Reported incidents of attempted censorship involving school materials reached their highest level in 10 years during the 1991-92 school year, according to an annual survey by People for the American Way.
Attempts by parents, community groups, and others to have books or curricular materials banned or restricted by schools shot up 50 percent last year, to 348 from 229 the year before, according to the constitutional-liberties watchdog group.
The success rate for such attempts was the highest in four years. In 41 percent of the reported incidents, challenged materials were removed or restricted in some way, says the group’s report, “Attacks on the Freedom to Learn.’'
Incidents occurred in 44 states in all parts of the country last year. The Midwest led other regions with 119 incidents, followed by the South, the West, and the Northeast, the report says.
The states with the most challenges were Florida, Texas, California, Oregon, and Minnesota.
Religious objections were the most common cause of complaint, the survey found, followed by profane or objectionable language and the treatment of sexuality.
The book most often objected to last year was John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men. Others included classic and acclaimed literary works, drug-abuse-prevention programs, and a calisthenics videotape.
The nation’s independent schools experienced gains in enrollment, financial aid, and recruitment of minority-group students in the 1991-92 school year, studies conducted by the National Association of Independent Schools have found.
Over all, enrollment increased by 1 percent during the last school year, compared with a 0.7 percent increase each year for the two previous years, said Margaret Goldsborough, the association’s director of public information. Total enrollment stood at about 375,000 students.
Independent schools in the Southwest had the greatest enrollment increase last school year--5 percent--followed by schools in the Southeast, the West, the mid-Atlantic states, and the Midwest.
Schools in New York State, New Jersey, and New England experienced enrollment declines of about 1.5 percent, according to the N.A.I.S.
The percentage of minority students in independent schools grew over the past 10 years from 9.1 percent to 13.5 percent, an increase of nearly 50 percent in the decade, the group found.
More students than in the previous school year received need-based financial aid, raising the national total to more than $276 million for more than 55,000 students. The average grant increased from $4,770 to $5,018.
Interest in independent schools is also up, the N.A.I.S. figures suggest, with inquiries per school up 2 percent in the 1990-91 school year, the most recent year for which data are available.
Officials from the vast majority of colleges and universities responding to a recent survey said the number of applications they received for admission this fall increased over last school year.
The survey by the National Association of College Admission Counselors found that 440 of 622 responding schools, or 71 percent, said they received more applications this year. In 1991, 50 percent of the 720 respondents said the number of applications they received had increased over the previous year.
Fifty-eight percent of respondents said that applications from minority students also increased this fall.
Daniel J. Saracino, the president of NACAC and the dean of admissions at Santa Clara University, said students see higher education as a “buyer’s market and are shopping around by applying to more schools than ever before.’'
Roughly seven in 10 survey respondents said that more students in 1992 visited campuses, called college recruiters and admissions officials, and wrote to request college information than in 1991.
Copies of the fourth annual admission-trends survey are available free of charge from the National Association of College Admission Counselors, 1631 Prince St., Alexandria, Va. 22314-2818; (703) 836-2222.
A version of this article appeared in the September 16, 1992 edition of Education Week as National News Roundup