Homeschool families in Missouri have succeeded in killing a bill that would have required their children to take state assessment tests and to register with their public school districts. About 700 people thronged the state capitol in Jefferson City to protest H.B. 540, which was sponsored by Rep. Bill Skaggs (D-Kansas City). Homeschool parents argued that once the state starts testing their children, it will begin dictating curriculum to conform to state policies and mandates.
A survey of college freshmen finds support of abortion has declined 14%. Less than 51% of students said they believe abortion should be legal, down from a record high of 64.9% in 1990. Men favor abortion slightly more than women - 52.5% to 49.5%. Now in its 33rd year, the survey is conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
Junior high students in Bryant, AR received apologies from the school superintendent for an "embarrassing" and "inappropriate" sex discussion. A guest lecturer gave detailed answers to handwritten "sex questions" from health and physical education students, some of which dealt explicitly with oral sex and sexual organs. Outraged parents called the session "pornographic." Embarrassed students who tried to "put their heads down" or "leave the room" were prevented from doing so by teachers.
OBE is alive and well in Fayette County, GA public schools. Despite the school board's vow to keep OBE out, in just four years at least some of the schools have embraced "block scheduling," "Integrated Thematic Instruction (ITI)," "life skills," and psychological testing. Students spend their days reflecting about bonding and social behavior, reviewing "Tribal Agreements," writing down their "Reflections for Today," and "reaching consensus."
Dissident teachers attack new Chicago Academic Standards Exam (CASE), calling it "sophomoric" and "mindless." Teacher George Schmidt, editor of the Substance newspaper, published portions of the $1 million, system-wide test, calling CASE a "curricular atrocity." He said that at least one question was so poorly phrased that it was confusing. Teachers at Whitney Young, Chicago's highest-scoring public high school, released a long list of complaints against CASE, including a physics test with a question that had no correct answer. CASE will eventually be part of a high-stakes effort to ensure that all teachers are teaching their students according to new system-wide standards. The Chicago Board of Education has filed suit against the Substance for reprinting the test without permission.
The Kansas state school board voted last fall to refuse federal school-to-work funds. Board members took action because of their concern that the federal government's process of allocating STW funds bypasses the authority of state school boards. The governor could transfer control of the funds to another department.
A report by the the American Textbook Council says religion should have a place in character education. An independent reviewer of textbooks and curriculum, the Council supports making "religious-based insights more integral to character education." The report recommends that students learn to "imagine life as something more than material."
A survey taken last Thanksgiving by Public Agenda found that 90% of parents want schools to teach patriotism, national pride, and the American system. The nonpartisan, nonprofit public opinion research and education organization in New York City found that an equal number agreed that most young people "fail to appreciate how good this country is." Respondents also said they want the schools to tell students that the U.S. is a better country than most others.