A new federal law requires schools and libraries that receive e-rate funds to install pornography-blocking software on their computers. This requirement is contained in HR 4577, the fiscal 2001 appropriations act for the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services. Congress passed the law in December and President Clinton signed it although he opposed the filtering mandate. The deadline for schools and libraries to draw up internet safety policies, including the filters, is April 16, 2001.
Praising children to increase self-esteem is becoming less esteemed among experts. Many educators and child psychologists now say that praising children for ordinary actions and accomplishments can have a negative impact, such as making them less motivated and causing them to feel undue pressure or to fear failure. They say that offering encouraging statements and asking questions that prompt children to think about solutions to problems are more likely to motivate them in a positive way.
An advertising slogan posted on 75 city buses in Washington, DC contained a grammatical error. The signs were part of a $41,000 ad campaign developed and funded by the Washington DC public school system earlier this year. Designed to discourage dropouts, the campaign signs read: "DC Public Schools Wants You!!! Go to Class - It's a Blast!" Many observers say the error is a reflection not only on the DC public schools, but on the flawed philosophy of Whole Language, which fails to teach proper grammar, spelling and punctuation.
Utah becomes 6th state to enact paycheck protection. Signed into law on March 19, the "Voluntary Contributions Act" prevents Utah employers or unions from deducting monies from workers' paychecks without written permission. The measure also prohibits the use of public employer resources for collecting political contributions. Other states with paycheck protection laws include Idaho, Michigan, Ohio, Washington state, and Wyoming.
Schools in Chicago are handing out parent report cards. About 30 schools are giving parents letter grades on their involvement with their children's education. Teachers grade parents in 14 areas, including whether they ask about their children's school day, send appropriate notes to explain absences, or supervise homework. Failing parents can expect a "home visit" every 10 weeks from representatives of the school system. An additional 210 schools are giving parents checklists, which are similar to the report cards without the letter grades.
California Court of Appeals ruled that religious groups can meet on public school property. In reversing a lower court ruling, the three-judge panel decided unanimously that student Bible clubs have an equal right to access school facilities as other extracurricular clubs. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Mission Viejo brought the suit in 1997 against the Saddleback Valley Unified School District. Last month, the district voted to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court.
Researchers at North Carolina State University found 12 popular middle school science textbooks riddled with errors. These included factual errors, such as giving the wrong formula for calculating the volume of a sphere (found in Glencoe: Science Interactions, published in 1998 by Glencoe/McGraw-Hill). According to Education Week (1-24-01), the two-year study supports the findings published in 1999 report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, that middle school science textbooks fail to adequately teach the fundamentals of science.
Alabama's state board of education has unanimously approved new science standards, which contain the following statement in the introduction: "Explanations of the origin of life and major groups of plants and animals, including humans, shall be treated as theory and not as fact."