News in Brief A Washington Roundup
Coach's Title IX Suit Rebuffed by Federal Court
A coach who alleged school district retaliation for his complaints about unequal treatment of his girls' high school basketball team had no right to sue under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal appeals court has ruled.
Roderick Jackson, who coached at Ensley High School in the 37,800- student Birmingham, Ala., district, contends he was relieved of his coaching duties last year after he complained that his team got worse treatment than the boys' basketball squad.
He sued under Title IX, which bars discrimination based on sex in federally financed educational programs. A Department of Education regulation interprets the statute as prohibiting retaliation against "any individual" for making a complaint related to sex discrimination.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, ruled unanimously on Oct. 21 that Congress did not create a private right to sue under Title IX based on retaliation.
Teacher Education Rules Seen as Ineffective
Anybody got an extra batch of secret decoder rings left over from Halloween?
Lawmakers will need them when they read state reports reviewing the attributes of the nation's 1,300 teacher-preparation programs, a study done by the General Accounting Office suggests.
The 1998 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act set up an accountability system intended to shine light on training programs. But it evoked such different types of responses from states that Congress won't be able to do an assessment of their health after all, a GAO official told Congress in testimony about the report last month. The report cards include statistics from the 1999-2000 school year on the number of prospective teachers at specific institutions who passed basic licensing exams, among other information.
Many legislators, state officials, and deans of education schools have been critical of the HEA provisions since their inception and say they don't work as envisioned. Many are banking on changes in the law's next reauthorization, scheduled for next year.
Voc. Ed. Interest Steady, Congressional Study Says
Interest in vocational education remains steady in U.S. high schools, according to a study commissioned by Congress. However, the study says, career-oriented courses face increasing pressure from academic reforms that put more focus on standards, graduation exams, and other testing.
However, Jim Bradshaw, a Department of Education spokesman, said the agency "rejects [the] idea" that testing somehow hurts vocational education.
The National Assessment of Vocational Education report found that students earned an average of 4 credits per year in career-related courses in 1998, out of 25.2 total course credits. That number was the same as it was four years earlier, though it had fallen from 1982, when students took an average of 4.7 vocational credits.
Students still took, on average, more vocational courses than courses in social studies, mathematics, and science.
An independent panel of school administrators, researchers, business and labor leaders, and others conducted the study. They were asked by Congress in 1998 to advise the Department of Education on the status of vocational education programs nationwide.
The report is an interim study; the full document is expected to be finished before Congress begins debate on the reauthorization of the 1998 Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act next year.
Private-Manager Studies Inconclusive, GAO Finds
A General Accounting Office report says that there is not enough information to prove whether three for-profit education companies managing some schools in the District of Columbia helped students learn more than their counterparts in other public schools.
Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., requested the study, which looked at schools run by Mosaica Education, Chancellor Beacon Academies, and Edison Schools Inc. Public schools often turn to private management for the "potential to increase student achievement," the report by the congressional investigative agency says.
The report's authors attempted to analyze earlier studies and student test scores for the schools they examined. But of the five studies that the GAO staff reviewed, only one was "rigorous enough to allow confidence in the findings about the program's effectiveness in that school," they write. That study, released last month, found no difference in achievement between students in the company's program and other students, the report says.
The GAO recommends further evaluation of public schools managed by private companies.
—Michelle R. Davis
Vol. 22, Issue 10, Page 27