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Published in Print: January 9, 2002, as Retrospective


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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.

National Assessment: The National Assessment of Educational Progress has failed to make itself useful to state and local policymakers, an independent study of the program concludes. Despite its potential, the study says, the NAEP has an "apparently negligible influence" on education policy and practice.

Creation Contention: Following a federal judge's decision striking down an Arkansas law that required "balanced treatment" of evolution and creationism in the state's classrooms, people on both sides of the issue say such battles will continue, both in the courts and in state legislatures. The executive director of the National Association of Biology Teachers predicts that "creationist pressure in 1982 will be intense." Many Arkansans argue, "It seems only fair to present both sides."

Benefits Cut: The Social Security Administration's decision not to warn people who will be affected by cuts in educational benefits for postsecondary education may disrupt college plans for as many as 300,000 high school seniors. Many seniors applying for college are unaware that they will be ineligible for benefits on May 1.

Tax Burden: Continuing a pattern that began in the early 1970s, American public schools depended less on local property taxes in 1979-80 than in the previous year, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. Property taxes accounted for 29.6 percent of schools' general revenue in fiscal 1979. Meanwhile, the states' share of the support of public education rose to 44.7 percent the same year.

School Closings: Minneapolis officials are expected to announce the closing of nearly one-third of the city's public schools. Enrollment in the 39,000-student district has plunged by 25,000 students since 1972.

Letting Go: Pioneering legislation designed to give California schools and districts more freedom from state regulations goes into effect. The state board of education has the authority to grant districts waivers of provisions of the education code and to coordinate money from 11 state categorical programs in ways they deem appropriate.

Book-Banning Trial: Four prominent authors who were war correspondents, including Ward Just and Frances FitzGerald, testify that a book about the Vietnam War that contains four-letter words should be allowed in the library in Woodland High School in Baileyville, Maine. The trial in U.S. District Court in Bangor centers on whether the Baileyville school committee violated a student's right to free speech and due process by banning the book, 365 Days, over the summer.

Vol. 21, Issue 16, Page 6

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