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Education Reporter
-- The Newspaper of Education Rights --
Number 130November 1996

Education Reporter is a publication of Eagle Forum that details parent's rights in education, as well as reports what's happening in education across the country.


Education Reporter is published monthly by Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund with editorial offices at 7800 Bonhomme Ave., St. Louis, MO 63105, (314) 721-1213. The views expressed in this newsletter are those of the persons quoted and should not be attributed to Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund.
Inside This Issue . . .

Physicians Often Misdiagnose ADD

Medical groups say that physicians often misdiagnose the behavioral condition called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Howard Morris, vice president of the National Attention Deficit Disorder Association, says that some doctors write prescriptions for medications such as Ritalin without knowing for certain if the child indeed suffers from ADD. "For many physicians, Ritalin is a diagnostic tool," he said. "They say, 'If it works then you've got it, and if it doesn't then you don't.'"

There is little consistency in the way doctors diagnose and treat the disorder, says Morris. The number of people reported with ADD is now over 2 million.

Ian Shaffer, MD, executive vice president of Value Behavioral Health Inc., a managed behavioral health care company in Falls Church, VA, also sees significant variation in the way ADD is treated. "All attention deficit disorder patients don't need Ritalin," he said. "All don't need counseling. Some need both."

Both the National Attention Deficit Disorder Association and Value Behavioral Health Inc. are currently writing guidelines in the hope of helping physicians to identify more accurately those who actually have ADD. The guidelines, however, are not the only standard-bearers for diagnosis of the disorder. Other medical groups, such as the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Psychiatric Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics either have already or are in the process of developing guidelines. The manufacturer of Ritalin, Ciba Pharmaceuticals of Summit, NJ, also has guidelines in the works.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the production and use of Ritalin has jumped sixfold since 1990. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that 3 to 5 percent of school-age children, or 2.5 million, have ADD.

Kevin Dwyer, assistant director of the National Association of School Psychologists, says that diagnosing ADD is complex. "Yet in some situations," he said, "today's primary care physician may be forced to make this diagnosis under a 15-minute guideline from a managed health care company."

Schools Exploit Medicaid Windfall

When President Bill Clinton boasted in his second national TV debate that he had given a million children health care through Medicaid, many people wondered what he meant. Medicaid was created to provide health insurance for the the poor and disabled.

We now discover that Medicaid is paying over $200 million annually to school districts to hire teachers, maintain property, and purchase supplies - tripling the program's cost over the past five years. The annual costs of Medicaid have tripled, from $51 billion in 1988 to $158 billion in 1995, and have played a large role in burgeoning the federal deficit. New York City alone receives an estimated $60 to $70 million per year from Medicaid.

Schools with large enrollments of Medicaid-eligible students receive funds from a Medicaid program known as Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) services. EPSDT programs exist in 35 states. According to the federal Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), which administers Medicaid, the program did not cover services that were "otherwise provided" by another source. However, a loophole in the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1989 gave schools the go-ahead to claim Medicaid reimbursement for special-education services for students eligible for Medicaid. Under the Act, the definition of Medicaid service providers was expanded to include nonmedical services, such as vision, hearing, speech, and dental screening; nursing treatments; speech, occupational, and physical therapy; social work; counseling and psychotherapy; and transportation.

An HCFA official said that some school districts, including Chicago's, are wrongly "claiming some medical services as administrative costs."

The official added that she's unsure of how schools use federal Medicaid funds. "We know lots of things are going on in schools . . . We don't have control over the money once we pay a provider," she said.

"If people knew that $28 million [a year] in Medicaid funds have been used to support the Chicago public school system, I think they'd be very surprised and concerned," said Tom Randall, a Chicago writer who has investigated schools' use of Medicaid dollars.

Randall said he was disturbed to learn from an official in a Chicago school that the federal money had been moved to the system's general fund for a variety of uses. Elziena Dawson, administrator of the Chicago school system's Medicaid reimbursement program, reported that federal Medicaid funds are funneled into the general fund, which has enabled the district to hire special-education teachers and keep class sizes "manageable."

The Chicago school system signed an agreement in 1994 with various state agencies concerning "the management, allocation and distribution of Medicaid revenues." It described the funding as "supplemental."

'Zero Tolerance' Creates Imaginary
Problems, Penalizes Innocence

Is delinquency increasing at an alarming rate among very young children?

