Education

News in Brief: A National Roundup

March 17, 2004 5 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Phila. Teacher Assignments Questioned in Complaint

A complaint filed last week with the U.S. Department of Education alleges that the Philadelphia school district’s system for assigning teachers violates the civil rights of minority children.

Schools serving the largest numbers of nonwhite students typically have the most uncertified teachers and the highest rates of teacher turnover, the Philadelphia-based Education Law Center says in a March 8 complaint to the Education Department’s office for civil rights.

"[Q]ualified and skilled teachers—the most crucial ‘input’ in the district’s instructional program—are inequitably distributed within the system, with more-qualified, more- experienced teachers going to the city’s lower-minority, lower-poverty schools,” the complaint says.

The complaint says that some of the blame for the inequities stems from seniority rules embedded in the 200,000-student district’s contract with its teachers’ union. Still, the complaint says it is the district’s responsibility to fix a teacher-assignment system that the Education Law Center contends violates minority children’s rights under Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Amy R. Guerin, a spokeswoman for the district, said last week that officials there had undertaken a range of recruitment and professional-development efforts that had sharply increased the system’s overall retention rate for teachers. She added that the district was negotiating a new contract with the teachers’ union, which could result in changes that would affect the distribution of teachers among schools.

—Caroline Hendrie

Petition Seeks Removal Of St. Louis Board Member

Rochell Moore, a member of the St. Louis school board, has been ordered to stay away from another board member and a top district administrator.

After Ms. Moore threw ice water onto Charlene Jones, an assistant superintendent in the 40,000- student district, Ms. Jones successfully sought a restraining order against the board member on March 5.

Ms. Jones was joined by Amy Hilgemann, a school board member, who alleged in St. Louis Circuit Court that Ms. Moore had threatened her.

The orders prohibit Ms. Moore from having contact with either woman.

According to local news accounts, Ms. Moore has said that she believes the two women are involved in a political plot that resulted in her being involuntarily committed for psychiatric treatment in October 2002.

Ms. Jones and 13 other people also petitioned the court last week to remove Ms. Moore from the board.

Ms. Moore, who was charged with misdemeanor harassment of her fellow board member, could not be reached for comment. District officials did not return calls for comment.

A hearing is set for March 24.

—Natasha N. Smith

Pittsburgh Hearings to Focus On Plan to Close 15 Schools

The Pittsburgh board of education will hold public hearings later this month on a proposal to close 15 schools in the city.

An analysis by the district found that it has space for 50,149 students, but an enrollment of only 34,619 this year—or an “excess capacity” of nearly 31 percent. And enrollment is projected to decrease over the next five years because of declining birthrates and population in the region.

The district administration is recommending closing 15 of 86 schools, which would save $8.1 million a year, trim 4,489 seats from the system, and cost 129 employees their jobs. Most of the buildings slated to be closed are elementary schools.

Previous attempts by Superintendent John Thompson and the school board to close schools were met with resistance. In 2001, the school board voted to close 11 schools, but three were reopened after new members were elected to the board.

This year, the district is spending nearly $16,000 for an analysis of its facilities- utilization plan by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and for a public relations firm that is helping to present it to the community, according to Pat Crawford, the district’s director of communications and marketing.

—Ann Bradley

S.F. Board Approves Proposal To Overhaul Three Schools

Members of the San Francisco board of education unanimously approved a resolution last week to support Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s plan to overhaul three low-performing schools.

The “Dream Schools” initiative involves closing the Charles R. Drew and Gloria R. Davis schools and the 21st Century Academy and opening them in August with rigorous programs for students in preschool through 12th grade. The schools will be modeled in part on the successful Frederick Douglass Academy in New York City.

The new schools will focus on accelerating students’ progress with high expectations, individualized academic plans, staff development, and community and parent involvement.

The schools serve the Bayview-Hunter’s Point neighborhood, one of San Francisco’s poorest. They will be reconfigured to serve students in prekindergarten to 3rd grade, grades 4-6, and grades 7-12, according to Roqua Montez, a spokesman for the 59,000-student district.

—Ann Bradley

Fla. Student Charged With Crime For Having Copy of State Test

A 14-year-old Florida boy has been charged with a felony after school officials found a state test booklet in his possession.

The 9th grade student at A.P. Leto Comprehensive High School in Tampa was spotted with a booklet for the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test, or FCAT, in a school hallway on March 4, the day he finished taking the exam, according to school officials.

He has been charged with burglary, petit theft, theft of intellectual property, which is a felony, and cheating on the FCAT, which also carries a felony charge.

Currently serving a 10-day suspension, the 9th grader could be transferred to an alternative school or expelled, although the latter is not likely, according to Dan Bonilla, the principal of the 1,860- student school.

The student’s test will be invalidated, said Mark A. Hart, the director of the 180,400-student Hillsborough County school district’s office of public affairs.

—Catherine A. Carroll

Boston Teachers Support Plan for One-Day Walkout

Boston teachers voted overwhelmingly last week to stage a one-day strike on March 23.

The city’s 4,800 teachers have been working under the terms of an expired contract since August. The last negotiations held between the Boston Teachers Union leadership and school district officials took place Feb. 15.

An affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, the union is asking for a three-year contract that would raise teachers’ base salaries by 9.7 percent. The district is countering with a three-year pay package that would increase teachers’ paychecks by 7 percent. The average teacher’s annual salary is $60,000.

Teachers plan to hold a rally in front of City Hall the day of the strike. The 60,000-student district will close schools that day, said Jonathan Palumbo, a spokesman for the district. It will be a professional-development day, however, and staff members are required to report for work or lose a day’s pay, he said.

—Karla Scoon Reid


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP