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Blacks are disciplined at higher rates

San Francisco - A new study suggests that "zero tolerance" discipline policies in schools are having a disproportionate impact on black students. The survey, conducted by the Applied Research Council in Oakland, Calif., found that in 10 large urban school districts, blacks were disciplined at higher rates than whites. For example, in the Phoenix district, blacks, who represent 4 percent of the student body, received 21 percent of of the expulsions or suspensions. And in San Francisco, blacks made up 16 percent of the enrollment, but accounted for 52 percent of removals from school. However, some educators say the numbers don't in themselves say anything about whether zero tolerance policies target black students, since they don't show whether blacks and whites faced different punishments for the same offenses.

New religious guidelines for schools

Washington - President Clinton issued a new set of guidelines Saturday clarifying how public schools can work with religious groups without violating the constitutional separation of church and state. The administration's third set of guidelines since 1995 continues the effort to quell the divisive and emotional debate over religious expression in the classroom by clarifying what the Constitution allows. The guidelines state the boundaries of religious expression in the public schools. They also reflect the latest Supreme Court rulings, and offer a guide for the use of religious organizations in tutoring, mentoring, after-school enrichment programs and other nonreligious educational activities. (See related article, Learning section, Dec. 14.)

Teen drug use remains stable

Washington - Overall teenage drug use remained stable for the third consecutive year, according to the annual Monitoring the Future survey. While drug use rose through most of the 1990s, this year's report marks three years of steady - and in some cases dropping - drug and alcohol use. Only two drugs, Ecstasy and steroids, were reported as being on the rise. The survey, which has tracked drug use since 1975, polled nearly 45,000 US teens anonymously.

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: or write to The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA, 02115.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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