National News Roundup

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Keith R. Finch, a high-school junior from Blacksburg, Va., won the top prize--a $16,000 college scholarship--at the finals of the American Legion's 46th annual National High School Oratorical Contest last week.

The competition, held at the U.S. Naval Academy, was the culmina-tion of a series of contests begun in January at American Legion posts across the country.

In the American Legion competition, begun in 1946 (when the winner was former U.S. Senator Frank Church, then a high-school student from Idaho), orators deliver from memory an eight- to 10-minute statement they have prepared about some aspect of the U.S. Constitution. The orators must also speak extemporaneously on an article or amendment of the Constitution se-lected by the American Legion.

The purpose of the contest is "to develop a deeper knowledge of the U.S. Constitution amongst high-school students and to promote leadership skills and the ability to think and speak clearly," according to Peter McQueen, a public-relations officer for the Legion's national headquarters.

About 30,000 high-school students nationwide took part in the competition, according to a spokesman for the Legion.

States News Roundup

The South Carolina Department of Education has announced that it will implement a new screening program to assess the skills of prospective school principals in 20 districts throughout the state.

In announcing the program, which was developed by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, Charlie G. Williams, state superintendent, said the quality of educational leaders and managers at the school-building level would improve as the selection process does so.

Under the assessment process, 12 participants would be observed by a team of six assessors trained to rate the participants on their performance in 12 areas.

South Carolina's program, which, according to nassp, is the only one of its kind in the country, will be expanded and offered throughout the state after the first year. But the participation of school districts will be voluntary.

Gov. John V. Evans of Idaho has vetoed a bill allowing local school districts to try four-day school weeks.

Although the House overrode the veto, the Senate sustained it.

The bill's sponsors said it would help school districts save money.

The Governor said in his veto message that a search for innovative ways to run schools was probably a good idea, but that such experiments should be under the direct control of the state board of education.

Gov. Ted Schwinden of Montana has signed a bill that will make it illegal for insurance companies in the state to use actuarial tables based on sex or marital status.

The law will go into effect on Oct. 1, 1985. It was supported by the Montana Education Association and by several women's groups throughout the state, who argued that sex-based tables infringe on the rights of women as individuals. In actuarially-based pension programs, women receive smaller benefits than men because, as a group, they live longer and can collect benefits over a longer period of time.

Montana is the first state to adopt a law prohibiting sex-distinct tables in the local insurance industry, state officials say.

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering the legality of the use of separate tables for men and women in determining pension benefits--an option many states offer for teacher-retirement programs.

Twenty-four of Wisconsin's 30 public and private teacher-training schools have joined in an effort to upgrade the quality of their programs.

Members of the Wisconsin Consortium for Improving Professional Education Preparation Programs will nominate education professors, schoolteachers, school-board members, and lay people to review panels that will evaluate the member schools' education programs and make recommendations for improvements.

A member's programs will be reviewed on a five-year cycle.

Michael J. Stolee, dean of the school of education at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, described the novel consortium as "a method of helping each other" and not an alternative to the voluntary national accreditation offered by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

But John R. Palmer, dean of the education school at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, said that some of the members of the consortium, including his school, do view the new organization as an alternative to ncate accreditation.

Members of the consortium sub-mit their programs for evaluation voluntarily. The incentive to do so, Mr. Palmer said, is the institution's "sense of professionalism."

Mr. Palmer said the consortium's evaluations are unrelated to the accreditation evaluations of each program conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Beginning next fall, Virginia will join the growing number of states that require all schoolchildren, regardless of age, to provide evidence that they have been immunized against the major diseases of childhood.

The law, which takes effect on July 1, expands the current requirement that pupils entering school for the first time and those transferring from other states be immunized. Under the new requirement, students will not be permitted to attend school without the immunization documentation. The requirement covers students in all public and nonpublic schools.

Health officials may exempt students if inoculation is in violation of their religious beliefs or if they have a health problem that precludes immunization.

The change was made in response to the growing consensus among health officials that, in order to prevent outbreaks of disease, older students must also be immunized, according to a spokesman for the state health department.

The new law requires pupils to be immunized against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, rubella, and mumps.

Despite the superintendent of public instruction's contention that the state is badly in need of teacher-training courses in the use of computers, scholarships for a free computer college course have not been popular with Kentucky teachers this year.

Superintendent Raymond Barber said last week that there are no applicants for more than half of the 180 scholarships that the state is offering under a $25,000 project.

A two-day workshop last fall attracted so many teachers that the department had to schedule four additional ones. More than 200 teachers attended each of those sessions.

