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The United States is doing a poor job of tending to children's health needs, a report card released last week by the American Health Foundation warns.

Looking at data from over 50 studies, the Valhalla, N.Y.-based research center gave the nation less than stellar grades on several child-health indicators, including alcohol, tobacco, and substance abuse, physical activity during school, fat intake, and blood lead level.

Noting that close to 4,000 children are murdered each year, the foundation handed out an F in the category of homicide. For Head Start, the foundation gave a D, citing a study showing only 47 percent of eligible 4-year-olds are enrolled in the program.

The only efforts to receive an A were immunization programs for measles, mumps, rubella, and polio.

Over all, and for the second year in a row, the country earned a C- for its care of children, according to the foundation.

A New York City school and two other child-related programs are among the winners of the 1993 Innovations in State and Local Government Awards.

The 10 finalists, each of whom will receive a $100,000 grant, were announced last week by the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

The winners include the Central Park East Secondary School, a New York high school for at-risk minority students; the Lansing, Mich., Housing Commission's Computer Learning Centers, which provide children in public housing with instruction and games; and Texas's Child Care Management Services, which has consolidated all federal and state child-care funds in an effort to improve day-care options for working parents.

Chosen by a panel led by former Gov. William G. Milliken of Michigan, the winners were evaluated for novelty, effectiveness, value of services, and the degree to which they could be replicated. They were selected from a pool of 1,600 applicants offering public services such as education, child care, and low-cost housing.

Through an unusual arrangement with four major electronics firms, the College Board this month will distribute 40,000 scientific calculators to 39 poor school districts in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

A spokesman for the board said the calculators--donated by Casio, Hewlett-Packard, Sharp, and Texas Instruments--will help students keep up with trends in mathematics education, as endorsed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

The machines also are expected to place students on a more equitable footing with students from more affluent areas when taking college-entrance examinations.

The board has recommended that all students use calculators to take both the Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test and the new S.A.T., which will be administered for the first time in March.

Many of the districts selected for the program often ask the board to grant their students waivers of testing fees. Districts were also required to prepare a plan to incorporate calculators into the math curriculum.

Programs that allow parents to choose which public schools their children will attend do not lead to higher student achievement or enhanced equality of opportunity, a new book from the Economic Policy Institute asserts.

Moreover, any school choice program should be no more than an adjunct to a comprehensive school-reform package, the book says.

The institute, an economic research group, released the book, School Choice: Examining the Evidence, at a press conference in Washington last week.

The latest entry in the debate over choice contains chapters by researchers in the field, and includes responses by such choice proponents as John E. Chubb and Terry M. Moe.

Copies of the book are available for $17.95 each from Public Interest Publications at (800) 537-9359.

Vol. 13, Issue 06

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