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  • Mail Call: Tragic Tale of Two Troubled Teens

    'Murder in the 8th Grade': Readers in turn were angered and deeply perturbed by the systemic failure to prevent such a tragedy. One asked, "Did Larry King get a pass on his repeated sexual harassment of Brandon McInerney because he was gay, and why were the boys who were bullying and intimidating King still in school?" Another reprimanded "every significant adult in this story," adding, "Two kids were left to deal with fear, using the only techniques they knew. This should be a wake-up call to all parents, teachers and anyone with a role in a child's life." ...
  • Illuminating an Atypical Spiritual Quest

    'What He Believes': While readers were glad we shed some light on Barack Obama's religious convictions, many weren't particularly concerned. One said, "A candidate's beliefs have no bearing on his or her ability to perform the functions of the presidency." Another added, "In the current economic situation, Americans don't care about Obama's religion as long as he loves our country." And a pastor emeritus noted, "Obama's theology shouldn't be the basis for determining his fitness; how many Founding Fathers would pass a religious 'litmus' test?"On 'A Smarter Way to Fight': "You can only change a single mind with a single bullet, but you can change a million minds with a single good idea."Don SimonLoveland, Colo. ...
  • In Tobacco Country, a Ban on Smoking in Schools

    In North Carolina, the governor may be the top public official, but for the past 200 years tobacco has been king. The state grows half of all the tobacco in the United States, and the original cash crop remains its economic backbone. But beginning next month, North Carolina will be home to one of the nation's toughest youth smoking laws, with a ban on tobacco use in public schools. Most students can't smoke at school anyway, but the law applies to everyone on campus, year-round: parents in the stands at football games, maintenance crews in the school garage, teachers in the parking lot.Getting the law passed was no simple feat in a state that still depends on people lighting up. North Carolina spends just 4 percent of its annual $426 million of tobacco revenue on smoking prevention (less than half the minimum federal recommendation), and, at 35 cents, maintains one of the country's lowest cigarette taxes. In all, it took six years of local advocacy and the votes of all 115 of the...
  • Arts: Top Museums Seek Directors

    The White House isn't the only American institution about to change hands. In an unprecedented wave of turnovers at the top, several of the country's most prominent museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, are looking for new directors. "We are facing a generational shift right now," says Millicent Gaudieri, executive director of the Association of Art Museum Directors. "It's been 15 years since we've had this many openings."Twenty U.S. art museums are without directors. That's a lot of shoes to fill, considering the demands of running a modern museum. Art institutions today function much like corporations, with huge staffs and budgets, satellite museums scattered around the world, retail divisions and, of course, the constant pressure to generate revenue by securing private donations and attracting foot traffic to their "blockbuster" exhibits. The Guggenheim is scheduled to open a branch in Abu Dhabi in 2012,...
  • Technology: Facebook vs. College Reunions

    Before he graduated from Tulane in 2003, Ardalen Minokadeh spent most of his waking hours in one of two places: P.J.'s Coffee on Maple Street and the late-night carrels at the University Center. But he didn't revisit any of his old New Orleans haunts during his five-year college reunion last month, because he didn't go. He already sees plenty of his closest Tulane pals, and as for the dozens of more distant friends from school, why does he need a reunion when he's got Facebook? Social networking has largely been a force for good, reconnecting grade-school classmates, creating a whole new approach to dating and enabling employers to check up on new hires. But it might just kill the college reunion.Historically, reunions have used voyeurism as a lure. Who lives where, who got hitched, who got fat—you had to show up to find out. But now the answers are all online. "Facebook has turned the idea of college reunions from an expensive necessity to just expensive," says Kevin Pang, who...
  • Starr: Blame Stern for Mayo Mess

    You can't blame the NBA if former USC basketball star O. J. Mayo proves to be a bad apple. But the league does bear some responsibility for the scandal surrounding him.
  • Trying to Modernize the GI Bill

