Federal File

May 30, 1984 22 min read

The Senate Agriculture Committee has voted to extend for two years the authorization for five child-nutrition programs.

The move follows an extended debate within the panel over various proposals to amend the $1.9-billion set of programs. They include nutrition education and training; the special supplemental food program for women, infants, and children; state administrative expenses; the summer food service; and commodity distribution.

“Anything other than a simple extension of the programs would have had a difficult time getting to the floor of the Senate,” said an aide to Senator Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina and chairman of the committee.

“It you want to get [the programs reauthorized], you have got to do it in a practical way,” said the aide. “It has got to be something everyone can agree to.”

Senator Helms sought unsuccessfully to eliminate the $5-million nutrition-education and training program and to extend reauthorization for the other programs for one year. Other senators sought to reauthorize the programs for longer periods.

The Senate is not expected to consider the reauthorization proposal until at least next week. Funding for the programs lapses at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

In an internal memorandum leaked last week to a Washington newspaper, an official in the Office of Personnel Management suggests to the agency’s director a plan to make a pay-equity bill introduced in the House of Representatives look “preposterous.”

James L. Byrnes, deputy associate director of opm, in a memo made available to The Washington Post, proposes a strategy that would pit “union against union and both against radical feminist groups” with the aim of undermining the concept of pay equity.

The passage of the pay-equity bill, according to quotations from the memo, “would be a tremendous opportunity for opm to develop a real comparable-worth system and show how preposterous it would be.”

The bill at issue, the federal employee pay-equity act introduced by Representative Mary Rose Oakar, Democrat of Ohio, would require the opm to conduct a study of the federal employee system to evaluate its equity. (See Education Week, April 18, 1984.)

Conducting such a comparable-worth study, Mr. Byrnes wrote in his memo, “would immediately divide the white-collar and blue-collar unions. ... Moreover, the unions would be pitted against the radical feminist groups and would further divide this constituency.”

Mark Tapscott, an opm spokesman who confirmed the memo’s contents, said opm’s director, Donald Devine, has not yet seen the memo.

“The fact that the Administration wishes to create dissension does not necessarily mean that there is dissension among these groups or that they can create it,” said Nancy Reder, chairman of the National Committee on Pay Equity, a coalition of women’s and labor groups.

Representative Oakar’s bill is linked in the House with a federal-employee, merit-pay bill that is strongly supported by the opm Both bills were approved by the Senate in May.

The House Post Office-Civil Service Committee is expected to hear testimony by Mr. Devine and union leaders this week and to vote on the measure shortly thereafter.

States News Roundup

An association of private schools for handicapped children has filed suit in Suffolk Superior Court charging that the Massachusetts Rate Setting Commission illegally promulgated regulations governing rates that private schools are reimbursed for providing special-education services to students.

In the suit, the Massachusetts Association of Chapter 766 Private Schools alleges that the commission has failed to promulgate notices of tuition rates in a timely fashion for the past three years.

Henry W. Clark, the association’s executive director, said the suit asks for an injunction to prevent the commission from adopting the fiscal 1985 regulations, “which in our view would not solve the problems but continue them by looking for a quick fix.”

Mr. Clark said that by law the commission is required to publish by July 1 the regulations governing tuition rates for special-education programs in private schools. He said the commission has not published the rates for about 75 programs that should have been promulgated last year.

“It’s become apparent to everyone up here, no matter where they stood, that the system was being strained beyond a productive capacity,” Mr. Clark added, “and was in need of some reform.”

There are 130 private schools, both nonprofit and proprietary, in the association, with, according to Mr. Clark, a combined total operating budget of about $120 million annually. Of that total, about $75 million comes from the state in the form of tuition reimbursements.

More than 15,000 elementary- and secondary-school teachers marched on the capitol in Baton Rouge, La., last week to demonstrate their support of proposed legislation that would provide teachers with a 10-percent pay increase.

Teachers’ salaries in Louisiana rank 36th in the nation, said a spokesman for the Louisiana Association of Educators. The average starting salary for a beginning teacher is $11,300, according to lae statistics.

