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A national gun violence-prevention organization last week introduced a new curriculum for grades pre-K through 12 and announced its implementation in five major school districts.

New York City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Calif., San Diego, and Dade County, Fla., have agreed to use the "Straight Talk About Risks,'' or STAR, curriculum beginning this spring.

Written by the Washington-based Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, a national education and lobbying group, STAR is a revised version of an earlier curriculum called "Kids + Guns: A Deadly Equation.'' That program was piloted starting in 1989 in Dade County, the nation's fourth-largest school district.

The óôáò curriculum is designed to teach students decisionmaking, conflict-management, and other skills to help them react properly if they encounter a gun, to resist peer pressure, and to distinguish between real violence and that portrayed on television.

The curriculum also provides basic safety information for parents to help them keep guns away from children and offers a 15-minute video featuring teenage victims of gun violence.

In New York, 26 middle schools began using the curriculum last month. It is expected to be in all public schools there by the fall of 1993, school officials said.

The National Center for Outcome Based Education has launched a two-year program under which eight school districts will restructure themselves to improve the overall quality of the education they provide.

The center, a nonprofit group that works with districts to improve student learning results, announced its Quality District Project late last month.

The eight districts involved are: the Alma (Mich.) Public Schools; the Bremerton (Wash.) School District 100-C; the Sweetwater County School District No. 2 in Green River, Wyo.; the La Joya (Tex.) Independent School District; the Pasco (Wash.) School District No. 1; the Richfield (Minn.) Public School District; the Wickenburg (Ariz.) Unified School District No. 9; and the Windermere School District No. 4 in Invermere, British Columbia, Canada.

The program is based on the Quality District Paradigm, developed by John R. Champlin, the center's executive director. The center will provide training, assistance in identifying weaknesses and solutions, and support in creating plans to restructure each district. Center officials said they hope the program provides a national model for school-district restructuring.

Independent evaulators will assess the effort, center officials said.

The United States is lagging in preventing infant mortality and other infant- and child-health problems, a new report concludes.

The report, issued last month by the National Commission to Prevent Infant Mortality, says that babies are more likely to die young in the United States than in 21 other industrialized nations.

Although the U.S. infant-mortality rate is improving, the rate in other countries is improving at a faster pace, the report concludes. In 1989, the most recent year for which final data are available, 9.8 babies per 1,000 live births in the United States died before their first birthday. The infant-mortality rate is 50 percent lower in Japan, which has the best rate in the world.

The report also found that the percentage of low-birthweight babies has continued to increase, and that fewer women are getting adequate prenatal care.

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