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The New York State Commission of Investigation has rejected a request from New York City Schools Chancellor Frank J. Macchiarola to probe a covert state operation conducted to test the city's practices in hiring special-education teachers.

Lola A. Lea, chairman of the investigatory commission, told Mr. Macchiarola in a letter that his complaint involves an interagency disagreement that should be resolved by the federal court presiding over a class-action suit (Jose P. v. Ambach) which has put the city under court order to place all handicapped children within 60 days of referral.

Chancellor Macchiarola had charged in his request to the commission that Louis Grumet, the state education department's special-education director, had "abused his position" when he ordered some 40 employees of the state agency to pose as applicants for special-education jobs in New York City.

Mr. Grumet said he ordered the undercover operation to test the city's contention that it could not hire enough teachers to provide court-ordered programs for all of the students who needed them.

A federal appeals court has upheld a New York State order temporarily revoking the United Federation of Teachers' right to deduct dues from members' paychecks.

The penalty against the 70,000-member union--the largest affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers--was handed down in accordance with state law by the state's Public Employment Relations Board after the union conducted an illegal five-day strike in 1975.

A union spokesman said the two-year loss of the so-called "dues checkoff" will force the organization to resort to more cumbersome methods of collecting dues. Collections probably will drop off, she said.

As a result, she added, the union will probably will have to cut back on many of the services and programs it now offers to its members.

The penalty is to go into effect within the next several months.

Research And Reports

Education Week
Volume 1, Issue 29, April 14, 1983, p 3

Copyright 1983, Editorial Projects in Education

Research And Reports

"Chico liked to work with his hands much better than he liked to work with his brain."

"The Indians pose one of the major problems of Central America. They are an ideal group for Communist agents to work on."

Such stereotypes in commonly used textbooks, a new report asserts, help to explain why U.S. citizens are poorly informed about Central America and recent events there.

Learning About Central America: What U.S. Children's Books and Texts Teach, prepared by Rochelle Beck and Nancy Anderson for the Council on Interracial Books for Children Inc., maintains that the "chain of ignorance" about Central America begins in school.

Ms. Anderson and Ms. Beck asked a panel of 14 scholars, teachers, and teacher-educators to assess 30 commonly used social-studies texts and other materials.

Many of the books, the evaluators found, barely mention Central America, or merely refer to it as a "bridge" between North America and South America--giving children the impression that the region is not important.

Furthermore, in nearly all the books that do deal with Central America, the evaluators found persistent bias, inaccuracies, and oversimplification.

Some 87 percent of the books reviewed contain inaccurate or out-of-date infomation, the report says, and 80 percent "contain no Central American perspectives to explain historical or social events."

The quality of research and writing on Central America is so poor, the researchers conclude, that most of the books "would not help students today--or adults tomorrow--evaluate world events without knee-jerk reactions based on fear rather than facts."

Of the 30 books evaluated, the reviewers recommended only one--Paul Thomas Welty's The Human Expression, published in 1977 by the J.B. Lippincott Company.

The report will be published in the next issue of the bulletin of the Council on Interracial Books for Children, a private group that examines children's books for bias. Copies are available for $3 from the council, 1841 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10023.

A new report on one of the most crucial disciplines--writing--has been published by the American Association of School Administrators.

"Student writing is a serious problem in most of the nation's school districts," writes Shirley Boes Neill, the author of Teaching Writing: Problems and Solutions, the 11th volume in the aasa's "critical-issues" series. Moreover, she adds, many school officials are unaware of the problem.

In a survey conducted for the report, Ms. Neill found, 40 percent of the 425 administrators who responded judged student writing to be a "serious" problem in their district. Fifty percent regarded it as a "minor" problem. But in many of these districts, Ms. Neill notes, student writing has not been formally evaluated, nor have teachers received training in the teaching of writing.

The report, however, offers solutions that may help administrators improve the teaching of writing in their schools. Successful programs are described in detail, and several authorities on the teaching of writing offer their thoughts on the subject.

The report is available from the American Association of School Administrators, 1801 North Moore Street, Arlington, Va. 22209. Single copies: $11.95. Discounts are available for multiple copies. Add $1.50 to orders of $15 and under for postage.

Furthermore, in most of the books that do deal with Central America, the evaluators found bias, inaccuracies, and oversimplification.

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