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US sends aid to Afghan schools

WASHINGTON - With Afghan children about to start their new school year this Saturday, President Bush pledged to send 6 million more textbooks and 20 teams of teacher trainers to help rebuild the war-torn country's education system. Already, the United States has sent 4 million textbooks written in the native languages of Pashto and Dari. And as a result of Mr. Bush's appeal to American children to donate money for their Afghan counterparts, $4.5 million will go toward buying school supplies.

An estimated 1.5 million Afghan students between the ages of 7 and 14 are returning to school. Religious leaders – especially in traditional communities – have been pressed to overcome resistance to girls' education. Still, less than a third of Afghanistan's 5 million children are expected to enroll in the coming school year.

Mogul offers award for urban districts

WASHINGTON - A foundation created by billionaire Eli Broad will give $500,000 to a different urban school district every year to pay for college scholarships, as a reward for school programs that improve student achievement. This year's award aims to help reduce the performance gap between whites and minorities. Mr. Broad established the Los Angeles-based Broad Foundation in 1999 to support educational programs considered too risky by superintendents and other foundations. This year's winning district will be announced in June after review by a panel that includes former education secretaries, state governors, and school superintendents.

Bush trims free-lunch program in schools

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration, looking to cut education spending, plans to reduce the number of children who are eligible for free or discounted meals at school because of their family's income. A report by the Agriculture Department, which runs the lunch program, found that schools have inflated the number of eligible students in order to compete for billions of dollars in federal aid each year – which is divvied up on the basis of the lunch numbers. In 1999, the lunch rolls were 27 percent higher than they should have been, based on an analysis of census data.

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