Homeschooler wins National Geography Bee. Ten-year-old Calvin McCarter of Jenison, MI, defeated a roomful of mostly teenaged competitors to take first place and the top prize of a $25,000 college scholarship. Homeschooler Erik Miller, 14, of Kent, WA, finished 3rd, winning a $10,000 scholarship, and 14-year-old public school student, Matthew Russell of Bradford, PA, took 2nd place and a $15,000 scholarship. Although less than 2% of American children are educated at home, nearly 22% of the participants in this year's geography bee are homeschooled, as are nearly 11% of the students who took part in the 2002 National Spelling Bee.
Oklahoma House of Representatives failed to pass a universal preschool bill. Called the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness Act, SB 37 was never called up for a vote, largely due to efforts by Rep. Carolyn Coleman. SB 37 would have established an expensive, big-brother daycare system under the pretext of helping every child start school "ready to learn" - the first of Goals 2000's eight failed goals.
The Broward County (FL) School Board approved gay tolerance training for teachers. The board voted 6-3 in April to forge an agreement with the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) of Greater Fort Lauderdale to provide training for educators to fight alleged harassment and intolerance of gay students. At a school board meeting, 120 people signed up to speak against the training with only 40 in favor, but remarks from the public were limited to 30 minutes per side. Some board members and parents argued that the district should enforce existing policies against violence and harassment rather than contract with a pro-gay special interest group that also supports pro-gay curricula and Gay-Straight Alliances (after-school clubs).
A high school valedictorian whose graduation speech was barred because it was "too religious" won a $59,000 settlement. When Jason Niemeyer was not allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony at Oroville High School in Oroville, CA in 1999, he filed a federal lawsuit against the school. After U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that a jury should decide if his First Amendment rights were violated, the school agreed to settle.
The University of Chicago dumps Western Civilization classes. Most of these classes will be replaced this fall with European civilization courses, which do not include studies of ancient Greece and Rome. Some students and professors are protesting that Western Civ classes have been among the most popular since the 1950s and that political correctness - the notion that Western civilization is socially oppressive and responsible for most of the world's ills - is the real reason the courses have been dropped. (Washington Times, 4-19-02)