School officials suspended Johnathan Prevette, a 6-year-old in North Carolina, for "unwarranted and unwelcomed touching." Johnathan kissed a female classmate in response to her invitation to do so. Little did he know that it would cause him to miss lunch with his class and an ice cream party for students with perfect attendance.

Jane Martin, spokeswoman for Johnathan's school district, believes the action was justified. "Sexual harassment is an issue in the workplace as well as in our schools, and there's a responsibility to educate our children, regardless of how young they are," Martin said.

Likewise, 7-year-old De'Andre Dearinge of Queens, New York, was suspended 5 days for sexual harassment. He not only planted a kiss on a classmate, but also tore a button off her skirt so she would look like his favorite book character Corduroy, the stuffed bear who is missing a button.

Carol Gresser, member of the New York Board of Education, said, "I think there are serious questions about the appropriateness of suspending a 6-year-old or 7-year-old for displaying the innocence of childhood. I have a problem with holding little ones to the same standard you would hold adults to in the workplace."

Erica Taylor and Kimberly Smartt didn't get off so easily. The two girls, who attend Baker Junior High School in Fairborn, Ohio, were suspended and recommended for expulsion for possession of Midol, an over-the-counter, nonprescription pain reliever. Erica, an honor student with perfect attendance, received the menstrual-pain pill from Kimberly. Both were found in violation of the student code of conduct regarding "Alcoholic Beverages, Drugs and Narcotics."

Administrators expelled Kimberly for four-and-a-half months, but reduced Erica's penalty to three days after she agreed to drug counseling. Kimberly, age 14 and black, has sued in federal court on the grounds of race discrimination, since she was treated much more severely than Erica, age 13 and white. Subsequently, the school board voted to reduce Kimberly's expulsion to the 13 days already served.

Some parents say that Kimberly should amend her lawsuit to change the allegations of race discrimination to sex discrimination. The male supervisors in these cases unreasonably discriminated against 13-year-old girls who have a gender-specific need to take and share painkillers for menstrual cramps.

"Fairborn's drug policy does not distinguish between legal and illegal, or prescription and nonprescription drugs," said Joy Paolo, administrative assistant for pupil personnel. "You have to be fair and consistent in applying this policy to every child."

Brook Olson, a junior high honor student of Kingwood Middle School in Texas, was also suspended after a drug-sniffing dog discovered Advil, another nonprescription pain killer, in her backpack. The Humble Independent School District's drug policy requires parents to give all drugs to the school nurse to dispense.

Defending the drug policy, School Principal Steve Busch argued that Advil could lead to a slippery slope into lethal drugs. "It's easy to minimize this and say, well, it's just pain medication. But it's a little more serious than that," he said.

Officials defend their "zero tolerance" policies as an attempt to soothe public anxiety over school safety. "You may see that we are cracking down more to be sensitive to what the public wants," said Carole Kennedy, Principal at New Haven Elementary School in Columbia, Missouri, and president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Consequently, many drug and weapon policies do not distinguish between marijuana and Midol, for example, or a gun and a butter knife.

The schools did not retreat in the face of near-unanimous public disapproval. They continue to defend their decisions, just like the East Stroudsburg, PA, school officials who inflicted 59 6th-grade girls with unauthorized genital examinations.

Drug education courses for the last 15 years may be to blame for blurring the lines between legal and illegal drugs. The typical drug curriculum teaches that "everybody takes drugs," and that it's up to the child to decide which kinds and amounts of drugs he will take. This is called "decision making," the successor to the technique called values clarification.

The drug course that was probably the most widely used 15 years ago, "Here's Looking at You Two," gave students a picture of what it called a "drug family tree." The branches all growing out of the same trunk included coffee, tobacco, Tums, Pepto-Bismol, alcohol, sleeping pills, glue, aspirin, cough syrup, marijuana, heroin, LSD, and cocaine. This gave the message that differences among drugs are minor.

Children were never told that painkillers are okay and illegal drugs are just plain wrong for moral, legal, and health reasons.

Many current public school administrators were probably taught that kind of drug education in school, as well as that there isn't any difference between 13-year-old girls and boys.

Education Briefs

National Education Association (NEA) staff members in Washington, D.C. earned an average salary of $68,346 during 1994-95 compared to the average teachers' salary of $36,933. The NEA uses nearly 23% of members' union dues to fund its $41.6 million payroll. Of the union's 608 employees, 126 made over $100,000.

