News Briefs

October 01, 2001 1 min read

Pump It Up
Academic drills have been around for decades, but the Penn Hills School District near Pittsburgh is putting a new spin on the term: It’s allowing a natural gas company to sink as many as 10 wells on its properties. The move is designed to lower the district’s eyebrow-raising energy bills. It cost $450,000 to heat eight schools last year. In return, Penn Hills will earn royalties plus free gas, the Associated Press reports.

Name Game
Maryland’s largest school district is heeding the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ recent call for non-Indian schools to remove icons deemed disrespectful toward Native Americans. The decision most affects Montgomery County’s Poolesville High, which will have a year to find a new name for its sports teams, the Indians, and replace stationary, uniforms, and more, according to the Baltimore Sun. (“Schools Prohibit Indian Themes,” the Baltimore Sun, Aug, 29, 2001.)

Health Study
With flu season imminent, researchers at the University of Connecticut have given educators another reason to button up their coats: evidence that teachers are more likely than others to develop autoimmune disorders. The study, published in the Journal of Rheumatology (abstract: “Excess Autoimmune Disease Mortality Among School Teachers”), states that the mortality rate for diseases such as lupus is 2.3 percent for teachers, 1.7 percent for other professionals.


Teachers are exposed to the kinds of infectious agents that many say trigger the disorders.

Sweet Success?
California pop-a-holics are tasting victory. Legislation that would have banned the sale of soda and junk food in schools has buckled under heavy lobbying from officials who claim schools depend on vending-machine income, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The state senate decided to prohibit the sale of snacks and soda at elementary schools only—where students typically don’t buy them. Says Martha Escutia, the official who introduced the bill, “It’s obvious to me the schools have . . . put profit at the expense of the health of our kids.”