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Looser dress code in Iran's girls' schools

TEHRAN, IRAN - For the first time in 23 years, some Iranian girls and their teachers will be allowed to attend school without head scarves and robes when classes begin in September. For now, the Education Ministry's directive applies only to girls' schools in Iran's capital city, more liberal than the deeply religious provincial towns.

Until the directive, girls had to wear a hood and robe, and sometimes a black chador, covering them from shoulders to ankles, as well as the hair, neck, and ears. Some families complained that the heavy, dour-looking outfits cause hair loss, skin rashes, and depression in their children. Religious hardliners have already criticized the relaxed rules as "encouraging nudity." To appease them, school authorities have promised to use one-way tinted glass in school windows and keep male visitors in distant, separate rooms.

Wanted: more math and science teachers

WASHINGTON - The United States, in dire need of more science and mathematics teachers, should persuade those with doctorates to pursue careers in education, an independent panel of scientists said last week.

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The National Research Council found that US students continue to perform among the worst of all industrialized countries because schools have a critical shortage of qualified science and math teachers. It urged lawmakers to develop a fellowship program to improve education in these fields for kindergarten through 12th grade, taking advantage of the glut of math and science professionals who cannot find jobs or have not previously pursued a career in academia.

New York schools get a new chancellor

ALBANY, N.Y. - The state education commissioner granted a waiver last week to allow Mayor Michael Bloomberg's choice to become New York City schools chancellor. Joel Klein will be charged with turning around the district, which is beset with funding shortages, too few certified teachers, rising dropout rates, and unmet standards.

Although Klein had headed the US Justice Department's antitrust division for nearly four years and is now chairman and CEO of the US subsidiary of media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG, a special waiver was required because of his limited academic credentials. "A bright guy who has the confidence of the mayor is probably the right guy for the job," said state Regent Harry Phillips.

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