The Supreme Court has let stand a lower court decision allowing public high schools to mandate community service as a graduation requirement. Student Daniel Immediato of Rye Neck High School in New York opposed the requirement on the grounds that it constituted "involuntary servitude" and violated the Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of personal liberty.

Education officials are incensed over President Clinton's designation of 200 acres of Utah canyons as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The land, originally slated for coal mining, would have generated up to $1.1 billion earmarked for an education endowment for Utah schools. The Utah Public Education Coalition, which includes teachers' unions and interest groups, are considering filing a lawsuit against the federal government for reimbursement of the lost funds.

Teachers who lose their licenses for sexually assaulting children are the only professionals in Colorado whose names are not made public. The names of such teachers are distributed to public school superintendents as a warning but not to other potential employers for nonteaching jobs supervising children, such as daycare centers, youth organizations, or private schools. Sexual assaults by teachers have become the number-one cause of teacher-license revocation in Colorado. Alaska and Washington are the only states to publicize the names of decertified teachers who have committed sexual offenses against students.

The Chicago School Board President Gery Chico and CEO Paul Vallas have placed 109 of Chicago's 557 schools on probation. Less than 15% of the students at the schools on probation scored at or above their grade level on standardized reading tests. Under probation, schools must submit to supervision of outside "management teams" and implement any changes that are ordered. The Illinois General Assembly turned over responsibility for Chicago schools to Democrat Mayor Richard M. Daley in 1995, who in turn appointed Vallas and new board members.

Review: Crisis in the Classroom
New Television Documentary Reports what the Media Ignore

Today's push for government-mandated attitudes, values, and beliefs in public schools - masquerading as education reform - is an unreported crisis in the nation's classrooms. Crisis in the Classroom, a newly-released special television report, exposes what the education elite don't want the public to know.

The documentary outlines key education issues and why they are so important. Since the 1960s, public school crime has skyrocketed, academic achievement has plummeted, and a radical social and political agenda has saturated textbooks and curriculum. At the same time, taxpayer spending on public schools has shot up from $15.6 billion annually to $230 billion.

Crisis contains exclusive interviews with the national newsmakers on the front line of education. Bill Honig, former California superintendent who first implemented the whole language method of reading, admits that it "became a cult. . . Educators were clouded by the rhetoric and the belief [behind whole language], and basically the parents were more accurate on the essentials of it than many of the educators."

Such failure is not merely coincidental. Part 2 of Crisis in the Classroom discusses "hidden agendas" - the history of education "reform" efforts. Since the early 20th century, U.S. educators have been heavily influenced by European philosophers whose ideals of socialism, collectivism, and atheism became the driving force behind education. The report scrutinizes the National Education Association's role in modern education and how Outcome-Based Education (OBE) facilitates the training of children as servants of the state and global economy.

The final part addresses the growing grassroots opposition to this education agenda through two effective means: literacy and political action. From California to Connecticut, parents are successfully teaching their children to read and defeating OBE in their communities. This report is an important resource for all who want to look beyond the rhetoric of education "reform" and join the growing movement to teach the basics.

Crisis in the Classroom can be ordered for $25 by calling toll-free 888/500-5262.

BOOK OF THE MONTH . . .

Generation X Goes to College by Peter Sacks, 1996, Open Court Publishing, 190 pps., $17.95 + $3.00 shipping (paperback), 1-800-815-2280.

As colleges and universities inherit those who have passed through elementary and secondary schools committed to feel-good educational theory, professors are taken aback by a new generation of students who show little respect for knowledge, truth, or experiences other than their own. This dramatic change within American higher education is described from first-hand knowledge by West Coast community college professor Peter Sacks in his book Generation X Goes to College.

"They expect to be entertained," says Sacks. "They harbor a sense of entitlement and expectation of success beyond reason. After all, they were reared in the K-12 myth that everyone is entitled to succeed. Grade inflation is symptomatic, and not just at lowly community colleges but at Stanford and Yale as well."

The American College Testing Program (ACT) reports that the college dropout rate of freshmen has reached an all-time high while the rate of those graduating within five years has fallen to its lowest point on record. Compared to a 1983 freshman drop out rate of 24.4 percent, freshman dropouts have increased to 26.9 percent.

The change in five-year graduation rates at public colleges since 1983 is dramatic: 52.2% in 1983 has tumbled to 44.6% in 1996. The graduation rate at private colleges, meanwhile, has slipped from 59.5% to 57.1%. Moreover, the rate of attrition at two-year colleges has risen to a new high of 44.3% compared to 43.2% thirteen years ago.

