The Safe Choice
When a Missouri student ran for class president on a "safe sex" platform, he never anticipated that it would land him in court. Adam Henerey beat out two other candidates last spring for junior-class president at St. Charles High School, using the slogan: "Adam Henerey. The Safe Choice." But when school officials found that the 16-year-old had doled out condoms to student voters, they booted him from office and handed the presidency to the second-place finisher. Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union recently filed suit against the school district, alleging that the student's right to free speech under the First Amendment had been violated. The district superintendent said the student was disqualified because he violated a rule requiring students to have any campaign materials approved. Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the ACLU of eastern Missouri, said other candidates had passed out candy without approval but were not punished because "their bribes were more traditional than condoms."
The San Diego Teachers Association has reached an out-of-court settlement with a local teacher in a move that paves the way for teachers to resign their membership at any time. Jean Apple, a special education teacher at Kearny High School, sued the union last year when she was told she had to wait until the end of the existing contract--more than a year away--to quit. Apple said that she wanted to part ways with the union because of political differences. As part of the settlement announced in September, the California Teachers Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, agreed to notify its affiliates across the state that they must allow members to leave the union if and when they want. Sandra Jackson, a spokeswoman for the CTA, said members have always had the option of leaving. Officials of the San Diego local, she said, had misinterpreted the rules.
A Studied Response
Kerry Csizmesia, principal of Arlington Memorial High School in Vermont, quit his job rather than support a decision by the school board to let a soccer coach keep her pierced tongue stud--a violation of the student dress code. The Arlington school board originally told Csizmesia to have soccer coach Amy Pickering, a part-time employee, remove the stud. But it later reversed the decision, saying it did not have the legal authority to enforce a dress code for adults that was intended for students. Csizmesia resigned, telling the board he refused to enforce one dress code for students but a less stringent one for teachers. As of late September, Pickering was still employed at the school and had not removed the stud.
Educators forced to defend the use of controversial books in their classrooms will soon have a new resource to help them justify their selections: "The Rationales for Challenged Books," a CD-ROM sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association. The software, available to teachers early next year, will cover some 200 titles that have been challenged over the years by parents and others. It will include book descriptions and summaries, potential objections and how to address them, and suggestions for alternative literary works. Armed with such information, teachers will be better able to argue how the books enrich the curriculum and improve their lessons, NCTE officials say. They also hope the tool will help teachers expand classroom discussions beyond the literary aspects of a work to its moral and ethical elements. The database will be upgraded regularly.
Geography will be among the courses offered in the Advanced Placement program beginning in the year 2000, according to the New York City-based College Board. The course, to be added to the 31 other college-level offerings that the College Board sponsors, will mirror a three-credit, human-geography class offered at the introductory level at colleges and universities. It will include such topics as population distribution and movement, economic development, and urbanization. The move was prompted by the increasing popularity of the subject and by the fact that it was included as a core subject in the federal Goals 2000 reform law.
What does it take to make high school seniors get serious about a test? Ohio lawmakers think $500 ought to do the trick. Republican Governor George Voinovich signed a bill in September that calls for giving seniors who pass all sections of the state's 12th grade proficiency test and go to college in Ohio a gift of at least $500. The state board of regents must draft a plan for administering the reward, but the program is tentatively slated to begin with the Class of 1999. The program could cost between $15 million and $20 million a year, according to the state education department. About 38,000 seniors pass the test each year. The proficiency exam is not used in college admissions, but it helps the state gauge whether student learning is aligned with the state's academic standards.
School may be a place for facts galore, but fax galore is something else. The latter is what employees of the Cape Girardeau, Missouri, school district got for several days in August. In some cases, the graphics-filled faxes used up so much paper and ink the machines receiving them shut down. Employees didn't know what to make of the runaway technology until the local telephone company traced the calls to the home of Richard Bollwerk, outgoing associate superintendent for the 4,500-student district. He was charged with misdemeanor harassment and property damage. Court documents say the faxes were intended to harass superintendent Danny Tallent. The 49-year-old Bollwerk announced his resignation in July after serving as acting superintendent from December 1995 to January 1996. He was replaced by Tallent. Both men had been interviewed for the superintendent's job.