The Week: Federal News, States News, Districts News, News Update, People News

September 04, 1985 13 min read



Secretary of Education William J. Bennett may attempt to “voucherize” some Title VII bilingual-education programs, particularly those for adults, Education Department officials report.

While he is expected to continue to press for flexibility in the teaching methods school districts may use--they are now almost exclusively restricted to transitional bilingual education--Mr. Bennett will not include the main classroom programs in any voucher plan, according to officials in the office of bilingual education and minority-languages affairs. Those include about $83 million in grants for transitional, developmental, and “special alternative” instruction.

Officials are weighing smaller programs as candidates for a voucher plan, according to Paul Balach, a special assistant to Carol Pendás Whitten, director of the bilingual-education office.

The likeliest candidate for a voucher initiative, other department aides say, is the $250,000 Family English Literacy program--newly authorized by the Congress last year and aimed at limited-English-proficient adults and out-of-school youths. The Congress may be more receptive to “voucherizing” this program since choice may be a more suitable option for those not in school than for students, one official suggested.

In a recent interview, Mr. Bennett, responding to a question about his plans for bilingual education, said, “I am not prepared to say anything about it at this point, just not ready to.” His spokesman, Loye W. Miller, said the Secretary is likely to move on the issue this fall.

State departments of education may reserve 7 percent of their federal vocational-education funds for administrative costs before allocating the remaining funds to school districts, according to final regulations published in the Aug. 16 Federal Register for programs authorized under the Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act.

The final regulations stipulate that of the 93 percent of the funds remaining after state administrative costs, 43 percent must be used for program improvement, and 57 percent for set-aside projects, as mandated in the act.

The final rules, which take effect Oct. 1, also clarify the act’s provision allowing states to assist localities in matching federal funds for projects for handicapped and disadvantaged individuals.

As clarified, the regulations permit a state to assume 100 percent of the nonfederal matching costs, if the state determines that a locality cannot “reasonably provide” for those costs.

An Ohio student who campaigned against drunk driving, a New Jersey pupil who raised money to stop hunger in Ethiopia, and a California girl who helped start a Chinese-American voter-awareness project are just a few of the winners of the Education Department’s ''International Youth Year” Awards.

The 257 winners, all between the ages of 13 and 21, were announced last month by the department as part of its observance of International Youth Year, designated by the United Nations to honor young people around the world.

The federal government has established a theme for each month, and the Education Department chose this month to honor students because September’s theme is education, a department spokesman said.

The winners were selected from more than 1,000 nominations made by governors, mayors, and other officials in each state and the District of Columbia. The recipients “have carried out an activity of exceptional caliber and value to others,” the spokesman said.

The department will honor the winners this month in 10 regional ceremonies. Secretary of Education William J. Bennett will participate in the Philadelphia ceremony, to be held Sept. 26.

School districts with large numbers of students whose parents work and live on federal property could receive additional federal funding this fall because of new regulations from the Education Department that will change the way such districts can calculate per-pupil expenditures.

The new rules for the department’s impact-aid program were published in the Aug. 16 Federal Register. School districts are eligible for impact aid if they enroll students whose parents do not pay property taxes because they live and/or work on federal property or are in the armed forces. Federal law requires the government to contribute funds to such districts to offset lost tax revenue.

The new regulations, which became necessary due to impact-aid amendments that the Congress approved last year, apply only to those “heavily impacted” districts in which at least half the students qualify for impact aid and 20 percent of the parents both live and work on federal property.

Under current law, the government contributes funds to impact-aid districts on a per-pupil basis equal to half the national average for per-pupil spending or half the state average, whichever is higher.

The new regulations will allow heavily impacted districts to consider other factors as well in determining federal assistance, such as the number of handicapped or poor children they serve.


A majority of Tennessee’s public-school teachers say the state’s year-old career-ladder program is fraught with problems and is negatively affecting teacher morale, according to the results of a recent survey by the Chattanooga Times.

Nearly 97 percent of the 156 teachers surveyed said the career-ladder program was not adequately analyzed and planned before it was implemented. Only 5 percent said they were satisfied with the evaluation process, and only 18 percent said they approved of the method used to select evaluators.