Sacks sees the difference between earlier generations and the present one as "not only a clash of cultures, but a clash of ethics between the modern and post-modern worlds." He adds, "They just haven't been instilled with the value of books and reading."

FOCUS:

The Multiculturalism Movement & Basketball

by Dr. U.R. Short, Dr. I.M. Slow, and Dr. I.S. Tungincheek

It is important to recognize that most basketball teams are comprised of players of differing backgrounds, orientations, and abilities. The underlying effort in this essay is to identify some of those differences and to suggest procedures designed to protect players from various forms of discrimination particularly as related to players' height, speed, and shooting ability. Basketball is a game fraught with unfair practices. Several examples of discrimination related to basketball are addressed in this article.

One of the most egregious and obvious discriminatory practices seen in the game of basketball today is, of course, the height of the basket, the so-called "glass ceiling." It is totally insensitive to have the height of the basketball goals at ten feet. How can anyone give credence to the notion that a vertically challenged player can compete on an equal footing with a player who may have a foot or more vertical advantage. In fact, they may have had that advantage for many years, with the strong likelihood that the player's parents (at least one) also had the same advantage.

Most vertically disadvantaged players trace their ancestry back to the country of Guardvilla. It's a simple fact: most Guardvillian-Americans are vertically disadvantaged. It's not their fault. It was simply the result of genetic endowment. In every other way, they are just like everyone else. What is unfair though is that they are asked to shoot for the same goals as the vertically advantaged Forwardian-Americans and Centerian-Americans. While it is often the case that Guardvillian-Americans have an advantage over the speed-challenged and sometimes shooting-challenged characteristics of Forwardian-Americans and Centerian-Americans, that still does not justify the "glass ceiling" foisted upon the Guardvillian-Americans. What does seem logical and appropriate, in order to create fairness in this regard, is to have two baskets at each end of the court thus taking into account the height differences. The Guardvillian-Americans would shoot at a basket eight feet high, and the Forwardian-Americans and Centerian-Americans would shoot at the traditional goal (10'). While such a change may have some immediate impact on game play, strategy, etc., over time, the fairness that would certainly emanate would make the modifications totally justifiable. Some may complain that there will be additional costs for the equipment needed. However, it is almost certain that federal funds would become available for this kind of equal opportunity effort.

If one pays close attention to the strategies employed by many "Good Ol' Boy & Girl" coaches involved in basketball today, it will be noted that they often purposely scheme to get what they call "advantage matchups." It should be perfectly clear that this is nothing more than a calculated creation of an unfair situation. The rules should be adjusted so that the second such a tactic is employed, the vertically disadvantaged, or speed disadvantaged player should immediately point out this violation.

The attending official should then "blow the whistle" and apply the appropriate penalty. The consequence of this foul act could be, for example, providing a free throw from a distance of ten feet as opposed to the traditional fifteen feet.

The comments above are directed at but a few of the many unfair practices rampant in basketball today. Unfortunately, space does not provide the opportunity to consider all of the injustices. However, one other travesty must be mentioned. That some coaches still allow inter-team scrimmaging between shirt advantaged players and shirt disadvantaged players is simply unconscionable. With the emphasis most people are placing on political correctness today, the fact that the practice of "shirts against skins" still exists is simply mind boggling. It should be pointed out, much to their credit, that female coaches never have supported this practice.

The time to make basketball an equal opportunity sport for all participants is long overdue. Playing basketball should not be based on one's speed, height or shooting advantages; rather, it should be based on a participant's desire to share in the point distribution. It's bad enough that one team is dubbed "loser." Such terminology should be eventually changed to "temporarily win challenged." Please help to rid the game of basketball of multicultural biases.

R. Thomas Trimble, Ph.D., author of this satire, recently retired from the University of Georgia.

Tennessee Curriculum Framework Amended

NASHVILLE, TN -- The Tennessee State Board of Education voted in May to adopt a new Social Studies Curriculum Framework for K through 12 which had been developed through a series of meetings by 28 educators. It was to be used as a guide for textbook selection.

The Framework repeatedly referred to the United States government as a "democracy," while never once using the word "republic." The document required students to describe the U.S. Constitution as a "living document" without presenting the view that the Constitution should be studied within the context of the framers' "original intent." The Framework replaced the traditional B.C. and A.D. calendar designations with B.C.E. ("before common era") and C.E. ("common era").

