FDA urges caution with use of antidepressants for youngsters. Concerned that antidepressants may lead to suicidal behavior in children and adolescents, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a health advisory October 27 urging doctors to proceed with caution when prescribing such medication. Data in 20 placebo-controlled trials for eight drugs suggested that that more suicidal thoughts and actions occurred among young patients who were given antidepressants, such as Prozac. Last summer, the agency warned against prescribing Paxil for children and adolescents because three studies showed possible increased risk of suicidal thinking and actions.
More foreign students are going to college in the U.S. A record 586,323 foreign students came to study during the 2002-03 academic year, continuing two decades of increases, according to a report by the Institute for International Education issued November 3. India, China and Korea send the most students.
Teachers union ex-president pleads guilty to looting union. Former Washington Teachers' Union head Barbara A. Bullock will serve up to ten years in prison for siphoning more than $2.5 million from teachers' dues, which financed lavish expenditures over seven years. Her extravagances included $50,000 in custom-made clothing and $100,000 in season tickets for the Washington Redskins and Wizards with limousine service.
American teens average no more than five hours a week on homework, according to a report by the Brown Center for Education Policy at the Brookings Institution. Only 10% of students do more than two hours of homework a night, estimates a RAND study entitled A Nation at Rest: The American Way of Homework. (techcentralstation.com, 10-13-03)
Civil liberties activists charge gender discrimination against boy wearing dress to school. A public high school in New Milford, CT sent 15-year-old Kevin Dougherty home to change out of a dress. The Connecticut Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the school system November 3 demanding that it amend its dress code to allow both girls and boys the option of wearing a dress. (newstimes.com, 11-6-03)
Hillary Clinton attacks Head Start test as "culturally insensitive." In arguing that Congress should stop a nationwide test of Head Start 4-year-olds, the Democratic Senator from New York said that a question requiring disadvantaged children to point to a swamp in a group of pictures is unfair to urban children. A Department of Health and Human Services official responded that more urban children than rural children pick the right picture. (washingtontimes.com, 11-5-03)
Authorities received not one but two warnings about a Columbine attacker, which were never investigated. Jefferson County, CO sheriff Ted Mink disclosed October 29 that in a report dated August 7, 1997 a "concerned citizen" provided law enforcement authorities with seven web pages from student killer Eric Harris boasting of possible criminal activities, including setting off a pipe bomb. This report was in addition to a previously disclosed March 1998 report including more Harris web pages provided by Columbine parents Randy and Judy Brown, who said Harris had threatened to kill their son. Harris and a friend killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded about two dozen people at Columbine High School before killing themselves on April 20, 1999. The sheriff has asked the attorney general to investigate why law enforcement personnel never followed up on either report. (rockymountainnews.com, 10-29-03)
California charter school adopts animal-rights focus. The new Humane Education Learning Charter School in the San Juan school district is based on the four guiding principles of kindness, compassion, respect, and consideration "for all humans, all species and the environment." The school would teach alternatives to violence and focus on teaching compassion toward all sentient beings. (sacbee.com, 10-15-03)
McDonald's corporate-sponsorship message before and after the television show Sesame Street has drawn fire from a Ralph Nader-backed organization. In an October 13 letter to PBS, Commercial Alert and a group of health professionals complained that the hamburger chain's message violates a public trust that a public network should safeguard. (AdAge.com, 10-14-03)