U.S. Supreme Court rules against the Ten Commandments. The high court on April 17 let stand a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowing California's Downey Unified School District to refuse to display an ad listing the Ten Commandments on a ballfield fence. The case began in 1995 when the school district solicited ads to pay for new team uniforms. Edward DiLoreto paid $400 to display a sign listing the Commandments under a caption that read: "Meditate on these principles to live by." The school district refused the ad and DiLoreto sued, citing his First Amendment right of free speech. The 9th Circuit Court held that, because the ballfield is a limited public forum, the school acted reasonably in barring religious content from the ads, and claimed concern about a possible violation of the Establishment Clause. The school wanted to avoid "disruption" or a possible lawsuit, the court said. The state attorney general had told the school that posting the ad would not violate the Constitution.
Studies show that California's English immersion programs are working. In conducting a study for the Santa Cruz Sentinel, reporter Jondi Gumz analyzed test scores and interviewed teachers in school districts with significantly different approaches to Proposition 227. Students at schools implementing phonics-based English-only instruction and eliminating bilingual classes showed "dramatic" improvement over those who retained bilingual programs. In districts that failed to improve, Gumz found teacher union efforts to undermine the English immersion initiative along with low morale among bilingual teachers. School Reform News (05-00) reported that the Sentinel's findings are consistent with those of other studies. A San Jose Mercury News study, for example, found that 2nd graders learning English in mainstream classrooms averaged at the 35th national percentile on the Stanford 9 test, while bilingual learners averaged in the 20th percentile. A third study by the READ Institute yielded similar results.
Survey shows colleges are accepting more homeschooled students. The National Center for Home Education (NCHE) in Purcellville, VA surveyed 513 colleges and universities in 1998 and 1999 and found that 68% had admissions policies favorable to homeschoolers. Many others were in the process of adjusting their policies. Homeschool-friendly colleges typically require parent transcripts, standardized achievement test results and student portfolios in lieu of high school diplomas. Research shows that nearly 70% of homeschooled students go to college, with about one million expected to pursue a college degree during the next decade.
Teen Activities and Attitudes Study
(Excerpts from the 22-page, five-part questionnaire by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.)