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Voting Rights and Wrongs

When all 60 students in two honors social studies classes at Page High School in Greensboro, N.C., recently failed a surprise test on the U.S. Constitution, they complained that the "trick" questions could have several correct answers.

But student-teacher Amber Prock showed no sympathy. She told the students that those who talked during the 30-minute test would fail, and that there was only one acceptable response for each of the 68 multiple-choice and short-answer questions. Students could give up to seven wrong answers and still pass.

After students protested their grades, Ms. Prock revealed that the test was merely a ruse. What they had taken--and so miserably failed--was the 1965 Alabama Literacy Test, which the state's black residents were required to pass in order to vote. Despite having studied the Constitution in recent weeks, the students, and even Ms. Prock, were ill-prepared for the misleading questions.

The exercise was designed to stir the students' emotions and instill the importance of voting, said Ms. Prock, who took the test out of materials provided by Kids Voting USA, a national group in Tempe, Ariz., that educates students about the voting process.

"I told them to think about how upset they were because this affects their grade. But in 1965 if you failed, it would affect your life," said Ms. Prock, a senior at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. "The students were very hostile toward me until they realized I was trying to make a point."

Keys to the City

Don't expect the members of the Burlington, Iowa, fire department to be offered the keys to the city anytime soon.

In March, the fire department discovered it had misplaced a master key to the Burlington school district's buildings, and now the city will have to pay $43,000 to replace it.

The department was allowed to look for the key for several weeks, but it never turned up, said schools Superintendent Stephen L. Swanson.

After replacing every lock on every door of each of its buildings-- 2,300 locks in all--the school district passed the $43,000 bill on to the city.

"I called the city manager and let her know that we would not be paying," Mr. Swanson said.

City Manager Jane Wood said the money will be taken out of the fire department's budget.


Vol. 16, Issue 12

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