American Library Association's (ALA) annual "Banned Books Week" in September is not about banning books. It's about vilifying parents who raise questions about reading materials assigned in schools or available in school libraries that contain violence, obscenity, or are not age appropriate. The ALA labels as "book banning" almost any challenge to any book, but parental complaints rarely, if ever, result in the removal of a book from classroom or school library shelves. Real book banning is reserved for books written from a conservative perspective, such as those offered by the Spence Publishing Company. Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe (9/27/01) said Spence's current list includes "serious books by serious authors, presumably of interest to serious bookstores and libraries." However, Spence's books have been banned from libraries and bookstores across the country, reflecting the ALA's hypocrisy and ideological bias.
New York City's summer school program failed to help students. Education expert Diane Ravitch reports that about 72,000 children were required to attend summer school because of poor academic performance. Of the 66,000 who showed up, most failed their end-of-course exams, yet were promoted to the next grade anyway. Nearly 60% did not improve in reading and 2/3 showed little or no improvement in math. Among 8th-graders, average reading scores dropped.
Channel One drops teacher incentive plan. The for-profit company, which shows 12 minutes of "news" and commercials to captive students in thousands of classrooms each day, had offered to pay a $500 fee to any teacher who successfully marketed the program to another school. Groups opposed to Channel One criticized the offer, calling it a violation of ethics.
There is now one computer for every five students in public schools. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 98% of all schools were hooked up to the internet in 2000, compared to 35% in 1994.
A Springfield, Pennsylvania teacher assigned a 300-word essay on the topic of armed robbery and murder. "We only meant to rob the store; we didn't want to kill him," was one of two topics given to high school students during a summer-school class. At least one parent called for disciplinary action against the teacher, including a three-day suspension and counseling. "If my son had written something like this on his own," said the father, "that's what would happen to him."
Instructor fired for teaching gay sex is reinstated with back pay. Margot Abels lost her job with the Massachusetts Department of Education last year after a tape of a workshop she conducted at Tufts University became public. The workshop, sponsored by the Education Department, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, was part of a statewide conference on homosexual sex called "Teach-Out." An arbitrator ruled that the department was wrong to fire Abels because her participation "was authorized by her superiors, and her conduct, while controversial, did not violate then-established department guidelines and policies."