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Baby boomers' kids filling classrooms

WASHINGTON - The baby-boom generation's children are jamming classrooms. The Census Bureau reports the number of students enrolled in US elementary and high schools reached 48 million in 1997, short of the all-time high of 48.7 million recorded in 1970.

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But today's schoolgoers are far more ethnically and racially diverse than were the baby boomers. In 1972, for example, 85 percent of the student population was white, 14 percent was black, and the remaining 1 percent was Asian or other races.

In 1997, 78 percent of elementary and high school students were white, 17 percent black, 4 percent Asian, and the rest other races.

The proportion of students of Hispanic origin, who can be members of any race, increased from about 6 percent in 1972 to 14 percent in 1997.

The report also said:

*College enrollment of traditional college-age students - those under age 25 - reached a record high of 9.4 million.

*There were 4.5 million children enrolled in public or private preschools, up from 500,000 in 1964.

*About 9 million elementary and high school students had a foreign-born parent.

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*Of all students enrolled in college, 81 percent were white, 12 percent black and 6 percent Asian. Also, about 8 percent were Hispanic.

Columbine shootings spur debate

ORLANDO, FLA. - The largest US teachers union focused last week on counseling, smaller classrooms, and discipline as means to reduce school violence in the aftermath of the high school massacre in Littleton, Colo.

Gun-control measures that have dominated congressional debate drew only secondary attention among delegates and speakers at the annual meeting of the 2.4 million-member National Education Association.

"Society has ceded too much control of discipline in our schools to the children," US Rep. Patrick Kennedy, a Democrat from Rhode Island, told cheering delegates at the Orlando meeting. "Children must learn from kindergarten that the classroom is a place of restraint."

Teachers Interested in writing for us?

We are always on the look out for 600-word columns written by kindergarten teachers on up to college professors. To submit a "Class Act" column, e-mail Amelia Newcomb at: or write to The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA, 02115.

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