College freshmen show more interest in conservatism and church attendance. An
annual survey by The American Freshman released in January indicates that the
percentage of conservatives has risen to 21% (compared with 24% who call
themselves liberals, a figure that has plummeted from a high of 38% in 1971).
Some 80% have recently attended a church service, up from a low of 69%.
Nashville schools have eliminated honor rolls for fear of violating state
student-privacy laws, after a few parents complained that their children might be
ridiculed for not making the list. School officials are developing permission
slips to give to parents who want to have their children's work recognized.
(Associated Press, 1-24-04)
Michigan voters may end racial preferences in college admissions and government
hiring, if critics gather enough signatures to place the question on the ballot
this fall. A Detroit News poll in January indicated that 64% of voters favor a
ban and only 23% oppose it. The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative is leading the
charge to gather the 317,757 signatures needed by July 6. The campaign comes in
the wake of the U.S. Supreme Courts split decision last year on the use of racial
preferences in admission to the University of Michigan. A similar initiative
passed easily in Washington State five years ago, but state universities there are
now pushing a bill in the legislature to again allow race to be used in
More families of color are homeschooling. Federal statistics compiled by the
Education Department indicate about a quarter of homeschooled students are in
"black, Hispanic and other" categories. Books, support groups and websites are
springing up to address the needs of these growing categories. (boston.com,
New York City schools will end "social promotion" for third-graders this year.
Officials estimate that at least 20%, or more than 15,000 pupils, will repeat
third grade after failing to pass standardized tests four times as many as have
been held back before. Mayor Michael Bloomberg called social promotion
automatically passing poorly performing students to the next grade a "discredited
practice." (nypost.com, 1-9-04)
The Gates Foundation is funding new "small schools" in Chicago. Environmental
issues and social justice will be the focus of the newest such public high school,
in West Garfield Park. The college preparatory program will also stress research
skills and computer technology, and enrollment will be limited to about 400
students. School founders say they hope students will become agents of social
change. (chicagotribune.com, 1-15-04) Meanwhile, Congressional investigators
have discovered that Chicago public schools allowed $5 million of federally funded
computer equipment to languish in a warehouse for years.(chicagotribune.com,
No surprise: Study says U.S. teens are the fattest. American teenagers have
higher rates of obesity than those in 14 other industrialized countries, according
to a survey in 1997-98 published in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics
& Adolescent Medicine. Among 15-year-olds, 15% of girls and 14% of boys were
obese, and an additional 31% of girls and 28% of boys were overweight. U.S. teens
were found more likely to eat fast food, snacks and sodas and to be driven to
school and other activities. A different study published in the January issue of
Pediatrics determined that every day nearly a third of American children aged 4
to 19 eat fast food, which likely adds about six extra pounds per child per year.
Bullies are often popular. A study of school bullying published in the December
issue of Pediatrics concludes that bullies are commonly considered "cool" by their
classmates and do not suffer from low self-esteem or show signs of depression,
loneliness or anxiety. Most anti-bullying programs in schools are based on the
inaccurate belief that bullies pick on others because of low self-esteem.
NEA commits $1.75 million to try to unionize charter-school teachers. Most
charter schools currently operate without a union, and a study last July by the
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research showed that charter schools slightly
outperformed public schools serving similar student populations. The nations
largest teachers union has announced an aggressive campaign to organize
charter-school teachers, beginning in California, one of the first states to allow
Georgia acted to drop the word "evolution" from its teaching guidelines, then
restored it under pressure. State education officials announced plans in January
to replace the word "evolution" with "changes over time." Six days later, they
reversed the decision. (Associated Press, 2-5-04) Georgia also recently altered
the state history curriculum to eliminate world history prior to 1500 and U.S.
history prior to 1876 (except for three weeks on the founding of the nation).
(Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1-25-04)