National News Roundup
Harris Poll Finds Support for Overhaul of American Education
A poll this month by Louis Harris & Associates has found that a majority of Americans support a vast overhaul of the education system, and that nearly three-quarters of the respondents believe teachers, rather than legislatures or school boards, should enact the reforms.
Sixty-eight percent of those polled said that schools should have greater decisionmaking power over curriculum and finances, and 74 percent would grant schools more control over what is taught to teachers.
A majority of those surveyed expressed discontent with President Bush's reform efforts. Thirty-six percent called them "only fair," and 26 percent "poor." Meanwhile, 30 percent found them "good," and 6 percent "excellent."
Members of the Congress fared even worse, with 41 percent of those polled calling their work "only fair" and 38 percent "poor."
The Harris poll was commissioned by Scholastic Inc. and published in the Winter 1992 edition of Agenda, a quarterly Scholastic publication.
Pediatricians Back Gun Control To Reduce Teenage Injuries, Deaths
The American Academy of Pediatrics said last week that it supports strict gun control laws in order to reduce the number of teenagers who are injured or killed by firearms.
Adolescents are at particular risk for gun-related injuries, the academy said in a statement last week, because they are immature, have easy access to guns, and are difficult to teach gun safety.
According to the academy, firearms are involved in 70 percent of teenage homicides and 63 percent of teenage suicides. Almost 3,200 youths ages 15 to 19 are fatally shot each year, the group said.
For every firearm fatality, there are at least five nonfatal injuries, the group said.
Nine million adolescents have access to firearms in their own homes, the group said.
To reduce the number of injuries and fatalities, the A.A.P. said it supports efforts to make gun ownership more difficult as well as measures that would ban handguns, air guns, and so-called assault weapons.
It also called on health-care providers to advise their patients to remove guns from their homes and to support violence-prevention education programs.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals last week issued a policy statement supporting parental choice, including private-school choice, if criteria are met that would allow all schools to compete for students on a "level playing field."
The policy is the first definitive statement on choice by the group, which has expressed doubt about the concept. In it, the group sets out a number of conditions that must exist before it will accept any choice proposal.
All participating schools, the policy says, must "follow the same mandates, including the selection, admissions, and retention of all students; and the licensing and certification of all professional staff."
Said Timothy J. Dyer, the executive director of the 43,000-member group, "Any plan which would allow some schools to select the cream of the student crop and reward those schools with public dollars would be detrimental to our society and opposed by NASSP."
The group also says public funds must not be used to advance religion, and choice plans should not adversely affect the student racial balance of participating districts.
In addition, the policy states, '"We do not believe that 'choice,' in and of itself, will improve instruction to the degree necessary to achieve the national education goals."
Vol. 11, Issue 18, Page 2