Teacher No More

October 01, 1998 3 min read

Teacher No More

When California state schools chief Delaine Eastin added the word “teacher” to her identification on the November ballot, her challenger, 1st grade teacher Gloria Matta Tuchman of Santa Ana, cried foul. After all, Eastin last taught in 1979 at De Anza Community College in Cupertino. And although she holds a teaching credential, she’s never been a full-time K-12 teacher. So Tuchman sued, saying that the description of Eastin was misleading. Sacramento Superior Court Judge James Ford agreed and struck “teacher” from Eastin’s proposed ballot title of “teacher/state superintendent.” In local media reports, her campaign downplayed the difference between being a teacher at the community college and K-12 levels. It also noted that Eastin, a Democrat, was allowed to use the term in her successful run for state superintendent in 1994. The Tuchman camp, meanwhile, jumped on the ruling. “I am running for this position to apply my experience as a teacher to the superintendent’s post,” said Tuchman, a Republican who co-directed the successful campaign to end bilingual education in the state. (“English Spoken Here,” January 1998.)

Test Aftershocks

Massachusetts officials have proposed raising admission standards to state colleges and shutting down failing teacher education programs after some 47 percent of the 2,500 Massachusetts teacher candidates taking the second round of the state’s certification test in July failed. The scores were released in August just as the uproar over the 59 percent failure rate for the certification test administered in April was dying down. Interim Commissioner of Education David Driscoll said the test- takers “clearly again were not equal to the task.” State higher ed chancellor Stanley Koplik proposed that minimum SAT scores be set at 1,100 for entrance to teacher education programs and that college programs in which fewer than 80 percent of students pass the teacher test for two consecutive years be closed.

A Matter Of Honor

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of two teenage mothers who were barred from their Kentucky high school’s honor society. In their suit, Somer Chipman and Chasity Glass argue that the Grant County school board violated both state and federal law by rejecting them because they were unmarried mothers. District spokeswoman Ruth Odor said school officials investigated the girls’ allegations and found that no discrimination occurred and no policies or laws had been broken.

Tragic Outing

A hundred teachers at a Dallas magnet school have voted to stop sponsoring field trips after two teachers were suspended when a student died on a school trip they chaperoned last winter. Lee Bloomfield and Marsha Evans, both teachers in the 160-student magnet program for gifted students at the Yvonne Ewell Townview Center, were put on suspension in August until a district investigation is completed into the death of 14-year-old Colt Perryman. The boy fell while hiking on a January field trip to Big Bend National Park in western Texas. The district is charging the teachers with neglect, says Aimee Bolender, vice president of the Alliance for Dallas Educators. Bolender said parents signed permission slips and were aware of the dangers of the trip. Officials of the 155,000- student school system have declined to comment or to state the nature of the charges against the teachers, describing the issue as a confidential personnel matter.

Busted And Barred

The Connecticut Supreme Court has upheld the right of schools to expel students for off-campus behavior, although the justices made clear that administrators must be careful when dispensing such punishment. The ruling stemmed from the arrest last year of a Thomaston High School student for marijuana possession.

The bust took place during a traffic stop after school and off school grounds. When administrators then barred the student from school for the semester, he filed a lawsuit challenging the 1995 state law that gave districts the power to take such disciplinary action. The state’s highest court ruled that the law was valid but also determined that the district had failed to show how the student’s continued presence at the 1,250-student school would be educationally disruptive.