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A new union representing 10,000 Los Angeles teacher assistants, about 70 percent of whom are bilingual, has tentatively agreed to its first labor contract with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The agreement between the district and Local 99 of the Service Employees International, an affiliate of the a.f.l.-c.i.o., was reached Jan. 17 following more than a month of rolling strikes by union members. (See Education Week, Dec. 12, 1990.)

Still subject to ratification by union members and the school board, the agree off, and medical benefits.

Not included in the pact is a district demand that all assistants take at least 15 college credits a year. The new contract provides one track for currently employed teaching assistants who wish to obtain a teaching degree and another for assistants who do not. Aides hired in the future would be required to be on the degree track, earning 12 credit hours a year.

The strike was the nation's first on behalf of bilingual teaching assistants, who often serve as a link between teachers and the rapidly growing number of language-minority students.

The Boston School Committee has approved a sweeping plan for restructuring the city's high schools. (See Education Week, Jan. 9, 1991.)

The plan, which was drawn up in response to pressure from the state education department, calls for the elimination of the traditional high-school grade structure. Instead, students would move through a series of phases designed to give them the time and flexibility to master competencies set by the school system.

The report envisions that the changes, which would require a new student-assessment system, would begin next school year. By the 1995-96 school year, officials said, the entire plan is expected to be in effect.

The Peace Corps and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs have signed a five- year agreement under which returned Peace Corps volunteers will teach in b.i.a. schools.5

The arrangement was made under the Corps' new Fellows/u.s.a. program, which allows former volunteers to teach in understaffed public schools across the country while they study for master's degrees at about a dozen participating colleges and universities. (See Education Week, Jan. 23, 1991.)

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B.i.a. officials expressed hope that the new program will help them overcome problems recruiting teachers for their schools, which are often in remote locations on reservations.

A federal district judge has denied a request to halt the forced merger of an Iowa school district that was taken over by the state last fall.

Judge Dan Morrison also refused to return control of the Hedrick district to its school board, four of whose five members resigned earlier this month.

The judge held that the question of whether to issue a stay of the state's order was moot since there was no school board schools.

The state board of education seized control of the district's operations last November for failure to meet academic standards. It marked the first time the state had invoked a 1987 educational-standards law passed by the legislature. (See Education Week, Nov. 28, 1990.)

The board also ordered the district to close its one, 200-student school by the end of the year and to merge with one of four neighborhing districts.

The fomer board members have filed suit against the state to end the takeover and prevent the district's forced merger.

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