District News Briefs
A Minnesota school-district superintendent and his family have been the targets of two shootings and a pipe bomb over the past year, but baffled police have no suspects or discovered any possible motive for the incidents.
None of the attacks resulted in injury to Richard Guevremont or his wife and three children, according to Curt Utpadel, chief investigator for the Dodge County sheriff's department. Mr. Guevremont is superintendent of the Hayfield district, near tiny Oslo, Minn.
Most recently, on Oct. 5, someone shot at the Guevremont home with a rifle. Five months earlier, a pipe bomb was discovered in a family car.
The first incident was last December, when someone firing at close range shot into an upstairs bedroom, narrowly missing one of the Guevremont daughters.
Details of the crimes--which police are not certain are related--had not been released earlier at the request of the Guevremont family, but police now hope to crack the case by enlisting public help, Mr. Utpadel said.
A recent poll of 700 members of local school councils in Chicago found that 74 percent of the members believe their schools are operating better now than they were a year ago, when the councils were installed to run the city's 542 schools.
The poll was commissioned by Leadership for Quality Education, one of the groups supporting school reform in the city. It found that the strongest supporters of school reform are African-American parents, 85 percent of whom cited improvements in their schools.
Teachers who serve on the councils showed the greatest improvement in attitude, with 62 percent reporting that their schools are operating better than they were before the reforms.
A similar poll conducted in January found that just 31 percent of teachers believed the reforms had helped their schools.
A Massachusetts school-district committee has approved a "minimum physical-education option" that permits students to read pamphlets on exercise instead of attending gym class.
The elective plan, which is slated to begin next school year, would permit junior- and senior-high-school students in the Pittsfield district to read assigned health-related pamphlets. Students would not be required to attend class or take any tests under the program.
"[The proposal] had to to with class time, not money or jobs," says George Desnoyers, a district committee member who submitted the plan.
Mr. Desnoyers described the current physical-education plan as very repetitive, with "no different expectations for 9th graders than for 12th graders."
According to a legal representative of the state department of education, the plan violates state laws on physical-education requirements, which mandate actual physical movement.
The department plans further discussions with the school committee in hopes of bringing the provisions into compliance with the law.
A group of female softball players has sued the Orange County, Fla., school board over its refusal to switch from slow-pitch to fast-pitch softball in its high-school athletic programs.
The high-school softball players seek the change because Florida colleges play fast-pitch softball, and, according to Sam A. Mackie, the lawyer representing the group, the lack of the opportunity to play the sport in high school reduces their chances of gaining college athletic scholarships.
The group filed suit Oct. 2 in state circuit court after the school board refused the students' request to make the change, which was opposed by high-school principals. The lawsuit cites a state law that requires schools to make their interscholastic sports conform to sports offered at the university level.
Eight girls are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which seeks an order mandating the switch. Mr. Mackie said that approximately 150 girls in Orlando high schools are interested in fast-pitch softball.
The school board has indicated in court documents that it will fight the lawsuit.
The National Science Foundation has awarded $3.7 million to a Chicago-area consortium of community organizations, public schools, and universities in an effort to bolster minority representation in the science and engineering professions.
Participating in the Midwest Comprehensive Regional Center for Minorities, based at Loyola University at Chicago, are the Chicago Urban League, the Argonne National Laboratory, the Chicago public schools, five universities, a Latino community organization, and the Washington-based Institute for Illinois.
The NSF-funded project interlocks 15 programs for black and Latino students to promote interest and academic success in science and mathematics. Participants will range from kindergartners to college students.
Among other programs, the Urban League will develop math and science learning centers at 10 black churches, based on curricula developed by the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Public-school teachers will receive computer-science instruction from Loyola. The Argonne Laboratory will provide science programs at participating churches. And Northwestern University will track student progress through a newly created Center for Talent Development.
The superintendent of the Memphis, Tenn., City Schools unexpectedly announced his retirement last week, asserting that his resignation was the only way to resolve ongoing disputes with city and county government leaders who, he said, had stymied school-funding increases.
Willie W. Herenton, who in 1979 became the superintendent of Tennessee's largest school system after beginning in 1963 as a teacher, said his departure at the end of the school year should trigger renewed support for the city's schools.
"The public school system is greater than any single individual," Mr. Herenton said, "and its important mission deserves the community's full and undivided support."
Memphis education officials said the timing of Mr. Herenton's announcement may have been designed to improve the chances of a ballot measure before the voters this week calling for a temporary half-cent sales tax increase earmarked for education funding.
"Memphis is on the national map for education programs," said Mattie L. Anderson, president of the Memphis Education Association. "It is going to be hard to replace him."