    More than half a century after the GI Bill was first enacted to help send vets to college, politicians and advocates are touting a new proposed bill to expand these benefits. The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act was introduced by a number of Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate. Among them is Virginia Senator (and Vietnam vet) Jim Webb whose posted this statement on his Website:The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act is designed to offer...
  • Work it out

    1. After you've read the story, review the full-page graphic "Race, the Race and Relatability" (page 34). What information does the graphic deliver? On what is the information based? In pairs or small groups, create a list of statements that communicates the major revelations of the poll. Now, compare those statements to the concerns expressed in the story. Does this information confirm the validity of those concerns, or does it counter them? What conclusions can you draw? Communicate those conclusions in a class discussion or in a classroom blog posting.2. Based on questions asked in the Newsweek poll, design and conduct your own poll of fellow students on the issues of race and class in this year's presidential election. Make sure that the poll is confidential. Organize and communicate results of the poll. How do the results compare with those compiled by Newsweek? What might account for similarities or differences? Communicate what you've learned in a graphic or in a print or...
  • Fact or Fiction: Is the freshman 15 real?

    Most high school seniors have been warned about the "freshman 15"--the extra pounds they'll allegedly pack on after a year in the dorms, eating mostly buffet-style on a meal plan. But scientists at Texas A&M International University in Laredo found that although first-year dorm residents consumed significantly more calories and sugar than students who lived off campus, neither they nor their counterparts gained weight over the course of the year. The researchers studied 43 first-year female students at their university during the 2006-7 school year, monitoring their subjects' food consumption, physical activity levels, BMI and weight for year. Despite consuming more calories and sugar than off-campus students who weren't on the school's meal plan, the dorm residents also exercised more, perhaps because they were closer to campus facilities, and walked from the dorms to class instead of commuting by car, researchers said.
  • Work it out

    1. In her "My Turn" essay, Lisa Kerschner points out that many farmers once held "regular" jobs but began farming out of a need to serve the greater good. This underscores the importance of not only choosing a career based on your interests and skills, but also values and lifestyle choices that drive other parts of your life. Develop and design an "inventory" of your interests and skills, or a list of both the things you enjoy and the skills at which you excel. Now, add values and lifestyle choices to your personal inventory. Is it important for you to make money? To be of service to the public? In what environment are you most productive? Do you like to travel? Are you willing to relocate for the right career? What education or training are you willing to undertake? What does your inventory tell you about yourself?2. Now, write your own "My Turn" essay that describes your personal inventory and what you might have learned about yourself in compiling it. Based on what you've...
  • Are Modern Kids Coddled?

    A New York columnist lets her grade-schooler ride the subway alone, provoking a wave of criticism. But do kids really need more supervision than in generations past?
  • Talk about it

    What personal story does the David J. Jefferson tell? Why does he tell it?What made divorce more possible in the1970s than it had been before?What do studies show about children of divorce?What did Jefferson set out to do?What did many kids with divorced parents say they felt? What kinds of experiences did they have as children?How did some of Jefferson's classmates deal with going back and forth between their parents' homes?What did Jefferson say in his graduation speech?What does Jefferson conclude about how his generation has reacted to the culture of divorce?
  • MTV Delivers 'The Paper'

    The kids on 'The Paper' aren't as glam as the ones on 'The Hills,' but that doesn't mean they're less vicious.
  • Color Blind at Schools That Aren’t

    Like most university recruiters who target Hispanic students, Christina Diaz crisscrosses the country, attending college fairs and chatting up potential applicants. Except in her case, there's a twist: she represents Grambling State University, a 107-year-old historically black college in Louisiana. And she's no anomaly. Other traditionally black institutions such as North Carolina A&T and Central State University in Ohio have also ramped up their Latino outreach. According to National Hispanic College Fairs, which organizes events at 50 locations nationwide, historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, now represent about 13 percent of participants, compared with virtually zero 10 years ago. Though Latinos account for only 2 percent of students at HBCUs, they're the fastest-growing group at some institutions.What explains the increase? HBCUs are increasingly losing African-American students to mainstream universities. And outside the top tier of black higher...
  • The Editor’s Desk

