No Comment 16.4

Dr. Laura’s Latest Cause

What do Dr. Laura, the radio/newspaper commentator, Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza, and James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, have in common?

All are conservative activists who have signed a proclamation calling on California parents to withdraw their children from public schools.

While many conservative critics of education argue that they aren’t anti-public schools but merely want them to work better, not so for Dr. Laura and friends. The proclamation they have signed is sponsored by the Alliance for the Separation of School and State, specifically designed, according to the group’s materials, to “liberate” K-12 schools from state, local, and federal government control.

“Our mission is to re-establish parental control of education by eliminating the government control which has led to propaganda masquerading as education,” says Alliance president Marshall Fritz.

Testing Ad Nauseum

From the March 14 Sacramento Bee in California: “Testrelated jitters, especially among young students, are so common that the Stanford-9 exam comes with instructions on what to do with a test booklet in case a student vomits on it.”

Profits over Kids

The board of directors of a charter school in Cincinnati sued to close in late March, arguing that the for-profit company running the school is too obsessed with making a profit.

The school is run by a Cincinnati-based affiliate of SABIS Educational Inc., and had been under contract with a non-profit group to run the SABIS International School of Cincinnati. But now the nonprofit groups wants to sever the relationship.

“The management company appeared to be using the school to make huge profits,” according to minutes from a November board meeting, quoted in the Cincinnati Post.

A Nation of Immigrants

The Council of Great City Schools is comprised of school districts with more than 250,000 people and student enrollments over 35,000. Overall, there are 6.6 million students in Great City Schools. More than 120 languages are spoken in the Great City Schools, and more than 21 percent of the students are known as English Language Learners.

The Folly Of Abstinence-Only

The following is excerpted from a March 31 opinion piece in the Houston Chronicle by M. Jocelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General:

“We are spending a quarter of a billion dollars for abstinence education in our schools when there is no scientific basis that abstinence – only education is effective. Abstinence education as it is presently taught does not allow our educators to tell young people anything about contraception or diseaseprevention.

Here’s what you can tell them [under abstinence-only approaches]: Sexual activity outside of marriage has harmful psychological and physical effects, and the expected standard of human behavior confines sexual activity to marriage.

There are about 12 million problems with this approach – 12 million being the number of sexually active teens in this country who are 19 or younger. More than 70 percent of teenagers have had sex by the age of 18 and 80 percent by 19. Yes, condoms can break, they can slip off, but they are still the best protection [against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases] that we have available. . Just a few recent statistics show:

  • 33 percent of births in the United States are to unmarried women, and 14 percent of births are to teenagers.
  • There are 800,000 to 900,000 persons living with HIV, and approximately 40,000 new infections occur every year.
  • There is an 85 percent decrease in risk of HIV transmission among consistent condom users compared with non-users.
  • No sex education program has ever been found to increase sexual activity or to encourage students to engage in intercourse at earlier ages. In fact, comprehensive sexuality education delays first intercourse, reduces the risk of teen-age pregnancy, and reduces the number of sexual partners.

Welfare and Teen Academics

The 1996 welfare bill that “ended welfare as we know it” has had a negative effect on the teenage children of single mothers forced into the workplace, according to a lengthy study by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, a nonprofit based in New York City.

“Our best guess suggests that it looks like adolescents, first of all, may have been left unsupervised, rather than put in more structured activities,” said the report’s lead author, Pamela A. Morris. “It also looks like they may have been taking on more adult roles, like taking care of younger siblings or working more when their mothers went back to work.”

The study tracked welfare changes in ten states and two Canadian provinces. It found that adolescents whose mothers worked earned lower grades, were more likely to repeat a grade, or be referred to special education. More information is available at

Quotable Quote

If you are a worker poor enough to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit, your chance of being audited is one in 47. If you make over $100,000 a year, your chance of being audited is one in 145.

– Columnist Molly Ivins Liberal Opinion Week, April 29, 2002.