In order to accommodate the demonstration, school administrators at about 35 schools voluntarily canceled classes on the day of the March, and other schools were forced to close early in the day, lae officials said.

The state superintendent of schools had requested that all school administrators in the state cancel classes on the day of the march.

Legislators were expected to vote on the increase this week.

A proposed tax-limitation initiative that may be on the ballot in Nevada this November would have “a disastrous” effect on public education, state education officials said in a resolution adopted by University of Nevada Regents and the Nevada Board of Education this month.

The tax initiative, backed by a group called Citizens for Stable Taxes, would require the approval of two-thirds of the legislature for any tax increase and of two-thirds of the citizenry before local governments could increase taxes.

The proposed constitutional amendment, which will appear on the ballot this fall if backers are able to gather the requisite 24,000 signatures by June 5, would also limit budget increases.

State education officials object to the proposal, said Ted Sanders, superintendent of public instruction, because it could severely limit funding for public education.

“The bottom line is that even if there is not an immediate financial impact on education, services will be cut and in the future education may lose out to other services considered more important,” Mr. Sanders said.

He added that per-capita-income spending on education in Nevada is already one of the lowest in the nation.

Several hundred school leaders, parents, and students trekked to Springfield, Ill., last week to show their support for increased funding for education. The group included at least one district that temporarily gave up a day’s state aid to underscore its belief that schools are getting shortchanged.

“It’s a short-term sacrifice for a long-term goal,” Joel McFadden, superintendent of the Lanark School District, said of the $500 in state aid the district will forego for now. “If we don’t do something to call attention to our plight, things are going to get worse.”

The protest was the idea of Warren Baugher, principal at Tampico High School in northwestern Illinois, who received the backing of the school board a month ago to close school for a day so that he and other educators might take their complaints about state funding to the state capital. The board added a day to the school schedule to avoid the possible loss of state aid.

In all, about three dozen of the state’s 1,006 districts participated in the march on Springfield.

State Senator Calvin Schumanen told the protesters he would favor amending the state constitution to earmark a revenue source for funding education. And other lawmakers predicted the General Assembly would approve a larger aid increase for elementary and secondary schools than the $27 million in new money budgeted by Gov. James R. Thompson.

But Mr. Baugher said he remained skeptical. “Politicians are politicians, so what can they say? We’ve made a showing. They’ve felt some impact.”

Concerned that as many as two million Illinois citizens cannot read above the 5th-grade level, Gov. James R. Thompson has named a 35-member council to attack illiteracy.

Secretary of State James Edgar, who also serves as state librarian, will chair the literacy initiative, dubbed “one million can.”

The council is an offshoot of a September 1983 adult-literacy initiative announced by President Reagan.

“This council can reduce illiteracy in Illinois by bringing together the educational, business, labor, library, governmental, and volunteer communities that have been working on the problem individually,” Mr. Edgar said.

Among the counsel’s duties will be coordinating a network of literacy services throughout the state to increase public awareness of solutions to the problem, and ensuring support for volunteer and professional services.

A federal district judge in Portland has ruled that a 1923 Oregon statute that prohibits the use of history or government textbooks that speak “slightingly” of the nation’s founders is unconstitutional.

In a ruling handed down earlier this month, U.S. District Judge James M. Burns said the state textbook law violates the First Amendment because it “serves to stifle free speech in a manner unrelated to any public or governmental interest,” according to Jonathan Hoffman, the plaintiffs’ lawyer.

The plaintiffs in the case, which began six years ago, are four Portland and Gresham students and their parents. The suit, which is being certified as a class action on behalf of all Oregon students, sought to nullify the law, which reads: “No textbook shall be used in the schools which speaks slightingly of the founders of the republic or those who preserved the union or which belittles or undervalues their work.’'

Named as defendants in the case were the Oregon State Board of Education, members of the Oregon State Textbook Commission, and the Portland and Gresham School Districts.

“We did not have any book that had ever been banned,” Mr. Hoffman said. “But it was our position that the students are nevertheless being harmed because ... [the statute] serves to discourage publishers from putting ideas in their textbooks that might run afoul of the statute. ... It has a chilling effect on publishers of textbooks.”

