challenge a new state law requiring school boards to test all new school-system employees for drug use.
The law, which took effect July 1, was condemned by the GAE as being "ill-conceived" and an unwarranted governmental intrusion into employees' private lives.
--KD & AB