News Update

January 11, 1989 4 min read

Services for Asian students in Philadelphia would be improved under a plan adopted by the school board.

The new program was required by a consent decree that the district entered into last spring to resolve litigation brought on behalf of Asian students. (See Education Week, March 9, 1988.)

The plan calls for spending of about $200,000 during the current school year to revamp testing and instructional programs for Asian students and to improve communications with non-English-speaking parents.

The plan, which requires court approval, also calls for the district next year to spend $900,000 on such efforts, including the hiring of additional staff members fluent in Asian languages.

Two Indiana high schools can require students who want to participate in extracurricular activities to submit to drug testing, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit supported a federal district judge’s finding last February that the policy did not violate students’ Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. (See Education Week, Feb. 17, 1988.)

Lawyers for the students who filed the suit said they would appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, a federal district judge in Texas has issued an order barring the East Chambers County Consolidated School District from implementing a similar drug-testing requirement for junior- and senior-high-school athletes. An April 3 hearing has been set in that case.

Carter High School has won the coveted championship of Texas high-school football, despite continuing controversy over the academic eligibility of one of its players.

The Dallas team won the state 5A football tournament after the Texas Court of Appeals rejected a request from the University Interscholastic League, the governing body of high-school sports, to exclude it.

State Commissioner of Education William N. Kirby had ruled in November that the team’s star running back was ineligible under the state’s ''no-pass, no-play” law because he had failed algebra.

The Dallas district, contending Mr. Kirby lacked the authority to make such a determination, successfully sued the state last month, prompting the Texas Education Agency to file an appeal. (See Education Week, Dec. 14, 1988.)

Los Angeles teachers have ended their two-month boycott of administrative duties associated with statewide testing of high-school seniors.

Officials of United Teachers-Los Angeles had announced in October that they would refuse to administer any standardized tests because, they claimed, district officials had unjustly accused them of tampering with previous tests. As a result, district officials canceled a scheduled administration of the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills. (See Education Week, Nov. 2, 1988.)

After state officials warned that the district would lose aid if it did not administer the California Assessment Program, however, district officials and teachers reached an agreement to allow the test to take place. Under the accord, Superintendent Leonard Britton said again that he had not intended to accuse the teachers of tampering, and the two sides drew up new procedures to strengthen test security.

In a separate protest, teachers are continuing to boycott “unpaid, uneducational” duties as a result of stalled contract negotiations over salaries and benefits.

The former head of maintenance and custodians for the Jersey City school system has been convicted of extortion and tax evasion.

A federal district judge in Trenton last month sentenced William J. Fisher to 55 years in prison and more than $500,000 in fines, according to First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chertoff.

Mr. Fisher was accused of extorting kickbacks from a welder doing work for the district, as well as extorting about $1,000 in electrical equipment from a contractor.

The district is currently embroiled in court battle to block a takeover attempt by state officials, who claim that the school system is fraught with corruption, patronage, and financial misdealings. (See Education Week, June 1, 1988.)

Georgia kindergartners will continue to have to take standardized tests in order to be promoted to 1st grade, the state board of education has decided.

The tests, which were first administered last spring, had come under fire from some educators, who said they pressure kindergarten teachers to stress paper-and-pencil skills over more appropriate hands-on learning. (See Education Week, March 2, 1988.)

Despite those concerns, the board agreed last month to spend up to $225,000 next year on the program, which requires kindergartners to take a test of their ability to recognize letters, objects, sounds, and mathematical concepts.

Diane Cousineau, an analyst for the legislature, said representatives of the governor’s office and a panel of experts were drafting recommendations for broader assessments and alternative programs for failing kindergarten students.

A version of this article appeared in the January 11, 1989 edition of Education Week as News Update