The judge’s ruling prohibits the state textbook commission from publishing circulars that request that publishers comply with the statute and from including the statute as part of their selection criteria.

Robert Muir, assistant Oregon attorney general and the defendants’ lawyer, has said he will recommend that the decision be appealed.

The Michigan State Board of Education reported at a meeting earlier this month that local voters have approved 96 percent of renewal millage proposals for the 1983-84 school year.

Residents of the economically pressed state passed 86 of 90 of the money measures. That is “the highest rate during a 10-month period that we’ve seen in recent years,” according to Rosarita M. Hume, public-information officer for the state department of education.

“The state has always been concerned about educational standards but we’ve had hard times and voters balked. They realize now that if they don’t vote for the renewal millages, the quality of schools will go down,” Ms. Hume said.

She said that the approval rate of additional millage votes (which take place after renewal levies) has also increased. While usually only about 25 percent of the additional measures are approved, this year 38 percent have passed.

District News Roundup

The Los Angeles school board has voted to add four extra days to the school year and up to 24 minutes of additional time to the school day in response to the educational reform laws adopted by the state legislature this year, said a spokesman for the school system.

According to Patrick Spencer, a public-information officer for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the additional time was approved by the board because the “state school-reform package provides financial incentives to school districts to lengthen the school year.”

As a result of the added days and additional class-time requirements, the typical student will receive 34 more days of instruction each year than would have been available to students three years ago, Mr. Spencer said.

The New York City Board of Education last week chose Nathan Quinones to be chancellor of the city’s schools.

Mr. Quinones, 53 and a 28-year veteran of the school system, had been deputy chancellor with the authority of acting chancellor since March 21, when the school system’s previous chief, Anthony J. Alvarado, took a leave of absence in the wake of charges of professional misconduct against him.

Three days later, the board suspended Mr. Alvarado from the $95,000-a-year position, and on May 11 he resigned from the post.

“I personally think, as do my board members, that Mr. Quinones has acquitted himself exceptionally well, under very close scrutiny in a very difficult period of time,” James F. Regan, the board president, said at a press conference following a two-hour meeting with Mr. Quinones last Wednesday.

Mr. Regan said the board decided not to conduct a nationwide search for a replacement for Mr. Alvarado because it considered Mr. Quinones, head of the city’s high-school division before being appointed acting chancellor, to be better qualified than most of the candidates reviewed by the board in such a search conducted last year.

The board announced that it will make its appointment of Mr. Quinones official with a formal vote to be held at a public meeting this week.

The Alexandria City (Va.) School Board has voted to establish a magnet school for elementary-level students next year.

The magnet school is a key part of the board’s redistricting plan, which readjusts attendance boundaries at all but one of the city’s 12 elementary schools in an attempt to improve racial balance and reduce the amount of busing required for desegregation.

The redistricting plan represents the first major overhaul of the city’s elementary system since 1973.

School officials say the redistricting plan is in response to changes in the racial composition of many city neighborhoods that has occurred since the elementary schools were first integrated in 1973.

The high-technology magnet program will be placed in a school in a predominantly black neighborhood.

The school’s curriculum will focus on mathematics and the sciences; computers will be used extensively to instruct students and monitor their achievement. Instruction, school officials say, will be tailored to each child’s progress.

The school board in Blue Mound, Ill., has reversed itself and now will not require a high-school senior to read Brave New World and 1984--books he complained violated his personal religious beliefs.

In April, the Blue Mound-Boody Board of Education voted 5 to 2 to require Tony Cooper to read the books as part of a social-studies assignment. But last week, the board voted 4 to 2 to allow him to be given an alternative assignment in a course he needs for graduation.

“I consider it a victory for the Lord,” the student said after the second vote by the board. He also said he thought community support for his appeal helped change the board’s decision.

Michael Campion, a board member, brought the matter before the board a second time because he thought the issue was unclear when the first vote was taken. “The first time around, they probably thought that we were telling the teachers they didn’t know their job, and they missed the point that this was a religious issue,” he said.

One board member said he voted ‘no’ the first time because the board had not had adequate time to examine the issue.

Mr. Cooper said the two classics contained explicit sexual references and language he found morally objectionable.

