Current Events: Roundup
Nationally known educator and psychologist Madeline Hunter died in February after suffering a series of strokes. She was 78. Hunter's model for what she called "effective teaching'' won her a loyal following among teachers and other educators. Arguing against an intuitive approach to teaching, she urged teachers to view their profession as an "applied science'' based on proven research. She had many critics, however, who accused her of mechanically applying an unproven system. [See "Madeline!,'' October 1991.] Hunter was an adjunct professor at the graduate school of education at the University of California at Los Angeles. From 1963 to 1982, she served as principal of Corinne Seeds University Elementary School, a UCLA-affiliated laboratory school. She wrote several books and articles on teaching and offered a popular summer workshop attended by teachers from around the nation. In one of her books, Mastery Teaching, Hunter made this promise to those who follow her methods: "From now on, you will know what you are doing when you teach, [and] why you are doing what you do.''
A federal appeals court has sanctioned an Illinois district's use of the controversial "Impressions'' reading series, ruling that it does not violate the establishment-ofreligion clause of the U.S. Constitution. Parents in the WheatonWarrenville elementary school district had alleged, as parents in other districts have, that the stories in the books promote witchcraft and the supernatural and teach children parental disrespect. [See "Battle Over The Books,'' November/December 1990.] They also argued that use of the series amounted to a government establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment and that the series interfered with their right to control their children's religious upbringing. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected both arguments. "What would become of elementary education, public or private, without works such as these and scores and scores of others that serve to expand the minds of young children and develop their sense of creativity?'' Judge William Bauer wrote.
Officials of the Livingston, Calif., school district are at odds with members of the Sikh religion over whether students of that faith should be allowed to carry symbolic daggers, called kirpans, under their clothing. District officials say the 6-inch blades are weapons banned from school premises by district rules and state law. But representatives of the Sikh community say the kirpans pose no threat because they are kept in sheaths usually worn under clothing. They contend that the dagger is a religious symbol protected by the First Amendment. Five elementary and middle school students recently were initiated into the religion and began carrying kirpans. Local school officials have suggested that the students wear religious medallions instead. Two of the students are doing that, but the others are staying out of school over the issue.
Let Her In
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled that an 11year-old moderately retarded Sacramento, Calif., girl should be allowed to attend regular school classes. Rachel Holland had been in special education classes for four years when her parents requested in 1989 that she be allowed to attend mainstream classes. The district decided that such placement would be disruptive to other students, cost too much money, and not benefit Rachel. But the appellate panel, upholding a lower-court ruling, found that the district had overstated the costs of mainstreaming the girl. The panel members also asserted that Rachel would benefit educationally and socially from regular-class placement and that she would not affect the other students' opportunities to learn.
Half a million--or one in six--of the nation's 3rd graders have attended at least three different schools since the 1st grade, and those children are much more likely than those who have not changed schools to be low achievers, according to a recent report from the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress. The report is based on a Department of Education study of 15,000 3rd graders in 235 schools during the 1990-91 school year. Of those who changed schools frequently, 41 percent were below grade level in reading and 33 percent were below grade level in math, compared with 26 percent and 17 percent of those who did not switch schools. The report also notes that the more mobile students are less likely than others to be served by the federal migrant-education and Chapter 1 programs.