National News Roundup
Responding to concerns about some suggested classroom exercises, the National Association of Biology Teachers has stopped selling a popular monograph on the use of animals in the classroom.
Concerns were focused on an exercise in which students were to decide at what level of the evolutionary ladder it would be unacceptable to "hammer'' a living organism.
The 146-page monograph, called "The Responsible Use of Animals in Biology Classrooms,'' was published in 1990 to help teachers sort through the ethical dilemmas raised by dissection and other issues.
But the association's board of directors voted this fall to drop the publication because the optional hammer exercise was "bad pedagogy,'' according to Patricia McWhethy, the association's executive director.
While the exercise, which used imaginary organisms, was meant to encourage 10th graders to ponder the value they place on such life forms as moss and frogs, it also suggested that human zygotes, fetuses, and "post-natal humans'' should be included.
"A lot of people thought it abhorrent,'' Ms. McWhethy said.
The board also said a list of references was perceived to favor animal-rights groups. Ms. McWhethy noted that the publication was written in the late 1980's, before biomedical researchers began to produce materials to counter the animal-rights movement.
Measles has virtually disappeared in the United States, a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates.
The first half of this year saw only 175 measles cases, which the report notes was the lowest number reported in the 50 years that incidence of the disease has been monitored.
That figure represents a 99 percent decrease from the number of cases reported in the first six months of 1990, when a measles epidemic brought nearly 14,000 cases.
The report attributes the decline to the improvement in vaccination rates for preschool-age children. The estimated vaccination rate in 1991 was 83 percent, compared with 61 percent in 1985.