The Roman Catholic bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., diocese announced in June that he will no longer recognize or meet with the local Catholic school teachers' union. The surprise--and apparently unprecedented-- announcement by Bishop John D'Arcy "shocked'' the teachers, says Mike Thompson, president of the union, which has had an ongoing dispute with the bishop. D'Arcy says he plans to form an advisory council made up of an equal number of teachers appointed by him and the union. An angry Thompson complains: "The church has long championed the rights of the union. Now, [the bishop] is taking this away from us.''
In a move designed to help close a budget deficit, the Montgomery County, Md., school board this spring required more than 200 central office administrators with teaching certificates to substitute in the classroom for up to seven days. Central office staff without teaching credentials but qualified to substitute were asked to help out, as well. The board hoped the plan would save $115,000.
John Dickinson, a California teacher who spent six months in a military prison for refusing to serve with his Air Force Reserve unit in the Persian Gulf war, will be allowed to keep his teaching credentials. In late May, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing closed Dickinson's case, which means he will not be sanctioned for his military offense. The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the teacher, sent the committee a brief that included 400 letters of support from a broad array of backers, among them a large majority of Dickinson's colleagues at the Santa Ana elementary school where he teaches 5th grade.
A Bunch Of Cheaters:
Nearly 60 percent of high school students occasionally cheat on tests, according to a recent survey of 10,000 public and private school students conducted by BKG Youth. Only 11 percent of the students said they have never cheated. Fifty-four percent admitted that they had, at some time, forged a parent's signature on an absence note or other school document. But the overwhelming majority draw the line when it comes to paying someone else to take their college entrance tests; 75 percent said they wouldn't do it, even if they knew they would not get caught.
School officials in Fairfax County, Va., have adopted a stricter procedure for running criminal-record checks on substitute teachers after discovering that a convicted killer who escaped from prison had been working in the school district for almost two months. Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested John Garris in a middle school science class when a fingerprint check revealed his criminal history. Garris had been serving a 45-year sentence for murder and robbery when he escaped more than a year ago.
Battling Over Books:
A federal judge has rejected an attempt by 11 parents in Woodland, Calif., to ban the controversial "Impressions'' reading series from the local curriculum, saying that use of the literature-based series does not violate the constitutional prohibition against establishment of religion in publicly funded institutions. Contrary to the group's claims, U.S. District Judge William Shubb said, the reading series does not promote witchcraft or "neo-Paganism'' over any other religion. Lawyers for the American Family Association, the conservative group that represented the parents, say they will appeal.
Weapons And Violence:
Of 546 teenagers who responded to a survey commissioned by the Campfire Boys and Girls, more than three-quarters believe that threats of violence against students are a problem in their schools, and more than half believe their schools have problems with students carrying weapons. Twenty percent of the 13- to 19-year-olds reported witnessing confrontations involving a knife, and 7 percent had seen an encounter involving a gun.