Education Update

Special offers for war veterans A handful of colleges and universities throughout the United States are offering tuition breaks or free credits to veterans of the Persian Gulf war and, in some cases, their families.

It's an effort to ``make life easier for those returning from this conflict, compared with those who returned from Vietnam and Korea,'' says Peter J. Liacouras, president of Temple University in Philadelphia, where Pennsylvania veterans of the war will be eligible for three free credits.

Adult workers need better schooling, too

``It is better to learn late than never,'' goes the old maxim. And adult learning for the workplace is the fastest-growing sector of education, according to a recent report by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

``The Learning Industry: Education for Adult Workers'' estimates that United States corporations spend $60 billion a year on employee training programs. But, the report concludes, the current training resources are not well suited to keep up with technological advances.

``Our response to the needs of all workers will in large measure determine America's productivity and shape profoundly the position of the nation in an increasingly competitive, interdependent world,'' writes Nell P. Eurich, author of the report.

Dr. Eurich recommends more collaboration among industry, government, and educational institutions. The report suggests that all federal adult training and education programs be placed under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Labor. They are now split between the Labor and Education departments.

``If America is to remain economically strong and vital, lifelong education is the key,'' writes Ernest L. Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation, in the report's foreword.

Student warranties

``Returned for remediation'' may be a common option for dissatisfied employers in the future. Some high school graduates are now coming with educational warranties. In an effort to upgrade accountability, a number of school districts are guaranteeing proficiency in reading, writing, and calculating for one to three years after graduation.

``Employers see it as a positive indication that a public agency is willing to be held accountable,'' says Bernard Sidman, superintendent of the Plymouth-Carver, Mass., school district, which provides three-year warranties with diplomas.

If an employer discovers that a recent graduate is lacking in basic skills, the school system will offer free remedial instruction. In Plymouth-Carver and Prince George's County, Md., the warranty applies only to locally employed graduates. But Montrose County, Colo., plans to guarantee its graduates statewide.

Since it started issuing warranties in 1988, the Colorado school district has had three of 600 graduating students returned for remediation. Other districts have had no returns.

Proposed budget may be backward step

President Bush's 1992 fiscal budget proposes $29.6 billion for education, a 9 percent increase over the current fiscal year. But a closer look reveals an actual decrease in proposed spending.

The budget ``reveals how far Mr. Bush still has to go to fulfill his pledge to be an education president,'' says Robert Atwell, president of the American Council on Education.

Changes in bookkeeping and inflation account for the publicized $2.5 billion increase for 1992. A proposed 7 percent increase in funding for Pell Grants available to needy college students would come from cutting other tuition-grant programs.

Math's downturn period

The ``I-hate-math'' syndrome apparently hits during the teen years. Enthusiasm for mathematics, especially among girls, declines dramatically during adolescence, according to a study commissioned by the American Association of University Women.

Among the 2,500 girls and 500 boys surveyed, 81 percent of elementary-school girls and 84 percent of elementary-school boys say they like math.

By high school, 72 percent of boys and 61 percent of girls say they like math. The percentage of girls who say math is their least favorite subject jumps from 15 percent in elementary school to 28 percent in high school. For boys, the percentage who like math least moves from 9 percent to 21 percent.

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