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Nonprofit unites schools

CORNWALL, VT. - Benson Village School had ancient computers, and nearby Middlebury College needed to get rid of some old machines. So the Foundation for Excellent Schools - a Cornwall-based nonprofit that fosters connections between educational institutions - stepped in, and the computers changed hands. Started 11 years ago by Harvard-trained educator Rick Dalton, FES is this year helping 120 schools nationwide to form educational and community partnerships.

"There has to be an investment on the part of the high schools in the colleges, and on the part of the colleges in the high schools," Mr. Dalton says. "Otherwise, colleges blame the high schools when students aren't prepared for the work; the high schools blame the middle schools, the middle schools blame the elementary schools, and the elementary schools blame the parents."

Mental health at MIT

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, under pressure to respond to six student suicides since early 1998, outlined preliminary steps last week to improve its mental-health services. MIT Chancellor Phillip Clay says the school will make it easier for students to get doctor appointments, start a pilot program to pair doctors and other experts with student groups, and offer optional insurance that covers mental-health treatment outside of MIT. A mental-health task force recently found that 74 percent of MIT students admit to having had an emotional problem that interfered with daily functioning; only 28 percent said they'd used MIT's mental-health services.

Thai university tries to lift taboo

BANGKOK - A Thai university announced last week that it plans to offer the world's first master's degree in human sexuality. Chualongkorn University's Institute of Health Research hopes the program will raise Thailand's "sexual literacy" and help lift the social taboo surrounding the subject, course adviser Nikorn Dusitsin told The Nation. "I would like to see people of all ages, genders, and professions ... be able to communicate clearly with each other on the subject," he said. "If people gain a better understanding of [it], many social ills will be cured." Thailand has been hit by one of Asia's worst HIV-AIDS epidemics.

Attention Teachers: Interested in writing for us?

We are always on the lookout 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@csmonitor.com or write to The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA, 02115.

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