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Education Reporter

Education Briefs 
The U.S. is losing its edge in science based on the number of Americans winning scientific prizes, publishing papers in major professional journals, and obtaining patents. Countries in Europe and Asia have been gaining on the U.S. as living standards have risen around the globe, fewer Americans pursue doctorates in science, and more foreign students studying here decide to return to their native countries. (New York Times, 5-3-04) However, the U.S. still spends far more on research and development than any other nation and Americans still win half the Nobel prizes in science. As fewer Americans seem interested in technical careers, observers such as the New York Times editorial page (5-7-04) see a need to reinvigorate science education in public schools.

Vicodin, OxyContin and similar opiate painkillers are the second most popular category of recreational drug use after marijuana, according to the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. At the University of Arizona campus health center, it has become routine to prescribe Vicodin and other opiate painkillers for sore throats, back pain and other common ailments even though it is easy to become addicted to pain medication. A 2003 campus survey reported that 5% of the students there had used opiates within the past 30 days. (wildcat.arizona.edu, 3-5-04)

Head scarf controversy hits the U.S. Around the same time as internationally publicized reports of Muslim head scarf bans in French schools, an Oklahoma City-area school district suspended an 11-year-old Muslim girl last October for refusing to remove her head scarf, which violated a dress code prohibiting hats and other head coverings. Unlike the French government, however, the U.S. Justice Department filed a complaint against Muskogee Public School District alleging that it violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution by applying the dress code in an inconsistent and discriminatory manner. (Associated Press, 3-30-04)

The "outlandish" claim that Muslim explorers preceded Christopher Columbus to North America and became Algonquin chiefs has been removed from new copies of an Arab studies guide for U.S. teachers at the insistence of the Algonquin Indian tribe. The 540-page book has been promoted to school districts in 155 U.S. cities by the Middle East Policy Council in Washington, DC. Some 1,200 teachers have been given erroneous versions of the "Arab World Studies Notebook" in the last five years. (Washington Times, 4-16-04)

Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or ODD syndrome, is the latest medical label for children exhibiting defiance, provocative conduct and disobedience. First identified by the American Psychiatric Association in the 1980s, its appearance as a diagnosis has increased substantially recently. An estimated 6% of U.S. children have the disorder. (telegraph.co.uk, 4-11-04)

A phonics-based reading program is credited with transforming Rachel Carson Elementary into one of Chicago's best schools, along with the leadership of its principal, Kathleen Mayer, a caring school environment and strong parent-community ties to the school. In the decade since it opened with no books or furniture, Mayer has eliminated gangs and raised the attendance rate of the low-income student body to nearly 98%. Even though some classes contain 30 or more students, test scores are rising, and more than two-thirds of students meet or exceed the national average in reading and math. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4-19-04)

June 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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