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Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a model child-care kit of toys, games, books, posters, and picture cards, all specially designed to aid the development of children from birth to age 2.

The kit, called "Partners for Learning," is based on 14 years of research. Additional kits for older children are planned by the center.

The 200 activities encompassed by kit items incorporate 23 areas of skill and are designed to be woven into everyday play and caretaking routines, according to information from the center.

"We've turned what psychologists and educators have found to be parents' most helpful interactions with their children into learning games and activities that can be used in any day-care setting," said Joseph Sparling, a senior investigator at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center. Mr. Sparling developed the program with Isabelle Lewis, a curriculum specialist at the center.

The activities kit also features training guides, study books, record-keeping forms, and evaluation materials for day-care-center employees.

For a brochure on the kit, which sells for $450, and for information on which items in the kit are sold separately, write Kaplan School Supply Corp. at 600 Jonestown Rd., Winston-Salem, N.C. 27103.


"Given the demonstrated capacity of schools to succeed, public policy no longer provides any justification for excusing their failure," contends the author of an article in the current Texas Law Review offering an extended legal argument for "a new legal duty to educate effectively."

Because of the mounting evidence that schools can be "effective" with disadvantaged students and the growing case law requiring them to provide equal services for all students, in the future more courts can be expected to enforce guarantees contained in 48 state constitutions that public schools provide an adequate education, asserts Gershon M. Ratner, a lawyer with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"[The] recognition of the right to adequate education would directly improve the quality of education in basic skills, the most important objective of public education," writes Mr. Ratner, who previously worked in the U.S. Department of4Health, Education, and Welfare. He cites as precedents school-finance suits in West Virginia (Pauley v. West Virginia) and Washington State (Seattle School District No. 1 v. State).

Mr. Ratner argues that advances in effective-schools research--and examples of effective schools with large numbers of poor and minority children--make it possible to sue schools that have not embraced the principles of an effective school. He lists these principles common to effective schools: a strong principal, a clear instructional focus, an orderly environment, well-defined expectations for students, and frequent testing to gauge student achievement.

He rejects arguments that the cost of implementing these principles would be prohibitive and that suits against schools would lead to damage claims; instead, he argues, courts need order only "equitable remedies," not damages.

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