Most of the teachers surveyed also reported that the program has caused morale problems: 86 percent said their morale had been affected negatively; 95 percent said the effect on other teachers’ morale had been negative; and 75 percent said the program is causing “friction” between teachers.

The teachers were polled in July at a meeting of the Tennessee Education Association. The T.E.A., an affiliate of the National Education Association, has opposed the career-ladder plan since Gov. Lamar Alexander proposed it in 1983. About 85 percent of Tennessee’s teachers are members of the T.E.A.

The Michigan Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ organization, has announced plans to push salary levels from $16,000 up to at least $30,300 for beginning teachers, and up to at least $60,000 for teachers with at least 10 years of experience and an advanced degree.

Larry Chunovich, president of the M.E.A., a National Education Association affiliate, said the predicted teacher shortage, already being experienced by some districts, will help drive salaries up. The M.E.A. will also work with federal, state, and local officials to encourage them to put more money into salaries by the year 1990.

In the 1983-84 school year, the average teachers’ salary in Michigan was $28,400-second only to Alaska’s $39,751, according to the N.E.A. The national average was $23,546.

But Mr. Chunovich said the Michigan figure is misleading. Michigan’s average salary appears high, he said, because most of the state’s teachers are experienced.

Phillip E. Runkel, Michigan’s superintendent of public instruction, agreed that teachers need to be paid more but said he did not necessarily support the M.E.A.'s target. “Teachers’ salaries are going to have to improve because there is going to be a real shortage,” he said. “As a society we’ve got to address that problem.”

Poor maintenance and inadequate supervision on school buses are endangering schoolchildren in Rhode Island, a citizens’ task force maintains.

Nearly half the school buses inspected by the state department of transportation in 1982 and 1983 were found to be “unsafe for passengers,” according to members of Concerned Citizens for School Bus Safety.

Results of the informal survey were presented last month at a public hearing in Pawtucket. Local school officials were invited to attend the hearing, but none did.

The task force was formed this year after two Rhode Island children were run over and killed by school buses within a three-month period.

A 1982 annual report by the department of transportation found that of 1,245 school buses given a garage inspection, 576 were unsafe for passengers and another 462 had minor defects. Figures for 1983 and 1984 were similar, said Barbara J. King, a task-force member. The 1984 annual report has yet to be published.

The task force will press for city and state laws requiring paid aides on buses with children in grades K-6. It is also seeking stricter regulations, requiring bus inspections twice a year, rather than once a year.

A circuit judge has ruled that Gov. Arch Moore of West Virginia exceeded his authority this spring when he vetoed $10 million in pay raises for teachers that would have helped equalize educators’ salaries in the state’s 55 county school districts.

Judge Jerry Cook held that the Governor’s line-item veto violated the state’s constitutional guarantee to provide a “thorough and efficient” education system, as defined in Judge Arthur Recht’s landmark 1982 ruling in Pauley v. Bailey, said Assistant Attorney General James B. Russell.

Judge Recht’s court order required the equalization of teachers’ salaries.

But Judge Cook, noting that the Governor was not a party to the original suit, has asked the state supreme court to review his ruling, Mr. Russell said.

In 1984, former Gov. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, now a U. S. Senator, set aside $29 million in surplus funds for the first phase of a pay-equity program, and this year the legislature attempted to set aside another $10 million in surplus funds for the second phase.

But Governor Moore objected to putting the $10 million under the state-aid formula, which would have made it a recurring expense, and vetoed it. The Governor also argued that only the state’s chief executive has the right to appropriate state funds.


The shortage of substitute teachers is so acute in Chicago that the board of education has decided to waive its requirement that substitutes be certified teachers, Manford T. Byrd, superintendent of schools, has announced.

Mr. Byrd said the board will grant provisional certification to college graduates who want to be substitute teachers, whether or not they have taken the education courses normally required of certified teachers in Illinois.

“We make a plea to persons who think they have the credentials to apply for a teaching certificate,” Mr. Byrd said in a statement.

School officials estimate that Chicago public schools will need at least 7,500 substitute teachers this year, but there are only 700 names currently on the district’s substitute-teacher roster.

The parents of a high-school honors student in Anderson, S.C., have pulled their son out of public school and enrolled him in Temple Christian Academy, following the county school board’s decision to make him repeat a grade because he had too many absences under the state’s new attendance law.