A student at Hopkins High School in suburban Minneapolis filed suit in federal district court last week, claiming that a school policy prohibiting the distribution of religious materials on campus violates his First Amendment rights of free speech and religious freedom.

Douglas Pagitt, a senior at the high school, was suspended last month after he continued to distribute a religious newspaper for teen-agers despite warnings from the principal that his action violated school policy.

The school district’s policy is based on a Minnesota Board of Education rule that states: “Public schools may not be used for the religious socialization of students” and should not allow the distribution of Bibles, religious tracts, or similar materials.

Mr. Pagitt had asked school officials to review the policy last February and was appointed as a student representative to the review panel that examined the issue.

After weeks of deliberation, the panel recommended that the policy not be changed.

Mr. Pagitt, who was the captain of the basketball team last winter and is planning to attend Bethel College and Seminary in St. Paul, said challenging the policy was “just something I had to do.”


Name the late 19th century movement in adult education characterized by eight-week summer programs featuring lectures by explorers, authors, musicians, and political leaders. (The answer will be included with next week’s quiz.)

Answer to last week’s quiz: The nation’s first school-desegregation case was Roberts v. City of Boston, decided by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in 1850. The court held that the Boston School Committee was empowered to establish separate schools for black children and could bar them from attending other schools. State-mandated segregation in public schools was eliminated by an act of the Massachusetts legislature in 1855.

Readers are invited to submit interesting and/or arcane questions involving education (with answers) for possible inclusion in Quizmaster. Please send your name, address, and phone number and indicate the source of your information. Education Week will pay $10 for each item used. Send entries to: Quizmaster, Education Week, 1333 New Hampshire Ave., N.W., Suite 560, Washington, D.C. 20036.

News Update

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office has filed 208 charges of criminal complaint against the seven defendants in the Virginia McMartin PreSchool child-abuse case.

The action replaces the previous indictment, in which the defendants were charged with 115 counts of abuse by a grand jury. (See Education Week, April 11, 1984.)

The new charges include many of those made earlier, according to Al Albergate, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, plus one count of conspiracy for all seven defendants.

The names of 16 of the original 18 children and an additional 26 children are also included in the charges, Mr. Albergate said.

“It has been no secret that all along we have been interviewing more students and former students of the McMartin School,” he said, explaining how the new charges were developed.

The defendants, six teachers and the school’s 76-year-old owner, were scheduled to be arraigned late last week, after which a revised trial schedule was to be determined.

The 12 students at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., who are studying the Chinese language are among only 3,000 nationwide to engage in such training. But they have an urgent reason to polish their skills.

In a month, they and another eight Sidwell students who are studying Chinese history will be off on a visit to the Chinese mainland, a three-week trip they will be making at the personal invitation of Zhao Ziyang, chief of state of the People’s Republic of China.

The invitation was issued by Mr. Ziyang after he stopped by the school early this year during a state visit. (See Education Week, January 11, 1984.)

This month, Los Angeles police officers completed the arrests of 134 students in nine of the city’s high schools as part of a continuing drug-abuse-prevention program that uses undercover narcotics agents who pose as students. (See Education Week, April 25, 1984.)

All of the students arrested have been charged with selling drugs, a felony under California state law.

According to Detective Everett Berry, head of the Los Angeles Police Department’s School Buy Unit, undercover officers seized more than $7,800 worth of high-grade marijuana during the 12-week investigation that began Jan. 30 and purchased $2,500 worth of amphetamines and $2,400 worth of cocaine.

The investigations will continue, Mr. Berry said, explaining that the use of undercover agents has been effective in inhibiting drug trafficking on high-school campuses.

“When we first started this program in 1974, if teachers stepped out of the room, we had students lining up to buy dope--that doesn’t happen any more,” he said.

State education officials in Idaho are waiting to see whether or not Gov. John Evans will ask them to trim 4 percent from the $246.4-million budget approved for elementary and secondary schools by the legislature in late March. (See Education Week, April 11, 1984.)

According to Helen Werner, deputy state superintendent of schools, the Governor may ask the education department to reduce spending for fiscal 1985 due to a 4-percent shortfall in sales-tax revenue that occurred during the month of April.

