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Newspapers, as a boost to literacy as well as their own survival, have been searching for better ways to entice young readers. And a story in the Sept. 15 Editor and Publisher suggests that some of their targeted offerings may be reaching a receptive audience.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram's weekly 16-page insert, Class Acts, a collection of national, local, and school news spiced with entertainment and fashion features, an original comic strip and advice column, jokes, and contests, celebrated its first anniversary in August with a break-even financial outlook, according to E&P, even though it had been projected to lose about $80,000.

The insert not only has boosted circulation, according to editors, but has also rejuvenated the give-and-take with readers. Said one: "Class Acts gets more mail than the editorial board."

The paper's recent affiliation with the New York Times Syndicate has given Class Acts a trial run with the wire service. And, according to the report, details for distributing it nationally are now being worked out.


Newsweek's fall special edition this year is called "Education: A Consumer's Handbook," and it takes a broad look at policies and problems in the field.

A "Teaching" section focuses on the need to revitalize instruction in all subjects, pointing to antiquated mathematics instruction and weaknesses in the social-studies curriculum. On the positive side, it cites as models innovative science and multi-media computer programs.

Other articles highlight the role (and too frequent absence) of parents in the educational process. Stronger pta's and joint parent-student programs are recommended as bridges between family and school.

Newsweek's ultimate solution for the sluggish education system? "A healthy dose of perestroika." The 1989 "education summit" is doomed to failure, the magazine says, because of its virtual exclusion of the Congress and the education establishment. Without legislative and professional support, one article warns, any national goals will remain unmet.

The special edition is available at newsstands through October.


Students as consumers was the subject of a poll by American Demographics, which features the results in its September issue.

When 112 schoolchildren in grades 2 through 4 were asked to draw their ideas about shopping, the resulting sketches revealed a group of eager buyers who seem to pay more attention to shop windows than to books.

Seventy percent of the sketches showed shopping as a "positive experience"; only 16 percent had any indication of prices.

One 3rd grader, demonstrating her brand-name loyalty, could accurately spell "Esprit," even down to the open "E" in the company logo. But she misspelled such common words as "shirts" and "skirts."--skg & sr

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