News in Brief: A National Roundup

May 10, 2000 5 min read

School Anti-Drug Programs Questioned by UNC Study

In the study financed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill surveyed drug education coordinators in 81 school districts in 11 states. They found that the most commonly used drug education programs—the Drug Awareness and Resistance Education program, or DARE, Here’s Looking at You, and McGruff’s Drug Prevention and Child Protection—were not shown to reduce drug use.

Among the problems cited: The programs are available less often than needed, and their quality and usefulness are often hampered by lack of training for the teachers presenting the subject material.

—Jessica Portner

Detroit Board Picks New Chief

The Detroit school board has chosen as its new leader Kenneth Burnley, currently the superintendent of the Colorado Springs, Colo., school district.

Mr. Burnley will take over as the chief executive officer of the 167,000-student district as soon as contract details are worked out, a district spokeswoman said. The contract of the interim CEO, David Adamany, expires next week. The Detroit school board chose Mr. Burnley unanimously at a May 4 meeting after a lengthy search process.

Mr. Burnley, 58, has led the 33,500-student Colorado Springs District 11 Public Schools for 13 years and teaches business at the University of Colorado. Previously, he served as the superintendent in Fairbanks, Alaska, and was the National Superintendent of the Year in 1993. Mr. Burnley’s salary range will be between $193,000 and $250,000, district officials said.

—Catherine Gewertz

Columbine Video Sales Resume

The videotape showing the aftermath of the Columbine High School shootings is available once again for purchase, but this time without background music.

Jefferson County, Colo., authorities began selling the four-hour tape for $25 a copy late last month. Sales were stopped after copyright holders for three songs that were dubbed onto the Littleton Fire Department training portion of the tape threatened to sue if the music wasn’t deleted.

—Adrienne D. Coles

Floyd Flake Joins Edison

Edison Schools Inc. has named the Rev. Floyd H. Flake, a former congressman and a leading African-American advocate of private school vouchers, as president of its charter schools division. Mr. Flake, who retired in 1997 after serving five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, will continue as the senior pastor of the Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church in the New York City borough of Queens.

Edison officials said he would join the for-profit school management company full time and play a prominent public role in expanding its presence nationwide. New York City-based Edison this year manages 79 public schools serving 38,000 students, including those in 26 independent charter schools.

—Mark Walsh

K.C. Case Dismissal Questioned

The latest chapter in the convoluted history of the Kansas City, Mo., school desegregation lawsuit is set to unfold as a federal appeals court reconsiders whether the nation’s costliest case aimed at ensuring that all children, regardless of race, receive equal educational opportunity, should have been dismissed. (“U.S. Appellate Panel Reinstates Kansas City Desegregation Case,” March 8, 2000.)

A 12-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit will hear one hour of arguments May 16 in St. Louis. At issue will be whether U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple made a mistake when he dismissed the lawsuit last November. Three appellate judges reversed Judge Whipple’s decision Feb. 29, finding that he had erred by dismissing the suit without a full evidentiary hearing on whether the district had done enough to end segregation in its schools. They reinstated the case and suggested that it be assigned to a new judge.

—Catherine Gewertz

Arizona Cuts Access to Tests

The Arizona board of education has curtailed public access to its state tests, pending the appeal of a judge’s order to release the exams. The board May 1 voted to seal the high school exam given last year and the one to be given this year. Before an April ruling by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Foreman requiring public access to the tests, the state allowed members of the public to review the tests only after signing a promise not to reveal their contents.

But Judge Foreman sided with Phoenix Newspapers Inc. and said Arizona had violated state open- records laws by not distributing the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards to the public. The Arizona Republic, which is owned by the newspaper company, is seeking to publish the test. The state plans to appeal, according to Billie J. Orr, Arizona’s associate superintendent for academics and accountability.

—David J. Hoff

Texas Teacher Morale Said Low

The teacher-recruitment picture in Texas, where schools already are struggling to find qualified educators, could soon get worse, suggests a recent union-sponsored poll.

“Texas Teachers, Moonlighting, and Morale,” sponsored by the Texas State Teachers Association, says that 43 percent of the 291 teachers surveyed were “seriously considering” leaving the profession. To augment their salaries, the poll found, 28 percent of respondents worked at second jobs during the school year. At the same time, more than 75 percent agreed that doing so negatively affected their teaching. Working conditions outweigh salaries as a key reason why many educators are thinking about switching careers, the survey found.

Based on a sample of TSTA members, the survey was carried out by David L. Henderson, an education professor at Sam Houston State University, and has a margin of error of 5 percent.

—Jeff Archer

New Center Aids Charter Schools

With the number of charter schools in the country on the rise, Central Michigan University announced last week the opening of a new national resource center for administrators, teachers, and board members of the largely independent public schools.

The Charter Schools Development and Performance Institute, located on the CMU campus in Mount Pleasant, is being financed by a $1 million federal grant and a $500,000 annual appropriation from the Michiganlegislature.

The mission of the institute, said Director May Kay Shields, is to promote the development, achievement, and accountability of charter schools.

—Darcia Harris Bowman

A version of this article appeared in the May 10, 2000 edition of Education Week as News in Brief: A National Roundup