What's At Stake

CORRECTION APPENDED In 1978, the Supreme Court opened the doors of America's elite campuses to a generation of minority students when it ruled that universities' admissions policies could take applicants' race into account. But the decision, by a narrowly divided court drawing a hair-splitting distinction between race as a "plus factor" (allowed) and numerical quotas (forbidden), did not end an often bitter and emotional debate. A quarter of a century after the ruling in Regents of the...

Fear: The Sniper Hits Home

In early October, two snipers went on a killing spree in suburban Montgomery County, Md., leaving four dead within hours. The gas station where they killed one victim was only a mile from the school that my youngest children attend. A friend tracked me down to tell me that I needn't worry--the school had issued a "code blue" and was in total lockdown. No one in, no one out. No recess. No after-school activities. The kindly crossing guard was soon replaced by two armed policemen in black...

Some Basic Truths About Teen Sex

When it comes to teens and sex, abstinence forces say the message is simple--don't do it. The other side says give them all the facts--including how to use a condom. No wonder parents are confused.But the truth is, there's a lot of agreement among researchers about what you should say to your kids about sex--like the fact that teen sex is risky business. The research is clear that adolescents, especially girls, are more vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than older people, and...

Spielberg Nation

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion wasn't available that night, so the premiere was held in the first-floor party room of a Bethesda, Md., condo building. Not coincidentally, the film's auteur, 34-year-old Jeff Breslow, was himself a resident. He dragged down his VCR and 27-inch TV to the room and arranged the couches and chairs in an approximation of stadium seating. Then he passed out popcorn to the 40 or so friends who came to see "L.A. Tour Guide," his satirical pseudo-documentary (a la "Spinal...

Young And Depressed

Ten Years Ago This Disease Was For Adults Only. But As Teen Depression Comes Out Of The Closet, It's Getting Easier To Spot--And Sufferers Can Hope For A Brighter Future.

Family: Too Old To Scold?

Your kid is turning 17, so your parenting gig is just about up, right? Way wrong, say the authors of "The Launching Years," due out next month from Three Rivers Press. The last year of high school and the first of college are extremely treacherous times for parents. You can ease the way by realizing that, despite the veneer, most teens are excited and terrified about leaving home. Once kids head off to college, effective parents must learn to navigate the rough spots like romance (find a way to...

Education: Edison's Troubles

This hasn't been an easy summer for Edison Schools, the nation's largest for-profit school chain. A few months ago Edison was in line to run 45 schools in Philadelphia. But when classes start next week, the company will manage only 20. Since mid-July, the stock price has been below a dollar. And last week Dallas school trustees voted to end their contract with Edison next June, two years early, because they said test scores weren't good enough to justify Edison's fee.None of this fazes...

Summer Reading List

Think summer means no more teachers, no more books? It's actually the perfect time to read something (gasp) fun. Encourage young readers with one of these page-turners.AGES 2-6Young kids will love the rhythmic rhyming of DO LIKE A DUCK DOES by Judy Hindley, and the vivid illustrations and overall silliness of DUCK ON A BIKE, by David Shannon.AGES 7-10The magical misadventures in LULU'S HAT by Susan Meddaugh make it a rare find--an easy-to-read book that still manages to be funny and...

Education: The Report Card On Charter Schools

In 1988, when maverick American Federation of Teachers president Albert Shanker came up with the idea of charter schools, he envisioned publicly funded but independent lab schools that would strike a bargain with the system: less red tape in exchange for more achievement, accountability and innovation.But this week, on the 10th anniversary of the experiment's launch, the AFT will release a highly critical assessment of the movement that now claims 2,119 schools and more than a half million...

Family: Keep Campers Happy

Parents just got Junior on the bus, but it's not too early to think about next summer. Now's the time to tour prospective camps. Start your search by asking friends for recommendations. Then browse camp Web sites or call for videos; most camps offer at least one of these options. Narrow your choices to about three, says Marla Coleman, president of the American Camping Association, which accredits camps. "After that, it becomes overwhelming."At most camps, you usually have to call to schedule a...

Tourism: The Little Red Ed Dept.

