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Group Offers New Program for Gifted Minorities in N.J.

More than 100 7th graders in Newark, N.J., public schools have been selected to participate in a new program designed to place gifted and talented minority students in some of the nation's top preparatory schools.

The program, sponsored by A Better Chance Inc., an organization in Boston set up 20 years ago to place academically gifted minority students in prestigious private schools, requires students to spend an additional eight hours a week after school and on Saturdays taking intensive mathematics, reading, and writing courses.

It is the first such joint effort between abc and a public-school system, according to George Hobica, public-relations associate at abc

The goals of the program include identifying more gifted minority students in Newark's public schools and improving the students' motivation and learning skills. The Newark program also will be used as a model for other cities, Mr. Hobica said, adding that abc hopes to expand the program to other public-school systems across the country.

"We hope to help public schools identify their gifted and talented students and broaden the pool of minority students [for the abc program]," Mr. Hobica said.

The initial $50,000 funding for the program was provided by the Victoria Foundation, a New Jersey-based organization which supports educational programs in the state.

The students selected for the program this year will participate through next year, Mr. Hobica said, and abc officials are expecting about 10 percent of the group to be placed in private boarding schools.

New York City Dropout Report Criticized by Board

Local school officials have described as "incomplete" a New York City Board of Education document that examines the city's dropout rate and have criticized the citizen's group that released it to the public.

The report indicated that 11.9 percent of the system's high-school students left school during 1982-83. It projected that 40 to 43 percent of that year's 9th graders would not be in school by the spring of 1986, when they are due to graduate.

The study, made available to the press earlier this month by the Educational Priorities Panel, a coalition of civic and parent groups that monitors the school system, said that last year 31,833 of the city's 267,458 public-high-school students left school.

According to the report, more than half of the dropouts were in grades 9 and 10; most of the dropouts (about 21,000) were over 17 years old, the legal age at which students can leave school if they have parental permission.

The report said that 56 percent of the dropouts were male and 44 percent were female.

The dropout figures have remained fairly constant over the last six years, according to Susan Amlung, staff associate for the panel. Last year, projections showed that 45 percent of the students entering 9th grade would not finish high school four years later; a 1979 study based on different assumptions found that the dropout rate was ap-proximately the same.

The report said that based on past experience, 80 percent of those in retrieval centers, night school, or high-school equivalency programs never finish school.

The release of the study was not sanctioned by the school board. The report was "not ready for issuance," the board maintained. It is "incomplete," "lacking data," and "premature," said Robert Terte, a spokesman for the board.

"We believe the report is very reflective of actuality," Ms. Amlung countered. "Instead of tinkering with the numbers, they should spend more energy doing something about the problem. There has not been any coordinated or major effort to halt the dropout problem."

Mr. Terte said that the final report should be available in a few weeks.

Chancellor Urges 4-Day Experiment In New York City

Nathan Quinones, New York City's acting schools chancellor, has proposed that the school system experiment with the idea of lengthening the school day and reducing the school week to four days.

He has suggested that the fifth school day be used for extracurricular activities. Such a move, he said, might make school more attractive to some of the many students who drop out of the city's schools, in part because after-school jobs and other commitments make it impossible for them to participate in nonacademic school activities under the current schedule. The acting chancellor has said he would like to try out the idea in one or two schools.

Mr. Quinones, the former head of the city's high-school division, was recently appointed to lead the school system pending the outcome of an investigation by the city's board of education into allegations of misconduct against suspended Chancellor Anthony J. Alvarado.

Seattle N.O.W. Files Complaint Of Bias in Test

The Seattle chapter of the Nation-al Organization for Women has filed a complaint against the Seattle School District, charging that its new K-8 reading program is sexually biased.

The women's organization claims that the Prescriptive Reading Inventory program, which includes learning-objective worksheets and a testing system, features a disproportionate number of references to and pictures of men and depicts women in traditional roles, according to Ruth Balf, chairman of the chapter's task force on sexism in education. The program is also used in several other Washington State cities.

Charging that a section on occupations lists 47 positions for men and only 26 for women, Ms. Balf said, "In order for children to have equal opportunities, they need to have role models showing them the things they want to do."

The chapter has also charged that the program's section on historical biographies features 47 men and only 16 women.

"There are a lot of women in history," Ms. Balf said. "They are not mentioned because history is primarily the history of great white men."

The chapter has asked the district to remedy the bias by changing or eliminating the reading program, which is published by McGraw-Hill Inc. and was instituted last fall. District officials have until May 10 to respond to the complaint. now will appeal an unfavorable response to the school board, Ms. Balf said.

A complaint against the program has also been filed with the U.S. Education Department's office for civil rights.

A Seattle parent who is not affiliated with now last month charged that the program is racially and sexually biased. The department has not yet responded.

Vol. 03, Issue 31

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