Barbara Kantrowitz

Stories by Barbara Kantrowitz

  • From Hero To Crusader

    Bart Casamir is gay, black and HIV-positive. Last week, after he watched Magic Johnson's press conference, Casamir was so inspired by Johnson's courage that he wrote a thank-you letter. "He can address the issue better than anyone I can think of," says Casamir, who works for a San Francisco AIDS-education group. "God couldn't have picked a better spokesman." ...
  • Showing Its Age

    Stanford's centennial celebration this week should have kicked off a season of triumph. The university that started as a tribute to the dead son of a railroad magnate has become one of the world's great centers of learning and research. The faculty now includes nine Nobel Prize winners and five recipients of the Pulitzer Prize. More than a third of this year's incoming freshmen had SAT scores of 1400 or above; 79 percent were in the top 10 percent of their graduating class. The campus, 30 miles south of San Francisco, has become a magnet for federal research money, receiving nearly $300 million this year. All in all, says political-science professor Stephen Krasner, "it is the best place in America to be if you want to do serious scholarship." ...
  • A Is For Ashanti, B Is For Black ...

    At Shule Mandela Academy in East Palo Alto, Calif, students are pursuing the African ideal. At their early morning assembly (called mkutano, the Kiswahili word for assembly), the school's 42 pupils--all African-American-pledge to "think black, act black, speak black, buy black, pray black, love black and live black." Students sing Bob Marley, not Francis Scott Key. They recite Langston Hughes, not Vachel Lindsay. "We have a rich tradition to share," says executive director Nobantu Ankoanda, who wears African attire. And a bright future: the academy's graduates are the only blacks in the local high school's advanced-placement classes. ...
  • The Right To Fight

    To many feminists, the armed forces have been a model for change. A woman has been selected head cadet at West Point. During the Persian Gulf War, women commanders led troops through minefields in the desert. On base, day-care centers are standard issue. But despite these advances, women are still locked out of the heart of the military: combat. Many military women complain that combat is the missing step on their career ladders. "Instead of a glass ceiling, they have a lead ceiling," says Carolyn Becraft, a military consultant for the Women's Research and Education Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank. But many other female soldiers and sailors say they don't want the right to kill. According to a NEWSWEEK POLL, Americans are almost equally split on the issue. While 52 percent of those surveyed said women should be assigned to ground-combat units, 44 percent said no. And only 26 percent thought women should be assigned to combat on the same terms as men. ...
  • Putting Value In Diplomas

    For the last few years, employers have been complaining that high-school graduates can barely read and write. A diploma means nothing, for some students, except evidence of attending class regularly. Now, legislators in Oregon have approved a drastic overhaul of the state's schools designed to produce a work force that can add, write and think. The reform plan rests on a series of basic-skills exams that culminate in a "Certificate of Initial Mastery" for 10th graders. The ones who flunk will be held back until they pass. With the certificate, every student has a choice of two tracks: college prep or job training. Diplomas, goes the theory, will be worth the paper on which they're printed. ...
  • Tipping The Odds On Abortion

    Abortion-rights advocates had reason to worry last week. Although the Supreme Court already has a conservative majority, Thurgood Marshall's resignation makes it even more likely that there will soon be a serious challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion. Four of the justices William Rehnquist, Byron White, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy - are considered already prepared to overrule Roe. It's not yet clear how Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter would vote, but either could choose to be the fifth vote to overturn Roe. Marshall's replacement, another Republican appointee only shortens the odds in favor of a flat reversal or more severe limitations on a woman's right to abortion. ...
  • Doctors And Aids

    It is 80 degrees in the Florida dusk, but Kimberly Bergalis huddles under a quilt on the couch in her family's living room. At 65 pounds, she is half her normal body weight. Her skin is chalk white and her eyes stare blankly at the television blaring out music videos just six feet away. In late March the 23-year-old Bergalis took long walks on the beach; now she can barely lift her arms. She is in the last stages of an AIDS-related tuberculosis that wastes body and brain. Sometime in the next few days, Bergalis will probably become the first American to die of AIDS after being infected by her dentist, Dr. David Acer, who died of AIDS last year. ...
  • Growing Up Under Fire

