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Education Briefs 
Teenagers and young adults today think much more highly of themselves than teens did 30 years ago. Modern teens are more likely to predict they will be "very good" spouses, workers, and parents. "You hear from coaches and teachers who have been at it for a while that kids have become more fragile. They don't take criticism well," says Roy Baumeister, a Florida State University psychologist. "Thinking you're God's gift to the world is nice for you. It's a little harder for everyone else around you," said Baumeister. (USA Today, 11-18-08)

In a large Friedman Foundation survey, only one in every ten Montanans selected traditional public schooling as the best educational choice for their children. "There is a disconnect between private preferences and public reality," said study author Paul DiPerna. 76% of children in Montana attend traditional public schools. 63% of survey respondents favored making tax-credit scholarships for education available to all families. 55% said they wanted the legislature to introduce charter schools in the state. (School Reform News, Jan. 2009)

Three out of four universities limit their students' free speech, a new report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) shows. 77% of public universities "brazenly maintain policies that violate students' and faculty members' fundamental rights," said FIRE president Greg Lukianoff. (www.thefire.org/speechcodereport.php)

Washington, D. C.'s groundbreaking school voucher program faces an uncertain future as the new Congress and Obama administration start to work. The D. C. school system spends $15,000 per student per year, but is one of the worst-performing districts in the nation. In 2007-8, the voucher program provided 1,900 children with $7,500 scholarships for private school. Four times more students applied for vouchers than were able to receive them in the program's first four years. (School Reform News, Jan. 2009)

A Pennsylvania appellate court recognized homeschooling as an option equally as valid as public schooling, in a dispute between divorced parents. The father, Brian Staub, asked the court to "adopt a bright line rule in favor of public schooling over homeschooling" when divorced parents with joint custody disagree about homeschooling. Mr. Staub argued that allowing one parent to homeschool would exclude the other from the children's education. "We decline to adopt a bright line rule or presumption in favor of public schooling," replied the court. Family courts have the power to make educational decisions for children when their divorced parents disagree, but they should not assume that public schooling is necessarily in the children's best interest, according to this ruling. (Staub v. Staub, 2008)

Two Alabama educators filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, claiming that their teachers union forced them to contribute money to the Obama campaign. The educators, Jeanne Fox and Claire Waites, were elected delegates to the National Education Association (NEA) Annual Meeting in July. At the convention, the two women were told that part of the money they were supposed to receive to reimburse their travel had to go instead to "a children's fund." They later confirmed that their money had gone to the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education, a political action committee that supported Obama's campaign. "The union money-laundering scheme makes a mockery of federal election law," said Stefen Gleason of National Right to Work, the group representing Waites and Fox in the complaint. "We suspect this scheme was widely used by the NEA union hierarchy and could involve hundreds of thousands of dollars. We urge the FEC to take decisive action." (Press-Register, 1-15-09)

Evan Gaebler, a homeschooled student in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, became the fifth child in his family to earn a perfect score of 800 on the SAT Math 2 test. The Math 2 subject test is several levels more difficult than the regular SAT math section. "I don't expect this, but if they want to, they should sure try for it," said Evan's mother, Sally, who has homeschooled Evan, his four older brothers, and his two younger siblings. (Cedar Rapids Gazette, 12-16-08)

February 2009 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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