City News Roundup
The school board in Norfolk, Va., is studying the possibility of dismantling its busing plan for elementary-school students and returning to neighborhood schools.
Since 1971, when the district came under federal court order to desegregate, children in the 44,000-student system have been bused to maintain racial balance. Busing has continued since 1975, when the federal judge overseeing the case declared the system "unitary."
Fifty-nine percent of Norfolk's public-school students are black, Superintendent Albert L. Ayars said, and every school in the system is at least 30 percent black or 30 percent white.
Although housing patterns in the city have changed considerably in the past decade, enabling several schools to be integrated without long-distance busing, a complete return to neighborhood elementary schools would leave eight to 10 schools racially identifiable, Mr. Ayars said.
"The board has been studying any way to reduce busing, increase parent participation, and improve instruction," Mr. Ayars said.
The administration has not taken a position on the issue, the superintendent added, but is conducting studies at the request of the school board. A committee of the board is expected to develop a proposal next month.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has threatened to sue the board if it does vote to return to neighborhood schools.
Eight high-school students from Tucson, Ariz., who were rescued by a helicopter from a snow-covered mountain early this month have been temporarily suspended from their alternative school for disobeying the teacher who led them on a hike.
According to the teacher, Rosemary Tindall of the Canyon Del Oro Alternative School, the eight students deliberately strayed away from the group of 10 that she was leading on a 14-mile hike up 9,000-foot-high Mount Wrightson at about 9 A.M. on Feb. 2. They were found at 2 A.M. the next day "loaded and smoking pot" but otherwise in good condition, Ms. Tindall said.
More than 50 volunteers from the Civil Air Patrol and other local groups were involved in the search and rescue, according to Ms. Tindall. A local television station's helicopter eventually took the students off the mountainside two by two.
The teacher said that publicity surrounding the incident--most of it negative--has placed the alternative program for about 100 disruptive and troubled Tucson youths "in a bad light, and could raise some serious questions about our funding in the future."
Almost 400 Philadelphia public-school teachers, administrators, and counselors responding to a Temple University survey last spring said that fighting, defacing school property, and failure to complete homework assignments are the most serious behavior problems among their middle-school students.
The educators also said that their three top needs were: a clearly established procedure to follow when attacked by a student; more counseling for disturbed students; and better intercom systems so they can call for help when attacked.
Irwin Hyman, a professor of educational psychology at Temple and director of the National Center for the Study of Corporal Punishment and Alternatives in the Schools, said that the results of the survey were ''not surprising."
"Many teachers don't have training for a violent situation in the classroom," he said. "They don't know how to handle violent students. Likewise, many schools don't have procedures for a teacher to use if he or she is attacked by a student."
Mr. Hyman added that violence in schools "is not just a Philadelphia problem."
"Educators face it in schools all across the country, in the city and in the suburbs," he said.
Vol. 01, Issue 21