October 17, 2001 2 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 this week.

Selected stories from Oct. 17, 1981.

Title IX: Almost a decade after Title IX mandated gender equity in federally supported education programs, a report finds progress for female students but little for women working in public schools. The study by the National Advisory Council of Women’s Educational Programs shows that the number of female high school athletes has jumped by 527 percent over a decade, and that women are receiving 22 percent of college athletic scholarships, up from just 1 percent in 1974.

School’s Out: With the baby boom played out and enrollment down 6 million since 1972, an estimated 7,000 of the nation’s 86,000 schools have been closed because of lack of customers. School districts, trying to make some use of the empty buildings, have tried a number of strategies: selling buildings to developers, transforming schools into subsidized housing for the poor, and turning over buildings to social service agencies as home bases for programs.

Frontiers in Fund Raising: To finance a choir trip to Germany, a Pennsylvania school brings in a female mud-wrestling show. The event at Neshaminy-Maple Point High School in Langhorne, staged over objections from some school board members and featuring one combatant performing under the nom de sludge of Thunderthighs, draws 1,600 spectators and raises $4,000.

Teacher Training: Education school deans recommend that budding teachers have at least five years of college, or maybe even six, before becoming certified to teach. That preparation could take the form of a single five-year program leading to a master’s, or some combination of undergraduate and master’s degrees, according to leaders of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Education in State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.

Vast Waist-land:Watching a lot of television is bad for children’s health, a University of Pennsylvania researcher says. Many commercials advertise sweets and junk foods, George Gerbner says, and TV characters typically wolf down snacks rather than nutritious meals. That the characters are typically slim and healthy despite such gastronomical sins, he says, sends an unhealthy message.

Measles:The childhood spotted scourge is at historic lows, the Centers for Disease Control reports. Measles transmission is at its lowest level since 1925, and the number of cases—2,649—reported nationwide through the first 36 weeks of 1981 is 79 percent lower than the year before.