News in Brief: A National Roundup

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Judge Issues Final Ruling Against California's Prop. 187

A federal judge in Los Angeles has ordered the state of California to send written notice to its school districts that they are barred from denying students who are illegal immigrants a K-12 education.

U.S. District Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer last week issued her final ruling and a permanent injunction on Proposition 187, the nationally debated measure California voters approved in November 1994. The judge's latest decision paved the way for Gov. Pete Wilson to appeal to the federal appellate court, which the Republican governor said he intended to do.

The measure--which seeks to bar illegal immigrants from receiving public education, social services, and health care and calls on school authorities and others to turn in suspected illegal immigrants--has never taken effect. It has been blocked by numerous lawsuits pending in state and federal courts. Judge Pfaelzer had struck down the school provisions of Proposition 187 in earlier rulings.

Settlement for Toledo Union

Members of the Toledo Federation of Teachers voted last week to ratify a contract that preserves the Ohio district's well-known peer-review program.

The three-year agreement, reached after the American Federation of Teachers affiliate had threatened to strike on March 16, allows principals to refer struggling teachers for intervention by consulting teachers. The change had been sought by the 39,000-student district.

But other provisions of the intern-intervention program, widely known as the "Toledo plan," remain unchanged.

Teachers will receive raises of: 3.3 percent retroactive to last December; 4.2 percent in December of this year; and 3.1 percent in December 1999.

The contract also calls for a new labor-management committee to discuss and resolve problems over contract length.

Kamehameha To Unionize

Faculty members at the Kamehameha Schools, Hawaii's second-largest private school, have voted overwhelmingly to form a union.

The tally showed 186 teachers and librarians voted for the union and 36 voted against it, a difference of 84 percent to 16 percent. The March 13 vote confirms that the Kamehameha Schools Faculty Association will serve as a collective bargaining organization for the faculty.

Teachers at the 3,200-student K-12 school started organizing to form a union last summer after the state attorney general began investigating possible financial mismanagement by the five trustees who govern the school. The school is financed and operated by the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate, one of the nation's wealthiest charities. ("Debate, Controversy Swirl Around Kamehameha Schools," Feb. 11, 1998.)

The estate has been opposed to a union. Teachers felt a union was needed to protect their freedom of speech and put contracts back into effect at the school on the Kapalama Heights campus near Honolulu.

Single-Sex Classes Planned

The Roseville, Minn., district plans to offer single-sex classes in math and science for some 7th graders in the fall, following an agreement with state officials over potential sex-discrimination claims.

Assistant Superintendent Dave O'Connor said last week that the 6,500-student suburban district near St. Paul wants to experiment with teaching strategies that aim to help girls succeed in math and science--subjects in which they traditionally have lagged behind their male classmates.

Gov. Arne H. Carlson and Robert J. Wedl, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Children, Families, and Learning, temporarily put a $33,750 grant for the classes on hold, saying that the classes would violate the federal Title IX ban on sex discrimination in schools.

The state released the grant March 13 after the district agreed to keep boys and girls together for part of the class time.

D.C. Settles Special Ed. Dispute

The District of Columbia public schools reached an agreement with federal officials last week to improve special education services. The program was cited last year for violations ranging from a backlog of student evaluations to a lack of staff-performance standards.

The three-year plan means the district can receive $3.75 million in federal aid that has been withheld since last summer.

The district must now expedite the evaluation and placement of special education students and increase the number of bilingual staff members. The district must document its compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or again face the loss of federal dollars.

More than 7,000 of the district's 78,000 students take special education classes.

Milwaukee Soda Deal On Hold

A proposed three-year, $5.2 million contract in which the Milwaukee district would give Pepsi exclusive beverage rights in district schools has been put on hold amid concerns by the city attorney's office.

Milwaukee Superintendent Alan Brown had recently recommended that the school board sign a contract with PepsiCo Inc. to sell soda, juice, and sports drinks in school vending machines and at school events. But the city attorney's office said this month that the 106,000-student district should start the bidding process over because it did not follow a school board policy of advertising for competitive bids.

The city attorney also said the proposed Pepsi deal could conflict with contracts that several high schools signed on their own with a Coca-Cola bottler. One school could lose its Coke-sponsored scoreboard if a districtwide contract with Pepsi were signed, a memo said.

A bill in the Wisconsin legislature would bar districts from entering into exclusive contracts with soft drink companies.

Calif. School Crime Down

Crime is taking a downward turn in California's schools, according to data published in the second annual state assessment of school safety.

Compared with the 1995-96 school year, incidents of burglary, vandalism, and other property crimes fell in 1996-97, from 4.96 incidents per 1,000 students to 4.58 incidents, a drop of 8 percent. Despite the decline, those incidents still cost schools about $22.6 million.

There were, however, 2,294 assaults with a deadly weapon, for a 17 percent increase over the 1995-96 school year. California also had four homicides in schools, one more than in the previous year.

Md. County To End Busing

Officials in Prince George's County, Md., last week agreed to end a quarter-century of busing for desegregation and return to a system of predominantly neighborhood schools.

The accord capped months of talks among county representatives, the 125,000-student district, the state, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which represented the plaintiffs in the original 1972 lawsuit.

The federal judge overseeing the case has said he expects to approve the settlement, which calls for a construction and renovation program to allow students to attend schools close to home. Schools with overwhelmingly black enrollment would continue receiving extra resources.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening paved the way for the accord last week when he agreed that the state should pay a sizable share of the facilities program. That funding is contingent on approval by lawmakers.

Private Vouchers for Two Cities

At least two more cities will soon join the ranks of urban areas that host privately financed scholarship programs to help low-income parents send their children to private schools.

New York City banker Theodore J. Forstmann has said he plans to help organize such a voucher program in Los Angeles. He currently chairs a similar effort that offers $1,000 scholarships to families of students in Washington. Organizers estimate that it could provide vouchers to some 5,000 families in Los Angeles and likely to families in other cities as well.

Also last week, a Minneapolis group announced the founding of the KidsFirst Scholarship Fund to offer scholarships to 50 children next year in the Twin Cities.

Teacher Accused of Drug Sales

A Louisiana teacher has been suspended after being charged with selling drugs at his high school.

Joshua Pitre II, 24, was arrested March 9 for allegedly selling crack-cocaine at Opelousas Senior High School in Opelousas. He has been charged with distributing cocaine and intent to distribute cocaine. Both charges carry a possible sentence of 10 to 60 years in prison.

Although the incident occurred at the school, police officials said there was no indication that the special education teacher had sold drugs to students. Mr. Pitre was released on $50,000 bail.


Dr. Benjamin Spock, the renowned pediatrician and childrearing expert, died March 15 in San Diego. He was 94.

Dr. Benjamin Spock

His book Baby and Child Care, first published in 1946, became a guidebook for generations of parents. Forty-three million copies of the book, published in 39 languages, have been sold.

Dr. Spock told parents to trust their own instincts about raising their children, and he balked at the conventional wisdom of the day that advised parents to keep babies on strict feeding schedules and not to kiss or hold them.

Born in New Haven, Conn., Dr. Spock graduated from Yale University and earned his medical degree in 1929 from Columbia University. He spent 11 years in private practice as a pediatrician.

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