News in Brief: A National Roundup

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Former Kansas City Superintendent Dies

James A. Hazlett, a former schools superintendent who was known for his attempts to integrate students in the Kansas City, Mo., school district, died of cancer on Sept. 14. He was 80.

Mr. Hazlett served as Kansas City's superintendent from 1955 until 1969. He took office shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic 1954 desegregation ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.

He led the district as it required that all students attend their neighborhood schools regardless of whether the schools had previously been all-white or all-black. Mr. Hazlett's efforts met with opposition.

After many unsuccessful attempts to desegregate the Kansas City schools, Mr. Hazlett resigned in 1969 to take a job with the Education Commission of the States in Denver. He returned to live in Kansas City in 1974.

Revised Hubbard Textbooks Still Fail To Win Approval

California education department officials last week rejected proposed revisions to educational books by L. Ron Hubbard that were submitted for use as supplementary textbooks. The books by the late founder of the Church of Scientology have been under scrutiny in recent months over, among others concerns, whether they advance the message of the Los Angeles-based church. ("Texts Highlight Scientology's Role in Education," Sept. 17, 1997.)

Bridge Publications, the Los Angeles publisher of the five study-skills books, is seeking to place them on a list of supplementary texts approved for use in the state's public school classrooms.

A state panel has concluded that the books are not overtly religious, but that images in them do not meet state "social content" guidelines.

State officials said the books still represent children with disabilities inadequately. Such children were shown with canes or all alone in wheelchairs "rather than interacting with anyone," said Ruth McKenna, the chief deputy superintendent of the department, in a letter to the publisher.

In some cases, the publisher merely changed the hair color or the facial shading of an illustrated character to represent a minority-group member, the letter said.

Doug Stone, a spokesman for the education department, said department officials and a review panel have reiterated their conclusion that the books do not advance the Church of Scientology.

Bridge Publications has indicated that it will make further changes in the books.

Tuition, Aid on the Rise

For students attending colleges and universities this year, tuition rates are rising, yet so is an ever-growing pool of financial-aid resources, according to two studies released by the College Board.

Undergraduates studying at the nation's higher education institutions are paying, on average, 5 percent more than last year in tuition and fees at four-year institutions, and 2 percent to 4 percent more at two-year schools, the board's "Annual Survey of Colleges, 1997-98" reports. This year's average tuition-rate increase, which is the same as last year's average, caps off a decade of steady or declining levels of tuition increases.

The increases again exceeded the rate of inflation, estimated at roughly 2.5 percent for the 1997-98 school year.

"All of us would hope that tuition increases would be even slower than they are now," said David Warren, the president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, a national organization that represents private colleges and universities. "But by the year 2000, I expect that tuition increases should be close to inflation."

In another report, "Trends in Student Aid: 1987 to 1997," the New York City-based College Board reports that students can now tap into more than $55 billion worth of financial aid from federal, state, and institutional resources, 5.4 percent more than last year.

UC Urged To Drop SAT

Members of the University of California board of regents may consider eliminating the SAT as an admissions requirement for the university system, after hearing recommendations from a task force assigned to evaluate how continued use of the test would affect minority-student enrollment.

"The SAT is not a good tool to use for a high-stakes decision like this," said Eugene Garcia, the chairman of the system's Latino Eligibility Task Force and the dean of the graduate school of education at the university's Berkeley campus.

Dropping the SAT would increase eligibility rates for Hispanic students by 59 percent and would also help African-American applicants, the task force concluded.

The regents, who voted two years ago to eliminate racial preferences in admissions to the university, seemed receptive to the recommendations, Mr. Garcia said.

"I think they have a notion of fairness," he said. "And the question is, 'Is this a fair test?'"

Vouchers Please Parents

Cleveland parents who sent their children to private schools with publicly financed vouchers were more satisfied with school quality than those who sent their children to public schools, a recent study concludes.

The new findings on the Cleveland voucher program are likely to provoke further debate in the politically charged battle over school-voucher-program statistics and results. ("Ohio Supreme Court Will Allow Cleveland Voucher Program To Begin Its Second Year," Aug. 6, 1997.)

Put together by a group of academics led by Harvard University's program on education policy and governance, the study included a poll of 2,020 parents who had applied for the Cleveland voucher program before the 1996-97 school year. About half of those parents received scholarships for their children; the other half were refused or turned down the vouchers.

Two-thirds of parents whose children were in the voucher program reported being "very satisfied" with the academic quality of their children's schools, compared with just under one-third of the parents whose children remained in public schools.

The Cleveland program grants up to $2,250 for a child to attend any participating secular or religious private school. About 3,000 children are participating this year, though the program continues be under challenge in the courts.

SADD Expands Its Mission

A national student organization founded 16 years ago to combat drinking and driving among teenagers is changing its name and broadening its mission.

Students Against Driving Drunk, or SADD, will now be called Students Against Destructive Decisions and will focus on a wide range of issues affecting young people, including violence, suicide, and drug use.

The change was prompted by a poll conducted last year in which 60 percent of the 11th and 12th graders surveyed said SADD should expand its mission to reflect the many risks threatening teenagers.

The Marlboro, Mass.-based organization has 5 million members in more than 25,000 chapters in middle schools, high schools, and colleges across the country.

School Evicts NAAWP Leader

A Jacksonville, Fla., school maintenance worker living on school grounds has been ordered to move after the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People revealed last month that he was running a white-rights organization from his home.

Jerry Driggers is the treasurer of and runs a hot line for the Jacksonville branch of the National Association for the Advancement of White People, a New Orleans-based organization founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Mr. Driggers and his wife have lived rent free in a trailer behind Thomas Jefferson Elementary School since 1986 in exchange for his services as a night watchman.

Duval County schools spokeswoman Ellen Darden said Mr. Driggers had until early this month to relocate. She cited a clause in a written agreement between Mr. Driggers and the school board that says he can be removed from school property at any time without cause. He will remain an employee of the district.

Mr. Driggers, who has worked as a laborer for the schools' central offices for 26 years, could not be reached for comment. But a recording at his home said that he and the group are planning to sue the school board.

Kaplan Sues Competitor

Kaplan Educational Centers, a company that specializes in preparing students to take standardized tests, has sued a leading competitor, the Princeton Review, for allegedly using false promotional claims to sell books and software.

During a preliminary hearing in a New York district court last month, the Princeton Review agreed to stop new shipments of the current versions of the 1998 edition of its book, Cracking the GMAT CAT, and its software, "Inside the SAT and ACT Deluxe," after acknowledging that the two products did not include several of the features touted on the book's cover and on the software packaging.

However, the decision over what to do with the editions currently on bookstore shelves is still in question, according to Andy Rosen, the chief operating officer for the New York City-based Kaplan.

"It's not like we've done anything horrible," said Robert Cohen, a branch president for the Princeton Review, which is also based in New York.

"When you have a product with hundreds of features, there's a chance that not everything's going to be right, and we'll try to fix that," he said.

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