    Lafeyette Rivers, 15, and his brother, Pharoah, 13, live with their mother in a crime-ridden public-housing project in Chicago. Avoiding neighborhood violence is an integral part of their daily life, as routine as a trip to the mall in the suburbs. They know the rules of survival: at home, drop to the floor at the sound of gunfire; outside, look to see where the shots are coming from before running for shelter. "If I grow up, I'd like to be a bus driver," Lafayette told writer Alex Kotlowitz, when they first met in the summer of 1985. Unlike most children, he wouldn't presume to begin a sentence about his future with "when." ...
  • A Real Test For Vouchers

    In Milwaukee's bold experiment, some kids gain but others find the private sector isn't much help ...
  • The Profits Of Reading

    The ubiquitous radio and cable TV ads for the reading program Hooked on Phonics promise a lot: illiterate adults will finally learn to read and children will be "extraordinary readers." The program's manufacturer, Gateway Educational Products Ltd., of Orange, Calif., claims more than 400,000 satisfied customers since it was introduced in 1987. But last week a panel of reading experts attacked the effectiveness of Hooked on Phonics, charging that the system promises much more than it--or any single learning tool--could possibly deliver. "It totally defies decades of research in learning to read," says Carl Braun, president of the International Reading Association, the educational group that convened the panel. ...
  • Naming Names

    At first, she was simply The Accuser, The Victim, The Woman in the Palm Beach rape case. But when a supermarket tabloid--and then NBC, The New York Times and several other newspapers--disclosed her name and details of her personal life last week, she assumed a unique and precarious spot in the annals of modern celebrityhood-exposed, yet still hidden. Millions of people have now seen the grainy black-and-white picture with the Mona Lisa smile. They've shared her secrets: her drinking habits, her high school grades, her unwed-motherhood, even her 17 traffic tickets. But to everyone else, she is still a tantalizing cipher--silent and faceless, trapped by her self-imposed exile, perhaps in the sanctuary of her stepfather's house. ...
  • The Pregnancy Police

    In Seattle last month, two cocktail waiters were fired for rudeness after they balked at serving a pregnant woman a strawberry daiquiri. They instantly became local heroes for standing up for their principles. One newspaper columnist praised the two for caring, "which is more than 90 percent of us ever do." But in New York, feminists recently battled a new state law requiring liquor sellers to post alcohol-warning signs aimed at pregnant women. Molly Yard, president of the National Organization for Women, charges that the legislation is a first step in setting up "a pregnancy-police state." ...
  • Wanted: Miracle Workers

    College presidents find it exhausting at the top of the ivory tower ...
  • Cloak And Daggers

    If only this were one of her best sellers - "The Spy Wore Red" or "The Spy Went Dancing." Then, Aline, Countess of Romanones, would surely triumph. Alas, this is real life and the villain is neither the Gestapo nor the KGB. The countess deftly overcame operatives of those enemy forces in three accounts of her years as an American agent (the last volume, "The Spy Wore Silk," has just been published). But this time, she's under attack from what could be considered friendly fire - Women's Wear Daily, the fashion trade paper that also chronicles the glittering international social set where the American-born countess has reigned since her 1947 marriage to a Spanish aristocrat. ...
  • Psychic Shock For A Generation

    It could have been a scene out of the '60s: hundreds of young people demonstrating in front of the White House as a line of graying veterans march past in opposition. But for this encounter, just days after the gulf war started, the generations switched sides. The young people - almost all twentysomething - were passionately in favor of the war. They carried signs that read BE A PATRIOT, NOT A SCUD. The veterans, many of them scarred and wounded survivors of Vietnam, stared in disbelief. "They don't know what they're talking about," said one vet in his 40s. "They're just children." ...
  • Forgetting To Remember

    For two decades, the murder of 8-year-old Susan Nason was a mystery. Police Fin the San Francisco suburb of Foster City, Calif., ran out of leads not long after finding Susan's decomposed body in a wooded ravine. Then, in January 1989, Eileen Franklin-Lipsker, Susan's best friend at the time of the murder, looked into her 6-year-old daughter's eyes and suddenly remembered. The murderer, she claims, was her father, George Franklin Sr. Franklin-Lipsker, now 30, says she watched helplessly as her father molested Susan and then smashed the child's skull with a rock. When her father threatened to kill her if she told anyone, Franklin-Lipsker locked the horror deep in her subconscious, a traumatic response psychiatrists label "repressed memory." Years later her daughter's blue eyes--the same color as Susan's--triggered the flood of remembrances. ...
  • Diagnosis: Harassment

