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Published in Print: December 11, 2002, as News in Brief: A National Roundup

News in Brief: A National Roundup

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Teaching Standards Board Names New President

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards last week named Joseph Aguerrebere Jr. as its new president.

Mr. Aguerrebere is the deputy director in charge of education grants at the Ford Foundation, where he has worked since 1994. He also has served as a professor of educational administration at California State University- Dominguez Hills and in several positions in precollegiate education in California.

He will replace Betty Castor, who stepped down to become a consultant.

The national board, a privately organized group based in Arlington, Va., offers teachers the opportunity to become nationally certified through a rigorous battery of assessments. It was founded in 1987 and has certified 23,930 teachers nationwide.

—Ann Bradley


San Diego Plans Changes In Alvarado's Role

Anthony J. Alvarado, a lead actor in San Diego's nationally watched school improvement efforts, appears headed for a supporting role in the district.

Next month, Superintendent Alan D. Bersin plans to recommend changes in the terms of Mr. Alvarado's contract that would give him fewer responsibilities. As the district's chancellor of instruction since 1998, Mr. Alvarado has led an overhaul of instructional practices.

Mr. Bersin used a districtwide principals' meeting last week to announce that Mr. Alvarado's job likely would soon change. District spokesman Steven Baratte said Mr. Alvarado's future role had yet to be determined, but said he might serve as a consultant or adviser to the district. The school board must approve any changes in the chancellor's contract.

Along with the superintendent, Mr. Alvarado has drawn complaints that his policies put undue stress on staff members, and that local teachers have not been adequately included in his planning. Mr. Baratte, however, cautioned against reading any change in Mr. Alvarado's status as an indication he has fallen out of favor with the superintendent. ("Teachers Seek School Board Overhaul," Oct. 30, 2002.)

—Jeff Archer

FDA Approves New Drug To Treat Attention Problems

The first medicine to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that is not a stimulant has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The new drug, atomoxetine, which will be sold under the brand name Strattera, will have fewer side effects than stimulant drugs, its manufacturers say.

The new drug, which will be available in January, has not been listed by the FDA as a Schedule II drug, a classification that indicates controlled substances. Stimulants, like the popularly prescribed Ritalin, have that designation.

Dispensing stimulants has posed problems for schools, in part because of the risk that the medications will be stolen and abused.

The new drug works differently from stimulants by targeting a different neurotransmitter in the brain.

—Lisa Fine Goldstein

Chicago District Probes Three Teachers' High Pay

Three Chicago public school teachers are under investigation for earning so much overtime that they rank among the highest-paid teachers in Illinois.

For the 2001 calendar year, the three teachers earned between $143,000 and $154,000, and a large portion of those earnings came from their work on summer school curriculum, a district spokesman said.

The average salary for a Chicago teacher is $48,000, according to the Chicago Teachers Union.

Two of the teachers earned $80,300 in regular salary and added between $63,000 and $73,000 in overtime, while the third added $88,000 in overtime to her regular salary of $55,000, district officials said.

Arne Duncan, who earns $170,000 as the chief executive officer of the 435,000-student district, told the Chicago Tribune that the overtime struck him as "unacceptable," and he pledged changes to avoid such sizable payments.

An investigation is being conducted by the board of education's office of inspector general.

—Catherine Gewertz

Salt Lake City Schools Tap Nearby Administrator as Chief

The Salt Lake City school district has named an administrator from a neighboring district to be its next superintendent.

McKell S. Withers will lead the 24,300-student district starting on Jan. 23, the school board announced last week. He will earn $135,000 annually.

Mr. Withers is the assistant superintendent for support services in the 70,000-student Granite school district, one of five districts in the county surrounding Salt Lake City. Mr. Withers is a graduate of the city district's schools.

Darline P. Robles left the Salt Lake City superintendency in September to become the superintendent of the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

—David J. Hoff

Phila. Schools to Screen Students for STDs

The Philadelphia school district will expand a free screening and treatment program for sexually transmitted diseases in its high schools this year, in part to combat a high rate of chlamydia among students.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2001 Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicates that 62 percent of Philadelphia high school students are sexually active, up from 55 percent in 1999.

The 208,000-student district's chief executive officer, Paul G. Vallas, insisted that in addition to offering a screening program, a message of prevention through abstinence must be taught to students, district spokesman Paul D. Jackson said.

The district will work with the city health department to offer the free testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea to all city high school students, and free treatment will be offered to all students who test positive for one of the diseases.

—Darcia Harris Bowman

Judge in Hartford, Conn., OKs End to State Takeover

The Hartford, Conn., public schools returned to local control as planned last week, after a state trial court judge dismissed a lawsuit seeking to extend the state's five-year-long takeover.

Challenging the transfer of power were eight Hartford residents, who argued that the state's continued stewardship was needed to fully realize the improvement goals Connecticut lawmakers set when they authorized the takeover of the 24,500-student district. ("Hartford Reshuffles as Lead Actors Exit," Dec. 4, 2002.)

In dismissing the lawsuit on Nov. 29, Judge Marshall K. Berger of the superior court in Hartford said to do otherwise would be to "second-guess the will of the legislature" and "ignore the voters of the city of Hartford."

The new school board was sworn in on Dec. 3. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit have until Dec. 19 to appeal.

—Jeff Archer

Deaths

Henry Chauncey, who spearheaded the creation of the test that transformed college admissions in the 20th century, died on Dec. 3 at his home in Shelburne, Vt. He was 97.

Henry Chauncey

As an assistant dean at Harvard University in the 1940s, Mr. Chauncey envisioned a test that would help Ivy League colleges identify promising students who didn't attend the elite preparatory schools that until then had provided a large share of those colleges' students.

Under his guidance, the Educational Testing Service created the Scholastic Aptitude Test to serve that purpose. Today's version, the SAT I, is taken by some 1.2 million college- bound students each year. The test has been widely criticized, however, and its sponsor, the College Board, decided earlier this year to overhaul it.

Mr. Chauncey was the president of the ETS from the inception of the Princeton, N.J.- based nonprofit organization in 1947 until his retirement in 1970.

Ivan Illich, a sociologist who drew attention for his provocative arguments against compulsory schooling, died Dec. 2 in Bremen, Germany. He was 76.

In his 1971 book Deschooling Society, Mr. Illich, a former Roman Catholic priest, said that "for most men the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school."

Mr. Illich was one of several well-known critics during that time who argued for radical alternatives to the existing system of education.

—David J. Hoff

An obituary for Harold Howe II, the former U.S. commissioner of education, also appears in this issue. ( "Howe Pioneered New Federal Role in U.S. Education.")

Vol. 22, Issue 15, Page 4

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