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 March 17, 1982:
Pay Disparities:Male school administrators earn an average of $520 per week, compared with $363 for their female counterparts, according to a study of 100 occupations by the U.S. Department of Labor. The study also found that female elementary school teachers earned an average of $68 per week less than men holding the same jobs, even though women make up more than 82 percent of all elementary school teachers.
Gender and Math:Boys are no better than girls at high-level mathematical reasoning, concludes a study from the University of Chicago. Researchers at the university found no gender differences when they tested the ability of 1,366 high school students to write geometry proofs. That skill is a good indicator, the researchers say, because it requires both abstract reasoning and spatial understanding—two areas where girls had not fared well on previous tests.
Enrollment Forecast: A series of rapid shifts in the number of school- age children in the United States in the coming 20 years will make planning for school staffing difficult and “significantly affect” the future structure of educational institutions, a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau says. The report, “Characteristics of Children and Youth: 1980,” predicts that the population of preschool children—those under 5 years old—will increase from 16 million in 1980 to more than 19 million by 1990, then decrease to about 18 million by 2000.
Full Disclosure: The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, in a major change in policy, will make detailed public disclosures of its judgments on teacher-training programs, including those programs that it decides do not meet its published standards. The public-disclosure policy, under development for more than a year, was passed unanimously by the 26-member NCATE governing council.
Hard Times: The bleak economic picture in Michigan prompts state education officials to predict that as many as 70 school districts—12 percent of the state’s total—could go bankrupt before the year ends. And Michigan voters appear unwilling to fill the financial gap. In a sharp reversal from past decades, the state’s taxpayers rejected most of the school tax-increase proposals brought before them in the previous year.
Raises and Charges: In an unprecedented move, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office brings criminal charges of grand theft against 43 public school teachers who received salary increases based on fraudulently obtained college credits. The teachers are accused of receiving raises averaging $3,000 annually for college-extension classes they never attended.
Chairman Bennett: Describing himself as a strong advocate of “basic education,” William J. Bennett, the new chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, proposes a series of government-sponsored summer seminars for high school teachers of the humanities. Mr. Bennett says teachers should be able to show students “why ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is more important than Love Story, why Beethoven and Mozart are more compelling than the Grateful Dead.” (Story is not available in Education Week archives.)
A version of this article appeared in the March 13, 2002 edition of Education Week as Retrospective