The U.S. is first in school spending, but not in test scores. An annual review of industrialized nations found that the U.S. spends the most money on education ($10,240 per student from elementary school through college in 2000), but its 15-year-olds perform in the middle of the pack on math, reading and science. Japan and Korea performed best in math, while the U.S. ranked 19th. In science, Korea and Japan topped the list and the U.S. ranked 14th. In reading, Finland was first and the U.S. was 15th. Average spending was $6,361 per student among more than 25 countries surveyed by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in a report released September 22. Federal spending on education in the U.S. has grown by $11 billion since President Bush took office.
A Philadephia teacher alleges she was fired for telling city school officials that administrators helped students cheat on state assessment tests. According to a lawsuit filed September 17, Jean McKay contacted the school district office after she saw an administrator look through a student's test book and tell students to stop and check their work Another teacher told her the same administrator pointed out incorrect test answers for some students and taught a lesson on one of the subjects being tested during a break, the complaint alleges. Three days after she contacted the district office, she was fired, supposedly for failing to order a test five months earlier.
School districts experiment with single-sex education in Dallas and Atlanta. The Dallas school board is considering a proposal to redevelop an old district building in the Oak Lawn area into an all-girls school for 600 7th and 8th graders. In Atlanta, King Middle School is separating the entire 6th-grade class by sex for everything except lunch and an elective. King is one of only 32 coed public schools nationwide that offer single-sex classes, according to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education.
A homeschooled student served on the U.S. team that won the world championship in a 2003 geography competition. Fifteen-year-old John Rice, who is taught by his mother on a Maddock, N.D. wheat farm, was one of three mem- bers who defended the U.S. title July 16 in the National Geographic World Championship, held every two years. It was the fourth time the U.S. won the competition since the first championship in 1993.
A Massachusetts superintendent and 24 "bilingual" teachers recently flunked legally required English tests. A new state law changed the policy for educating immigrant students from bilingual education to English immersion, requiring teachers to speak only English in the classroom. The 24 Lawrence, Mass. teachers who failed a proficiency test were placed on unpaid leave. Meanwhile, Lawrence school superintendent Wildredo Laboy, for whom English is also a second language, reportedly failed three times to pass the basic literacy test all state educators must pass to be certified. However, he was subsequently given a 3% salary increase, which raised his annual income to $156,560 and angered the 24 teachers he placed on leave. (CNSNews. com 8-8-03)
University of Michigan requires new "diversity" essay on applications. In response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June finding a racial "point system" unconstitutional, the University of Michigan has revamped its undergraduate admissions process to force applicants to write an essay on one of two topics: how the applicant's acceptance would contribute to "an academically superb and widely diverse educational community," or how a personal experience of "cultural diversity - or a lack thereof" changed the applicant's life.
Group urges meditation in Chicago schools. The Committee to Promote TM in Schools wants Chicago-area schools to adopt programs to teach students and teachers Transcendental Meditation, a relaxation technique popularized by 1960s guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The technique involves sitting quietly for 20 minutes per day and silently repeating a Sanskrit mantra. TM programs exist in three schools in Iowa, Washington, D.C. and Michigan. It costs an estimated $2,500 per person to learn the meditation technique. (Chicago Sun-Times 9-12-03)
The NEA has illegally spent tens of millions of dollars of members' tax-exempt dues for Democratic political purposes, Landmark Legal Foundation asserts. The foundation filed complaints September 4 asking the IRS and Justice Department for a criminal investigation of the nation's largest teachers union to ascertain whether the union evaded paying taxes on money spent for political activities. Under the federal tax code, unions may not use dues to influence the election or defeat of any candidate.
The number of aspiring engineering students has declined dramatically in the U.S., according to a new study by ACT, which administers a national college entrance exam. Among the more than 1.1 million seniors in the class of 2002 who took the ACT test, fewer than 6% planned to study engineering in college, down from a high of nearly 9% in 1992. Moreover, the 6% show a lower level of preparation and achievement, measured by math courses taken, class rank and average ACT composite score.
Durham public schools start the school year with a new dress code. The school board in Durham County, North Carolina decided last May to ban clothing deemed profane, revealing or gang-related. A specific list of what is and is not allowed prohibits students from wearing hats, bandanas, baggy pants, or anything that reveals portions of the midsection. Educators hope the dress code will improve discipline and the overall appearance of the students.