Rumsfeld Wants Recruits
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says teachers should support the war on terrorism by helping the military to recruit high school students. In a Nov. 6 letter to school officials, cosigned by U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige, Rumsfeld said schools should open their doors to recruiters by “presenting military opportunities to our young people for their consideration.” Two new federal laws would require high schools to provide student records to recruiters, although parents would be able to “opt out.” (NYPost.com)
Students Leave Voucher Schools
In Florida, more than one in four students who requested taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools this semester have transferred back to public schools. Many returning students said they felt more comfortable at their neighborhood schools, even if they were labeled by the state as “failing.” A 1999 Florida law allows students at public schools that earn a failing grade two years out of four to get vouchers to attend private schools. Nearly 9,000 students became eligible for the vouchers last summer. 607 students requested vouchers, and 170 have returned to the public schools. (Miami Herald)
Latino Dropout Rate Soars
According to a recent study from Washington D.C., the number of Latinos in the Southwest who dropped out of or never attended high school rose by more than 50 percent during the 1990s.
Hispanic educators and activists attribute this figure to the overall growth of the U.S. Latino population during the 1990s and already underfunded schools that became overwhelmed trying to accommodate Spanish-speaking students.
Raul Gonzalez, education policy analyst for the advocacy group the National Council of La Raza, says it will be crucial to develop methods that will address the needs of struggling Latino students, such as allowing a longer time for students to graduate without penalty and smaller class sizes. (Associated Press)
Students Refuse to Dissect
A growing number of students is declining to dissect animals in science classes, opting instead for computer simulations.
In September, officials barred a 16-year-old student in Baltimore from an anatomy class after she refused to dissect a cat. After protesters picketed the school, she was allowed to rejoin the class and use computer alternatives.
In Los Vegas, a student initiated a drive to allow students to opt out of dissecting animals after she received a “C” in a science class for refusing to cut up an earthworm.
California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have approved opt-out policies, according to the Humane Society of the United States. The society estimates that 6 million animals (mostly frogs, fetal pigs, and cats) are dissected each year in U.S. schools. (Associated Press)
Anti-Bilingual Law Upheld
In early October, a San Francisco federal appeals court ruled that Proposition 227 does not violate the U.S. Constitution, saying it found no evidence that the initiative was racially discriminating.
Prop. 227, passed in 1998, replaced most of that state’s bilingual education programs with English-immersion programs.
Plaintiffs who filed suit — including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund — claim the law violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. (Education Week)