As Education Week marks its 20th anniversary, here are some of the people, events, and issues that were making news 20 years ago this week.
Selected stories from Sept. 28, 1981.
Education Spending:Total education spending in the United States for the 1981-82 academic year will reach $198.3 billion, with the largest share—nearly $113 billion—going for public elementary and secondary schools. The National Center for Education Statistics says that represents a 10 percent increase over the $181 billion spent on schools and colleges, both public and private, the previous year. The NCES back-to-school forecast also says that some 3.3 million people will be employed as teachers—more than 2.4 million of them in elementary and secondary schools—and another 300,000 in administrative and other instructional positions.
College Prep: The College Board, responding to a 14-year drop in Scholastic Aptitude Test scores and what it describes as a "decline in quality in the nation’s schools," proposes a set of academic qualifications it says will be needed by college-bound students in the 1980s. The standards are the product of a yearlong review of college preparation in American high schools by 400 school and college officials across the country.
Sexism:Teachers promote sexism in the classroom by the manner in which they evaluate, reward, and discipline students, a problem compounded by the fact that teachers themselves have grown up and developed their own attitudes and values within a society that has sexist attitudes, conclude David and Myra Sadker, a husband-and-wife team studying the issue.
Testing:The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in New Orleans, denies a petition asking it to rehear the case of Debra P. v. Turlington, a class action contesting Florida’s use of minimum-competency testing as a requirement for high school graduation.
Bus Safety: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rejects a request by a physicians’ group that it require the use of seat belts or higher seat backs on school buses. The agency cites concerns that seat belts can harm some young children and that higher seat backs would prevent drivers from spotting unruly students.
Security: New York City for the first time stations security guards in the city’s intermediate and junior high schools following revelations that half the 1,673 assaults in the school system the previous year occurred in such schools.
Transportation: Six parents in Hanksville, Utah, refuse to send their children on a 120-mile bus ride to reach their 6th grade class in the town of Bicknell, saying the four-hour round trip is too strenuous and dangerous. The parents hire a certified teacher and set up their own school, but their right to do so is challenged in court.