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The demilitarization of Iraqi schools

WASHINGTON - When the new Iraqi school year begins in five months, the Bush administration hopes to have in place revisions to textbooks that have taught a generation of Iraqis to be ready to die for Saddam Hussein. The revisions are part of US efforts to demilitarize a curriculum that touts battlefield prowess and weaponry and demonizes the US as a fearsome enemy.

Expatriates and scholars point to that curriculum, in place for the past quarter century, as one explanation for the die-hard devotion of suicide bombers and fanatical militiamen Mr. Hussein is threatening to unleash in the final defense of Baghdad. More than half of Iraq's youth knows no other form of schooling.

Iraqi expatriates are working with the State Department, discussing strategies for devising a whole new approach to education. The US Agency for International Development may award education-related contracts worth an estimated $65 million. A coalition headed by Creative Associates International of Washington recently won a $16.5 million contract for similar educational reform in Afghanistan.

Conflicting lifestyles

SALT LAKE CITY - The Utah Supreme Court on Friday left it up to education officials whether to fire a lesbian high school teacher. The ruling was a victory for Wendy Weaver, who came under attack from parents and students at Spanish Fork High School in a heavily Mormon part of Utah.

Teachers are required by law to be moral models for their students. A lawsuit accused Weaver of failing to be a good role model because her lifestyle conflicted with state laws prohibiting sodomy. Weaver, a 1979 Brigham Young University graduate and award-winning, 20-year veteran teacher, continues to teach at the school.

MCAS graduation requirement stays

BOSTON - A Superior Court judge denied last week a request for a preliminary injunction to end the use of the MCAS test as a graduation requirement in Massachusetts. The immediate fate of 6,000 high school seniors who flunked the exam hinged on the ruling.

The lawyers for two students from Springfield and Billerica who haven't passed the exam asked the judge for the injunction as part of their lawsuit challenging the test as a steadfast requirement.

Education Commissioner David Driscoll hails the ruling. "I am very pleased that the judge found that our regulation is valid and legal," he says. "We ... believe that raising standards and sticking to them is what's best for our kids."

A lawyer representing the students vowed to appeal the ruling.

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