Education

Research And Reports

March 21, 1984 5 min read
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Calling the Women’s Educational Equity Act “a small but visible focus of the federal commitment to equal education opportunity,” a citizen’s group has published a report outlining the ways in which the 1974 act has forwarded the interests of wom-en and girls in education.

“Catching Up: A Review of the Women’s Educational Equity Act Program” provides information on the program’s history and budget, and includes a description of the National Advisory Council on Women’s Educational Programs, which was established through weea to advise federal officials and the public on the educational needs of women and girls. The act is up for Congressional reauthorization this year.

“In its short life, the Women’s Educational Equity Act program has been responsible for many landmark projects in women’s educational equity,” according to the report, which describes case histories in such areas as vocational, mathematics and science, and rural education.

“We are truly a ‘nation at risk’ if we continue to restrict the educational and occupational opportunities of over one half of our nation,” members of the Citizens Council on Women’s Education write in urging legislators to reauthorize the act.

The 12-member council was established in 1982 by the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education. Its purposes, according to a spokesman, are to protect the guarantees of educational equity in federal legislation, to make recommendations to the Congress, and to inform the public about educational equity and attempts to halt progress toward this goal.

Copies of the report are available for $3 from the Citizens Council on Women’s Education, 2401 Virginia Ave., N.W., Room 401, Washington, D.C. 20036.

Over the past 13 years, California has been able to absorb an estimated 3 million immigrants, who have created a market for goods and services and a demand for more teachers and other public-services workers, according to a new study.

While the wave of new immigrants has caused the state few economic problems, researchers conducting the study contend that it has created serious problems for the school systems responsible for the education of immigrant children.

The study, “The Fourth Wave: California’s Newest Immigrants,” is based on an analysis of 1980 census data, school records, and interviews with state officials. A book on the study’s findings will be released later this year.

Thomas Muller, who directed the study for the Urban Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit research organization, said the state’s expenditures for educating the children of immigrants far exceeded the sum total of the taxes their parents paid.

As a result, Mr. Muller said, the schools are having difficulty absorbing students, especially those who do not speak English. This year, he said, more than half of the students enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District are Hispanic, and school officials are faced with providing costly services to meet the special needs of those students.

“What we are saying is that the route of advancement has been through the educational system by developing learning and language skills,” Mr. Muller explained. But he added, “That process does not appear to be working as well for Mexican immigrants as it has for Asian immigrants,” because Mexican immigrants have “come from rural areas and have less than an 8th-grade education.”

“We believe in the long run this could be a serious issue because [the students’] full participation in society will be based on their ability” to learn skills, according to Mr. Muller.

Eighty percent of the nation’s large-city school districts provide their students with sex education “in some form,” according to the results of a recent survey of 179 school districts in cities with at least 100,000 residents.

But rather than provide separate sex-education courses, most districts integrate the material with other curriculum subjects, authors Freya L. Sonenstein and Karen J. Pittman write in their research report, “The Availability of Sex Education in Large City School Districts.”

The report, supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ office of family planning, was conducted by the Urban Institute under the sponsorship of the National Association of State Boards of Education. The report appeared in the January/February issue of Family Planning Perspectives, a journal published by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of the Planned Parent-hood Federation of America.

Ninety-four percent of the school districts that provide sex education do so in order to “promote rational and informed decisionmaking about sexuality,” the survey reveals. About 77 percent of the district officials surveyed reported that their programs are designed to “increase a student’s knowledge of reproduction,” and 40 percent said the goal was to reduce unwanted teen-age pregnancy.

Large numbers of students are participating in sex-education programs, according to Ms. Sonenstein and Ms. Pittman, “perhaps because almost half of the districts have compulsory courses.”

“The mean student participation rates are 73 percent for elementary schools and 76 percent for both junior and senior high schools,” the authors write.

Principal Throws Out the Gauntlet, So To Speak

The gloves came off in Bound Brook, N.J., last week in a controversy over whether high-school students could wear a single glove throughout the school day.

At the center of the highly publicized dispute between the students and their principal, Joseph Donnel-ly, was a style point inspired by the singing superstar Michael Jackson: the wearing of a single, sequined glove on his right hand.

Several students began wearing a white glove to imitate and pay homage to Mr. Jackson. Many also untied their sneakers--another Mi-chael Jackson trademark.

But school officials barred the single-glove look, threatening to give discipline demerits to any student caught wearing one in school. (Students were also told to start tying their shoes.)

Mr. Donnelly said the gloves distract from schoolwork and interfere with students in typing class, gym, and machine shop. He said he had earlier banned the wearing of black gloves by a different student group striving for a “tough” look, and therefore could not allow special treatment of the “white glovers.” The action prompted a fourth of the student body--most of whom weren’t wearing gloves--to sign a petition asking the school board to resolve the dispute. About 60 students and 70 parents and teachers attended a meeting last Monday night to protest the banning, but the board deferred to Mr. Donnelly.

As of late last week, the issue of the gloves was back in, er, on Mr. Donnelly’s hand(s). He planned to meet with the student council and poll the faculty on the situation.

A version of this article appeared in the March 21, 1984 edition of Education Week as Research And Reports

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