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Education Reporter
Education Briefs 
'Waste, fraud and abuse' plague federal program. A government program to provide internet services to schools was the subject of a House subcommittee hearing June 17 on a growing list of "waste, fraud and abuse concerns." The "E-rate" program has spent more than $12 billion over the last six years, financed through a surcharge on telephone bills. Problems with the program include $23 million worth of telecommunications equipment sitting in a government warehouse years after it had been bought; the installation of a $1 million network server for a 650-pupil elementary school; and indictments and felony guilty pleas for defrauding schools. A nonprofit corporation run by telecommunications service providers doles out the money with minimal oversight by the Federal Communications Commission.

Illinois eliminates state writing and social studies tests as a money-saving measure in light of testing requirements in reading, math and science mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Some educators predict writing instruction will change as a result. The Illinois legislature's decision comes at a time when more states are adding, not deleting, writing in their standardized exams and the SAT and ACT national college entrance exams are preparing to require a writing sample. (Chicago Tribune, 7-27-04)

10% of K-12 students endure sexual misconduct by school employees, according to a report to Congress. The misbehavior ranges from verbal to visual to physical acts; more than 4.5 million students are affected. The most common offenders are teachers, coaches, bus drivers and teacher aides. The report, issued by Hofstra University professor Charol Shakeshaft at the end of June, was based on 2,065 student interviews in two studies conducted for the American Association of University Women in the past 10 years and was required by the No Child Left Behind law. (Associated Press, 7-1-04)

Utah drama student wins right not to recite profanity. The University of Utah in July settled a lawsuit by a Mormon student accusing it of violating her right to freedom of speech and religion. The university agreed to reimburse her tuition, let her re-enroll and let students opt out of activities that conflict with their religious beliefs. After refusing to recite lines containing the f-word and taking the Lord's name in vain during the 1998-99 school year, she feared theater department professors would retaliate against her, so she withdrew from the university. (Associated Press, 7-14-04)

Princeton battles grade inflation, shoplifting. The Princeton University faculty voted in April to establish an expectation that each academic department will give A's for no more than 35% of its grades. A's have been granted 46% of the time in recent years, up from 31% in the mid-1970s. (seattletimes.com, 4-12-04) Grade inflation may not be the campus's most serious problem, however. Twelve students have been arrested for shoplifting from the university store since installation of new security cameras in the middle of the last academic year, and students have reportedly been unapologetic during their court appearances. (newsday.com, 5-23-04)

September 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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