In a story yesterday on a D.C. school board contract dispute, the content of notarized statements from more than 60 school-services workers was incorrectly reported. The story should have said the affidavits, filed in D.C. Superior Court by the Teamsters union, stated that a contract negotiated by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees was rejected at a July 10 meeting.
Long speeches and a plate of assorted breads marked the first "back-to-school breakfast" held by the D.C. school board yesterday at the Washington Convention Center.
"Unity -- school and community" was the theme as about 1,500 persons, including teachers, administrators and students, gathered for nearly three hours to kick off the 10 months of classes that will begin Tuesday.
School Superintendent Floretta McKenzie told the audience that the major goals for the school year are improving junior and senior high schools, where test scores are still generally below grade level; maintaining improvements in elementary schools, and expanding programs for gifted and talented students and the math-science curriculum, which, critics say, have been neglected at some schools in recent years.
"Most of all, we must help our young people build self-esteem," McKenzie said. "We have to teach them and give them an understanding of the world as it is, but most of all we must have them understand how this world can be."
Vernon Jordan, former executive director of the National Urban League and now a Washington lawyer, was the featured speaker. He exhorted students to "read, read, read" and urged teachers and parents to be firm with children.
"I urge a recommitment to the use of the word 'no.' 'No' as in, 'No, you may not watch television . . . . ' 'No' to drugs, 'no' to sex, 'no' to truancy. 'No, no, no,' " he said.
A few city administrators and elected officials joined the celebration, including D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy; City Council member Hilda Mason, chairman of the council's Education Committee, and City Administrator Thomas Downs. Five members of the city's first elected school board, which was elected in 1968, were honored at the breakfast.
Many at the breakfast complained about the sparse servings, which included a cup of orange juice, a small glass of strawberries, two rolls, one muffin, a small portion of hash-brown potatoes, two hush puppies and coffee. The breakfast tickets were $12.50 a person.
Some chuckled when Monica Jones, the student member of the school board, mentioned the food in a speech. But she used her remarks to describe the deeper meaning of the breakfast and won a standing ovation.
"I must comment on how tasty and how delicious and how very filling this breakfast is. Not because of the content . . . but because of the love and hard work that was put into bringing us all together to share some time at this breakfast," said Jones, a junior at Coolidge High School in upper Northwest.
N. Carl Cannon, the board's executive secretary, later acknowledged receiving complaints about the food and said the board had ordered ham, which was not served.
School board President David Hall said the breakfast was intended to establish better public relations with the city. "A lot of people tell us that they don't know what we are doing. I think now they know because we are beginning to get our message across to the public."