National News Roundup

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President Reagan, saying that the current system of education "has served the nation well but now is in need of significant changes in key areas," sent to the Congress earlier this month a package of bills that would drastically revise the way that the government distributes aid to college students and would establish an educational-voucher system for the parents of disadvantaged children.

The President said in letters to both houses of Congress that his proposals "reflect my strong conviction that education decisions should be made by parents, students, states, and local officials."

Under one section of the President's student-aid proposal, parents would be allowed to set aside up to $1,000 annually in tax-free accounts for their children's college education. Under the other, college students would not be eligible to receive a tuition grant if they fail to pay for at least 40 percent or $800 of their college costs, mainly through work.

Under the President's third proposal, states would be given the authority to order school districts to provide educational services to disadvantaged children in the form of educational vouchers. If states declined to institute the voucher program, local school boards could opt to provide services.

Parents would be allowed to use their vouchers at either private or public schools as long as those schools have not discriminated in admissions on the basis of race during the previous 12 months. The President's bill does not specifically preclude the payment of vouchers to schools that discriminate in admissions on either the basis of sex or handicap, or to those schools that discriminate in their hiring policies.

The Reagan Administration has announced that it will do "everything necessary" to support the constitutionality of a law that prevents the granting of college aid to young men who refuse to register for the draft.

"Congress overwhelmingly passed this statute to encourage college students who receive federal financial assistance to comply" with the law, said Thomas P. DeCair, a spokesman for the Justice Department. "The government believes that this is a legitimate condition to place upon students who wish to receive financial assistance from the federal government."

Earlier this month, a federal judge in Minnesota handed down a preliminary injunction barring the Administration from enforcing the law, which was included as an amendment to last year's Defense Department appropriations bill.

Mr. DeCair said the Administration "is not taking an appeal at this time" of U.S. District Judge Donald D. Alsop's order, noting that it had until April 8 to do so. "In the meantime, we intend to cooperate with Judge Alsop and the plaintiffs in expeditiously obtaining a final disposition in the district court," he added.

The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union, The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, and several unnamed nonregistrants have sued the government over the enactment of the law.

Nevada is still the fastest-growing state in the nation, recording a 10-percent increase in population between 1980 and 1982, according to a recent Census Bureau report.

After Nevada, the states that have recorded the most growth since the 1980 census are Alaska (9 percent), Texas (7.4 percent), Florida (6.9 percent), Wyoming (6.8 percent), and Utah (6.3 percent), the report noted. All of those states, led by Nevada, were among the 10 fastest-growing states during the 1970's.

The five states that have lost population since the 1980 census--Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, and West Virginia--grew during the 1970's. New York and Rhode Island, the two states that lost population during the 1970's, reversed that trend between 1980 and 1982.

During the two years following the last national census, the nation's population grew by about 5 million, the bureau said. The South and the West had about 92 percent of that gain, or 4.6 million. Within those regions, California, Texas, and Florida gained 2.8 million, or more than half of the national total.

The 10 states recording the highest number of births in the nation between 1980 and 1982 were: California (937,000), Texas (630,000), New York (544,000), Illinois (442,000), Ohio (379,000), Pennsylvania (361,000), Michigan (312,000), Florida (308,000), New Jersey (218,000), and Georgia (205,000).

States News Roundup

Education Week
Volume 2, Issue 27, March 30, 1983, p 2

Copyright 1983, Editorial Projects in Education

States News Roundup

Wyoming's school-finance reform, ordered by the state supreme court and approved in principle by the state's voters last fall, has been passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Ed 'Herschler.

The measure, as modified by the State Senate, will set property-tax levies in all districts at between 25 and 28 mills. Districts whose local per-pupil revenues fall below the statewide average will receive enough state funds to bring them up to the average, while local revenues in property-wealthy districts are subject to "recapture" by the state if they exceed 150 percent of the statewide average.

The measure also repeals state "supplemental aid," which in the past has gone to poor districts, and puts more money into the state foundation fund, thus enlarging the base of revenue that can be used for equalization. The state will now guarantee that each "classroom unit" will receive $73,000 per year from state and local sources; the previous figure was $41,550 per classroom unit.

Most of the reform will be paid for by the state's collection and redistribution of funds currently collected and spent at the local level, according to state officials. About $9 million in new money will flow into the system as wealthier districts raise their tax rates to meet the new minimum local levy.

The move, which will increase the state foundation program's share of educational expenses from an average of about 32 percent to 42 percent, will greatly lessen the disparities between districts' tax bases, which were found unconstitutional in 1981, according to Mel Gillispie, assistant state superintendent.

The Minnesota Department of Education has begun an investigation into allegations made by the Minnesota Education Association that classes in some school districts exceed the state board's rule on class size.

