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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

AP/Charles Tasnadi
AP/Charles Tasnadi

Banning soda gets kids fit, officials get caught cheating, and students get stripped.

The Good

  • Students in the Bush administration’s embattled $1 billion-a-year reading program have improved an average of about 15 percent on tests measuring fluency over the past five years, according to an analysis of data by the Education Department. 
  • A recent study published by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden shows that banning sweets and soft drinks in schools does make a difference. The number of overweight or obese six-to-10-year-olds dropped from 22 to 16 percent in the 10 Stockholm schools that participated in the study. The number of overweight or obsess students in the control group of schools that did not introduce food regulations rose from 18 to 21 percent.
  • Chrysler Financial and the ASPIRA Association, a national non-profit organization devoted to the education and leadership development of Latino youth in the U.S., are partnering to provide a financial education and vehicle financing education program catered to young Latinos. The curriculum for The ABCs of Financing will be available online in both English and Spanish.

The Bad

  • Pittsburgh Public Schools is trying to save itself from going broke in 2009. To contend with the projected loss of ten percent of its current enrollment, or 3,600 students, the district proposed eliminating 203 positions and making $33 million in other cuts to make up for the short fall.
  • According to a recent UCLA study, California education officials put forth artificially positive results on the number of students who passed the state’s controversial high school exit exam last year. The report also determined that about 50,000 fewer students statewide earned diplomas last year compared to previous years, raising the prospect that the exit exam requirement is pressuring students to drop out.
  • Nearly one in five third-graders, approximately 4,200 students, in Broward County (FL) Public Schools, failed the FCAT and may have to repeat third grade. It’s the first time Broward’s scores have dropped since the state began requiring the test for promotion to fourth grade in 2002.

The Ugly

  • The cable bill was a little higher than usual in Union City, New Jersey, where school district officials are scrambling to identify who watched $250 worth of pay-per-view pornographic movies using a school cable television box. The films cost between $4.95 and $9.95, but Cablevision, the cable provider, has refunded the district’s money.
  • After New York School Cancellor Joel Klein and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “no,” to a field trip a group from the Beacon School wanted to take to Cuba, the group went anyway. Now the two officials are squirming to explain how the students got to Havana despite the government’s ban on travel to the Communist nation.  The Department of Education also apparently knew nothing about the school’s previous trips there, in 2004 and 2005.
  • Two students from Neuqua Valley High School in Arizona won’t be able to wear T-shirts that say, “Be Happy, Not Gay,” after a U.S. district judge ruled in favor of the high school. The Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian Litigation group, will appeal the judge’s decision. 

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