Arthur E. Levine, the president of Bradford College in Massachusetts (above), spent last week getting an insider's view of students' educational experience. As a 'student' at Lawrence (Mass.) High School, Mr. Levine attended classes, took tests, and did homework.
Arkansas Legislature Approves Formula For School Funding
The Arkansas House of Representatives last week gave final approval to a new funding formula for the state's schools.
The legislature had been at work for almost a month to develop a school-finance formula that would replace the present one, which has been declared unconstitutional by the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Final approval came when the House concurred in two Senate amendments added on Oct. 20. One specified the percentage of state money that should be spent by districts on teachers' salaries. The other stipulated that districts must spend state and local money to meet mandated academic standards.
The formula sets a base amount in state and local funds that each district should spend per student. The state's share of the amount is based on the districts' wealth.
Current expenditures for each pupil vary widely from district to district.
The formula was initially opposed by the richest and smallest districts, which expected to receive less under the new approach.
The legislature is expected to act soon on a proposed one-cent sales-tax increase and other tax increases to pay for the new formula and to fund higher standards and a teacher-testing program.
Senate Approves Symbolic Measure Against Busing
The Senate, in a largely symbolic gesture, recently voted to prohibit the U.S. Justice Department from taking "any sort of action" requiring the busing of students to schools other than those nearest their homes.
By a 29-to-52 vote, the senators failed to table the measure, which was offered on Oct. 20 as an amendment to the fiscal 1984 Justice Department appropriation bill by Senator Jesse A. Helms, Republican of North Carolina.
After the vote, Senator Helms withdrew his amendment, claiming that he had "made his point."
"I just wanted a vote," Mr. Helms told his colleagues.
"I want the Justice Department to know that the Senate has spoken again on the question of forced busing, and it has displayed a strong majority will against it. That is the only point I wanted to make and I have made it."
Senator Helms' amendment was identical to one he offered during the 97th Congress to a Justice Department authorization bill. The Senate approved the amended bill in March 1982, but it was never acted on by the House.
"The last time this amendment passed, it was sent over to the House and [House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., Democrat of Massachusetts, and Representative Peter W. Rodino Jr., Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of that chamber's Judiciary Committee] arranged for it to be sat upon," Senator Helms said. "If you will look at the posteriors of those two men, you will realize that when they sit on something, that is a lot of coverage."
After the tabling motion failed, Senator Lowell P. Weicker Jr., Republican of Connecticut, noted that "this is the same Senate that voted for Martin Luther King Day and two days later went ahead and gutted, or tried to gut, the civil rights of black schoolchildren."
"This particular exercise does not stand to the credit of this body and repudiates what we did 48 hours ago," Senator Weicker said.
House Approves Nutrition Funds
The House last week approved a bill that would restore $100 million to the child-nutrition programs whose funding was cut by $1.5 billion in 1981.
The bill, HR 4091, would lower the cost of reduced-price lunches from 40 cents to 25 cents and would raise the level of family income below which children are eligible for reduced-price meals. The measure also increases the level at which the government reimburses schools that participate in the meal programs.
The bill now faces a Senate vote and the Administration; officials reportedly have indicated that President Reagan would not sign the bill as it was approved by the House.
A.F.T. Will Back Mondale in 1984
Walter F. Mondale completed his sweep of the endorsements of the major teachers' unions late last week, when the American Federation of Teachers formally announced its decision to back him for the Presidential nomination in 1984.
Albert Shanker, the federation's president, said the 34-member executive council chose Mr. Mondale because he places a high priority on education issues.
The "cornerstone" of Mr. Mondale's national policy is "a well-funded education program tied to tough standards, better pay for teachers, and the assurance that every American child will be guaranteed an equal educational opportunity," said Mr. Shanker.
Ford Foundation To Fund Programs On Migrants, Refugees
The Ford Foundation has allocated $7.6 million to research and education programs that address the problems of refugees and migrants in the United States.
So far, $3.2 million in individual grants has been awarded, including a $102,000 grant to the Community Consolidated School District 15 in Chicago. The Chicago funds will be used primarily to increase the English-language skills and vocational training of the district's migrant and refugee children, according to Oona Sullivan, a foundation spokesman.
Ms. Sullivan said the $7.6-million allocation will be awarded over a two-year period and represents an increase over previous foundation grants to migrant and refugee programs.
Ms. Sullivan said the foundation is interested in programs that will "help the refugees to settle" in this country.
District Shuts Down After Voters Reject $3.45-Million Levy
The Oaklea (Ore.) Middle School, one of the schools honored last month by U.S. Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell as one of the 152 outstanding secondary schools in the nation, closed last month for lack of funds.
