Current Events in Brief
A national restaurant chain that boasts about its tasty chicken is eating crow after a high school mathematics class cried foul over a television ad. The ad shows football star Joe Montana standing at the counter at a Boston Chicken restaurant puzzling over side-dish choices; an announcer says that more than 3,000 combinations can be created by choosing three of the Colorado-based restaurant's 16 side-dish offerings. But Bob Swaim, a math teacher at Souderton Area High School near Philadelphia, and his class did the math and found that the correct number was 816. "We goofed,'' says Gary Gerdemann, a spokesman for Boston Chicken. "Apparently we didn't listen to our high school math teachers.'' The company has, however, listened to Swaim and corrected its ads. For their part, the students were awarded free meals and $500 to expand the math menu at Souderton.
A federal judge ruled in January that a New York school system may require students to perform community service to graduate from high school. Daniel Immediato, a 17-year-old high school senior, filed a lawsuit against the 1,100-student Rye Neck district last spring, claiming that its service requirement was tantamount to involuntary servitude. But U.S. District Judge Charles Brieant disagreed, ruling that requiring 40 hours of service to graduate does not violate the 13th Amendment's prohibition against slavery. "The educational benefit to the individual student outweighs the burden of the labor requirement,'' the judge wrote. Lawyers for the Institute for Justice, a Washington-based public-interest law firm representing the student, said they would appeal.
The National Council of Teachers of English has presented its 1994 George Orwell Award to Garry Trudeau, the creator of the comic strip Doonesbury. The council each year honors a conspicuous opponent of evasive or misleading language, what Orwell called "doublespeak.'' Trudeau has consistently attacked such language in all aspects of American life, Keith Gilyard, chairman of the council's Committee on Public Doublespeak, said. The committee also bestows an annual Double-speak Award--what it calls an "ironic 'tribute' to public figures who have perpetrated language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-contradictory.'' The 1994 recipient: Rush Limbaugh, the outspoken conservative talk-show host.
The Edison Project, the reform initiative launched several years ago with much fanfare by entrepreneur Christopher Whittle, has received the go-ahead to operate an elementary school in the Wichita, Kan., district beginning in the fall. The Wichita contract means the private, for-profit Edison Project has solid plans to manage three public schools next school year. The other two are in Mount Clemens, Mich., and Boston. The fate of the reform experiment has been in doubt since last fall, when the collapse of Whittle's media empire drew widespread attention. Edison officials say that while the New York City-based company will begin with far fewer schools than once envisioned, the project will indeed get off the ground.