Current Events: Roundup
Waste Not ...
Nearly 78 percent of U.S. public school districts recycle used materials, and 73 percent buy recycled paper products, according to a recent survey of 406 districts conducted by the National School Public Relations Association. The material schools most frequently recycle is paper, followed by aluminum, cardboard, milk boxes, and plastic foam. The survey also found that nearly one-fourth of all paper products purchased by schools are made from recycled materials. Such products include paper towels, writing tablets, and toilet and copier paper. When asked their reasons for recycling, district officials commonly cited concern for the environment and setting a good example for students.
Gay high school students in Los Angeles had the opportunity this past spring to avoid the jeers some endured at past proms by going to one organized just for them. More than 100 same-sex couples gathered in May at a posh Los Angeles hotel ballroom for the first gay prom sponsored by a school district. Similar dances have been organized in other cities, such as Boston and Detroit, but the Los Angeles Unified School District is said to be the first to organize and raise funds for such an event. No district money was used to pay for the prom, but 10 district officials attended as chaperones. A district organizer said the students were "walking on cloud nine.''
Going Too Far
A Wyoming student and her family have filed a lawsuit against state and Sublette County school officials, arguing that they were negligent in their monitoring of an undercover agent during a 1992 drug investigation at the student's high school. The agent, who posed as a student, has pleaded guilty to felony charges of "taking liberties'' with the girl. The suit alleges that state and school officials who approved the investigation "knew or should have known'' that the agent on previous undercover assignments had been charged with improper behavior involving students.
A California school athletic league that banned post-game handshaking out of concern that it might lead to fighting [see "Current Events,'' May/June] has dropped the rule after becoming the target of unwanted media attention. The Marmonte League, which includes eight high schools in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, will now allow, but not require, handshakes after games. Schools that participate in the league hope the decision will end a deluge of telephone calls from reporters. The negative media attention, combined with the fact that many students ignored the policy, led school officials to drop the ban.
Search And Employ
Two urban-education organizations and a nonprofit teacher-recruitment group have launched a nationwide initiative, officially dubbed the Urban Teacher Collaborative, to improve the quality, diversity, and cultural sensitivity of teachers in urban schools. "Teachers are the key to improving the quality of education we offer our children, and yet their recruitment and development too often are undersupported and approached in a piecemeal fashion,'' said Joseph Fernandez, president of the Council of the Great City Schools, which, along with the Council of the Great City Colleges of Education and Recruiting New Teachers Inc., has organized the effort. The project's primary focus will be on increasing the number of minority teachers employed in urban schools. Although 80 percent of students in the nation's largest systems are African-American, Hispanic, or Asian, only 35 percent of urban teachers belong to a minority group.
Dagger Ban Holds
A federal judge has ruled that the Livingston, Calif., school district may bar Sikh students from carrying symbolic daggers in school. The American Civil Liberties Union had sued the district on behalf of a Sikh family with three students, arguing that the ban violated their constitutional right to religious freedom. The dull, short daggers, known as kirpans, are kept in sheaths and usually worn under clothing. The Sikhs argued that the daggers posed no threat to other students, but district officials said the kirpans are weapons that are banned from school premises by district rules and state law. [See "Current Events,'' April.] In May, U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. sided with the district, writing that the potential danger to other students from the daggers outweighs the family's claim to religious freedom. The family plans to appeal the decision.