EVOLUTION IN AZ: Beware, Arizona students--evolution indoctrination is coming to your school soon! When the state board adopted science standards in 1996, they did not mention evolution. It was too good to be true, so last August they voted 6-3 to add specific references to evolution, the big-bang theory and other anti-creationist beliefs. Teachers are now instructed to explain theories that contradict the biblical account of creation. For example, the revised standards tell teachers to "use scientific evidence to demonstrate that descent from common ancestors produced today's diversity of organisms over more than 3.5 billion years of evolution."
ALABAMA SUPERINTENDENT BASHES CHRISTIAN PARENTS: Alabama schools Superintendent Ed Richardson angered Christian parents last Fall by calling us a threat to public schools. While that is probably true in some sense, his comments were apparently made in a derogatory forum. While addressing a meeting of local superintendents in Birmingham, Mr. Richardson cited a survey of Texas school officials which ranked the "Christian right" as one of the top ten most destructive forces upon public education. Richardson proceeded to tell the group, "We have to recognize them as a clear danger to our schools." His "we vs. them" mentality greatly upset Christian parents as well as Governor Fob James Jr., who called for Richardson's apology or resignation. An apology was forthcoming, but will that be enough to restore credibility to this Republican conservative school superintendent? Parents in Alabama will be watching him closely.
PENNSYLVANIA OBE: The battle over Outcome-Based Education has been fought long and hard in Pennsylvania, where OBE became nationally known and feared. Many other states have since avoided the label, if not the entire OBE practice, since parents became vigilantly aware of the socialistic behavioral changes being foisted on children under the guise of many OBE programs.
The Pennsylvania state school board has finally responded to parental concerns by rescinding portions of the OBE plan (Ch. 3 School Profiles, Ch. 5 Curriculum, and Ch. 6 Vocational Education) and adoption of a Chapter 4 which sets academic standards for reading, writing, speaking and listening, and for mathematics. Other subjects will be phased in over the next two years.
The new standards are supposed to correct the 53 vaguely-worded outcomes that have dominated the past five years, inserting a liberal bias and creating measurability/assessment problems.
When Governor Tom Ridge was elected in 1994, he vowed to eliminate the OBE program, and the core standards writing effort began in 1996. On October 21, 1998, the state board of education approved the new academic standards, calling them rigorous, clearly written and measurable. Parents will have the right to view all instructional materials and assessments and opt their child out of any portions which they object to based on their religious beliefs. The final form regulations are being reviewed by the House and Senate Education Committees and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and are expected to become effective for the next school year. You can view the new regulations and standards at http://www.cas.psu.edu/ docs/pde/regulations.html. Please let us know what you think--CEE would like to hear the opinion of Pennsylvania parents!
CA PARENTS' RIGHTS: California parents are praising Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian for the victory in his the tough fight against the California Teacher's Union. Kaloogian's Education Empowerment Act (A.B. 1216), signed into law by Governor Wilson, gives parents the right to review instructional materials and assessments and to observe instruction and activities in which their children are involved. It also prohibits children from being compelled to affirm or disavow any world view, religious doctrine or political opinion, and requires written parental consent before any child can be evaluated for behavioral, mental or emotional issues.
TEENAGE PROMISCUITY: The tide is turning against teenage promiscuity. The most recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that of the teens surveyed in 1997, 52 percent said they had never had sexual intercourse, up from only 46 percent in 1991. Virginity is back in the majority, which is bound to take some pressure off teens and spur the abstinence movement. A director at the Center, Dr. Lloyd Kolbe, credits the decline to efforts by parents, schools and health officials, since condom use also rose. We would like to credit the rise in abstinence to parents, churches, and the True Love Waits program.
GRAY DAVIS: Governor-elect Gray Davis (D) of California says that his "high expectation" approach to education will include mandatory statewide tests for students in grades 2-11, and he announced a liberal policy team. Watch out!
NEW STUDY ON TV AND DRINKING: How much television do your teenagers watch? A Stanford University study of 1,533 ninth-graders has found that high school students who watch a lot of T.V. and music videos are more likely to start drinking than other youngsters. Each increase of one hour a day of viewing music videos corresponded to a 31 percent greater risk of starting to drink over the next 18 months and, for other T.V. viewing each hour represented a 9 percent greater risk. Viewing habits had no impact on those teens that already drank. The research also revealed that rented movies actually corresponded to an 11 percent decrease in risk, but playing video and computer games had no effect.
SUPERINTENDENTS RATE SCHOOLS: District Superintendents ought to be in a good position to judge the effectiveness of public schools, even while being heavily biased in favor of the government system. Yet, despite their favorable leanings, "The Survey of American School Leadership" gave an average grade of "B" to both the nation's public schools and those in their own district. Most believed that reducing class sizes would be helpful; over half have difficulty recruiting qualified teachers; and superintendents were split on the merits of national tests and national performance standards. While they place great hope in technology, about half are concerned that teachers aren't sufficiently trained to use it.
HOMESCHOOL SCORES: Homeschoolers had a higher average composite score on the American College Test (ACT) administered during the 1997-98 school year (22.8), than the national average for all students (21.0). Homeschoolers scored highest on English, Reading and Science Reasoning sections, while falling only three-tenths of a point behind the national average in Math.
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION: We have long known that environmental education is extreme and misleading to students, but now a study by the Center for the New West (303-572-5400), a Denver-based non-partisan think tank, confirms it. Their report compares textbook information on environmental issues with guidelines for fairness and accuracy (published by the North American Association for Environmental Education), finding one-sided and misleading explanations and many inaccuracies in the books' explanations of ten environmental topics, including logging, air pollution, acid rain, endangered species and more.
In fact, a high school earth-science textbook describes a highly unlikely real-life scene of skyscrapers poking above the surface of a flooded New York City after Earth's polar ice caps melt, raising the sea level by 61 kilometers (higher than Mount Everest). Much more than a slight exaggeration, such a portrayal of the effects of global warming is extremist and alarming to students.
While twenty-two of the twenty-four texts studied state that the world's population is growing faster than its ability to provide food, scaring students and discouraging propogation, only three of the books note that the rate of global population growth peaked in the late 1960's and has been declining since! Propaganda!
NEW MATH STANDARDS: Watch for debate over math standards as the National Council of
Teachers of Mathematics releases changes in content and format, with a greater emphasis on
basic skills and specifics, in response to criticisms of their national standards released
in 1989 and followed nationwide, often emphasizing problem-solving over accuracy.
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