A new California law makes kindergarten mandatory before a child enters first grade. AB 25 also requires public school officials to contact parents of 3-5-year-olds about pre- school programs. California's Capitol Research Institute (CRI) charges that the law encroaches on the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children, and places an increased financial burden on parents who plan to enroll their children in private schools beginning in first grade, not kindergarten. CRI warns that AB 25's requirement that school officials contact parents of preschoolers may pressure parents to enroll their children in early childhood education, robbing both children and parents of precious time together. Contrary to the law's language, there is no sound evidence that early formal education brings any lasting benefits to a child.
The San Francisco Board of Education dropped tough graduation requirements for the class of 2001 when it was determined that nearly one-third of the city's high school seniors would fail to meet the new standards.
A Massachusetts judge ruled that school officials may not regulate a student's cross-dressing. Last January, the 7th-grade boy began wearing tight skirts, high heels, a bra, and makeup to school. He blew kisses at a male student, grabbed the buttocks of another male student, applied makeup during class, and was suspended at least three times for using the girls' restroom after being told not to do so. A therapist concluded that the boy suffers from a gender identity disorder and that wearing female clothing "is not a personal preference but a necessary symbol of her [sic] very identity." Superior Court Judge Linda Giles held that the school may discipline the boy for inappropriate conduct, but may not punish him for his clothing, which she said was a form of expression. "Under this kind of logic," observed the Family Research Council, "a public school student could argue for the right to express his identity as a nudist."
A Federal court upheld the right of Virginia schools to require a moment of silence. The court ruled that the law does not violate the separation of church and state because Virginia legislators did not mandate that students pray, only that they be silent. Virginia lawmakers passed the bill on July 1 in an effort to address the national problem of school violence. An attempt by the ACLU to obtain an injunction against the legislation failed, but the group plans to appeal the court ruling.