The U.S. Department of Education's headquarters in the southwest corner of downtown Washington, D.C., has never exactly been a tourist magnet. It's the same kind of anonymous seven-floor concrete box that houses most bureaucrats in the capital city. But this spring, as workers were getting ready to repair the Ed building's crumbling concrete exterior, that all changed. Unhappy with the drab-looking "safety shelters" built around the entrances to protect employees from accidentally getting...

The Group

Princeton University's meticulously cultivated campus oozes tradition--from the annual P-rade (in which generations of alumni march around in the sacred orange and black) to the school's unofficial motto, "Princeton in the Nation's Service," coined by a former Princeton president named Woodrow Wilson, class of 1879. But these days Princeton's hallowed grounds give new meaning to the phrase alma mater. When classes start in September, a third of the top officers at Princeton will be women--who...

'F' In Global Competence

The United States has a "dangerous" shortage of experts in non-European cultures and languages, hampering the country's response to 9-11, says the American Council on Education, the largest organization representing the nation's colleges and universities. "On the whole, the quantity, level of expertise and availability of U.S. personnel with required skills do not now match the national strategic needs at home or abroad, as recently evidenced by the shortage of language experts in the war...

The Right Way To Read

When you walk through the brightly colored door of the Roseville Cooperative Preschool in northern California, you're entering a magical, pint-size world where 3- and 4-year-olds are masters of the universe. At the science table, they use magnifying glasses to explore piles of flowers, cacti and shells. In the smock-optional art area, budding da Vincis often smear blotches of red, blue and yellow directly on the table. (It's wiped off with a damp cloth when the next artist steps up.) There are...

Education: Urban Schools Play An Anxious Numbers

During the boom years of the 1990s, teachers and administrators at inner-city schools had reason to hope that better days were ahead. Prosperity meant that states and cities had more money to spend on the classroom. Education was a pet issue for dot-com millionaires, and private contributions paid for everything from new computers to college scholarships. But this winter hope is as scarce as good news about the economy. Many urban educators say a long recession could reverse most if not all the...

Help In The E.R.

Should families have easier access to patients during emergencies? A growing number of researchers say it's good medicine. "Family members can comfort patients in a way no health-care provider can, and when the patient is less scared, procedures run more smoothly," says Dezra Eichhorn, who studied the issue for the American Journal of Nursing. Although groups such as the American Heart Association and the Emergency Nurses Association now support the idea, few hospitals have formal rules on the...

Parents Today Make More Time For Quality Time

Just when parents were beginning to feel they were doing everything wrong, a new study says that modern moms and dads are doing something right--spending four to six more hours a week with their kids than the previous generation. The 1997 study of 2,125 children 3 to 12 released last week by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan found similar upward trends in kid time for both working and at-home moms, and both types of dads. Particularly significant was the finding...

Putting Poor Kids First

Not long ago, Republicans wanted to shut the Department of Education, arguing that schools were a local responsibility and Washington shouldn't be throwing money at failing classrooms. President Bush turned that argument around last week, proposing a series of reforms targeting poor kids that would actually expand the government's role in education. It might seem like a political gamble for Bush to spend money on communities where he got precious few votes instead of wealthy districts where...

Curing Senioritis

The first symptoms surface right about now, between Thanksgiving and Christmas: unfinished homework, a lack of interest in studying for a big test. It gets a little worse when the first early-decision college acceptances are sent out next week. But the curious condition called senioritis really emerges full blown in January, after first-semester grades are in. That's a major milestone in what will be a wasted year academically for too many of the 3,049,000 members of the class of 2001. Whether...

No More 'Afternoon Nasties'

For most of his life, 14-year-old Kyle Gilson has struggled with attention problems and hyperactivity. "All kids have energy, but it's different when they're going Mach 2 with their hair on fire," says his mother, Jeanua, of Gilbert, Ariz. After third grade, Kyle was put on Ritalin, and then a series of other medications to modify his behavior. But there were drawbacks to all of them: the drugs worked only for four or five hours, and Kyle had to make an embarrassing trip to the school nurses'...

Doctor's Orders

If you sat in on Sharon McGreevey's class at Menlo Park Terrace Elementary School in Woodbridge, N.J., you'd recognize a familiar set of characters from your own third-grade days. There's the boy who's always waving his hand in the air; he loves to be the first to answer questions. Then there's the quiet girl who slinks down in her seat so she doesn't have to read aloud. There's another girl who gives long, meandering responses when she's called on and a boy who looks like he could have used a...