The school, part of the Junction City School District, had to be closed late last month when local voters refused to support a tax levy that would have provided an additional $3.45 million in operating funds.
The district is the second one in Oregon to close its schools this year. In September, schools in Lincoln County shut down for two weeks until local voters passed a levy.
The 1,700-student district, like many others in Oregon, has an inadequate permanent tax base, officials say, and every year district voters must go to the polls to provide operating funds for schools. This year's levy would have raised property taxes by 37.8 percent, according to Anthony Kennedy, an administrative aide in the district.
Property taxes account for 70 percent of the district's $6.235-million budget; the state provides 24 percent of funding; and the federal government, now provides 6 percent. Four years ago, the federal share of the district's operating budget was 12 percent.
A new levy vote will be held on Nov. 8.
The local school board is currently in the process of cutting as much as $1.2 million from the district's budget, and parents are beginning a public-relations campaign to en-courage voters to support the schools, Mr. Kennedy said.
Minn. Health Agency To Keep Supplying Birth-Control Films
Minnesota Health Department officials have announced that they will continue to provide schools and community agencies with family-planning films, despite a record number of complaints from community members about the films.
In October, the department stopped distribution of the materials following a dramatic increase in the number of written complaints from parents, legislators, and other "concerned parties," according to a department official.
The health department received between 30 and 50 inquiries regarding the films, not all of them complaints, before distribution was sus-pended. Most of the complaints focused on the explicitness of the material and the fact that the films do not address the moral issues involved in family planning, said Buddy Ferguson, information officer for the health department.
The films, Mr. Ferguson said, "restrict themselves to providing basic, technically accurate information about reproduction and contraception."
Distribution of the films was resumed after an evaluation by department officials, Mr. Ferguson said. In a press release, the officials said that "because the films are distributed only to local authorities and community groups and others who request them, it is their responsibility to review the films and consider the particular needs and values of their audience."
"It's always been our position that we were there to make films available," said Mr. Ferguson, "but it's the individual agency's responsibility to make sure the films are appropriate for the audience."
La. Governor-Elect Pledges Salary Hikes
Louisiana's governor-elect, Edwin W. Edwards, has said he will make good a campaign promise to seek higher salaries for the state's teachers. Mr. Edwards, a Democrat, served two previous terms as governor, and last month defeated the Republican incumbent, David C. Treen, by a wide margin.
During the next session of the legislature, Mr. Edwards said, he will ask lawmakers to approve a $200-million package that would provide raises for teachers, other school personnel, and state employees.
During his tenure as governor, Mr. Treen signed legislation that established a "Professional Improvement Program," a statewide inservice program for teachers that pays the cost of further schooling, and also fostered the creation of the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts.
N.Y. Officials Outline Costs Of Reform Plan
New York education officials say the board of regents' proposed plan to lengthen the school year, revamp curricula in elementary and secondary schools, establish a comprehensive preschool program, and increase the testing of students would cost the state $2.9 billion over five years.
Officials in the New York Department of Education said the program would add $209 million to the education budget for 1984-85, the first year in which the proposal would be in effect. The current state budget for schools is slightly under $5 billion.
Legislative leaders and Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, who would share responsibility for authorizing any increase in spending, would not say whether the state would be able to provide the extra funds. Education-department officials said the money would come from the federal, state, and local level, but they did not elaborate.
The costliest component of the plan proposed by the regents in August would be the extension of the school year. Adding 20 days to the school year--10 for instruction and 10 for inservice training for teachers--would cost $158 million in the first year and $2.037 billion over five years.
Kansas Officials Expected To Raise Graduation Standard
The Kansas Board of Education will meet later this month to take final action on a set of recommendations for increasing high-school graduation requirements.
The board voted last month to consider increasing the number of credits required for graduation from 17 to 20, starting with the class that enters the 9th grade in 1984. The board rejected other proposals that would have increased minimum requirements to 22 in the following two years.
Under the plan to be voted on in November, students would be required to earn two credits each in mathematics and science and three credits in social studies--an increase of one credit for each discipline.
Vern Stephens, a program specialist for the Kansas department of education, said the board will consider further changes in graduation requirements after it evaluates the success of the 20-credit requirement.
Board members had expressed "concern" that schools might have difficulty attracting the teachers they would need to teach the additional courses, Mr. Stephens said. He said the board might submit proposals to the state legislature in January for additional funding for mathematics and science teachers.
