February 1996

Teacher, Vol. 07, Issue 05
Education Final Exams
To be admitted to a university in England, secondary school students in that country have to pass an eight-hour-long test in chemistry. But in Japan, the entrance exam in chemistry for prestigious Tokyo University lasts only two and a half hours. And the United States' Advanced Placement exam in chemistry, unlike both the other two countries', asks almost no questions about organic chemistry--the specialty of almost half the field's practitioners.
February 1, 1996
4 min read
Education Student Essay On Jesus Prompts Legal Battle
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a Tennessee student who argued that her junior high school English teacher unfairly discriminated against her when the teacher refused to accept a research paper she had written about the life of Jesus.
February 1, 1996
5 min read
Education Cracking Down On Nonresident Students
As a parent, Don Griffith understands why some might choose to sneak their children into a school district other than their own, one with a better academic reputation or perhaps a safer environment. But as superintendent of the Decatur city school district in Georgia, Griffith is pulling out all the stops to prevent families from doing so.
February 1, 1996
4 min read
Education The Education of Al Shanker
It's a cold December evening in Washington, D.C. A light snow is falling, and over on Capitol Hill, members of Congress are debating whether to support President Clinton's decision to send 20,000 troops to Bosnia. But here, amid the wood-paneled elegance of the Hay-Adams Hotel, a stone's throw from the White House, the atmosphere is warm and friendly. About 200 members of the education establishment have gathered in the hotel's John Hay Room to honor Albert Shanker, the longtime president of the American Federation of Teachers, on the 25th anniversary of his paid column, "Where We Stand,'' which runs every Sunday in The New York Times.
February 1, 1996
41 min read
Education Books
THE PUBLIC ORPHANAGE: How Public Schools Are Making Parents Irrelevant, by Eric Buehrer. (Word Publishing, $19.99.)
February 1, 1996
5 min read
Education ETS Fails Court Test
The New York State Court of Appeals has ruled that the Educational Testing Service breached its contract with a student test-taker when it refused to consider his explanation for an unusually large increase in his SAT scores.
February 1, 1996
1 min read
Education Findings
February 1, 1996
1 min read
Education New NCAA Rules Challenged
Chad Ganden is a gifted high school swimmer who won Illinois' 100-yard freestyle championship last year. Not surprisingly, a number of top-notch Division I colleges and universities are courting him, which makes Chad a prime candidate for an athletic scholarship. But there is a catch: Because Chad has not satisfied the course requirements under the National Collegiate Athletic Association's new academic eligibility rules, he has been barred from college-paid recruiting visits and any early signing.
February 1, 1996
3 min read
Education Sax Education
Students at Meade Elementary School in Williamsport, Ky., get an up-close and personal introduction to the sax thanks to the Tower Saxophone Quartet. From left, Jeffrey Mackechine, alto sax; Terrence Bacon, soprano; Michael Zsoldos, tenor; and Richard Wyman, baritone, received a nine-month grant to share their classical chamber music with 20 schools in rural Kentucky, an area better known for country and bluegrass music. The musicians' residency in Floyd, Johnson, and Magoffin counties is being partially paid for by the National Endowment for the Arts.
February 1, 1996
1 min read
Education Physics First
A group of top scientists, policymakers, and teachers has embraced a plan to reverse the traditional sequence in which high school sciences are taught so that all students take physics in their freshman year, followed by chemistry, then biology.
February 1, 1996
1 min read
Education Salaries By State
In Louisiana, the average teacher made $26,811 last year, an annual salary lower than almost anywhere else in the nation. Low pay has become such a perennial sore point there that the new governor, Mike Foster, says he'll cut his own pay if teachers' salaries don't reach the regional average within two years.
February 1, 1996
4 min read
Education Sex Talk Upheld
A Massachusetts high school's decision to hire a company to give its students a streetwise, extremely explicit talk on AIDS prevention without notifying parents may not have been a wise one, but it didn't violate the right of parents to direct their children's upbringing, a federal appeals court has ruled.
February 1, 1996
2 min read
Education Sylvan Goes Public
The Sylvan Learning Center stands out as the only classroom at Sojourner Truth Elementary School with four walls. Truth Elementary, in the shadows of Chicago's Cabrini-Green public-housing project, was built in the early 1970s when open classrooms were the fashion. But those noisy, wide-open spaces can make concentration difficult, especially for children from disadvantaged homes.
February 1, 1996
5 min read
Education The Gift Of Grace
Teacher David Guterson, who was featured in this magazine before his best-selling first novel Snow Falling on Cedars was published, believes that "teaching is an act of love.'' Mary Lee Drouin, the extraordinary high school English teacher featured in this month's cover story, is living proof of that. She is the kind of teacher Henry Adams had in mind when he wrote, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.''
