News Updates

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

The U.S. Supreme Court may be asked to resolve a dispute over a settlement requiring the Alabama Board of Education to revamp its teacher-certification tests.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit last month upheld the settlement, which would force Alabama to make sweeping changes in its teacher-testing program to prevent racial bias. (See Education Week, Jan. 14, 1987.)

Lawyers for the board have argued that, because all board members did not agree to it in writing beforehand, the settlement between the board and a group of black teachers who allege that the tests are biased is not legally binding.

If the board decides to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, the Justices would be asked to rule only on whether the settlement is legally binding--and not on the tests' alleged racial bias.

Gov. Guy Hunt, chairman of the state board of education, has said that the state should appeal the decision. The board is scheduled to meet on Thursday.

Under pressure from federal and state civil-rights officials, the Tornillo, Tex., school board has rescinded its policy of asking parents to punish children for speaking Spanish at school as a way of promoting English acquisition. (See Education Week, May 6, 1987.)

The schools will now "stress the importance of both languages,'' Francis Brooks, superintendent of the rural west Texas district, said last week. "We're going to go to bilingual education to the extent that we can.''

He said teachers will no longer be required to "set an example'' for students by speaking only English.

Mexican-American leaders had criticized the English-only rule as racist. About 95 percent of Tornillo's 370 students are of Hispanic origin, and 60 percent are limited-English-proficient.

Mr. Brooks said the board acted after the U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation and officials of the Texas Education Agency advised the district that the English-only policy discriminated against children on the basis of national origin.

Texas lawmakers are unlikely to amend the state's controversial "no pass, no play'' rule for participation in high-school extracurricular activities, the speaker of the Texas House has predicted.

The rule, adopted as part of the state's comprehensive 1984 school-reform law, prohibits students who score below 70 in any class from participating in sports and other activities for six weeks. (See Education Week, Aug. 22, 1984.) Gov. Bill Clements, who pledged to amend the rule in his election campaign last year, says he supports a Senate bill that would shorten the period of ineligibility to three weeks.

But in an April 28 interview with The Associated Press, the House Speaker, Gib Lewis, predicted that, because "the support is just not there,'' the bill would not pass in the current session.

"I don't think it's there in the Senate, and I don't think it's here in the House,'' Mr. Lewis said.

The debate over public-school overcrowding in Los Angeles continued late last month, as the school board voted, in response to community pressure, to withdraw 11 neighborhoods from consideration as sites for new or expanded schools.

To accommodate the district's burgeoning enrollment, officials have obtained state approval to build 18 schools and expand 32 others, according to Marty Estrin, a spokesman for the school board. But residents and owners of homes and businesses that would be demolished to make way for the new schools have strongly opposed the plan, he said.

The board voted on April 28 to permanently withdraw from consideration 11 of the proposed sites, and to delay final action on a 12th site until an environmental-impact report can be completed. Mr. Estrin noted that the board also voted to approve six construction projects.

In November, the board voted to delay placing any more schools on year-round schedules until the 1988-89 school year. (See Education Week, Dec. 17, 1986.)

In an effort to make amends for a remark that angered American blacks and ethnic groups, Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone of Japan met with the Congressional Black Caucus and other black leaders during his trip to Washington this month.

Following the 35-minute meeting, Mr. Nakasone reportedly agreed to pursue such initiatives as exchange programs between Japanese colleges and historically black colleges in the United States, Japanese investments in minority-owned American banks, and the location of Japanese companies in areas of the United States with large concentrations of black residents.

Mr. Nakasone drew charges of racism last fall when he said in a speech that Japan's educational advantage over the United States was due in part to the presence in America of "quite a few black people, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans.'' (See Education Week, Oct. 1, 1986.)

According to Albert Nellum, a black public-relations executive and coordinator of the Black Business Council, the group did not dwell on Nakasone's past statements. "We were not dicussing his remarks,'' he said in an interview with The Washington Post. "That's a matter that's behind us. We're talking about progress in the future.''

Three of the five persons charged in a racial incident last February in which a bus full of black students from Boston was surrounded and attacked by whites have been sentenced to one-year probation after pleading "sufficient evidence.'' (See Education Week, Feb. 18, 1987.)

The bus was preparing to take the black students back to the city from Newton North High School, where they are enrolled under a voluntary transfer plan designed to reduce racial isolation in inner-city schools.

The lone black student charged in the incident was sentenced last month on two counts of assault with a deadly weapon for waving a knife at the attackers. Two whites were sentenced for malicious destruction of property and civil-rights violations without bodily injury.

The two remaining youths, one student and one former student, pleaded not guilty last month to charges of malicious destruction of property and civil-rights violations, and are scheduled to appear at further legal proceedings this month.

A federal appeals board has upheld an order cutting off federal funds to a South Carolina district because it assigns students to racially identifiable classes.

At issue was the use by Dillion County (S.C.) School District No. 1 of test scores to group pupils by ability. An administrative-law judge ruled last year, in a case brought by the U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights, that the district's reliance on test scores in assigning pupils constituted a violation of Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discrimination on the basis of race. (See Education Week, Sept. 10, 1986.)

The district is negotiating with the O.C.R. to develop an appropriate remedy, said John Taylor, the district's superintendent. In the interim, he said, the district is still receiving its Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 funds.

Vol. 06, Issue 33

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories