Current Events In Brief
An overwhelming majority of America's top high school students are unimpressed with President Clinton, and more than half do not know who Richard Riley is. In a survey of 3,177 high achievers conducted by Who's Who Among American High School Students, 83 percent declared Clinton "out'' as opposed to "in.'' Joining him in the "out'' category were first lady Hillary Clinton, late-night talk-show host Conan O'Brien, and Madonna. Beavis and Butthead fared better; 55 percent declared the cartoon characters "in.'' Asked to identify Riley, only 45 percent of the students correctly answered that he is the Secretary of Education.
Tough On Guns
A new Michigan law that went into effect last month requires schools to automatically expel any student who carries a gun on school grounds. Gov. John Engler said the law, which does not establish alternative schooling for gun-toting students, was necessary to protect law-abiding students and teachers. Under the law, prosecution or conviction is not necessary to impose the expulsion. Those who are expelled can request a hearing to be re-admitted but cannot attend school in the meantime.
A Shift In Policy
The Lake County, Fla., school board has rescinded a controversial policy requiring its schools to teach students that U.S. culture is superior to all others. When the so-called "America First'' policy was approved last May, it brought the central Florida district worldwide publicity. The 3-2 vote rescinding the directive came on the heels of the November election, which shifted the balance of power on the board from conservatives affiliated with the Christian Coalition to more moderate members. [See "Fighting Back,'' January.]
Going To Pot
Teenagers in the United States used illegal drugs--especially marijuana--in greater numbers last year than in 1993, continuing a troubling trend that began in 1992, according to an on-going 20-year-old study conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. Other drugs gaining in popularity include LSD, inhalants, stimulants, barbiturates, and--this past year--cocaine. After the heavy drug use of the middle to late 1970s, the institute tracked a decline that lasted until 1991, when the recent upturn began. Since then, the number of students reporting any use of marijuana during the previous 12 months doubled among 8th graders, to 13 percent, and grew among 10th and 12th graders to 25 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Overall, more than one-third of all 8th graders have used some illicit drug, and more than 40 percent of 10th graders and nearly half of all seniors have done so.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals has launched a project that it hopes will encourage teachers to consider moving into administrative roles. The Leadership Early Assessment Program, or LEAP, puts those interested in administration through a day of activities designed to examine their potential for school leadership. The assessment, to be offered by many of the association's 68 principal development centers, will examine a candidate's administrative, interpersonal, and communications skills, as well as his or her "knowledge of self.'' Participants will perform a number of school-related simulations under the eye of a trained assessor, who will suggest ways candidates can develop leadership skills. For more information, call Paul Hersey, NASSP's director of professional assistance, at (703) 860-0200.