State News Roundup
A federal district judge in Connecticut has upheld the procedure used by the Connecticut Education Association to calculate agency fees for nonmembers and to review challenges to those fees.
In rejecting the arguments of a suit brought by a nonmember, U.S. District Judge Jose A. Cabranes ruled last month that the the union's procedure met the standard set by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1986 ruling in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson.
In that case, the Court held that the union must present an "adequate explanation of the basis for the fee, a reasonably prompt opportunity to challenge the amount of the fee before an impartial decisionmaker, and an escrow for the amounts reasonably in dispute while such challenges are pending.''
According to C.E.A. officials, the ruling marked the first time that a federal court has assessed the legality of an agency-fee provision since the Court's decision last year.
Mitchell E. Roth, a staff lawyer for the National Education Association, said that Judge Cabranes's ruling would be "extremely helpful for those state associations that have virtually the same procedure as'' the C.E.A.'s. He said that "a number of state associations'' have similar procedures.
The Connecticut association, which charged nonmembers 80 percent of union dues, sent all nonmembers an explanation of the fee's purpose, and allowed those who challenged the fee to file an objection within 30 days. The union then asked the American Arbitration Association to select an arbitrator, who would hold a hearing to determine whether the fee was justified.
The union placed the fees of those who objected in an escrow account, which would be refunded with interest if the arbitrator ruled that the fee was too high.
Substitute teachers in Iowa must work in four consecutive months during the school year to be covered by the state's collective-bargaining laws, the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled.
The ruling, upholding a county-court decision, was issued on Feb. 18 in a case that began in 1984.
The Iowa Association of School Boards and the Iowa State Education Association, plaintiffs in the suit, had argued that the Public Employment Relations Board should allow substitute teachers to organize if they worked a specific number of days a month in any four months of the school year.
Officials of the school-board association said last week that the court's ruling could restrict a district's ability to schedule substitutes.
"Under Iowa law, substitute teachers could bargain for a separate seniority system for assignments, potentially limiting the pool of substitutes available for work in a school district,'' said Ted Davidson, executive director of the school boards' group.
Such a system, he said, could conceivably be used for transferring or firing substitutes, and would restrict "management prerogatives.''
The New Orleans Saints, a professional football team, will donate between $50,000 and $100,000 from the proceeds of a preseason game against the Houston Oilers to high-school athletics in Louisiana, the team's owner, Tom Benson, has announced.
The benefit game, dubbed "the Legend,'' will be played in the Louisiana Superdome on Aug. 22, in honorof outstanding former high-school athletes. If the 70,000-seat stadium sells out, the Louisiana High-School Athletic Association could receive up to $100,000 in revenues.
The association sponsors all of the statewide high-school athletic competitions in Louisiana, including those in basketball, football, soccer, swimming, track, and wrestling. It also sponsors a high-school "hall of fame'' and a drug-education program for high-school athletes.
Beginning teachers in Virginia performed better on a state-mandated test of their classroom performance this school year because they were better prepared for the evaluation, state education officials said last week.
When the competency test was first given, in fall 1985, 45 percent of the approximately 700 new teachers who took the examination failed. Last fall, about 1,400 teachers took the exam, and only 28 percent failed.
The latest results were closer to what state officials had expected, said William L. Helton, administrative director in the education department's professional-development office. This year, he said, teachers "were better informed about the program, had a longer time to prepare for it,'' and took it more seriously.
Virginia is one of a handful of states--including Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma--that require new teachers to pass a performance test to be certified.
The test measures teachers' classroom performance on 14 competencies, such as the ability to ask good questions and to plan a lesson. Each teacher is assessed three times, by three different observers. Individuals are given three chances to pass the test within a two-year period. If they fail to do so, they will not be granted a renewable five-year certificate to teach in the state.