May 29, 2002 3 min read

As Education Week marks its 20th anniversary, here are some of the people, events, and issues that were making news 20 years ago.

Selected stories from June 2, 1982:

Private Schools: Applications to many of the nation’s most prestigious college-preparatory schools increased significantly—and in some cases, dramatically—in the current year, according to an informal survey of private schools by Education Week. Twenty-six independent schools—mostly boarding schools—reported increases in applications ranging from 5 percent to 46 percent. That continues a pattern of steady growth in interest in private secondary education despite marked increases in the cost of attending such schools.

Federal Budget: The House of Representatives has voted to give preliminary approval to a $668 million increase in the federal education budget for fiscal 1983, a move that could raise the level of spending for education programs to more than $15.5 billion. The agreement on an amendment to increase the Department of Education’s budget for the coming fiscal year was reached as House members debated the budget resolution that would set broad tax and spending targets for federal programs.

High IQs: After rising steadily since the beginning of the 20th century, the average IQ among Japanese youths is now 11 points higher than those of their American and European counterparts, giving Japanese the highest IQ of any nation in the world, according to a British psychologist’s analysis of international IQ-test scores. Published in the May 20, 1982, issue of Nature, the British science journal, the study reports that more than three-fourths of the Japanese younger generation—people born between 1946 and 1969—have IQs higher than those of the average American or European.

Teenage Unemployment:Unemployment among disadvantaged youths could be reduced, according to a report by the U.S. General Accounting Office, if federal regulations did not penalize welfare families that have working teenage members. Drawing on the results of existing studies, the report by the congressional investigative agency concludes that the practice of reducing a family’s welfare payments to account for the earnings of teenagers who drop out of school discourages those teenagers from working. It also notes that a family’s welfare payments are not affected when extra income is earned by teenagers who remain in school.

Sex Education: In a unanimous decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court upholds a state regulation requiring that public schools provide sex education, stating that the regulation does not violate the U.S. Constitution by infringing the free exercise of religion or by denying due process. In addition, the justices rule, the state board of education did not permit a “procedural irregularity” in the process of passing the rule.

Colorado Funding: The Colorado Supreme Court, by a 4-2 majority, upholds the state’s system of financing education, reversing a 1979 district-court ruling that the system violates both the federal and state constitutions. But one concurring judge writes that the “bare majority” decision “should not be interpreted as an approval” of the plan, which “barely meet[s] constitutional standards.”

Asbestos Inspections: The amount of a dangerous type of asbestos in each public and private school in the nation will have to be determined within a year, under a regulation adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Stating in a May 27, 1982, Federal Register announcement that “it [is] highly likely that exposure to asbestos in schools may increase the risk of developing numerous types of cancers,” the agency declares that, with some exceptions, all public and private schools must be inspected for “friable"—crumbling to the touch—asbestos by June of 1983.

A version of this article appeared in the May 29, 2002 edition of Education Week as Retrospective