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Column One: Students

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Following up on its high-profile February report on how sex discrimination in grades K-12 shortchanges girls, the American Association of University Women has released two handbooks to guide teachers, parents, and school officials to more gender-fair practices.

The eight-page "The A.A.U.W. Report: How Schools Shortchange Girls Action Guide'' presents strategies for "systemic change'' in districts, including placing more women in educational-policymaking positions, selecting textbooks that do not stereotype women and girls, involving local businesses in encouraging girls to pursue mathematics and science, and fostering policies to address sexual harassment.

The "Gender Equity Assessment Guide'' provides advice and evaluation sheets for determining the status of women and girls within a school or district and which areas need improvement.

The publications may be ordered by calling (800) 225-9998.

Youth Communication, which operates a news service and a nationwide network of youth-oriented newspapers, is planning to expand and to recruit minority youths to journalism, thanks to grants from the Freedom Forum.

With a $20,000 challenge grant, the Washington-based organization will conduct an internal management review and develop a plan for expansion, according to its executive director, Craig W. Trygstad.

"Requests to help start youth newspapers have dramatically increased lately,'' he said.

Meanwhile, the Youth News Service Los Angeles Bureau is using a $36,000 grant from the foundation to create a 10-week journalism workshop to train 50 high-school journalists in their rights under the First Amendment. The workshops will include speakers, readings, discussions, and writing exercises.

The next President should clean up the environment and help find a cure for AIDS, according to 40,000 elementary-school children surveyed by the Weekly Reader.

Close behind on their priorities list were helping the homeless find shelter and stopping the sale and use of illegal drugs, the survey found.

Only 3.7 percent of the pupils said the President should help improve the schools, however. The only item on the list of 12 that ranked lower was continuing the exploration of space.

Many of the 3rd through 6th graders participating in the survey accompanied their responses with letters and drawings. Four pupils will present their views to the platform committees at the Democratic and Republican national conventions. --M.L. & R.R.

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