The final budget must be set by July 1, and the Governor is waiting until the figures for May sales-tax revenue are available before requesting cuts, Ms. Werner said.

“April may simply have been a bad month for business,” said Ms. Werner, explaining that bad weather in the state kept many people indoors.

If budget trimming is necessary, schools still will receive their share of the $246.4 million, Ms. Werner said. Under state law, any difference between what the legislature approves for education and what is allocated must be made up by increases in local property taxes.

The main concern of school administrators is that a reduction in the state budget will create a temporary cash-flow problem, Ms. Werner said.

President Reagan last week signed into law a bill that increases penalties for convicted child pornographers. (See Education Week, May 16, 1984.)

At the Rose Garden signing ceremony, President Reagan also announced the creation of a national commission on the effects of pornography, which will be established under the auspices of Attorney General William French Smith.

“It’s been 14 years since we took a long, hard look at pornography,’' said John Russell, a spokesman in the attorney general’s office, referring to the 1970 Presidential commission on pornography. “It’s changed quite a bit since the 1970’s.”

“It’s time to look at extreme pornography, especially dealing with children ... and violence,” he said. Several committees met last week to begin to determine the scope, emphasis, and membership of the panel, Mr. Russell said.

Girard College, a boys’ school in Philadelphia that was ordered in 1982 by a Pennsylvania court to admit girls as soon as adequate facilities were available, has formally accepted its first five female students.

The boys-only policy of the school, which was established in the 19th century as an elementary and secondary school for impoverished white male orphans, was challenged by the Women’s Law Project and the National Organization for Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund on behalf of a 12-year-old Philadelphia girl. (See Education Week, Sept. 8, 1982.)

An additional four girls have completed the application procedure, passed a staff review, and will be recommended to the board in June, said Rita L. Bernstein, a lawyer with the Women’s Law Project.

The school is accepting applications through July for September admission. Of the 56 positions available to girls in grades 1 through 4 for the the fall term, 27 or 28 girls are expected to be admitted, according to a school official.

Girls’ sports officials in Iowa, which until this month was one of two remaining states where girls’ high-school basketball is played with six players on each team, have approved optional five-on-five basketball. Oklahoma remains the only state with the six-on-six rule.

The unanimous approval by the board of directors of the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union of an amendment that allows public high schools the option of establishing either configuration of players on a team comes just months before a July federal-court trial on the issue.

Last September, Five-On-Five Inc., an organization representing three girls, sued the athletic union in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, charging that the six-on-six rule violates the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (See Education Week, Sept. 14, 1983.)

E. Wayne Cooley, executive director of the athletic union, denied that the change in the 1898 rule is related to the imminent trial. Instead, he said, the amendment was raised “in response to an interest expression from three high schools in the state for the option game of five on five.”

Public schools have the option of instituting the revised rule this September, Mr. Cooley said.

Teacher Tests TV’s Tenacious Hold on Time

The amount of time spent on homework soared seven-fold at Sawyer Junior High School in Cincinnati recently when a group of students turned off the tube for one week to seek an answer to the question Ginger Rhodes posed to her 9th-grade social-studies class: “Have3you got a TV or has TV got you?”

“I had a number of kids who said up front, ‘Ms. Rhodes, I can’t do it.’ They knew TV had them,” said Ms. Rhodes, who staged the experiment to teach her students how to conduct a survey, learn behavioral-observation techniques, and program a com-puter to tabulate and analyze data.

A poll of students, conducted before the experiment was started, revealed that 34 percent of the group watched more than six hours of television a day.

“The kids started with the hypothesis that decreasing the amount of TV they watched should increase the amount of time they spent on homework,” said Ms. Rhodes.

Not all of the 53 students who volunteered to give up television for a week succeeded. Evaxie Keney lost both her determination and $25 midway through the week when she tuned in to her favorite program, “Dynasty.” She had bet her mother, father, and uncle that she could make it through the week.

The results at the end of the week, however, showed that students who did give up television spent an average of 74 minutes per night on homework, compared to the mere l0 minutes per night on homework posted by the regular television watchers.

A version of this article appeared in the May 30, 1984 edition of Education Week as Federal File