The mea charged last year that 41 of the state's 436 school districts violated the state rule on student-teacher ratio. The union had planned to file a lawsuit against the state board unless the department investigated the charges, according to E. Raymond Peterson, associate commissioner of education.

Mr. Peterson said the department only collects data on teacher licensing and the number of students in each school building and not on individual classrooms.

The department has sent letters to school officials asking for the information, according to Mr. Peterson. Based on some early returns, he said, it appears that many of the school officials have either hired teachers or reassigned students to correct the violation.

Lawsuits seeking $590,000 in damages have been filed against two Illinois school districts stemming from incidents involving strip searches of students.

Patricia Loney is seeking $515,000 from the Rockford school district, its superintendent, a principal, and two teachers on behalf of her son, James Hershey. The child, she alleges, was forced to "disrobe to the skin" in an attempt to find $4 reported missing by a female student at Vandercook Elementary School in February.

The suit alleges violation of the 10-year-old boy's rights of privacy and freedom from unreasonable search.

In the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, Dayle Murphy filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court seeking $75,000 on behalf of her 12-year-old daughter.

That suit was filed in response to an incident that occurred last October, in which 14 students, ranging in age from 11 to 13, reportedly stripped to their underwear after consenting to a search by teachers attempting to find a $40 pocket calculator that a 6th-grade boy reported missing. The calculator was later found in a book belonging to the boy.

A third district, Sandoval, also banned the searches after 28 students were allegedly searched.

A New York State appeals court ruled last week that a public school may not set up a scholarship fund that discriminates on the basis of sex, even if the grant is financed by a private source.

When he died in 1978, Edwin Irving Johnson left the Croton-Har-mon Union Free School District $195,000 in his will to establish a college scholarship for young men in financial need. But the fund has not been touched since then because of litigation.

The recent decision--which overturns a surrogate's earlier approval of the scholarship--held that the grant should be opened to women as well as men. School officials said they would be happy to comply.

Charles Keir, the principal of Croton-Harmon High School, said the school has in recent years opened to women many previously all-male scholarships. The will's wording, he said, "puts us in a very difficult position. We would be discriminating."

Jonathan B. Blattmachr, a lawyer appointed to represent the Johnson estate, has not said whether he will appeal the case to the state's highest court.

The Connecticut legislature will soon consider a measure that would free school officials from the obligation to provide alternative-education programs for students expelled from school for possessing a "dangerous instrument with the intent" of using it on school property.

Under state law, school districts are required to provide these students, if they are age 16 and older, with an instructional program "only if the child expressed interest," according to Scott Brohinksy, legislative assistant to the state education commissioner.

"The onus was on the child to request" the service and the district had to comply, Mr. Brohinsky said.

The new measure, which was recently approved by the legislature's education committee, would allow school officials to decide whether they will provide the educational services, according to Mr. Brohinsky. Mr. Brohinsky said the bill was meant to apply to situations in which there is concern about the safety of the person who would have to provide the outside educational services.

Connecticut students would be re-quired to attend school at age 5 rather than at age 7 under a controversial bill pending before the state's General Assembly.

If the bill is approved, Connecticut would have the lowest minimim school age in the nation. No other state has lowered its mandatory-attendance age below age 6, according to the Education Commission of the States.

The state board of education, which proposed the bill, maintains that students will benefit from starting school at a younger age.

"The earlier you get children into school, the better it is educationally for those children down the line," said Scott Brohinsky, the department's legislative director.

Not everyone agrees. "We're concerned about children who are immature, whose parents decide that they are not ready for kindergarten at age 5," said Pamela Granucci, president of the Kindergarten Association of Connecticut, a group of about 200 teachers.

Opponents also contend that the proposed bill would penalize working parents who currently place their 5-year-old children in all-day day-care centers. Since Connecticut schools must provide only a half-day of kindergarten, Ms. Granucci said, those parents would have to to find alternate forms of child-care.

Districts News Roundup

Education Week
Volume 2, Issue 27, March 30, 1983, p 3

Copyright 1983, Editorial Projects in Education

Districts News Roundup

Teachers in the Nanticoke (Pa.) Area School District--angered by the district's moves to force them to stay in the classroom--began their second official strike of the school year early this month. As of last week, the strike continued.

Many members of the Greater Nanticoke Area Education Association have held "selective strikes" in recent weeks to protest the lack of progress in contract negotiations. The teachers have been working without a contract all year.

Teachers' union officials pulled all teachers off the job March 16 when the district decided to seek a court order that would prevent walkouts and allow dismissals of teachers.

In an effort to put new life into their night-school programs for adults, Dade County, Fla., school officials have signed a contract that will allow Jazzercize Inc., the popular physical-fitness enterprise, to operate classes in any of the county's 55 night-school programs.

The unusual commercial venture marks the first time that county officials have contracted with a business to provide night-school classes.

