News in Brief: A National Roundup

June 20, 2001 7 min read
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Teen-Pregnancy Rate Is Lowest Since 1976

The pregnancy rate for U.S. teenagers in 1997 was the lowest recorded since such national data became available a quarter-century ago, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week. The rate was down 19 percent from 1991, when it reached its highest recorded level.

The rate of 94.3 pregnancies for every 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 was 10 percent lower than the rate in 1986, when the pregnancy rate for teenagers began to climb, according to the report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. It examined teenage-pregnancy rates between 1976 and 1997.

But the Atlanta-based CDC said data on birthrates through 1999 show a continued decline, totaling 20 percent since 1991.

The report attributes the drop to changing attitudes toward premarital sexual activity, better contraceptive measures, and increased economic opportunities during the 1990s.

—Ann Bradley

Chicago Board President Named

The Chicago board of education has a new president.

Michael Scott was named to the post June 8 by Mayor Richard M. Daley. He replaces Gery J. Chico, who stepped down May 24 after six years in the position.

Mr. Scott, 51, is the vice president of local government affairs for AT&T Broadband, which provides cable television, telephone, and Internet service in the Chicago area.

He has been a member of the Chicago Park District board since 1992, and has been its president since 1999.

Mayor Daley said he was looking to Mr. Scott to lead the 432,000-student district in a new direction after six years of reform efforts under Mr. Chico and Paul G. Vallas, the district’s chief executive, who resigned on June 7. (“Chicago Schools’ Chief Executive Will Step Down,” June 13, 2001.)

—Robert C. Johnston

School Naming Stirs Debate

Over the objections of a local committee, the school board in Montgomery County, Md., voted 5-3 last week to name a new school for a late U.S. senator who was Asian-American.

Spark M. Matsunaga Elementary School, named after a senator from Hawaii who lived in the suburban county outside Washington, will be the first of the 135,000-student district’s 189 schools to honor an Asian-American.

George Margolies, the staff director for the county board of education, said there had been a dispute about the name between the school board and a school-naming committee, made up of parents, teachers, and the principal of the new school. The committee wanted the school named for Lillian B. Brown, a retired teacher who had taught at the segregated Germantown Colored Elementary School, half a mile from the new school’s site.

The senator’s name was chosen to reflect the district’s growing Asian-American population, currently about 13 percent, he said. The new school expects that nearly 25 percent of its students will be Asian-American.

—Vanessa Dea

Reporter Arrested at School

A newspaper reporter faces trespassing charges following her arrest at a Virginia high school, where she was investigating the use of ducklings in a biology lesson.

Kelly Campbell of the Potomac News and Manassas Journal Messenger went to Woodbridge High School in person on June 6 after school administrators in the 55,000-student Prince William County, Va., school district did not return her repeated phone calls, newspaper officials said. Although Principal Karen Spillman did meet briefly with Ms. Campbell, she soon asked the reporter to leave.

District and newspaper officials disagree about whether Ms. Campell refused to go at that point, but a county police officer assigned to the school arrested the reporter for trespassing, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

Ms. Campell’s story about the biology lesson—which ran in her paper two days after her arrest—related the concerns of wildlife experts about the welfare of the ducklings. The lesson involved an attempt to have the newly hatched birds “imprint” themselves on the students, so they would follow students instead of their mothers.

—Jeff Archer

Historic Kan. School Renovated

An old but not forgotten school in Topeka, Kan., that played a role in American history is scheduled for a major facelift by 2003.

The National Park Service, in conjunction with the Topeka-based Brown Foundation for Educational Equity and Research, will begin working on the restoration of the Monroe Elementary School this month.

Built in the early 20th century, Monroe figured in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which struck down racially segregated systems of education.

Monroe, which served as one of four schools for African-American students in Topeka, was declared a national historic site in 1992.

The Park Service will use $1.5 million in federal money to complete exterior structural repairs to the building over the next year. With additional funding, supporters hope to renovate the interior and open the site to the public by May 2003.

—Marianne Hurst

New Denver Chief Takes Charge

Denver’s first permanent superintendent in more than a year took control of the 70,000 district last week.

Jerry Wartgow was tapped for the position by the Denver school board. He is the president emeritus of the Colorado Community College and Occupational Education System, which he established and ran for 12 years.

Mr. Wartgow, 58, who will earn an annual salary of $200,000, replaced interim Superintendent Bernadette Seick, a veteran Denver educator who is retiring. Ms. Seick stepped into the post after former Superintendent Chip Zullinger left the district after only nine months on the job.

The new superintendent, who started work June 11, could be working with a new board this coming fall. Voters will fill four of Denver’s seven school board seats in November.

—Karla Scoon Reid

L.A. Administrator Resigns Post

Only two months after his appointment, Allen Solomon has resigned as the chief operating officer for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

In that position, Mr. Solomon was to have overseen the business services, information technology, facilities, human resources, and planning and assessment departments in the nation’s second-largest district.

But after hiring the directors for facilities, information technology, and finance, Superintendent Roy Romer decided that a supervisor for that team of administrators was not needed.

Because the position would not include oversight of new construction, Mr. Solomon will no longer serve as chief operating officer, Mr. Romer said in a statement this month.

Mr. Solomon was an associate vice chancellor for administration at the University of California, Los Angeles, before he started his duties with the 723,000-student district in April.

—Karla Scoon Reid

Survivor of Illness To Graduate

The 18-year-old student from the Alliance, Ohio, area who was struck ill by the same rare bacterial disease that killed two area teenagers last month planned to attend graduation ceremonies along with her senior class this week.

Christin VanCamp, a senior at Marlington High School, near Alliance, was released from Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Akron, Ohio,on June 13 after having contracted meningococcal disease. The illness is caused by bacteria that are carried benignly by about 10 percent of people, but can also cause meningitis or a blood infection, according to health officials.

The outbreak in the Alliance area led to school closings and mass vaccinations of students. (“Teen Deaths Prompt Mass Vaccinations,” June 13, 2001.)

Dan E. Buckel, the spokesman for the 2,800 Marlington district, said school officials were thrilled Ms. VanCamp had recovered and planned to walk across the stage during graduation ceremonies scheduled for June 19.

—Mary Ann Zehr

New Library Opens at Columbine

Just over two years after the country’s deadliest school shooting, the families of the slain and injured have unveiled a new library at Columbine High School that replaces the one where most of the victims died.

The opening of the Hope Columbine Memorial Library at the Jefferson County, Colo., school was announced at a June 9 press conference. The 13,900-square-foot structure was financed by more than $3 million in donations raised by the families of those who died April 20, 1999, when Columbine seniors Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris walked into the school and began shooting.

The two teenagers killed one teacher and 12 fellow students—10 of whom were gunned down i the library—before taking their own lives. After the shootings, the district walled off the old library and moved the school’s collections to temporary buildings on campus, district spokeswoman Marilyn Saltzman said.

Along with raising money for a new library, the victims’ families had the floor of the old library removed and an atrium with a view of teh Rocky Mountains build in its place last summer.

—Darcia Harris Bowman

A version of this article appeared in the June 20, 2001 edition of Education Week as News in Brief: A National Roundup


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