News Briefs

February 01, 2003 1 min read

Oh, Brother

Complaining that Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s antidiscrimination policies enable gay volunteers to work with children without parents’ knowledge, eight conservative lawmakers called upon the mentoring group in November to end its school-based programs. BBBS CEO Mack Koonce told the Denver Post that the legislators had misunderstood its policies. “We do think parental preferences are important,” he said. “If the parent says, ‘I want a white, Catholic, male heterosexual,’ we try to comply with their request.”

Minority Report

African American and Latino students care as much about academic success as do their white and Asian counterparts. That’s the finding of a survey of 40,000 middle and high schoolers conducted by the Minority Student Achievement Network, a group studying the achievement gap. Researchers did uncover some differences: For one, black and Latino students are more likely than other kids to work harder when teachers encourage them.

Weighty Matters

California educators may not judge books by their covers, but they’ll soon have to select texts with the help of a scale, thanks to a bill approved by the state legislature this past fall. The law requires the board of education to set a weight cap by July 2004 to prevent back injuries among students, who carry as much as 40 pounds of materials. Experts suggest that bags not exceed 15 percent of a child’s weight.

Brain Food

Chew on this: A recent study of Virginia schools with failing test scores found that those serving lunches with the most empty calories on exam days saw the biggest achievement gains. Raising intake by an average of 110 calories per meal increased pass rates by 11 percent in math and 6 percent in English, said David Figlio, the University of Florida economist who conducted the research. The study “suggests that these test scores are more manipulatable than one might naively assume,” he said.