U.S. 8th graders continue to lag behind their foreign counterparts in science and math. They showed virtually no improvement on the 1999 version of the 1995 Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), dubbed the TIMSS-R (for repeat). The National Research Coordinator for the earlier study, William Schmidt, said the latest report found "no substantive change" in American students' scores over the past four years. These students were 4th graders when they placed well below their counterparts in Japan, Singapore, The Netherlands, and other countries on the TIMSS. Outgoing chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Rep. Bill Goodling, called the results "a disturbing trend." Education Secretary Richard Riley, however, defended U.S. education reform efforts and called on the lame duck Congress to pass President Clinton's education budget.
Parents' rights bill passes both houses in New Jersey. Introduced last May, the bill requires schools to obtain "informed" written parental consent before administering certain academic or non-academic surveys, assessments, analyses, evaluations, or comprehensive guidance and counseling values clarification programs to students. It mandates that schools provide copies of the documents for parental viewing at convenient times and locations, and spells out the requirements for when these conditions apply. (See Education Reporter, June 2000.) Approved last summer by the General Assembly, the Senate passed the bill in December without adding the amendments recommended by Governor Christine Whitman's office, which would have gutted the bill. It now awaits the Governor's signature.
Abstinence educator Wilma Willard wins Indiana's "Health Educator of the Year" award. Willard is co-founder of P.A.T.H. (Positive Approach to Teen Health), a nonprofit organization that promotes abstinence-until-marriage in schools and communities. She has written over 200 pages of curricula and trained more than 50 abstinence presenters.
Victims of strip-search in North Carolina receive favorable settlement. U.S. District Court Judge Carl Horn filed a consent order in the case of seven 8th-grade boys who were strip-searched for drugs at the Marie G. Davis Middle School in Charlotte in 1999. Although no drugs were found in the students’ classroom or personal belongings, 11 boys were taken to a bathroom and strip-searched by an assistant principal and a school security officer. The consent order requires the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education to pay a total of $35,000 ($5,000 for each boy involved in the lawsuit) plus court costs and attorneys’ fees, in exchange for dismissal of the suit. School district authorities earlier agreed to recognize the constitutional rights of students and prohibit future strip searches of minors on school campuses.
Lower Teen Birth Rate
Due to Abstinence Ed
SPRINGFIELD, IL - The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Dec. 14 that teen births in the state have dropped to their lowest level in 40 years, and credited "the environment that's been created over the past 10 years [that] is making it more comfortable today for them to say no to having sex."
One of the leaders in creating that environment and spreading the abstinence-until-marriage message is Illinois-based Project Reality, which has been funded through the Illinois Department of Human Services since 1987. Last year, Project Reality's classroom programs alone reached more than 52,000 middle and high school students in 350 schools across the state. Seven major Project Reality-sponsored youth rallies have entertained and educated over 22,000 students on the benefits of abstaining from sex, drugs and alcohol.
Other abstinence-until-marriage programs have also been growing statewide. Currently, there are 29 abstinence programs funded through the federal Title V block grant program under the Welfare Reform Act of 1996.