The Anderson County Board of Education voted 5-1 last month to uphold the decision of Anderson District-5 school officials to force Kenneth Clark to repeat 10th grade.

The youth missed 25 days of school last year. All but four or five of the absences were excused by his doctor, according to Millard G. Smith, executive secretary for the board.

However, the school principal did not accept the excuses because he did not believe the boy had a chronic illness.

South Carolina’s 1984 education-reform act requires students to produce proof of a chronic illness or emergency if more than 10 days of instruction are missed.

“Kenneth Clark is an outstanding student. Had the facts been a little different, I’m sure this board would have demanded that he be given credit,” said Mr. Smith.

The boy’s parents are appealing the decision.


An Illinois judge has ordered the Bartonville School District in Peoria to rehire a physical-education teacher who was fired last year for showing a videotape of male dancers to her female aerobics class.

In his ruling last month, Circuit Judge C. Brett Bode upheld a state board of education hearing examiner’s ruling last November that Alice Zook was dismissed improperly from her position at Limestone High School. (See Education Week, Nov. 14, 1984.)

The school district has filed an appeal in the Third District Appellate Court in Ottawa, Ill., according to Superintendent Norman T. Endsley.

A federal district judge heard opening arguments last month in a lawsuit by two fundamentalist Christian churches seeking to end state control over the schools they operate.

Last May, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in a similar case that state school officials have “a clear right” to ensure that private religious schools employ certified teachers and comply with state curriculum requirements. Shortly after the decision was handed down, church-affiliated schools in Marshalltown and Keokuk announced they would challenge the state’s truancy law in federal court. (See Education Week, June 5, 1985.)

The school-attendance law requires parents to send their children to public schools or to private schools that employ state-certified teachers and offer instructional programs equivalent to those in public schools. Leaders of the two religious schools have argued that the law violates church members’ constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion.


The former director of Guam’s education department has been convicted of offenses ranging from extortion to conspiracy to obstruct justice, and faces up to 70 years’ imprisonment and $50,000 in fines, according to press reports.

In a weeklong trial, witnesses testified that Katherine B. Aguon, who led the department from 1980 to 1982, accepted gifts in return for department contracts and attempted to obstruct a federal investigation of alleged department corruption, the reports state.

Ms. Aguon, who pled innocent, plans to appeal, according to the reports.

Elizabeth Schwartz, a public-school administrator in the School District of the City of Ladue, Mo., has been named “1985 Educator of the Year” by Scholastic Inc.'s Electronic Learning magazine. Ms. Schwartz, who is featured in the September issue, was recognized as the driving force behind innovative computer-education programs for in-school, after-school, and summer courses; teacher training; hardware and software purchasing management; and curriculum and software development.

A fundamentalist Baptist minister who went to jail last year after defying Nebraska’s education laws has said he will run for governor of the state in 1986.

The Rev. Everett G. Sileven of the Faith Baptist Church in Louisville announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination Aug. 22.

“I decided to run because I felt there needed to be a conservative moral alternative to the current liberal trend” in the state, said the 46-year-old Mr. Sileven. “My platform is very simple: less taxes, less government.”

In particular, the pastor said he opposes the consolidation of rural school districts and favors parental rights in education.

Rev. Sileven served 37 days in jail last year for violating a court order to close his Faith Christian School because it had not been accredited. The controversy was settled by compromise legislation allowing the school to operate without accreditation.

The pastor admitted that “the system as it now exists will not necessarily be supportive of my candidacy.” But he said he anticipates broad popular support.

The civil-rights activist James Meredith is one of seven candidates running for the Cincinnati Board of Education this fall.

Mr. Meredith, a native of Mississippi, in 1962 became the first black student admitted to the University of Mississippi. He is now a visiting professor of Afro-American studies at the University of Cincinnati.

According to the director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, Mr. Meredith filed a petition on Aug. 22 to run for one of four vacant board seats. The election will be held on Nov. 5.

“Cincinnati has unquestionably, for its size, the worst school situation for blacks in America,” Mr. Meredith said. Blacks serving on the board now, he said, “don’t represent black interests in Cincinnati whatsoever.”

A version of this article appeared in the September 04, 1985 edition of Education Week as The Week: Federal News, States News, Districts News, News Update, People News