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Education Reporter
NUMBER 220 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS MAY 2004

Education Briefs 
Drug testing would be increased in schools under President Bushs budget proposals sent to Congress in February, which would increase funding from $2 million to $23 million. "Random drug testing gives students a strong answer to the social pressure to try drugs," Bush said. The president cited an annual Department of Health and Human Services survey released last year as showing that progress against drugs has been made under his watch. The survey found an 11% drop in illegal drug use by high school students in the previous two years, slightly surpassing Bushs goal of a 10% reduction. (Associated Press, 2-29-04)

Requiring struggling students to attend summer school and possibly repeat a grade yields lasting academic improvements, particularly for younger students, according to a study of a Chicago schools program by professors at Brigham Young and Harvard Universities published in the latest issue of the Review of Economics and Statistics. On the other hand, increased training workshops for teachers did not translate into higher student achievement, the same authors reported in the February issue of the Journal of Human Resources. Sixteen states now provide funding for summer school, and some of the nations largest school districts have recently cracked down on the practice of "social promotion" (advancement based solely on age).

U.S. per-pupil spending has tripled in 40 years (adjusted for inflation) and the pupil-teacher ratio is 40% lower, yet reading scores are essentially unchanged, writes columnist George F. Will while upbraiding liberal critics of the No Child Left Behind Act whose alternative seems to be "Lets leave lots of children behind." (washingtonpost.com, 3-11-04)

D.C. teachers union leader is sentenced to 9-year prison term. Barbara A. Bullock, the former president of the Washington Teachers Union, admitted to embezzling $4.6 million from union coffers from 1995 to 2002. She spent much of the stolen money on designer clothing and furs and blamed her extravagances on bipolar disorder. (Education Week, 2-11-04)

Phonics-based reading programs, such as Open Court, have helped Los Angeles students learning English as a second language to score rapid gains, according to district deputy superintendent Merle Price. About 42% of such students scored in the top two levels of the California English Language Development Test this year, compared with about 29% last year. Price also acknowledged that the current system under which most students are taught primarily in English -- rather than in bilingual-education programs -- seems to be working well. (dailynews.com, 3-18-04)

More than half of all male high school students reported in 2001 that they were virgins, up from 39% in 1990. Delays in first intercourse and better contraceptive practices have contributed about equally to a 35% decline in birth rates among 15- to 17-year-olds in the U.S., according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis of several studies. The teen pregnancy rate has fallen steadily for a decade to below any level previously recorded in the U.S. Experts also credit a more religious and conservative generation of teenagers, changes in welfare policy, crackdowns on fathers for child support, fear of AIDS, and new youth programs emphasizing both abstinence and contraception. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 3-7-04)

More mothers are deciding to leave the work force when their children enter the teen years in a trend highlighted in the March Ladies Home Journal. There is a growing body of research finding that children may need their parents more than ever in their teenage years. (abcnews.com, 3-10-04)

Violence plagues schools in recent months. In February a Miami 14-year-old honor-roll student was stabbed to death and a 17-year-old football star was shot to death in the District of Columbia, in each case allegedly by a fellow student. (Education Week, 2-11-04) A 7th grader died January 13 after he was stabbed by another teenager at his middle school in Dallas. (dallasnews.com, 1-14-04) Verbal and physical assaults against teachers in Chicagos public schools increased 25% over last year to 970 reported incidents for the period running from the start of the school year through February. (Chicago Tribune, 3-21-04) A Michigan female physical-education teacher was knocked unconscious against a brick wall by a student who approached her from behind in March. (clickondetroit.com, 3-18-04) Several melees have occurred this year at a Philadelphia school, resulting in a school cops broken nose, a teacher jumped and punched in the face by two students, a student beaten unconscious, and student-set fires. (phillynews.com, 3-12-04)

Homeschooled student wins Rhodes Scholarship. Lara Anderson, a student at Utah State University who never spent a day in school until she was 18, was chosen last November as one of 100 Rhodes Scholars worldwide. The daughter of a physiology professor at the same university, she also holds two black belts in martial arts. She will study physics at Oxford University in England.

May 2004 Education Reporter
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Education Reporter is published monthly by Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund with editorial offices at 7800 Bonhomme Ave., St. Louis, MO 63105, (314) 721-1213. The views expressed in this newsletter are those of the persons quoted and should not be attributed to Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund. Annual subscription $25. Back issues available at $2.
 
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