But the waiver of the $132 tuition for the full-semester course--which offered three hours of credit--has been so poorly received that Mr. Barber extended the application deadline of April 1 by one month.

News Update

The federal district judge overseeing the upcoming trial of the New Jersey law requiring a "period of silence" at the beginning of each school day has decided to consider newspaper accounts of legislators' statements as evidence when he decides if the law was intended to restore prayer to public schools.

Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise, who will hear the case on May 13, made his decision after reviewing over 100 articles, editorials, and letters to the editor submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey for use in the case.

According to Anne McHugh, a lawyer with the firm that is handling the case on behalf of the aclu, the press accounts will be used to demonstrate the legislators' "true purpose" when they passed the law.

The New Jersey legislature keeps no daily record of hearings and floor debate, Ms. McHugh said, so the press accounts are more valuable as records of legislators' testimony during debate on the moment-of-silence bill.

The aclu says the law, which was enacted in December, violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

In January, Judge Debevoise prohibited schools from observing the moment of silence pending the outcome of the trial. (See Education Week, Jan. 19, 1983.)

New Jersey legislators have been granted a privilege, Ms. McHugh said, that relieves them from having to testify about their motivations and their roles in passing the law.

Gov. Bruce E. Babbitt of Arizona will veto a bill that deals with the teaching of the "origin of man" in the state's public schools, according to a spokesman.

The bill says that if a theory of the "origin of man"--this term was substituted for "evolution" in a House-Senate conference committee--is taught, it shall be presented as only one of several explanations for "the origin of the universe," and must be taught as theory only. (See Education Week, Feb. 23, 1983.)

The amended version of the bill passed the Arizona legislature on April 22. Governor Babbitt was expected to veto it last week.

The Republican Governor's bill was killed in the state Senate last month, but will be introduced again next year. It calls for higher pay for selected teachers who show special ability in the classroom. (See Education Week, April 20, 1982.)

Lieut. Gov. John Wilder, a Democrat, said he would support a new bill if it included an amendment that requires the state commissioner of education to be selected by the board of education instead of by the Governor, according to an education department spokesman.

Mr. Wilder also called for teachers to have a larger role in the selection of the so-called "master teachers," the spokesman said.

The Los Angeles Unified School District's new policy on extracurricular activities, which allows only students achieving a C average with no F's to participate, is taking its toll. (See Education Week, Nov. 17, 1982.)

AT one school, The Los Angeles High School, the policy has barred half of a drama class from joining this spring's production. Band, drill and athletic teams, and after-school clubs have also been affected.

About 1,000 of the 3,000 enrolled students at the school have not maintained a C average, according to the principal, James Ball. Another 400 students have a C average but have received a failing grade in one subject, he said. The policy includes all pupils in grades 4 through 12.

Some students eliminated by the rule are irritated, Mr. Ball said, but most say they think it is fair. "There are very few who couldn't have made the C average, " he added.

St. Louis-area residents were to have an opportunity last week to tell a federal judge what they think of a negotiated proposal to integrate public schools in the city and its suburbs. (See Education Week, April 13, 1983.)

U.S. District Judge William L. Hungate had been scheduled to hold a hearing on April 11 to determine the liability of suburban districts for segregation in the city's schools. He postponed that hearing, however, in order to give himself more time to review an agreement reached earlier last month between the city school board, 22 suburban boards, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that would initiate widespread voluntary busing between the city and the suburbs.

Battling for Boosters Along Highways and Byways

An effort to advertise the strengths of a struggling school district has turned into the battle of the billboards.

Boston school officials started advertising the strengths of the city's public-school system last October on 30 billboards across the city--space provided free by Ackerly Communications of Massachusetts Inc., one of the largest billboard firms in the country. (See Education Week, Oct. 27, 1982.)

Ackerly provides free billboard space for "public-service" messages whenever it has a board not leased by a commercial company. Organizations that want the space are required to pay for the paper, printing, and posting of the messages--which costs approximately $100 per message.

When Boston officials discovered that Ackerly also leased billboards in other cities, it began to expand its public-relations efforts. They saw it as one way of repairing the damage to the district's nationwide image brought about by the city's desegre-gation problems, one official said.

Thus Dade County, Fla., became one site of a billboard promoting the Boston public schools. "The Dade County people took one look at this and went nuts," said Thomas J. Walsh, a regional public-relations manager for Ackerly.

They were soon asking Ackerly how to obtain the free space, and by last December they had billboards not only in the Miami area but also in, of all places, Boston.

