November 07, 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.

Tuition Tax Credits: District of Columbia voters overwhelmingly reject a proposal to allow Washington residents a $1,200 tax credit for educational expenses, including private school tuition. The measure, put on the ballot through petitions circulated by the National Taxpayers Union, loses by a 9-1 margin. Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr. says the defeat sends the message that “nobody ought to mess with our public schools.”

Sign Language: The U.S. Supreme Court accepts a case expected to help define school districts’ responsibilities for educating children with disabilities. The parents of Amy Rowley, a deaf 4th grader in New York’s Hendrick Hudson Central School District, sued the district to force it to provide a sign-language interpreter for Amy. An appellate court ruled that the district must provide the interpreter for the girl, a top student, to comply with the federal Education for All Handicapped Children Act.

Alive White Guys: A survey of social studies teachers in six states indicates that the people teaching history to American students are nearly all white and that most are male. The poll also found that the teachers read widely, are moderately or very religious, watch a modest amount of television, generally have children, and have a strong commitment to teaching “traditional American values.”

Reluctant Registrants: A record-high 23 percent of U.S. 18-year-old males failed to register for the draft this year, the Selective Service System announces. Although the maximum penalty for failing to sign up is five years in prison or a $10,000 fine, or both, more than 300,000 eligible young men declined to register. Uncle Sam stopped drafting people in 1973, but registration was reinstituted in 1980 just in case the military falls short relying on volunteers.

An Early Sighting: Dan Quayle, a young Republican senator from Indiana said to resemble screen hunk Robert Redford, introduces a bill to strip the Department of Education of its Cabinet-level status. The surviving agency would have even fewer responsibilities than the “national education foundation” that Education Secretary Terrel H. Bell recently suggested replace his department. Sen. Quayle says education should be returned to its proper overseers: parents and local authorities.

Sobering News: A study of two states that raised the drinking age from 18 to 21 suggests that the change led to fewer traffic accidents. A University of Michigan researcher reports that accident rates for 18- to 20-year-olds in Michigan and Maine fell by 17 percent after those states raised the drinking age. In Michigan, accidents resulting in death or injury for those in that age range fell by 28 percent.

A version of this article appeared in the November 07, 2001 edition of Education Week as Retrospective