News in Brief: A National Roundup

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Hispanics Largest Minority In New Federal Estimate

The U.S. Census Bureau released figures last week showing that Hispanics have surpassed African-Americans as the largest minority group in the United States, when Hispanics are compared against African-Americans who count themselves as belonging only to one race.

The figures are based on estimates of the proportion of people living in the United Stated by race and Hispanic or Latino origin on July 1, 2001. About 37 million people of any race, or 13 percent of the total population, identified themselves as being of Hispanic or Latino origin as of that date, according to the bureau.

Meanwhile, about 36.2 million people identified themselves only as African-American. The Census Bureau figures show that the proportion of Hispanics grew more rapidly from 2000 to 2001 than did the percentage of African-Americans.

But African-Americans are still the largest minority if people are included in the tally who count themselves as black "in combination with one or more other races." As of July 2001, that figure was about 37.7 million, higher than the figure for Hispanics.

In 1998, the Census Bureau reported that Hispanics had surpassed African-Americans as the nation's largest minority group among people age 17 or under. According to the estimates released last week, as of July 2001, the nation had about 8.9 million Hispanic school-age children (ages 5-17) and 8.4 million African-American school-age children. The Hispanic population was 17 percent of the total school-age population.

—Mary Ann Zehr

Tulsa Schools Asked to Close For Rally on Budget Solution

Classrooms will likely be empty in the Tulsa, Okla., school district on Feb. 12.

David Sawyer, the superintendent of the 46,000-student district, is recommending to the school board that schools be closed that day because so many teachers have requested the day off. A large number of teachers will be participating in a rally to advocate a solution to the state's budget shortfall.

The Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association originally asked for schools to be closed on that day to encourage students and teachers to attend the Oklahoma City rally, but Mr. Sawyer denied the request in December.

Now it looks as if he has little choice but to close schools, because the system can't afford a large number of substitute teachers. District policy states that teachers can take personal leave as long as they give at least 24 hours' notice. Board members were expected to take a formal vote on the issue this week.

About 2,900 teachers work in the Tulsa district, but it was unclear how many teachers planned to take leave that day, said Barbara Everage, a spokeswoman for the Tulsa schools.

—Hattie Brown

St. Louis Schools Chief Will Retire From Position

Cleveland Hammonds Jr., the superintendent of St. Louis public schools, will retire in June.

Mr. Hammonds has led Missouri's largest school district for seven years. In a press conference held this month, Mr. Hammonds, 67, said that he wanted to spend more time with his family and might teach at the university level. He also has served as a superintendent in Birmingham, Ala., and Durham, N.C.

The 42,000-student St. Louis district is heading for a school leadership shake-up this year. Along with Mr. Hammonds' departure, four of the seven seats on the school board are open in an April 8 election. Three veteran school board members, including William Purdy, the board president, are not running for re-election.

—Karla Scoon Reid

Klein Details Strategy For N.Y.C. Curriculum

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein last week named the reading and mathematics programs that most schools in the 1.1-million student New York City district will be required to use under a new curriculum plan. ("Mayor Outlines Major Overhaul of N.Y.C. System," Jan. 22, 2003.)

Starting next September, all but the highest-performing 200 schools will be required to use the programs, and every school will have reading and math coaches.

In reading, pupils in grades K-3 will spend about two hours on reading and writing each day. Their classroom libraries will be supplemented by the Month by Month Phonics program offered by the Carson-Dellosa Publishing Co. The district will add classroom libraries in grades 4-9; students in grades 4- 8 will spend 90 minutes a day on reading and writing, as will those struggling to meet standards in grades 9-12.

In math, teachers of grades K-5 will use Everyday Mathematics, developed at the University of Chicago and published by SRA/McGraw-Hill. Schools can opt to start using the materials next September or by September of 2004.

In grades 6-8, schools will use Impact Mathematics, which continues the approach of the elementary curriculum, starting with 6th graders next fall. High schools will use New York Math A: An Integrated Approach, published by Prentice-Hall and tailored to the New York state regents' examinations.

—Ann Bradley

Sacramento Plans to Close Low-Scoring High School

Following weeks of intense community debate, the school board in Sacramento, Calif., voted 4-3 last week to close the low-achieving, 2,000-student Sacramento High School.

The board set a date of Feb. 10 for interested parties to submit petitions to turn "Sac High" into a charter school.

Kevin Johnson, a graduate of the school who played professional basketball for the Phoenix Suns, is expected to submit an application from his St. HOPE Corp., a community-development organization that plans to open an elementary charter school in the same neighborhood in the fall, said Maria L. Lopez, a spokeswoman for the 51,000-student Sacramento district.

Sacramento High is one of 24 schools in the state that face the possibility of penalties for their continuing low test scores. The school received extra state funding two years ago, but hasn't been able to show marked improvement.

—Ann Bradley

L.A. Board to Ban Goods Made by Child Laborers

Members of the Los Angeles school board voted unanimously on Jan. 14 to no longer purchase district supplies and apparel from manufacturers that use child labor or operate under poor working conditions.

The school district is following the lead of the Los Angeles City Council, which passed a similar proposal in October. The national "No More Sweatshops!" campaign, co-founded by former state legislator Tom Hayden, worked with city officials to help pass the resolution.

The 735,000-student district will rely on existing oversight organizations to determine which manufacturers have allegedly abused laborers.

—Hattie Brown

U.S. Education Department To Sponsor Forum on Math

The U.S. Department of Education will formally launch its campaign to improve mathematics education on Feb. 6 in Washington.

Secretary of Education Rod Paige will be the keynote speaker at the morning event, which will include speeches from Rita Colwell, the director of the National Science Foundation; Intel Corp. chief executive Craig R. Barrett; and prominent math education researchers.

The event is the first step in the Bush administration's attempt to address what it believes are the two pressing issues in the field: increasing teachers' mathematical knowledge and crafting a new research agenda on improving math instruction.

The event will also include presentations on science education by Sean O'Keefe, the head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Barbara R. Morgan, the educator-astronaut who is scheduled to fly on a space shuttle mission later this year.

—David J. Hoff

Durham, N.C., Board Probes Unseating New Member

The Durham, N.C., school board will investigate whether there are grounds to remove a new member who pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges for misusing the city's check-request process.

The state board of education has directed the local board to determine whether Jackie Wagstaff, who was sworn in last month, was guilty of "immoral or disreputable conduct" and thus should be removed from the board.

After she was elected to the board last September, Ms. Wagstaff admitted in court to having improperly submitted a check-request form last summer asking for city funds. As the director of a local nonprofit organization, Ms. Wagstaff used the form—in an amount between $1,000 and $2,000—to arrange transportation to amusement parks for disadvantaged children in the city.

Ms. Wagstaff and her lawyer could not be reached for comment last week.

—Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

Vol. 22, Issue 20, Page 4

Published in Print: January 29, 2003, as News in Brief: A National Roundup
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