Seattle officials also were taken aback by a rumor that Boston billboards were going up in their area. They not only received permission to put up their own advertisements locally, said James R. Hawkins, a public-information officer, but also thwarted Boston's plans to move into their market.

District News Roundup

A security guard employed by the Bibb County, Ga., school district was shot to death on April 22 by a man suspected of trying to sell drugs in a school parking lot.

Euel T. Smith, 35 years old, was shot with his own gun while attempting to investigate complaints about a suspected drug dealer at Central High School in Macon. He was hired by the school board in November 1982 and had previously worked for the Macon police force.

James Louis Patterson, 23, has been charged with murder in the case.

Mr. Smith and another guard had gone to the school in response to student reports that someone was trying to sell drugs in the parking lot of the high school.

The guards arrived at the school in separate cars and found Mr. Patterson, who by that time had left the school grounds.

Grady Gafford, associate superintendent for finance and support services, said that Mr. Patterson had told the two guards that he was at the school to talk to officials about enrolling.

The security guard was shot, according to Mr. Gafford, as he attempted to drive Mr. Patterson to the school to confirm his story.

Thirty-seven students at Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Fla., were recently suspended for 10 days because of a "miniskirt" protest staged by a group of boys at the school.

The protest began with a few students, who temporarily donned miniskirts in protest of a school policy allowing girls to wear miniskirts but forbidding boys to wear shorts. The protest then grew to include more than 60 students--mostly 9th- and 10th-graders--who gathered outside the school on April 23 and defied the principal's order to go back to class, according to Howard Hinesley, the Pinellas County district's executive assistant superintendent.

After three warnings, about 37 protesters remained outside and were suspended for holding "an unauthorized demonstration," Mr. Hinesley said.

All the students appealed the suspensions, according to Mr. Hinesley, and the suspensions were reduced from 10 days to three days.

"It was a media event," Mr. Hinesley said of the publicity that has surrounded the protest. "Even the kids admitted they wanted to be on TV."

The U.S. Department of Labor said last week that its investigators found evidence of irregularities in a recent Washington, D.C., teachers' union election and that it will ask a federal judge to order a new election.

A spokesman for the department said the decision not to certify the election was based on the discovery of "inadvertent errors" in computerized mailing lists, which prohibited candidates from sending their campaign material to all eligible voters, and on interviews with union members whose ballots were counted but who said they did not vote. The irregularities were considered extensive enough to possibly affect the outcome of the election.

William H. Simons, who has been president of the 4,200-member American Federation of Teachers affiliate since 1964, was defeated in the March election. Following the election, the Department of Labor received "several" complaints, which by law it must investigate.

The March election was called by Federal District Judge Aubrey Robinson Jr. who, after a similar investigation by the Department of Labor, voided the union's May, 1981, election, primarily because voting was not conducted by secret ballot.

Judge Robinson will decide if a third election must be held.

The incidence of crime in all categories of major offenses has increased in New York City's elementary schools, after a decline last year, leading officials to consider re-quests for more money to hire security guards.

Assaults against teachers, staff members, and students increased this year by 16 percent in the city's elementary schools, 23 percent in the middle schools, and 27 percent in the high schools, according tostatistics compiled by the city's board of education.

City officials were particularly alarmed at the increase in the number of assaults in the elementary schools. There were 191 between September 1982 and March 1983, compared to 165 for the same period last year.

Angelo J. Aponte, executive director of pupil personnel services, attributed the increase to the inability of part-time guards to repel intruders. The part-time employees, he explained, do not have as much training as the full-time guards assigned to other schools.

Mr. Aponte said the board would ask for $2 million to hire 400 more part-time guards for the elementary schools. The school system now spends $25 million annually for security.

The Shelton, Conn., school board has agreed to extend the school day for graduating seniors in order to meet the state's attendance requirement and to avoid a cutoff of state funds--to the dismay of the seniors.

The board voted last month to add 100 minutes of instructional time each day for high-school seniors to make up for a 120-hour shortfall in the 900-hour minimum set by a recently enacted state law.

That law, which took effect at the beginning of the school year, requires a 180-day school year and specifies 900 hours of instruction, according to Stanley Russell, Shelton's superintendent of schools.

In 1980, the district was forced to lay off 56 teachers, 16 of them from the high school, and to consolidate instructional time into five straight classes. This eliminated study periods and free periods, according to Mr. Russell.

Mr. Russell said that the district began examining its compliance with the attendance law in February and was told that failure to meet the requirement might lead to the forfeiture of state funds.

