Teacher-Quality Efforts Draw Strong Support
Most American adults say they are willing to pay higher taxes to pay for more teachers and provide them with better salaries, working conditions, and training, according to a recent poll commissioned by the Princeton, N.J.-based Educational Testing Service.
According to the survey of 1,003 adults, 75 percent said they would pay higher taxes to support hiring more teachers to reduce class sizes; 80 percent would pay more taxes to help raise teacher salaries.
The opposing arguments in the perennial debate about whether decreasing pupil- teacher ratios improves student achievement are set against each other in a new book.
In The Class Size Debate, economists Alan Krueger of Princeton University and Eric A. Hanushek of Stanford University debate the merits of smaller class sizes and the research methods used to measure the effectiveness of that approach to school improvement.
Although access to computers and the Internet has improved for children, vast disparities still remain based on family income and race, according to a report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The report, "Connecting Kids to Technology: Challenges and Opportunities," highlights recent statistics that illustrate the problem. For instance, 63 percent of children from families earning $75,000 or more annually have Internet access at home, but only 14 percent from families making less than $15,000 have home Internet access. Also, the report notes that while 83 percent of white children have home Internet access, only 46 percent of black children and 47 percent of Hispanic youngsters have it.
When mothers work more than 30 hours a week during their infants' first nine months of life, their children are more likely to have lower cognitive and verbal skills by the time they reach preschool age than those children whose mothers worked less during that span of time, suggests a new analysis of an ongoing federal study of child care by researchers at Columbia University.
After reviewing data on 900 white children who are part of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's Study of Child Care and Youth Development, the researchers found that even though the children's home environments, the quality of their child care, and the sensitivity of their mothers were important contributors to the growth of their cognitive and verbal skills, those factors were still not as strong as whether or not the mother worked full time during the first nine months.
Experts cautioned that the study offers just one more glimpse at how young children are affected when their mothers work outside the home and does not mean it is necessarily bad for mothers of infants to have jobs.
A school-based drug-abuse-prevention program called LifeSkills Training can reduce first-time marijuana use by 46 percent, according to a study by Iowa State University researchers.
The study, which involved more than 1,300 students from 36 rural schools in Iowa, was financed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Mental Health.
The voter-turnout rate for Americans ages 18 to 24 has dropped by a third over the past three decades, a recent study has found.
Moreover, young Hispanic citizens are less likely to vote than other young adults, with only 30 percent of eligible Hispanics in that age range voting in the 2000 elections, compared with 42 percent of non-Hispanic whites and African-Americans. Researchers at the University of Maryland's Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement conducted the study.
About 80 percent of parents surveyed in a recent study said that after-school programs had helped their children improve their behavior and meet increased academic demands in school.
The three-year study, commissioned by the New York City-based Wallace-Reader's Digest Funds, examined after-school programs in 17 communities around the country.
A report suggests that California's closely watched effort to reduce the size of kindergarten through 3rd grade classes needs to do a better job coordinating that program with other statewide school improvement initiatives.
Also, the report notes, it was difficult to determine whether the statewide effort to reduce class sizes was responsible for recent increases in achievement-test scores of elementary school pupils across the state.
Long-standing state education policies keep high schools mired in old ways of conducting business, and even many of the newer policies have had "little impact" on improving high schools, concludes a report by the National Alliance on the American High School.
The report addresses a range of policies, including differentiated diplomas, student retention and promotion, alternative and charter schools, high school exit tests, and performance rewards and penalties.
School Bus Safety
Students are far safer traveling to and from school in school buses than they are in private passenger vehicles—particularly if a teenager is driving, a recent report concludes.
The National Research Council's Transportation Research Board found that 800 school-age children are killed during school- travel hours each year. Of those deaths, 2 percent are related to school buses, while 74 percent occur in private passenger vehicles, and 22 percent are the result of pedestrian or bicycle accidents.
The percentage of children who die during infancy is dropping, fewer adolescents are smoking, and not as many teenage girls are giving birth as in previous years.
Those are a few of the findings from "America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being 2002," the sixth annual report from the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics.
Latinos and College
A majority of Latino parents in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City don't know basic information about college admissions, according to a report by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute in Claremont, Calif.
If those parents don't acquire more knowledge about college, their children are likely to miss one or two crucial steps to pursuing a higher education, the report says.
—Mary Ann Zehr
Drug and Alcohol Use
A recent survey of 101,882 students in grades 6-12 shows that alcohol, tobacco, and drug use by students has declined.
The "2001-2002 PRIDE Survey" found that the percentages of students who reported they had drunk alcohol or smoked cigarettes in the past year were the lowest in the 15-year history of the PRIDE surveys' national report. The level of use of illicit drugs—such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and hallucinogens—dropped to the lowest level since the 1993- 94 school year.
Far too many high school students engage in behavior that increases their likelihood of death by vehicle crashes or other unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide, a federal survey shows.
The "2001 Youth Risk Behavior Survey" used questionnaires from about 13,600 U.S. high school students. The results show that 14 percent had rarely or never worn a seat belt during the 30 days preceding the survey, that 31 percent had ridden in a car with a driver who had been drinking alcohol, 17 percent had carried a weapon, and 42 percent of sexually active students had not used a condom during their last sexual intercourse.
Vol. 21, Issue 43, Page 17