    For more than a decade, a male professor at the University of Iowa medical school spread lies about a female colleague. She was trading sexual favors for career advancement, the stories went--sleeping with her boss, sometimes in a motel, sometimes in his office. He told these tales to faculty members, graduate students and staff members. She complained repeatedly about the harassment. And what did the university administration do? ...
  • 'Somebody In Saudi Arabia Loves Me'

    One night last week, more than 300 Army wives and children crowded into a meeting hall at Fort Campbell Ky., desperate for news about U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia. The speaker was Col. Greg Gile, just back from the Persian Gulf. He patiently described everything--from their husbands' diets to a Saudi Sears store. Afterward, the families anxiously gathered around monitors to watch tapes of their soldiers. Every time they saw someone they recognized, the wives hugged. A soldier: "Hi, K.C. I love you and miss you, baby." A wife: "Oh, that's so sweet. Please let my husband be on this." Soldier: "Send me a new watch, 'cause this one's broken." Wife: "Oh Lord, please let my husband be on this." Soldier, holding up rations: "Send food. Look what they feed us. " A wife: "Oh, that's my husband!" She paused. "God, he's gotten so skinny." ...
  • The Soldier-Parent Dilemma

    Mary Wax of Rohnert Park, Calif., isn't a soldier, but in September she found herself in one of the Army's toughest battles. On one side were her three children; on the other were two nieces and a nephew recently arrived from Fort Benning, Ga. The visitors were her sister's kids, and they desperately missed their mother, Sgt. Lori Moore, whose unit was about to leave for the Persian Gulf. When her orders came through, Lori and her drill-sergeant husband, Fred, decided to ship the kids out, too--at least until the sand settled in Operation Desert Shield. ...
  • Still Shocking After A Year

    The color photographs displayed in a Manhattan courtroom last week were unsparingly graphic. Jurors were clearly stunned as prosecutors displayed images of the Central Park jogger's battered face, her bloody torso, her bruised legs. It was the third week of testimony in the trial of three youths accused of raping and beating the 30-year-old investment banker. Despite more than a year of sometimes lurid news coverage, the case still has the power to shock. That's why defense lawyers objected strenuously to the pictures. "I think the photos have a definite effect on [the jurors]," says Michael Joseph, who is representing 16-year-old Antron McCray. "The question is whether they can put aside the effect and weigh the evidence." ...
  • Glossy Home Companions

    When the French magazine Elle crashed onto these shores five years ago the reverberations were felt by everyone from the editors of mighty Vogue to fashion writers on local newspapers. The magazine was filled with unorthodox pairings of haute couture and street flash. Who else would put a humble T shirt under a $1,000 tunic? Elle's success spawned a legion of copiers. Vogue's current cover girl, for example, is adorned with a few artfully placed sea shells and not much else. ...
  • The Push For Sex Education

    In the past few years, many communities have tried various initiatives aimed at preventing teen pregnancy. No single approach works for every child or every school, but experts say that the most effective measures consist of a combination of education, health care and--most important--strong parental support. ...
  • The Dangers Of Doing It

    Street wisdom drives 16-year-old Meta Jones crazy. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are at record-high levels among teens, yet the kids Meta knows at Coolidge Senior High in Washington D.C., have more faith in superstition than science. "They believe in the 'quick-withdrawal method'," she says. "They think you can't catch anything if he pulls out quickly enough." A lot of boys don't worry, she says, because "they think it's the girls who catch [diseases] more easily." And everyone seems to think STDs are someone else's problem. "They say, 'We're young. This isn't going to happen to us'." ...
  • High School Homeroom

    Cambridge Rindge and Latin School is only blocks from Harvard Yard, but it is really a world apart. The only public high school in Cambridge, Mass., Rindge and Latin's student body is a cross section of the city behind the privileged university. Nearly 70 flags hang from the ceiling of the cafeteria, representing the national origins of the 2,100 students. The day begins early here just before 8 a.m., when the streets in front of Rindge and Latin begin to fill up with kids. Some are chatting with friends, others hear only the rhythms of their Walkmans. Even amid this diversity, a few students stand out. They are girls like Charlene. unwillingly trapped in a time warp between adulthood and youth. ...

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