National News Roundup

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse has enlisted two prominent filmmakers--Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee--to launch a new media campaign aimed at reducing drug use and aids among teenagers.

The campaign, called "aids: Another Way Drugs Can Kills," includes public-service announcements developed for television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the movies. The ads, aimed at youths between the ages of 12 and 16, stress that teenagers can get the virus that causes aids by engaging in risky sexual behaviors while under the influence of alcohol and other non-intravenous drugs.

The advertisements, directed by Mr. Scorsese and narrated by Mr. Lee, include scenes such as a car crash caused by alcohol and drug use. Following is a shot of a young couple kissing passionately in a car. The narrative then stresses that adolescents who use drugs and alcohol could also wind up engaging in risky sexual acts, and be exposed to the human immunodeficiency virus.

The campaign was developed by nida, the Advertising Council, and a New York advertising agency, Della Femina McNamee Inc.

The ads were released last month and should start appearing this fall, according to nida. The agency added that the institute and the Ad Council were working with Scholastic Magazine to produce a teacher's guide in a poster format to extend the campaign to schools.

About one in five high-school students has had at least four sexual partners and about 3 percent have injected drugs, putting the teenagers at high risk for the virus that causes aids, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports.

Results of a survey administered to approximately 100,000 high-school students in 30 states, 10 cities, and two territories also indicate that many teenagers do not know how the disease is spread. Over all, about one-half of the students responding to the surveys thought that insects carry the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes aids. About one-quarter, on average, believed they could contract the virus by using public toilets or by taking a blood test.

Reported intravenous drug use ranged from 2 to 5 percent at the 42 survey sites, and the prevalence of four or more sexual partners ranged from 7 to 40 percent.

"Hiv-related knowledge and behaviors among high-school students are cause for concern throughout the United States," the cdc said.

In a related development, a panel of experts commissioned by the National Research Council has concluded that aids-prevention classes for teenagers should contain frank information about how to avoid exposure to hiv

Such classes should make a special effort to reach young adolescents, and in some populations, pre-adolescents, concluded the report, which was funded by the U.S. Public Health Service.

Roman Catholic and Jewish leaders have called for a national effort by parents, educators, government, and religious groups to instill "common moral teachings" into public-school curricula.

In seeking a "national mobilization" to promote values education, the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Interreligious Affairs Committee of the Synagogue Council charge that "children lack fundamental values like honesty, integrity, tolerance, loyalty, and belief in human worth and dignity."

The statement--issued by Rabbi Jack Bemporad of Temple Israel in Lawrence, N.Y., and Archbishop William H. Keeler of Baltimore--recommends that states establish committees to promote values in the public schools; that state and local authorities hold conferences of teachers, administrators, parents, and students to recommend methods for teaching values; and that foundations underwrite the development of values-education programs for the public schools.

Maintaining that "the linked issues of the educational attainment of America's children and the affordability of college are central" to successful U.S. competition in the global marketplace, a new association is focusing on helping parents boost their children's educational achievement and plan for their college education.

Targeting its efforts at "time-squeezed" parents who work and have limited time for family responsibilities, the American Association of Parents and Children will serve a "complementary" role to the National pta and other parent-related groups, said Scott Stapf, the a.a.p.c.'s executive director.

Unlike existing groups, he said, the a.a.p.c. "specifically addresses what it is parents can do in the home to improve educational achievement and how it is they go about tackling the question of affordability of college for their children."

The nonprofit group kicked off its operations last month with the publication of "Making the Grade: How Parents Can Help Their Kids Do Better in School," a brochure being distributed to parents that contains tips on how to stimulate learning and "set the right mood" for achievement at home.

The group also plans to launch a national program to help parents manage family finances. It hopes to make material on college aid more available to parents and to offer them individual counseling on how to fill out forms for loans and grants.

More information is available from the a.a.p.c., 560 Herndon Parkway, Suite 110, Herndon, Va. 22070.

Noting that there were more than 2 million reports of child abuse in 1989, a federal advisory panel has called for a complete overhaul of the nation's child-protection system.

In a report delivered to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect asserts that the nation faces "a child-protection emergency."

Among the panel's 31 recommendations for reconstructing child-protective services is a call for strengthening the role of schools in the prevention, identification, and treatment of abuse and neglect.

Richard K. Krugman, chairman of the panel, argued that schools have a "tremendous" role in the process. "Children who have been abused often can get a nurturing environment in schools," he said. "It may be the only form of treatment they get."

More African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American students attended universities and colleges in the 1989-90 school year than in 1988-89, according to a survey of top administrators conducted by the American Council on Education.

Three in 10 institutions reported enrolling more blacks, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans; about 6 percent reported decreases; and the rest reported no significant change. Ten percent of the schools reported an increase in Native American enrollment, while 5 percent reported a decrease, according to the survey.

The same survey showed that 55 percent of the schools reported increases in overall enrollment of first-year students in 1989-90. The figure in 1988-89 was 62 percent.

The figures come from "Campus Trends 1990," the annual survey conducted by the ace. Of the administrators from 444 schools questioned nationwide, 364 responded.

The survey also indicated that one-third of the schools have a published plan for increasing minority enrollment and faculty representation, that more than one-half offer courses in ethnic or minority studies, and that slightly more than one-fifth plan a "major" funding initiative to increase the numbers of minority students and faculty members.

When asked to name the top three difficulties they faced, however, the administrators listed issues of funding, enrollment figures, academic quality, faculty retention, and facility upkeep ahead of student-body diversity.

Copies of "Campus Trends 1990" are available for $13 each from the American Council on Education, Division of Policy Analysis and Research, One Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. 20036.

Few entry-level workers have been adequately educated for the work force, according to a recent survey of 1,200 top firms by the National Alliance of Business.

Only about 16 percent of the executives surveyed said they were satisfied with new workers' educational training, the survey reported. Finding well-trained job candidates is so difficult that 62 percent of the companies reported interviewing more people per job than they did five years ago. Survey responses showed that many executives trace the problem to local schools.

Officials in three out of four corporations questioned said schools have not kept up with technological growth. Seventy-two percent said new workers' mathematics skills have eroded over the past five years, and more than 65 percent said reading skills have declined during the same period.

Schools' emphasis on college-preparatory programs has meant that teachers pay little attention to the academic development of average and weak students, said William Kolberg, the nab's president, in a statement announcing the survey results. "Despite the fact that 82 million U.S. jobs don't require a college degree, our entire education system is geared to those few students who are lucky enough to attend college,'' he said.

State and local test officials should aim for a 5 percent increase in the number of General Educational Development-test credentials granted each year throughout the 1990's, the program's director has urged.

Officials gathered for the annual ged administrators conference in Arlington, Va., last month noted that more difficult tests have led to slightly lower passing rates. They also said the test was reaching a shrinking proportion of the nation's 18- to 24-year-olds who did not finish high school. That group makes up more than half of ged test-takers.

"Tragically, these are the very people who could be getting a lifetime of benefits out of completing their education," said Douglas R. Whitney, director of the ged Testing Service.

The number of people passing the equivalency test fell by 25 percent during the 1980's. U.S. Education Department statistics show that about 4.2 million 16- to 24-year-olds have finished their schooling without receiving a diploma. The statistics reveal a vast potential audience for the ged test, which awarded nearly 364,000 credentials in the United States in 1989.

Mr. Whitney recommended offering the exams in places other than classrooms, making test schedules more flexible, and mounting public-awareness campaigns.

Vol. 09, Issue 40

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