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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.

Vol. 02, Issue 32

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