State News Roundup
The Association of California School Administrators will provide legal assistance to four administrators who have been charged by a committee of the state's commission on teacher credentialing with failing to report child abuse.
The acsa's board of directors authorized the assistance at a meeting last month, agreeing to pay up to 60 percent of the administrators' legal costs.
"The board of directors wanted it to be understood that it believes the commission on teacher credentialing to be acting without legal authority," said Thomas Gaffney, chairman of the association's professional-standards committee. "The board has directed the association to take all necessary and proper legal steps to correct this inequity."
The issue arose last year when a parent in the Freemont Unified School District claimed that the local superintendent of schools, a high-school principal, and two assistant principals failed to comply with the state's reporting requirements on child abuse.
Both the district's board of trustees and the Alameda County District Attorney's office investigated the claim and found insufficient evidence to pursue the matter, said Ted Witt, spokesman for the acsa
But a complaint was filed with the ctc and, after a hearing, the credentials committee recommended disciplinary action against the administrators. But the matter still must be heard by an administrative law judge, Mr. Witt said.
Prospective California State University students will have to be in the top half of their college class6to gain admission to teacher-training programs as of the fall of 1986.
The new requirement is part of a set of minimum teacher-education standards adopted last month for the 19-campus system by the csu Board of Trustees. csu campuses produce more than 6,000 teachers each year, more than half the state's total number of teacher graduates.
Linking the new standards to projections that California will need 110,000 new teachers in the next decade, Chancellor W. Ann Reynolds said: "We don't attract greater numbers of successful teacher candidates by 'dumbing down' our preparation program. Excellence will itself attract those now put off by an image of teaching as a second-class career for those who cannot qualify for more rigorous professional preparation."
Under the new standards, teacher-training candidates must have grade-point averages that are at least equal to the median campus average in their field of study. For example, if English majors on a campus have a 3.0 or "B" average, a student planning to become an English teacher must also have at least a 3.0 average.
The systemwide standards, in their first major revision in 20 years, also provide that, as a prerequisite for admission to teacher-training programs, candidates "early in their university studies participate in a field experience that includes observation and participation in public-school activities."
They also allow up to 15 percent of teaching candidates to be admitted to the training programs as exceptions if they do not meet one or more requirements but possess "compensating strengths" in other required areas.
A task force named in 1982 to consider the role of North Carolina's public schools in providing child care has urged that the state provide programs for 3- and 4-year-olds and for latchkey children.
The 11-member panel urged the superintendent to involve public schools in reducing the problem of latchkey children, explore funding for pilot programs for preschool children, and continue discussions between schools and public and private agencies that provide care, according to Kay Williams, information specialist with the state education department.
In North Carolina, 65 percent of mothers with 3- and 4-year-old children work outside the home. As3many as 30 percent of those children are excluded from high-quality day-care programs because such programs are either not available or too costly, according to the panel.
Superintendent of Public Instruction A. Craig Phillips, who named the panel, is expected to make recommendations to the state board of education in the fall, Ms. Williams said, in part on the basis of the panel's suggestions. Its report did not address issues of funding or implementation of the recommendations.
Legislation to crack down on gang crimes and drug abuse in schools or on school grounds has been approved by the Illinois Senate.
The package of bills, approved overwhelmingly and sent to the House with little debate, is designed to stiffen penalties for aggravated assault and drug and weapon sales within 1,000 feet of school grounds.
Adults convicted of selling drugs or firearms to children within the "safe school zone" would receive a minimum 6-year prison term. Youths ages 15 and older would be tried as adults for drug and gun offenses within the zone.
The legislation would also provide state grants to schools that offer drug-abuse education and treatment programs. Businesses donating funds to anti-drug and anti-gang programs would be eligible for tax credits under the bills, which are sponsored by Democratic Senators William Marovitz and George Sangmeister.
The California State Supreme Court has ruled that state and local government employees have the right to strike if there is no "substantial and imminent threat to the health or safety of the public."
California law had been silent on the question of strikes by public employees, including educators, other than to forbid strikes by firefighters. For more than 30 years, state appellate courts have held that government workers had no right to strike without legislative authorization.
Marilyn Russell Bittle, president of the California Teachers Association, said she was pleased by the ruling but does not think it will have any effect on the number of teacher strikes in California.
About 99.4 percent of cta chapters settle contract disputes without a strike, she said, adding, "We don't intend ... to abuse that right.''
Justice Allen Broussard, who wrote the majority opinion in the 6-1 decision, described the right to strike as "an important symbol of a free society." Citing a report that California had more than 440 such strikes between 1970 and 1983, his opinion said the ban against public-employee strikes had been "notoriously ineffective."
In the 10 other states that allow strikes by government workers, authorization has come chiefly from legislatures rather than courts.
"This is the type of decision that Californians have come to expect from this court," said Gov. George Deukmejian. "Fortunately, we insisted on no-strike provisions on all the contracts that we negotiated last spring with state-employee bargaining units." Those agreements are scheduled to expire at the end of June.
The Arizona Department of Education late last month took disciplinary action against three people in connection with irregularities in the statewide administration of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.
According to David J. Bolger, assistant to the superintendent of public instruction, an investigation of testing improprieties indicated that Larry Hanken, the Arizona representative of the company that puts out the test, had advised teachers and administrators in a number of school districts to use testing procedures that contradict the company's own guidelines. As a result, scores in four districts were declared invalid and "a cloud was placed over the entire testing system," Mr. Bolger said.
On Mr. Hanken's advice, he explained, school officials, in violation of official testing procedures, made the form for the test available to principals and teachers so they could prepare students to take it.
"The problem is magnified," Mr. Bolger said, because under state law a nationally standardized, norm-referenced achievement test must be administered every year to all students in grades 1-12, except those in bilingual and special-education classes.
"We have almost half a million kids taking it each year," Mr. Bolger said.
Charges of unprofessional conduct were filed against Mr. Hanken, who will face a hearing with the state's professional-practices advisory board.
In addition, "letters of discipline/reprimand" were placed in the certification files of two school administrators who had made a "fairly assertive effort" to make copies of the test available well in advance, Mr. Bolger said.
Disciplinary action is not being taken against other school personnel, he said, because they were working under what they thought was valid advice.
The state superintendent and president of the state school board will meet early this month with the president of Riverside Publishing Company, the publisher of the test, to discuss test security and the possibility that the state will not renew its $400,000 contract with the company, Mr. Bolger said.
Vol. 04, Issue 37