"We've added on as much as we could for the seniors this year and next year we will lenghten the day to make up for the time the other students have missed," Mr. Russell said.

Gerald N. Tirozzi, New Haven's school superintendent, was named Connecticut's education commissioner last week by the state board of education. He will succeed Mark R. Shedd, who resigned in January.

Mr. Tirozzi said his top concern will be the "urgent need to raise the image of public education." He said his other priorities include retraining principals so they can help improve the performance of teachers, increasing teachers' salaries, ensuring equal opportunity for students and teachers, and improving urban schools.

Mr. Tirozzi began his career in 1962 as a science teacher in New Haven and became superintendent of that district, the state's third largest.

Although the state board conducted a national search for Mr. Shedd's successor, Gov. William A. O'Neill said that he preferred a Connecticut resident for the job.

The state board, rather than the Governor, has the direct responsibility for appointing the education commissioner.

Mr. Tirozzi will begin his $60,562-a-year job this summer.

Michael J. Stolee will resign on June 30, 1984, as dean of the school of education at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

Mr. Stolee, a nationally known consultant on desegregation and currently the court-appointed special master for the Benton Harbor, Mich., desegregation case, said he is relinquishing the deanship at the request of several of the school's faculty members.

"We've suffered greatly on enrollment declines and budget cuts, and a number of the faculty felt someone else could deal with these problems more effectively," said Mr. Stolee, who has held the position for nine years. "I hope that's true, but I doubt it." He will stay at the university as a professor of educational administration.

Lionel Brown, principal at Bloom Junior High School in Cincinnati, has been named "America's Toughest Principal" by The Nation-al Enquirer, a weekly tabloid.

The announcement of the award was made in the tabloid's March 8 issue. A photo of Mr. Brown appeared across from an article revealing the actor Paul Newman's intentions to run for President and above a photo of a chimpanzee washing a baby.

"At first I did not think the label 'toughest principal' was a fair assessment, because of the number of principals nationwide, and because I also place a strong emphasis on human relations and sensitivity and love for kids as well as student achievement," said Mr. Brown, who has a firm policy of sending students found lingering in the halls "home to mother" for a few days.

In April 1981, when Mr. Brown took over the job, he says, there were "more trespassers than students" in the school building, "teachers were referred to by their first name and every other name," and "nobody carried books and looked like students."

Since then, he has been credited with turning one of Cincinnati's most disorderly junior-high schools into one of the city's best.

The Los Angeles Unified School District's new policy on extracurricular activities, which allows only students achieving a C average with no F's to participate, is taking its toll. (See Education Week, Nov. 17, 1982.)

At one school, The Los Angeles High School, the policy has barred one half the students in a drama class from participating in this spring's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." The band, drill and athletic teams, and after-school clubs have also been affected.

About 1,000 of the 3,000 enrolled students at the school have not maintained a C average, according to the principal, James Ball. Another 400 students have a C average but have received a failing grade in one subject, he said. The policy includes all pupils in grades 4 through 12.

Some students eliminated by the rule are irritated, Mr. Ball said, but most say they think it is fair. "There are very few who couldn't have made the C average, " he added.

In 1979, the researchers Ernest J. Sternglass and Steven Bell predicted that 1982 would bring the first evidence of a reversal of the 19-year decline in Scholastic Aptitude Test scores. They based their prediction on a statistical correlation between the decline of the test scores and the atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs.

Indeed, the 1982 test scores did show slight improvement. In an article published in the April 1983 Phi Delta Kappan, the two researchers offer that rise, as well as further data on both test scores and radioac-tive fallout, to advance their hypothesis a step further.

Mr. Sternglass is a professor of radiological physics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Mr. Bell is an associate professor of education and psychology at Berry College in Georgia.

The two researchers argue that the fallout "acts on the thyroid of the developing fetus in the mother's womb and during infancy, when the thyroid is known to control the development of cognitive functions." One way that the damage may show, they theorize, is through lower test scores.

In 1979, the researchers cited "the temporal geographical patterns of the year-by-year changes in the scores, which closely follow the pattern of nuclear bomb tests some 17 to 18 years earlier."

That pattern has been repeated in new data, which include state-by-state fallout measurements in 1961-62, when atmospheric testing was resumed for one year, and test scores 17 to 18 years later. "We found the strongest correlation between radioactivity in the milk for the years 1961 and 1962--when atmospheric bomb tests were at their highest level--and the verbal sat scores for 1978."

Similar attempts to correlate radioactivity with test scores in other years, when children would have been exposed at a later age, showed no link.

Vol. 02, Issue 32

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