Just say no to tests
LOS ANGELES - In a strong stand against standardized testing, the NEA has voted to support laws allowing parents to let their kids skip the exams. The teachers union has long warned against overreliance on the tests, a cornerstone of President Bush's proposed education plan and a key element of many district programs. Bush wants test results to determine how much federal funding schools get; in some school districts, 'high stakes' tests already determine whether students get promoted or graduate. Across the US, groups of parents and students are boycotting the tests, saying they're biased against poor and working-class kids.
An unsafe security binge?
Tokyo - Security guards. Tear gas canisters. Self-defense training for teachers. In the month since eight children were stabbed to death in Japan's worst school massacre, principals across the country have gone on a security binge. Most safety measures have been uncontroversial: locked gates, security guards, student badges. But some parents and teachers are wondering if the reaction has gotten out of hand. At Kuni Elementary School near Kyoto, a principal's recent safety lesson backfired, when a disguised teacher sent into a fifth grade classroom brandishing a 20-inch metal rod only caused terror among the students. Parents at other schools have complained that requiring untrained teachers to carry tear gas canisters could also be dangerous.
The Bard vs. the Bee Gees
London - Students taking their final English exams at Cambridge University this year got a break from the Western canon when they had to analyze the lyric: "It's tragedy ... Tragedy when you lose control and you got no soul, it's tragedy," from a Bee Gees 1979 pop chart-topper. Despite complaints from the president of Britain's Campaign for Real Education, that "Tragedy ... does not need to be soiled with pop lyrics," John Kerrigan, chairman of the English finals examination board, defended his choice. "Bee Gees songs ... could have directed you to the great central canonical texts," he told the British paper The Sunday Telegraph. "[Their] line ... 'the feeling's gone and you can't go on' is a fair summary of the end of King Lear."
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor