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Prosecutors in Connecticut have agreed not to try parochial school teacher Diane Pociadlo, who was accused of failing to report a case of suspected child abuse under a little-used state law.

The agreement was offered only on the condition that the suburban-Hartford teacher attend a daylong training class on childabuse detection and present a report on the session to other teachers at her school, according to a spokesman for the state superior court.

Pociadlo, who has taught at St. Stanislaus School in Meriden for more than 10 years, was charged last May with violating a state statute that requires teachers and other professionals to report suspected child abuse. Police alleged that one of Pociadlo's students regularly came to school covered with bruises. School officials, however, said the teacher could not have known about the alleged abuse.

An Unusual Relationship

Students who enter the new South Pointe Elementary School in Dade County, Fla., in the fall of 1991 will not see a teacher standing before neat rows of desks, ready to begin the day's work with stacks of freshly printed workbooks. Instead, they will find carpeted classrooms with low tables, computer terminals, shelves of children's literature, and two teachers ready to help them begin an individualized instruction plan.

South Pointe students will be taught using a method developed by Education Alternatives Inc., a private, for-profit company based in Minnesota. This past summer, the Dade County school board decided to hire the firm to develop the education program at the soon-to-bebuilt school--and to train its principal and teachers. The foundation for the unusual relationship, the first of its kind, grew out of the district's "Saturn Schools'' project, a nationwide search for innovative ways to operate 49 new schools.

Under the terms of the 5-year agreement, Education Alternatives will receive a $275,000 consulting fee for the first three years of the partnership. The money will come from the $2.1 million the firm has agreed to raise to supplement the school's district allocation.

Numbers Up, Scores Down

Educational achievement among Hispanics is declining at the same time that their representation in the school-age population is growing, according to a study by the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group. If current trends continue, La Raza predicts, the proportion of schoolchildren who are Hispanic will rise from 10.5 percent today to almost 33 percent by the year 2000, and a larger share of Hispanic students will become dropouts, score low on tests, and have low academic expectations.

According to the study, 43 percent of Hispanics age 19 and over do not have high school diplomas or are not enrolled in high school. It also revealed that Hispanic children 13 and younger are far more likely to have been retained in grade than either whites or blacks, and that in several states, suspension rates for Hispanics have increased rapidly while rates for whites have declined.

Small-Town Violence

A new study out of Texas reveals that many rural schools are plagued by the same kind of violent behavior that is often associated with urban schools.

The study, conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University, found that boys in rural schools are twice as likely as the average American student to carry handguns to class and that girls in such schools are more likely than female students nationally to be sexually assaulted. More than 1,000 8th-through10th-grade students in 23 small Central Texas communities were surveyed.

Half of the boys and 20 percent of the girls surveyed had used a weapon in a fight during the past year. Twenty-five percent of the girls said they had been sexually attacked outside of school supervision; 10 percent said these incidents occurred at school or on a school bus.

Few Texts Pass The Test

A California curriculumreview commission rejected the history and social studies texts of nearly all the publishers who submitted books for review this past summer. Since the state is an industry trendsetter--it controls 11 percent of the nation's $1.7 billion textbook market--the move has national importance.

The texts up for adoption this year are the first to be reviewed under a new history and social-sciences curriculum framework approved by the state three years ago. Some publishers have refrained from overhauling their books to meet California's new standards in order to determine whether the effort would be worth the expense. By rejecting most of the books submitted, the commission signaled its intent to stick with the new curriculum.

The commissioners approved only 10 books from two publishers--a kindergarten-through-8th-grade series produced by Houghton Mifflin Co., and an 8th grade book published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. These books, the commission says, differ from more traditional texts in a number of respects. For example, they include in-depth discussions of world religions and interweave geography throughout. They also expose students to more history, sooner. And the historical material covered is presented in a more engaging narrative style.

Vol. 02, Issue 02, Page 1-24

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