The Williamson County (TN) Board of Education has adopted new guidelines for administering student surveys. All surveys now require written approval by the Director of Schools. The new guidelines prohibit identifying students by name, social security number or other distinctive data. Surveys that ask students for private family information or sexual behavior are forbidden, but those pertaining to the use of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or lethal weapons may be allowed. Any survey that questions personal attitudes, beliefs or social behavior requires prior written notification and consent from students' parents.
A recent study showed that one-fourth of sexually active, inner-city teenage girls are infected with chlamydia, a disease that can cause infertility but has no symptoms. The study found the highest infection rate of 27.5% among 14-year-olds, with an overall positive test rate of 29.1%. While most of the children tested in this study were black, researchers have also found high rates of chlamydia infection among white teenage females in previous studies. The disease generally does not cause long-term complications in males.
The U.S. Dept. of Education (DOE) celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. It will cost U.S. taxpayers $33.5 billion for fiscal year 1998. The legislation that created DOE passed by a slim margin of 210-206 in the House of Representatives. Key YES votes were provided by then-junior House members Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and Trent Lott (R-MS).
A West Virginia high school valedictorian's right to speak at graduation was restored after his parents threatened legal action. The student had refused the principal's demand that he remove portions of his speech criticizing schools that place a higher emphasis on athletics than academics. When the school canceled his presentation and those of two other graduates, his mother contacted the Rutherford Institute.
WASHINGTON, DC - The National Education Association (NEA) has released a 144-page report attacking what it calls a concerted effort by a "Conservative Network" of "far right" organizations to carry out "a state-by-state assault on public education." The report is verbosely entitled "The Real Story Behind 'Paycheck Protection,' The Hidden Link Between Anti-Public Education Initiatives: An Anatomy of the Far Right."
It characterizes initiatives such as the failed Proposition 226 in California - which would have required unions to get members' permission to spend their mandatory dues for political purposes - as attempts to dismantle public education and "choke off the funding" of organized labor.
Observers have described the NEA booklet as "an attempt to rally the NEA's troops, not to persuade outsiders." Mark Wilson, a labor economist for the Heritage Foundation, commented in the Oct. 2 edition of the Washington Times: "It's a shame the NEA is spending their members' dollars this way rather than directly addressing the issues." He added that the report "looks more like a fund-raising attempt."
The NEA booklet implicates dozens of individuals and organizations as part of the "Conservative Network" (read "conspiracy"). Wal-Mart heir John Walton, Pittsburgh philanthropist Richard Mellon Scaife, retired insurance executive J. Patrick Rooney, Howard Ahmanson Jr., a founding director of the Rutherford Institute, and Texas businessman James Leininger receive prominent mention, as do the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Council for National Policy, the National Right to Work Foundation, the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute, and Americans for Tax Reform (ATR).
ATR President Grover Norquist told the Washington Times that "the only 'conspiracy' is that 65% of the American people support paycheck protection, and 65% of them also support school choice." The ATR has released its own report called Unprotected Paychecks: The Truth Behind Big Labor's Campaign Against Proposition 226.
Apparently, the mainstream media recognized the booklet as merely NEA campaign and fundraising material because it was barely mentioned by the press. The Associated Press did cover the report's release. AP Reporter Robert Greene noted: "If there is evidence, other than by association, that supporters of dues restrictions are motivated by a desire to dismantle public schools, it was not clearly laid out in the NEA's booklet."