Parents Behaving Badly

It wasn't even a hockey game, on a summer afternoon at a rink in the Boston suburb of Reading, Mass.--just a "shoot around," an informal practice with sticks and pads for 9- and 10-year-olds. And Michael Costin, a 40-year-old handyman skating with his two sons, wasn't a coach or an official. But that's not how it looked to Thomas Junta, 42, another father at the rink that day, who allegedly became enraged when his son took an elbow to the face--from whom is unclear. Junta, according to...

The Next Abortion Battle

Dr. Leroy Carhart won a victory in the Supreme Court last week. Carhart, a retired Air Force surgeon who does abortions in Bellevue, Neb., sued to overturn the state's law banning so-called partial-birth abortions, and the justices agreed with him. But that doesn't mean that Carhart is keeping his enemies at bay. Three people in the area, including a pro-life legislator, recently formed a partnership to buy the building where Carhart has his clinic. Then they served him with an eviction notice....

Young And Overweight

Call them the supersize generation. Kids (6 to 11) are three times as likely to be overweight today as they were 30 years ago. And the news on adolescents (12 to 17) isn't much better --the proportion of fat teens has nearly doubled since the early '70s. The reasons are obvious --more couch-potato time spent in front of computer or television screens; less recess and fewer PE classes; an increase in latchkey kids told to stay in after school for safety reasons, and easy access to mountains of...

Plight Of The Preschoolers

Competition for admission to the country's top private schools has always been tough, but this year Elisabeth Krents realized it had reached a new level. Her wake-up call came when a man called the Dalton School in Manhattan, where Krents is admissions director, and inquired about the age cutoff for their kindergarten program. After providing the information (they don't use an age cutoff), she asked about the age of his child. The man paused for an uncomfortably long time before answering....

Gay Today: The Family

Jacob Williams was playing in the sandbox at his preschool when he got the first hint that there was something unusual about his family. One little girl kept asking him the same question every day: "Where is your dad?" And every day, Jacob gave her the same answer: "I don't have a dad. I have two moms." She walked away confused until the day she finally marched up to one of Jacob's moms, Teresa Williams, 43. "I figured it out," the little girl announced. "I have two granddads, so I guess he can...

Social Fabric

JUSTICETheodore J. Kaczynski believes there is a fate worse than death: having the whole world think you're crazy. In a handwritten brief recently filed by Kaczynski, better known as the infamous Unabomber, he objects to his lawyers' "portrayal of him as a grotesque lunatic," a portrayal that was "broadcast nationwide." Kaczynski refers to himself in the third person, and counted every word (10,892) in the 69-page document (as the filing process requires). Then he explained his counting method...

Jefferson's Other Family

For nearly 200 years, historians had refused to credit the calumny that Thomas Jefferson had had a child with one of his slaves--and for just as long, the tale had circulated as gossip and family lore, secrets whispered into the ears of brides or by grandparents on their deathbeds. Scholars hesitated to believe something so at odds with the Jefferson they knew: honorable according to the code of his place and time; loyal to his wife and to her memory after her early death, and an opponent of...

Do Mom And Dad Always Know Best?

To Elian Gonzalez's father, it's an open-and-shut case. He's the parent, and he says Elian should come home to Cuba. The U.S. courts ordinarily would agree with him; they have ruled that parents are free to raise their children as they see fit, without governmental interference. There are limits, however: parents may not put a child in harm's way. In Elian's case, the issue is whether returning him to a communist country would put him in danger. That's the hot topic in Miami, yet other...

The Age Of Obsession

Whether it's Pokemon or Harry Potter or Quake III, tweens seem inextricably drawn to mastering complicated worlds with byzantine rules or becoming experts on obscure topics. William Damon, head of the Stanford University Center on Adolescence, talked to NEWSWEEK's Pat Wingert about why the tween years are the age of obsession and how parents should react.WINGERT: Is obsession a normal part of development? DAMON: It's one of the landmarks that psychologists like Jean Piaget and Erik...

Pages