    Many months ago, my boss, Jon Meacham, came into the morning meeting with a project in mind. He asked us to launch a cover story on the legacy of divorce in America. Divorce has been one of the more potent social forces in our postwar history, one that's rippled through our culture in ways that are both important and not always fully appreciated. Jon didn't know precisely how the story would turn out, but, as he likes to say, he knew there was a pony in there somewhere. So he asked us to find a compelling storytelling device that would help illuminate the larger story. We gave the assignment to David J. Jefferson, who found the perfect vehicle. David decided to return to his alma mater, Ulysses S. Grant High School in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley, to find out how his class ('82) had been affected by divorce. The individual stories are mostly wrenching and occasionally heartwarming. But they all shed light on a generation that was reared on divorce and learned to cope with it. Here's...
  • Spellings Defends Educ. Policy

    Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has had the thankless task of being the primary spokesman for No Child Left Behind. But her commitment has never wavered.
  • Is Flavored Milk Healthy?

    Some parents limit the amount of sweetened chocolate or strawberry milk they give their children because it doesn't seem all that healthy—especially compared to the plain stuff. But it turns out that kids who consumed regular or flavored milk had comparable or lower body-mass-index measures compared to nonmilk drinkers, according to a new study in the current issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. "The take-home message is that limiting children and teens' access to flavored milk due to its slightly higher sugar and calorie content may only lead to the undesirable effect of reducing intakes of important nutrients while having no impact on obesity," says study coauthor Rachel Johnson, professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont."Milk seems to be a marker for a better diet. Over and over again, children who are regular milk consumers have overall better diets," says Johnson. Nonmilk drinkers "chose high-sugar beverages that are devoid of nutrients, like...
  • Today: On the Trail with Obama in Pennsylvania

    MALVERN, Penn.--I'm posting from the gymnasium of Great Valley High School in Malvern, Penn., where Barack Obama is set to speak any moment to a full house of students and local voters. There's the usual ruckus: chants of "Ba-RACK O-BAM-a" and "Yes, We Can" interrupted by half-hearted attempts at the wave and the occasional cry of "Woo!" from an impatient teenage girl. I'll be back with a report after the event, and then it's off to Levittown on the New Jersey border, where the Illinois senator is scheduled to address another high school later this afternoon. Stay tuned for more... 
  • Health: Phys. Ed. Is Not Dead

    As a kid, I hated P.E. class so much that the word "kick-ball" still gives me shudders. It was embarrassing (gym shorts) and, worse, it seemed useless, at least to my 12-year-old self. I was already in decent shape, and although some of my classmates didn't get much exercise outside P.E., the class was no remedy—they didn't get much inside it, either. They were always picked last for teams; theyslouched through the motions; on "fun" Fridays, when you could choose to play ball or sit out, they sat. The only kids who liked P.E. were the jocks, who didn't need it. Why, I wondered, didn't we just get rid of the class?Someone must have heard my adolescent prayers, because in the early '90s schools starting cutting back on P.E., and many now fail to offer their students any physical activity at all. Just 3.8 percent of elementary schools and 2.1 percent of high schools had daily gym class in 2006, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. By comparison, in 1991, 42 percent of kids...
  • Colleges: The Waiting Game

    High-school students just survived what experts say was the most brutal college-admissions season ever—but now it's the colleges' turn to sweat. A record number of applications, a wobbly economy and changes to financial-aid and early-decision programs have made it difficult for many of the most selective colleges to gauge how many of their accepted students will actually enroll. To hedge their bets, some schools accepted more students than usual and also assembled longer wait lists (graphic).Institutions rely on historical models to determine their acceptance totals, says Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, and "most of the time [the models] are amazingly good. But we run into problems during periods of turmoil." This year's dilemma was generated by a record number of high-school seniors—the classes of 2008 and 2009 represent the tip of the baby boom's baby boomlet—who are all competing for...