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Report on kids sounds an upbeat note

WASHINGTON - According to a report by Child Trends, a research group, the future is bright for America's kids. The annual report is a broad assessment of the state of the nation's children, a collection of statistics from across the federal government. Here are some of the findings:

*48 percent of three- and four-year-olds were enrolled in preschool in 1997, up from 45 percent a year earlier. The most dramatic rise was among African-American children, with the percentage rising from 45 percent to 55 percent.

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*Despite concern about school shootings, the number of violent incidents in schools has declined since 1993. In 1997 there were 31 serious violent juvenile crimes committed for every 1,000 children ages 12 to 17. That's down from 52 per 1,000 in 1993 and is the lowest rate since 1986, according to the Justice Department.

House has tax-cut plan for schools

WASHINGTON - House Republicans announced last week that their 10-year, $864 billion tax-cutting package would provide special tax breaks to parents and students to help pay for private college. Under the plan, private universities could offer prepaid tuition plans to prospective students and any earnings would be tax-exempt. Current laws allow only public universities to have prepaid tuition plans. Democrats said the proposal helps rich Americans send their children to exclusive schools and does little to help cash-strapped public schools. Tuition at public four-year universities has increased 390 percent on average between 1976 and 1996, from $642 to $3,151 per year. According to the National Commission of the Cost of Higher Education, tuition at private universities has jumped 440 percent in the same period.

Lack of administrators

Connecticut's education department says more teachers are being certified for administrative jobs, but fewer are applying for them. The problem exists nationwide, and experts attribute the shortfall to a combination of increased responsibilities, stress, lack of support, and a high number of retirements. For those willing to face the challenge, the pay can be one reward: The average salary for superintendents exceeds $100,000.

Teachers, Interested in writing for us?

We are always on the look out for 600-word columns written by kindergarten teachers on up to college professors. To submit a "Class Act" column, e-mail Amelia Newcomb at: newcomba@csps.com or write to The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA, 02115.

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