California Citizens Advocate Increase In Education Funds
If California ends up with a budget surplus next year, a substantial number of taxpayers would prefer that the money be used to increase state services--particularly for education--rather than having it returned to them in the form of tax rebates, according to a recent Los Angeles Times poll.
With state officials predicting that they will end up with a modest surplus at the end of the current fiscal year, and a surplus of up to $1 billion next year, pollsters asked Californians how the excess money should be disposed of.
Forty-five percent said it should be used to "increase state services," and in that broad category, more than three in 10 said schools should have priority. Seventeen percent said the funds should be held in reserve; 5 percent said the money should be used to reduce taxes; 3 percent said it should be used to retire state debts; and another 25 percent had other suggestions or were not sure what to do with the excess.
The public also seemed to question Gov. George Deukmejian's commitment to public education; nearly half of those polled said they don't expect him to provide enough money for education. (Last summer, the Governor cut all funding increases for the 1985 school year from an educational reform and financing bill.)
Governor Deukmejian told the Times earlier in October that he wants to accumulate a "prudent reserve" before talking about ways to spend extra dollars, but he said he was committed to increasing the budget for higher education. He did not indicate what he would do about budgets for elementary and secondary education.
Mich. Legislator Chooses Home Study Over Public Schools
A Michigan legislator who is a member of the state House Education Committee and his wife are teaching their two children at home because they don't think the public-schools provide a proper education.
Representative Timothy Walberg, Republican of Tipton, Mich., took his children, ages 8 and 6, out of the Onsted Community Schools in Lenawee County at the end of last year because he and his wife wanted to "provide for our children the best educational experience that we can possibly provide ... at this time of their lives."
"We're not attacking Onsted," Mr. Walberg said. "It was a general concern with the educational experience in Michigan at this time. ... Education has been hit very severely with executive-order budget cuts, deferrals of payments, and loss of funding."
Stressing that education must be made a priority in the state, and that this is "not going to take place in the next few years," Mr. Walberg said he and his wife teach their two children in a "one-room school situation." Both parents hold degrees in Christian education. A certified teacher provides occasional supervision and tests the children periodically, as required by the regulations of the state department of education.
His decision to take his children out of public schools "may not be politically wise," said the freshman legislator, but "their lives are more important than to have them sacrificed because of my career," he said.
Alabama Lt. Governor May Double as Lawyer, Panel Hints
The Alabama Ethics Commission has indicated that it is likely to rule that the Lieutenant Governor of Alabama, in his capacity as a practicing lawyer, may represent the Alabama Education Association because such a link does not represent a conflict of interest, a spokesman for the association said.
Lieut. Gov. Bill Baxley is representing the association in a case involving a law that requires school districts to deduct voluntary contributions to the association from teachers' paychecks.
The ethics commission began investigating the matter this fall at the request of several citizens. Scheduled to rule in mid-October, the commission delayed a final vote until its November meeting. But it directed its staff to add to a preliminary opinion in favor of the Lieutenant Governor some examples of similar situations in the past, the spokesman said. He added that several of Mr. Baxley's predecessors had also represented the teachers' group.
"We've maintained that being lieutenant governor in Alabama is a part-time job, and they can't deny him his right to learn his living as an attorney," the spokesman said.
Va. Governor Urges New Pilot Program For Master Teachers
Gov. Charles Robb of Virginia has proposed the conversion of one of the state's high schools into a demonstration center for the master-teacher concept and for other new teaching methods.
Varina High School near Richmond was chosen for the project because it offers a mix of students from urban, suburban, and rural homes, officials said.
Under the plan, selected master teachers from other schools will work with Varina's teaching staff and will also experiment with new materials and curricula, said Cecil Carter, deputy secretary of education for the Virginia Department of Education. The curricula will emphasize mathematics, science, and foreign languages, he said.
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State officials have not yet released an estimated cost for the project, which the Governor will present to the 1984 legislature.
Utah Teachers Favor New Career Ladder, Oppose Merit Pay
Most teachers in Utah support the idea of working under a career-ladder program but they are opposed to merit pay, a recent survey conducted by the Utah Education Association shows.
Some 63.4 of the teachers surveyed favored the implementation of a career ladder for teachers, but 64.9 percent of those responding said that they did not support the introduction of a merit-pay program.
The proposal for a new career ladder was one of several recommendations forwarded to the Utah Board of Education by the Utah Commission on Excellence last month. In its report, the 24-member panel called for a three-step career ladder with a starting salary of $17,500 for all new teachers. (See Education Week, October 19, 1983.)
