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The Gaston County, N.C., school board voted late last month to move forward with implementation of its "Odyssey Project,'' a school-restructuring initiative that has been criticized by local Christian activists. (See Education Week, March 10, 1993.)

The critics charge that the program is academically weak and would undermine their children's religious beliefs.

The project was one of 11 proposals selected to receive grants from the New American Schools Development Corporation. The five-year project is an effort to restructure three of the district's 54 schools with a longer school day and year; coordinated education, health and social services; and early-childhood schooling.

The school board voted March 23 to proceed with the project on schedule at the three pilot sites.

Representatives of Concerned Citizens for Public Education, a group that was formed to halt the project, said they will continue to fight the initiative.

Meanwhile, several hundred parents of students at the three project sites and four other feeder schools have formed an organization to support the project.

The Pennsylvania state board of education has accepted the outcome-based education regulations revised by Gov. Robert P. Casey and key members of the legislature's education committees.

Board members this month unanimously approved the revisions that the legislators had sought in hopes of pacifying critics of the reform effort. (See Education Week, April 14, 1993.)

Although opponents indicate that the revisions improve the plan somewhat, they say they will continue to press the legislature to kill the reforms because they promote the teaching of values that may conflict with family beliefs.

Under the revised regulations, students would be tested only on traditional academic subjects.

Teachers would still cover some of the more controversial topics, such as self-esteem, but students would not be assessed in those areas.

The revised regulations now go before a state regulatory-review commission for approval. They do not require legislative approval, but lawmakers can quash the regulations.

Vol. 12, Issue 31

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