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Democracy Shortchanged, Civics Report Contends

Public school students in the United States are not learning the full history of American democracy because efforts to teach it are being "undercut by textbooks tilted toward a negative depiction of American history," concludes a report released last week.

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"Education for Democracy," which was produced by the Washington-based Albert Shanker Institute, suggests that schools overhaul curricula in civics, history, and humanities to ensure that students learn about democracy in an "unsentimental way" in which they better balance the nation's mistakes and accomplishments. Prominent liberals and conservatives endorsed the report's conclusions.

—Kevin Bushweller

Boston Segregation

Despite efforts three decades ago to desegregate its schools, Boston-area elementary school students are attending classes in schools that are becoming more racially segregated, according to a new study.

Conducted by researchers at the Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research at the State University of New York at Albany, the study concludes that black and Hispanic children have been excluded from living in Boston's suburbs and attending their schools. The authors also found that 49 of every 50 white students in the Boston metropolitan area attend schools in the suburbs.

The report kicks off a yearlong research project called the Metro Boston Equity Initiative, under the direction of Harvard University's Civil Rights Project. It will examine the Boston area's shifting demographics as it becomes more racially and ethnically diverse.

—Karla Scoon Reid

Preschool Effect

A preschool program for 4-year-olds from poor families led to higher student achievement in elementary school, according to a study recently released by the Arlington, Va.-based Educational Research Service.

The study focused on the first participants in the Bright Beginnings preschool program in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in North Carolina. It followed 1,382 children—who had participated in the program in the 1997-98 school year— through 3rd grade. In nearly all categories, the Bright Beginnings students scored considerably higher than a comparison group of other children from poor families.

—Kevin Bushweller

State Standards

The Council of Chief State School Officers has produced a report that provides detailed information on the academic-content standards for each state.

The online version of the report includes direct Internet links to each state's current standards.

—Kevin Bushweller

Teacher Quality

The question of what makes a good teacher is a lot more complex than the "simplistic measures and assumptions" embedded in state and federal education policies, including the No Child Left Behind Act, concludes a recent report on teacher attributes.

The report, commissioned by the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute, uncovers what factors in teacher education and experience are most likely to raise teacher effectiveness and student achievement.

—Kevin Bushweller

Vol. 23, Issue 3, Page 14

Published in Print: September 17, 2003, as Report Roundup
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