Teachers were divided, however, in their opinions of some of the panel's other recommendations. On the question of whether to extend the school year, 36.5 percent of respondents "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that the school year should be lengthened. About 38 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed with the addition of days to the school calendar.
Responding to the panel's recom-mendation that teachers be relieved of clerical and nonteaching duties, more than 70 percent said these tasks clearly interfered or somewhat interfered with teaching.
Teachers said their biggest frustrations in teaching were "discipline problems and getting students to do homework," according to the survey.
The survey also found:
Some 93 percent of the teachers favored an 11-month contract.
More than 56 percent of the teachers said there should be state scholarships to encourage prospective teachers to enter fields in which there is a shortage, such as mathematics and science.
More than half of the teachers surveyed said there "definitely" or ''probably" is an inadequate supply of textbooks in Utah's schools.
The survey results are based on responses from a scientifically selected sample involving 402 Utah teachers.
Oregon E.D. to Fund Antelope District
Verne A. Duncan, Oregon's superintendent of public instruction, agreed last month to release $2,202 in state funds for basic school support to the Antelope School District, which is operated by followers of the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.
The band of followers has been a source of controversy in the state since it bought property and moved into the rural town several years ago. Residents of the town have complained in press reports that the outsiders have taken over their local agencies and programs, and some older residents have moved out.
Prior to releasing the funds, the Oregon Department of Education completed an on-site study to determine whether the district had the capacity to provide an adequate high-school program for students. The district had not offered such a program in more than 30 years, according to Alan H. Davidson, executive assistant to Mr. Duncan; department officials found that it did, he said.
The department's decision to fund the district has generated an "overwhelming amount of mail" from the public. Much of the mail has consisted of complaints that the department has allocated public funds to support church-related activities, Mr. Davidson said.
The department provided the money to meet its obligation to see that the district can provide "an adequate high-school program for its students," Mr. Davidson explained. The district is a "legally constituted public-school district," although it has undergone "a total change in population" in recent years, he added.
The state department of education will conduct a follow-up study in November to determine whether the Antelope district has implemented the programs it must provide.
Spanking Results In Lawsuit Against Tennessee District
A $60,000 lawsuit has been filed against the Knoxville Board of Education by a parent who claims a teacher spanked her 4th-grade daughter so hard that the child required hospital treatment.
The lawsuit, filed Oct. 19 in Knox County Circuit Court, states that Bobbie Jo Osbourne required medical attention after she was "whipped'' with a wooden paddle by her mathematics teacher. The child was treated at East Tennessee Children's Hospital for "swelling of the buttocks, severe dark bruising on the buttocks, and severe physical pain accompanied by extreme emotional distress," the suit states.
The student's mother, Bonnie Lennon, also said that the spanking violated school-board policies that require notifying the school principal before spanking a child, obtaining a witness, and using other methods to solve the problem first.
Ms. Lennon has asked for $50,000 in punitive and compensatory damages and $10,000 for medical expenses.
The nationwide lack of jobs for young people is America's worst problem, George Gallup Jr. told a local hospital group in St. Louis last month.
The fact that 20 percent of all youths and 50 percent of black teen-agers are out of work, the Gallup Poll's president said, has resulted in major social problems such as teen-age crime, drug abuse, and alcoholism.
"Where people don't have work," Mr. Gallup said, "they get desperate and do desperate things."
He suggested one solution might be to follow the practical approach of European schools, which combine vocational training with liberal education. He also suggested mandatory national service--military or another type--as a solution.
Robert L. Thorndike, an emeritus professor of psychology and education at the Teachers College at Columbia University, this month was honored with the Phi Delta Kappa award for meritorious contributions to education through evaluation, research, and development.
The winner of the $1,000 prize, which is awarded every two years by the education fraternity, is selected by a committee appointed by the board of directors. Local chapters make nominations for the award.
Mr. Thorndike, who addressed the biennial meeting of Phi Delta Kappa last month in Dallas, is noted for his work in the development of tests of intelligence and aptitude. He also developed the Thorndike Dimensions of Temperament, a test that assesses the way people react to various situations.
Mr. Thorndike said he was working on a monograph about the way people learn to reason and what computers can teach about the learning process.
Gov. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri has asked the state legislature to adopt a $150-million tax-increase package in order to help finance the St. Louis area's landmark voluntary school-desegregation plan. (See Education Week, Oct. 26, 1983.)
Under Governor Bond's proposal, which was announced on Oct. 20, the state's sales tax would be in-creased by a quarter of a cent, bringing it up to 4.375 cents per dollar. The Governor estimated that the increase would bring in $75.6 million in additional state revenues.
