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Rules Said To Undercut Violence Prevention

Public schools' efforts to prevent on-campus crime may be thwarted by laws and regulations that set up "procedural roadblocks" to tougher punishments, a Los Angeles-based policy-research group says.

In a 38-page report, researchers at the Reason Public Policy Institute review popular school violence-prevention tactics and compare how public, private, and religious schools differ in their approaches.

Many traditional anti-violence remedies that are allowed at private schools have been limited at public institutions because public schools must follow notice and hearing requirements for their students, the report says.

Those laws, which are designed to protect students from abuse of authority by school officials or others, may be contributing to violence in public schools by slowing administrators' responses to events, argues the report by the institute, which advocates a free market approach to policy issues.

"School Violence Prevention: Strategies to Keep Schools Safe," $16.50, including mailing costs, from the Reason Public Policy Institute, 3415 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 400, Los Angeles, CA 90034; (310) 391-2245.

Alternative Certification: In recent years, public education has seen a proliferation in the number of alternative routes to becoming a teacher, according to a report from the National Center for Education Information.

In its nationwide survey, the Washington-based private research organization found that 41 states are implementing some kind of teacher preparation program as an alternative to more traditional college programs used to prepare and certify teachers. That's up from just eight states in 1983.

The 365-page report also includes a description of alternative teacher preparation programs in each state, along with each state's total number of teachers who hold emergency or temporary teaching licenses.

"Alternative Teacher Certification: A State-by-State Analysis," $75, plus $4 for handling costs, from the National Center for Education Information, 4401A Connecticut Ave. N.W., #212, Washington, DC 20008; (202) 362-3444. Orders also may be faxed to (202) 362-3493.

Access to Technology: Within a year, the percentage of public schools with Internet access has more than doubled, a report on technology by the research firm Market Data Retrieval says.

In fact, from 1996 to 1997, the percentage of all schools with Internet access rose from 32 percent to 70 percent.

Yet the report also found that Internet access varies widely from state to state. Vermont ranks first in such connections, with 92 percent of its schools having Internet access, while Mississippi ranks last, with only 44 percent of its schools connected. And the report found that wealthier school districts are only somewhat more likely than poorer school districts to have access.

The Shelton, Conn.-based company's report provides national and state-by-state data for availability of other kinds of technology in schools as well, including multimedia computers, CD-ROMs, cable access, modems, local-area networks (LANs), wide-area networks (WANs), videodiscs, and satellites. It's based on a survey of the nation's 85,000 public schools conducted in the 1996-97 school year. The response rate was 65 percent.

"Technology in Education in 1997," $195, from Market Data Retrieval, 16 Progress Drive, P.O. Box 2117, Shelton, CT 06484-1117; (800) 333-8802.

Child Welfare: The methods used by states to collect and report child-welfare statistics--on such matters as abuse, neglect, and fatalities--differ so much that they can't be used to compare how states respond to these problems, concludes a state-by-state compilation from the Washington-based Child Welfare League of America.

The data presented in the book, however, reveal disturbing trends within the states on the number of children who have been abused or neglected. The 219-page book, full of charts and tables, also illustrates the varying ways that states gather information.

This new edition of the book has been expanded to include information on the race, ethnicity, gender, and age of abused and neglected children. The book also includes information on adoption, financing of child-welfare services, risk factors for abuse, and out-of-home care, such as kinship care, foster care, and group homes.

"Child Abuse and Neglect: A Look at the States--1997 Stat Book," $32.95, from PMDS, P.O. Box 2019, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-2019; (800) 407-6273; fax: (301) 206-9789. The stock number for the report is 6622.

Title IX Compliance: The U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights is doing little to enforce Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, a study by the Women's Sports Foundation contends.

The law bars sex discrimination in any educational program or activity, including athletics, by schools and colleges receiving federal funds.

The four-year study concludes that the OCR's inadequate enforcement of the law has conveyed to schools that there is a high degree of tolerance toward interscholastic athletic programs not in compliance, and that OCR officials will not initiate the process resulting in penalties or sanctions for schools not complying with the law.

And, the report says, the agency will issue no finding of noncompliance, no matter how great the inequities, as long as the institution promises to take steps to remedy the situation.

The report includes several recommendations to the OCR for remedying what it sees as the enforcement and investigative deficiencies at the agency.

"The Women's Sports Foundation Report on Title IX, Athletics, and the Office for Civil Rights," $35, from the Women's Sports Foundation, Eisenhower Park, East Meadow, NY 11554; (800) 227-3988; fax: (516) 542-4716.

Charter Schools: A Washington-based advocacy group has issued a charter school workbook that outlines research, legislation, guidance, and success stories of the charter school movement.

The Center for Education Reform, which promotes charter schools and other forms of school choice, profiles and ranks the states' charter school laws, provides statistics on the nation's more than 700 charter schools, reviews the research on them, and provides a directory of sources for technical assistance.

The 300-page report also offers start-up advice for would-be charter school organizers, and identifies useful resources and contacts.

"The Charter School Workbook: Your Roadmap to the Charter School Movement," $22, plus $3 shipping and handling, from the Center for Education Reform, (202) 822-9000; fax: (202) 822-5077; or on the Internet at

Service Learning: Educators looking for a way to assess the effectiveness of service-learning programs in their schools now have a new resource.

The Service Learning 2000 Center, a project of Stanford University's school of education, has published a 90-page guide designed to walk teachers and administrators through every step of the evaluation of a service-learning project.

The center decided to write the handbook after K-12 educators repeatedly asked for a practical way to tell if their programs were working, said Mark Batenburg, the resource coordinator for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based center.

Using explicit examples of evaluation procedures, the guide is meant to be "straightforward and jargon free," he added.

"The Evaluation Handbook: Practical Tools for Evaluating Service Learning Programs," $25, from the Service Learning 2000 Center, 50 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94301;

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