The school system and the California-based corporation will split the fee--usually about $2 per class session--with 20 percent of the money collected going back into the night schools for other uses.

Joseph Mathos, supervisor of adult community education, said the schools could earn as much as $1,000 per course, each of which lasts about eight weeks. Most of the money will be used to subsidize other night-school courses that are now losing money, he said.

School officials are especially interested in placing the classes in inner-city schools where financial problems brought on by sagging enrollments now limit the number of courses offered, Mr. Mathos said.

The Philadelphia school board last week approved the appointment of an executive-on-loan from private industry to help manage the business affairs of the city's school system over the next two years.

On April 1, Frederick B. Wookey Jr. will assume direct authority over the Philadelphia schools' business, personnel, transportation, physical plant, and food service operations. As a deputy superintendent for administrative services, he will report directly to Superintendent Constance E. Clayton.

Mr. Wookey is the manager of supply and distribution in the lubricant division of the Sun Refining and Marketing Co., a subsidiary of the Sun Co. His salary will be paid by the company. His most pressing tasks, according to a district spokesman, will be to improve the efficiency of the maintenance and pupil-transportation programs.

A drug-detection program in a Texas high school that offers $100 rewards to students who act as informants is working very well, a school official says. Only a few students have criticized the idea, he added.

Since last September, the informant system has led to the arrest and expulsion of 14 offenders from Lewisville High School, V.M. Burkett, the district's superintendent, said. "It's working because we're involving students," he said. "It's brought students closer together, not pushed them apart."

A report on CBS Evening News, however, depicted students as being critical of the program for turning students against students.

The program was launched by the local parent-teacher association, with support from the school district. The association pays $100 to students whose information about another student leads to an arrest and a conviction and $50 for tips that turn out not to be useful.

Mr. Burkett said some students acting as informants refused to take money and others who came in to report confidentially to the school principal would not use names, but would only describe scenes.

School Rules Stir Sticky Trouble for 8th-Grade Chef

Education Week
Volume 2, Issue 27, March 30, 1983, p 3

Copyright 1983, Editorial Projects in Education

School Rules Stir Sticky Trouble for 8th-Grade Chef

The sweet success of free enterprise seems to have eluded Jill Benton, at least temporarily.

In January, soon after a friend taught her how to make lollipops, the Sagle, Idaho, 8th-grader began selling her homemade cherry hearts and cinnamon lips to fellow students at Sandpoint Junior High School.

Apparently striking a sweet tooth in the marketplace, she "banked $307" in the first three days of sales of her 25-cent product, according to her father, Larry Benton. She achieved her commercial success without the aid of lavish advertising campaigns or the expensive advice of marketing experts; a tasteful promotion was conducted strictly by word of mouth.

Then, perhaps inevitably, the bureaucracy caught up with the 14-year-old entrepreneur. Principal William Miller called Ms. Benton into his office and explained that her sales must stop because she was violating the education department's rule against the sale of foods of minimal nutritional value before the end of the last lunch period.

Undaunted, Ms. Benton offered to sell her sweets only after lunch. Not good enough, Mr. Miller later replied, because, alas, Ms. Benton was also in violation of a local health code which prohibits the preparation of commercial foodstuffs in a kitchen attached to a residence. She had been making her lollipops in the kitchen at home.

"She's a little confused," said her father, who was unwilling to separate the kitchen from his house but who has applied to the local health department for an exemption from the code.

"What about food made for school bake sales?" he asked. "Don't they violate the code too? She was getting a great lesson in free enterprise, in how this country works. Now her school is discouraging success instead of promoting it."

Although her sugary production line is temporarily shut down, Ms. Benton has had one consolation. Since the Associated Press sent her story out over the regional wires recently, she has been deluged with letters and phone calls from well-wishers from Northern California to Montana. One woman even offered her a horse, which Ms. Benton was planning to buy with her profits.

News Update

Education Week
Volume 2, Issue 27, March 30, 1983, p 3

Copyright 1983, Editorial Projects in Education

News Update

The Mississippi legislature has passed a bill appropriating $280,000 for a study of school and school-district consolidation in the state.

The study, to be conducted by the state's educational-finance commission, was ordered by the legislature as part of the education-improvement package passed last December (See Education Week, Jan. 12, 1983). The consolidation plan is due in June of 1985.

The Arkansas General Assembly has voted to put nearly $400,000 into an interest-bearing account that may eventually be used to pay legal fees incurred by the American Civil Liberties Union in its suit against that state's 1981 law requiring balanced treatment for "creation science" and evolution.

Federal District Judge William R. Overton awarded legal fees and expenses to the aclu in January, exactly one year after he declared the law unconstitutional.

The award, but not the decision itself, is being appealed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis, according to Sandra L. Kurjiaka, executive director of the aclu of Arkansas.

Vol. 02, Issue 27

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