Governor Bond also asked the legislators to raise the state's 5-percent corporate income tax to 7 percent, representing $32.5 million in additional revenues, and to double the state's corporate-franchise tax from 0.05 percent to 0.1 percent, which would bring in an additional $43 million.
U.S. District Judge William L. Hungate ordered the state in September to finance a substantial portion of the desegregation plan, which involves the transfer of black students in the city to 23 mostly white suburban school districts. The state has appealed that order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
The special legislative session convened by the Governor is scheduled to end on Dec. 21.
Developing equality in education is as important a supporting excellence, members of the Forum of Educational Organization Leaders stressed at a press conference last week.
"Our members are concerned that a consequence of implementing more vigorous standards may be the de facto exclusion of some students," said the forum's moderator, Harold Hodgkinson.
The group, which includes the leaders of the major national groups representing school boards, teachers, parents, and administrators, called the press conference to release its formal response to recommendations made in recent national reports on education and to comment on education issues currently in the public eye.
In general, forum members concur with national studies, their report said.
They agree that better teaching is a crucial factor in school improvement, and many of their recommendations propose methods for making the teaching profession more attractive and improving the quality of the teaching force.
In a draft of their statement on excellence in education, forum participants did not agree on the testing of teachers. (See Education Week, Oct. 26, 1983.)
However, when the final draft was released last week, the educators had reached a consensus. "We support requiring every prospective teacher to pass a test measuring subject-matter competency and computational, verbal, and writing skills, though we recognize that no multiple-choice test can guarantee teacher competence," the final statement said.
The Ohio Supreme Court has declined to remove two anti-tax initiatives from the Nov. 8 ballot, saying a lawsuit contesting the referendum questions came too close to Election Day.
The two ballot issues would repeal a 90-percent increase in the state income tax enacted last spring, rescind a tax-relief program for lower-income families, and require a three-fifths majority in each chamber of the legislature--as opposed to the current simple majority--to enact revenue-raising measures. (See Education Week, Oct. 26, 1983.)
Both measures are currently ahead in public-opinion polls, but the state's major education groups, which are strongly opposed to the measures, said last week that they believe the "no" votes are gaining.
Chicago teachers reached a tentative agreement with the school board last week, ending a 15-day strike in the nation's third-largest school district.
The teachers won a 5-percent salary increase, starting Jan. 1, 1984--exactly one-half the increase called for in their original demand. The school board had originally offered a 0.5-percent increase.
The tentative one-year settlement was reached during a 33-hour negotiating session and after both sides agreed to bringing in a federal mediator. Of the 15 school days lost during the strike, 10 will be made up next June, according to Elaine Soloway, a spokesman for the school board.
Ms. Soloway also said the teachers won a 2.5-percent one-time bonus and agreed to about $25 million in concessions.
The agreement calls for no changes in class size and no layoffs, she added. The contract must now be approved by the union's general membership.
Hard Times for 'The Great American Software Contest'
What do you do if you schedule a contest for the development of computer software and offer $30,000 in prizes, and almost no one shows up?
If you make your living in the computer field, you cancel the contest and start reconsidering your notions of where the computer industry is going.
Officials for talmis, a major computer-research company, say that's what they are doing. They estimate that information on their contest reached about 500,000 computer owners through advertisements in leading journals such as Byte, InfoWorld, and Compute, and contacts with officials for major computer organizations and users' groups. Still, only 36 people entered the "Great American Software Contest."
The disappointing response has led Jeanne A. Dietsch, the president of talmis, to reconsider her ideas about the overall health of the computer industry. "We were surprised," Ms. Dietsch said. "We knew there was a scarcity of software developers, yet we were hoping the money and a chance [to be judged by industry experts] would bring people out of the garages."
talmis has predicted that 50 percent of all American homes will have at least one computer by 1988, Ms. Dietsch said, but that a severe shortage of good software could slow that growth.
If the computer industry is to penetrate the home market that extensively, Ms. Dietsch said, families need to be given more ways of using computers--and that can happen only when software developers produce a "broader set of products."
"Most computer owners are 25 to 45 years old, and that's getting a bit old for arcade and adventure games," she said, referring to the pieces of software that, along with business programs, have been produced in the greatest abundance for home users.
An article in the Oct. 26, 1983, issue about evangelical youth ministries reported that three guidelines commonly used in drawing up church-school separation policies, derive from the U.S. Supreme Court case School District of Abington Township v. Schempp. The third of these guidelines, called "excessive entanglement," in fact derives from a Court decision handed down in 1970, called Walz v. Tax Commission.
Vol. 03, Issue 09