Finding some of these changes "problematic," Bobbie Patray, president of Tennessee Eagle Forum, distributed copies to several Tennessee leaders and encouraged them to voice their concerns to Board members. State Senator David Fowler wrote to the Board's executive director, Dr. J.V. Sailors, to highlight his objections.

Mrs. Patray met with Dr. Sailors to discuss the issues, stating her belief that "Our children must be taught the truth about our form of government, the reasons for it, and the tremendously different results it produces." She argued that the "living document" approach to the U.S. Constitution "promotes and condones judicial activism and ignores the other view of 'original intent' or 'strict construction.' The latter affirms the rule of law and limits the opportunity for the judicial function to infringe upon the legislative function."

After an extended discussion, Dr. Sailors agreed to discuss the concerns with the Board before their next meeting.

Because the two methodologies yield contrasting interpretations, Mrs. Patray urged the Board to adopt a "balanced approach."

The changes Mrs. Patray and others lobbied for were adopted by the Board in the final Social Studies Curriculum Framework. It now says that "students will analyze the United States Constitution in principle and practice, describing the republican form of government it creates." "Democracy" is referred to as "participatory democracy." The designations B.C. and A.D. were returned to the Tennessee Social Studies Curriculum.

"Not only were principles at stake, but so was truth," Mrs. Patray said. "How can students prepare for the future if their foundation is in error? These young people of today will be the attorneys, judges, legislators, and policy makers of every kind tomorrow. The long-term importance of these changes can be more fully appreciated when it is understood that frameworks are used in our state as a guide for textbook selection. The approved textbooks then remain in use for a six-year cycle.

"At least for now, Tennessee students are in a much better position." The Tennessee Eagle Forum President adds, "There is no substitute for eternal vigilance."

'Banned Books Week' is a Fraud
ALA Smears Parents, Misuses the Word 'Censorship'

WASHINGTON, DC -- Focus on the Family charges that the American Library Association's (ALA) "Banned Books Week," celebrated in late September in bookstores and libraries nationwide, is a "fraud."

"This year's 'Banned Books Week' is a fraud," said Tim Minnery, vice president of public policy. "We challenge the ALA to stop the name-calling, stop the hysteria, and stop deceiving Americans through its promotion of a 'book-banning' conspiracy theory."

Focus on the Family presented an analysis of the ALA's list of "Books Challenged or Banned in 1995-96" in its Banned Books Resource Guide:

  • Not one book was banned from a bookstore.
  • Not one book was banned from a public library.
  • "Censorship" means any objection that any parent raises over school material selection for children.

"The ALA evidently doesn't know what 'censorship' means," said Minnery. "It is not 'censorship' when a parent raises an objection to certain material that is used in the classroom or when a teacher or school administrator makes selection decisions regarding what books to use in school."

"The year's ALA report is about rhetoric, not substance," said Mark Maddox, senior director of public policy. "Who is the true target of the ALA's smear campaign? Parents and anyone else who dares exercise their First Amendment rights in expressing concern for the best interests of children."

"We call upon the American Library Association to work for an atmosphere of civility and respect among parents, educators, and librarians -not of hostility," said Minnery. "We can 'celebrate the freedom to read' without intimidating or suppressing private citizens from exercising their First Amendment freedom of speech regarding educational standards for children."

Former PAW Researcher Tells How the Book Banning Figures Are "Cooked"

The October issue of Harper's magazine provided additional evidence that "Banned Books Week" is a fraud. As Americans witnessed alarming displays of "banned books" in libraries and bookstores across the country, a former researcher at People for the American Way (PAW) confessed that cries of increased "censorship" are bogus.

Every year, PAW works with the American Library Association (ALA) to promote the myth that "censorship" is on the rise in schools and libraries across America. "The problem is," according to Marc Herman, former PAW researcher, "the numbers that support this startling conclusion are cooked."

Marc Herman's job "was to research book banning in the public schools and, particularly, to investigate evidence of censorship promulgated by the religious right." He was responsible for putting together the annual PAW report called Attacks on the Freedom to Learn.

In his Harper's article, Herman confessed that PAW "omits truth . . . in the interest of publicity," and when questioned by a reporter, he and his superiors "just lied to him until he went away." Herman told how he was ordered to make PAW's "censorship figures" worse every year. He said that the PAW annual "censorship" report is an example "of a problem being kept 'alive' for the sake of an organization's press profile."


 
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