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Published in Print: January 1, 2004, as Briefs

Briefs

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Trash Talking

Outraged parents of special education students at Heritage High School in Vancouver, Washington, are causing a stink over the unpaid janitorial tasks their kids performed for a work skills class this past year. The students collected trash and sorted recyclables, often while other kids teased them, according to the Associated Press. Unrepentant school officials claim that custodial work is a common career for people with disabilities and say they may assign the tasks again.

Kids in the Hall

Boston educators are looking to the past for solutions to a city teacher shortage. After budget deficits prevented administrators from filling 400 of 5,000 teaching positions, several schools reintroduced study halls, unstructured periods that haven't appeared on students' schedules since the city raised academic standards a decade ago, the Boston Globe reports. Principals say the study periods, which replace electives, are necessary to keep the number of kids in classrooms to around 30.

War of Words

Hudson, Ohio, teachers applied the power of the pen to a contract dispute in the fall: They refused to write college recommendation letters for high school seniors until their union could negotiate a satisfactory salary and health benefits package with the district. The tactic didn't influence the school board, however, and a federal arbitrator was called in to resolve the dispute in November, the Akron Beacon Journal reports.

Bubble Trouble

Testing experts are calling attention to an interesting choice recently made by Florida school officials: They removed all open-ended questions from a version of the graduation test taken by high school students who'd failed it previously. Critics claim that the revised FCAT, with multiple-choice questions only, was easier than the original exam. State Education Department spokeswoman Frances Marine disagreed, telling the Miami Herald that it was adapted for second-timers for faster grading.

You've Got Male

No obstacle course is too great for 7-year-old Brandon Ahkee and his stepfather, Quinten Fernando. The pair took part in the Significant Adult Male and Me Olympics, organized by Albuquerque's Marmon Elementary School PTA to create more "father-friendly" programs and encourage involvement by kids' male role models.

Vol. 15, Issue 4, Page 14

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