July 8, 1998

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Vol. 17, Issue 42
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Private, for-profit alternative schools can't multiply fast enough for parents and principals anxious to find new venues for students cast out of public schools.

Following a complaint from a gay student who said he endured two years of abuse by other students, the Fayetteville, Ark., school district has signed an agreement with the federal Department of Education to crack down on sexual harassment.

They call it a reform of last resort, but last year at least half a dozen big districts resorted to it anyway. Reconstitution--the practice of restaffing a troubled school from scratch and starting over--seemed to be catching on.
California, the state where policy trends often begin, is finally catching up to the rest of the country in how it counts absent students.

The Department of Education will continue its vigorous enforcement of the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limits districts' liability in private lawsuits over teacher-student harassment, Secretary Richard W. Riley said last week.

For the first time, the percentage of young black adults who had earned a high school diploma equaled that of young whites last year, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Nearly a quarter-century after a federal court ordered the Boston schools to integrate by busing students, city school officials last week opened up discussions on whether--and how--to return to a system of neighborhood schools.

Appeals Court Orders Aid
For Lutheran School Pupil

Alice F. Artzt, frustrated and dismayed, has spent more than a year searching for college-bound students to take her money.
Two public school teachers who were fired for using controversial methods or materials in the classroom have lost their separate court appeals.
A group seeking to offer teacher education programs an alternative form of accreditation has tapped University of Delaware professor Frank B. Murray, a prominent scholar and advocate of teacher professionalism, to serve at its helm.

Though workbooks lie open and students sit neatly at their desks, the 8th graders assembled for the day's geometry lesson this morning at Beaubien Elementary School seem lulled.

Court-ordered desegregation plans in Indianapolis and Nashville, Tenn., are on their way out, following landmark developments in the legal battles that have embroiled the two city districts for decades.
As the desegregation case in Hartford, Conn., heads back to court this fall amid complaints that the state has failed to ensure integration of its schools, a nonprofit group is floating a plan to achieve that aim by consolidating 22 districts into a single system.
Though most states have set content standards in the core subjects, more than half of them deserve a D, or worse, for their efforts, according to the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.
The International Reading Association and the National Association for the Education of Young Children have released a position statement on literacy for very young children.

The document recommends:

In preparing their latest homework assignment or lengthy research project, most students have access to the Internet, videos, and uncounted print resources at public and school libraries.

It's typical for a kindergarten teacher to have students with the literacy skills of a 3-year-old in the same class with pupils who are working at a 3rd grade level.
Educators across the country will spend the summer learning how to prevent--or cope with--violence on campus, following a string of school shootings this past year. And a Washington-based research group has published a guide to help administrators spend their money on such programs wisely.
Educators need to understand better why girls and boys relate differently to technology.


Advocates of urban school-to-work programs heard a sobering message at a recent conference held here by the Department of Education.

Requiring students to read the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and a daily newspaper would help connect them with their communities and perpetuate a more civil society, a recent report says.

Assessing All Not Easy,
Research Group Warns

Amid a political Ping-Pong match in which Massachusetts officials set, then lowered, then lifted again the passing score for the state's first-ever exam for licensing new teachers, Frank W. Haydu III stepped down last week as interim commissioner of education.
After spending six months working on a new system to finance public education in New Hampshire, the legislature last week reached the end of its session with nothing to show for its work.
Florida's needy children are a phone call away from free, nutritionally balanced meals this summer, thanks in part to the state's aggressive promotion of a historically underutilized federal initiative.
New York state's process for intervening in low-performing schools should be strengthened to address many of the systemwide problems that contribute to school failure, a new study suggests.

The following are summaries of final fiscal 1999 budgets for schools and highlights of education-related action during legislative sessions. Budget totals for K-12 education include money for state education administration, but do not include federal, flow-through dollars.
California has posted on the Internet scores from its first statewide test in four years, but without results from about one in five of the students who took the basic-skills test.

Christie Says He May Resign As Texas School Board Chief

The chairman of the Texas board of education says he is "90 percent" sure that he will quit the 15-member panel by the end of the year, cutting short his term on the board by two years.

Funding for a new literacy program--a priority for President Clinton, as well as some Republicans in Congress--has quietly died on Capitol Hill, where it became a victim of partisan discord and bad timing.

There's something about Rep. Carolyn McCarthy that makes this group of 150 or so middle school students sit on the edge of their seats, watching and listening intently.



The House Education and the Workforce Committee has narrowly approved a measure that would consolidate 31 federal education programs and create a new $2.7 billion block grant for states.

The U.S. Supreme Court wrapped up its 1997-98 term by turning away appeals in two cases involving religion in the public schools.

House Republicans have released details of a frugal spending plan that would give minor increases to special education, impact aid, and block grants, but leave most school programs with little, if any, additional federal funding in fiscal 1999.


A bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee would bar most schools and libraries from receiving federal demonstration grants for information infrastructure.

Savings-Account Bill Faces
Presidential Veto

The Senate passed a compromise "education savings accounts" plan on June 24, but the 59-36 vote in its favor did not provide a veto-proof margin.

Marshall S. Smith has been waiting two years for a promotion, and the Senate still has no plans to give it to him.

Following are excerpts from the U.S. Supreme Court's majority and dissenting opinions in Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District.

Justice John Paul Stevens, joined by Justices David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen G. Breyer, delivered a dissenting opinion:
FOUNDATION SUPPORT: Coverage of specific topics in Education Week is supported in part by grants from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CME Group Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over the content of the articles that are underwritten by the foundations. Additional grants in support of Editorial Projects in Education’s data journalism and video capacity come from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schott Foundation for Public Education. (Updated 1/1/2017)

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