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 May 12, 1982:
School Prayer:Proponents of President Reagan’s proposal for a constitutional amendment to permit organized prayer in public schools—a practice that has been outlawed for 20 years—are greeting the president’s announcement of the plan at the White House with applause and promises of political support. “I assure you that in both houses of Congress we will work diligently for the enactment of this proposal, and I suspect millions of others throughout the country will, too,” says the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the evangelist and political activist.
Collective Bargaining: Labor agreements have changed the way school districts are run, but the effects are neither as extreme nor as uniform as some critics of collective bargaining in the schools contend, says a researcher at Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Policy. “Overall,” according to Susan Moore Johnson in a study titled “Teacher Unions and the Schools,” “the organizational effects of collective bargaining appear to be both moderate and manageable.”
Rural Concerns: One hundred and twenty-five rural educators from 35 states gather in Washington to discuss ways to promote “excellence” in their schools. Their seminar, devoted to the subject of “Ensuring Excellence in Education for Rural America” and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, marks the first time the government has convened a meeting on the concerns of rural educators.
Reading Improvement: Mastery learning has proved its worth as a method of teaching reading, especially to students whose proficiency is below average, but educators who use the sometimes-controversial method should not regard it as a “quick fix” for poor scores on basic-skills tests. That is the view shared by the speakers at a special session on mastery learning in reading at the annual convention of the International Reading Association, held in Washington.
Physical Fitness:Only 43 percent of more than 4 million students tested over a two-year period met the basic standards of physical fitness, according to a nationwide study. And in many of the test exercises, performance worsened among those above age 14, the study finds. Sponsored by the Amateur Athletic Union and Nabisco Brands, the study is based on the performance of students ranging in age from 6 to 17.
Improving Teachers: An ad hoc committee of the Council of Chief State School Officers will recommend that states raise the standards for entry into teacher-training programs in an effort to reduce the supply of new teachers, drive up salaries, and thus attract higher-caliber teachers into the profession. The committee concludes that moves by many states in recent years to require teacher candidates to pass basic-skills tests have failed to improve the quality of students entering the profession because passing scores have been set too low.
Student Citizens: In an attempt to make better citizens of its students while avoiding the conflict often touched off by “values education,” the New York City board of education announces plans to mount a major effort to teach citizenship in all of its schools. At the heart of the project is a 307-page curriculum guide, developed by the school system, that contains lessons for students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
A version of this article appeared in the May 08, 2002 edition of Education Week as Retrospective