February 1, 1996
3 min read
Education Current Events
Doublespeak Award
House Speaker Newt Gingrich has won the annual Doublespeak Award from the National Council of Teachers of English. The NCTE bestowed the dubious distinction on the Georgia Republican this fall at its annual convention in San Diego. The award is an ironic tribute to public figures who use language that the council says is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-contradictory. Keith Gilyard, chairman of the organization's Committee on Public Doublespeak, said Gingrich was cited for passages from his book To Renew America, in which he reveals his vision for the nation. His nomination was based on a July 1995 Time magazine article about the book that outlined contradictions in Gingrich's arguments. In the book, Gingrich writes, "When confronted with a problem, a true American doesn't ask 'Who can I blame this on?' '' The Time article pointed out that Gingrich then goes on "to survey America's problems and blame them on various people.''
February 1, 1996
5 min read
Education Home Rule
Eric McKee is midway into a conversation with a visitor when he suddenly stops talking, jumps up from his seat, and grabs a bullhorn. The principal of Willowbrook Middle School in Compton, Calif., is practically out his office door before he explains what's going on. A new period is about to begin, and he's on his way to shepherd students to class as part of the school's new "tardy sweep'' policy.
February 1, 1996
8 min read
Education Report Roundup
Following is a guide to recent reports in education and related fields.
February 1, 1996
4 min read
Education A Trust Betrayed
Pleasanton, Calif., reveals its aspirations in its name. Set amidst the hills of golden grass that give California its nickname, between the San Francisco Bay and the Central Valley, the century-old town didn't even have a professional fire department of its own a generation ago. Now, "the city of planned progress,'' as it calls itself, is a booming community of 55,000; its farms have given way to bedroom subdevelopments and the largest business park in the northern half of the state. Although three federal lockups and a county jail lie just outside its borders, and crime-plagued Oakland is only 20 miles away, Pleasanton offers a refuge from the harsh realities of city life; many area police officers make their homes in Pleasanton. Ideals and expectations that might seem archaic elsewhere are still alive there.
February 1, 1996
25 min read
Education Soft On Smoking?
Weekly Reader, one of the country's most popular news magazines for children, may be presenting a cloudy message about cigarette smoking. That, at least, is the conclusion of health researchers at the University of California at San Francisco, who evaluated tobacco-related articles published between 1989 and 1994 in 34 issues of Weekly Reader and 28 editions of Scholastic News, a competing weekly for young people.
February 1, 1996
2 min read
Education Tension Over Southern Symbols
Racial tensions have surfaced at three Georgia high schools in recent months over still-powerful symbols of the Confederacy.
February 1, 1996
4 min read
Education Year-Round Schooling Rejected
For many parents, juggling basketball practice, piano lessons, Brownies, and the occasional getaway is hard enough. So when residents of two Florida counties were faced with adding assorted school vacations to the mix, they balked.
February 1, 1996
4 min read
Education Whiz Kid
I finally got on-line last summer. But I never could have done it without Jason Leo.
February 1, 1996
3 min read
Education Extra Credit
DEADLINES
Following is a list of application deadlines for grants, fellowships, and honors available to individuals. Asterisks (
February 1, 1996
25 min read
Education Letter to the Editor Letters
Teacher Tenure
The two young teachers you profile in your cover story "Tenure on Trial'' [January] need to feel that the work they are doing will help them foster stable and meaningful careers in education. I am certain that they do not care as much about tenure as they do about being valued, rewarded, and offered a place to grow in the field. Tenure seems to be the only way that one can attain those intangibles.
February 1, 1996
9 min read
Education Opinion From Hopeful To Hectic
Everyone knew who I was, of course. The teachers, students, parents, and custodial and office staffs all greeted me by name that first day. I remember a sense of imbalance welling up, a kind of professional vertigo as I looked at all those welcoming, wondering faces with names not yet securely attached.
Mark Warren Segar, February 1, 1996
4 min read
Education Opinion Athletics vs. Academics
Theodore Sizer ignores it, though more educational compromises are made in its name in one school year than his fictional Horace will make in his career.
Henry F. Cotton, February 1, 1996
7 min read
Education Leading Lady
As if answering a cattle call for a movie about the French Resistance, Mary Lee Drouin's English literature students, like Drouin herself, are dressed in black pants and turtleneck sweaters. They maintain a conspiratorial silence about their monochromatic look until late in the afternoon when a senior, index finger pursed to her lips, lets the cat out of the bag. "We are followers of Drouin,'' she murmurs.
David Ruenzel, February 1, 1996
23 min read