Teachers Column

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The American Federation of Teachers intends to lobby the Congress this session to exempt Chapter 1, vocational-education, Head Start, and special-education programs from the proposed budget freeze, the aft president announced at a press conference last week.

"Freezing funds for vitally important programs would be a national disgrace," Albert Shanker said.

Mr. Shanker also told reporters that the union "strongly opposes" provisions of the U.S. Treasury Department's tax-reform plan that end state and local tax deductions on federal income-tax forms and limit the deduction for charitable giving.

The aft will support programs that expand business and school partnerships, address predicted teacher shortages, and counter the asbestos problem in schools, Mr. Shanker said.

Another goal of the union this year, he added, is to address the "national need" for preschool and early-childhood programs.

Mr. Shanker also announced that the union has embarked on a 12-month television advertising campaign to inform the public about the condition of education in the 1980's. Its five 30-second public-service spots will focus on asbestos in schools, home-learning activities, the teacher shortage, health-care costs, and traffic safety.

For written information on the topics, write to the aft, P.O. Box 1930, Washington, D.C. 20013.

In an effort to cut down on teacher absenteeism, school officials in a Bucks County, Pa., district have offered their teachers a $300 bonus for perfect attendance this year.

Those with perfect records also are eligible for a lottery in which two prizes of $1,000 will be awarded.

"We are trying to deal in the real world with some kind of incentive," said Robert Dampman, superintendent of the Bensalem district.

Employee absenteeism in the district averaged about 7 percent each day last school year--about the same as other districts in the area, Mr. Dampman said.

Teachers rate their contribution to the general good of society the highest of 12 different professions, but they rate their status in the community the lowest, according to the Gallup Poll of Teachers' Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

The poll, published this month in the journal Phi Delta Kappan, surveyed 813 teachers from elementary and secondary schools.

Results of the survey, the first part of which appeared in the journal's October issue, show that teachers' views often vary considerably from those of the public.

For example, half of the teachers said their unions have improved the quality of education, but a 1981 Gallup poll found that 18 percent of Americans thought unions have helped education.

The poll also reveals that:

63 percent of teachers said they should be permitted to strike.

72 percent oppose extending the school day or year.

86 percent advocate sex education for high-school students.--cc

Vol. 04, Issue 17

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