District News Roundup

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Detroit public schools will be "graded" monthly by a citizens' education committee under an agreement reached with school officials.

The committee, which was appointed by the school board, agreed in return to endorse three school-funding proposals on the November ballot.

The district is asking voters to raise property taxes and authorize a $160-million bond issue, in order to eliminate this year's projected deficit.

The funding proposals and campaigns for four open seats on the 11-member school board have become the subject of a heated political debate centering on the district's massive budget deficit and poor student-achievement records.

The committee's proposal for monthly "report cards" was designed to allay public concerns that the school system is not being held accountable for the funding it currently receives.

Students in St. Paul and 25 suburban school districts could earn college scholarship money by participating in a cross-district desegregation plan, under a proposal by David Bennett, the city's superintendent of schools.

The proposal was developed in response to the Minnesota legislature's call for guidance from local school systems on how the state can achieve racial balance in its schools.

Mr. Bennett's proposal anticipates that 3,500 white students could be enticed to transfer from suburban to city schools, and that 3,500 minority students would agree to attend suburban schools.

The proposal would cost the state an estimated $35 million a year. Students could receive up to $11,800 for college expenses.

The plan also calls for the creation of six new magnet schools and efforts to improve racial balance in metropolitan-area housing.

All high schools and middle schools and half of the elementary schools in Dayton, Ohio, would offer specialized "magnet" programs under a proposal by Franklin Smith, the superintendent.

The proposal is designed to replace the district's 12-year-old court-ordered desegregation plan, which relies on mandatory busing.

The plan must be approved by the school board and the federal judge overseeing the desegregation case before an anticipated five-year phase-in period can begin.

The former superintendent of the Arlington (Tex.) Independent School District and an Arizona computer firm with which the district did business are under investigation by the Texas attorney general's office.

Donald Wright, who also worked as a consultant for the Prescription Learning Corporation, resigned last month after some employees complained he had pressured them to do business with the company.

Investigators are looking at possible antitrust violations, according to Ron Dusek, a spokesman for Attorney General Jim Mattox. Mr. Dusek declined to be more specific.

In an earlier incident, Mr. Wright had been reprimanded by the school board for failing to disclose his ties to the company at the time it was awarded a $205,000 contract.

The Pulaski County (Ark.) Special School District board has asked the court-appointed master overseeing its desegregation case to intervene in a strike by its teachers.

The Little Rock-area system cannot afford a 3 percent raise sought by teachers, school officials said.

The officials would not speculate on how Aubrey V. McCutcheon Jr., the special master, might be able to resolve the strike. The district's financial difficulties, they argued, are related to the desegregation suit, which was filed by the Little Rock school board.

A Waco, Tex., teacher who was suspended from classroom duties after reporting she was pressured to raise the grade of a high-school football player has been awarded $77,000 by a federal jury.

The panel found that the school district, its superintendent, and a principal violated Sue Collins's First Amendment rights and a state "whistle blowers" protection law, said Brad Ritter, spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association.

Ms. Collins reported last year to the University Interscholastic League, the group that governs high-school sports activities, that she was pushed to change the athlete's grade so he would not be suspended from play for six weeks under Texas's "no-pass, no-play" law.

Court-ordered elections later this year could give Dallas County, Ala., blacks their first real share of power on the6school board and county commission.

Although 55 percent of the county's population is black, there have been no blacks on the commission in more than a century, and only one black school-board member.

The county has been the subject of a long-running legal battle over implementation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

U.S. District Judge Brevard Hand last month scheduled primary elections on Nov. 22, and the general election on Dec. 27.

Judge Hand established the election schedule after a federal appeals court issued a mandate to hold elections as soon as possible.

The National Rifle Association wants Chicago schools to teach gun safety.

The group urged gun-safety education after two pupils were injured when one of them found a .38-caliber revolver on the grounds of a Far South Side school.

The nra has designed a program aimed at teaching elementary students to stay away from guns. It includes a coloring book and poster, in which characters urge children to "always be safe" around guns.

So far, Chicago school officials have shown little interest in the nra program. But officials in Dade County, Fla., are considering using it. Nra officials say Dade County would be the first district in the nation to adopt the proposal.

Vol. 08, Issue 09

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