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Lawsuits claim Ritalin "conspiracy"

Two lawsuits filed in New Jersey and California accuse Ritalin drugmaker Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp. and the American Psychiatric Association of encouraging overdiagnosis of behavioral disorders in children to boost sales of the drug. Between 4 percent and 12 percent of school-age children, mostly boys, are believed to have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and often psychiatrists prescribe Ritalin to correct it. But the symptoms of short attention span and impulsive behavior are also associated with youthful rambunctiousness, which has raised questions of whether children are being overmedicated. The organizations both deny the charges.

Merit-pay plan for teachers approved

Cincinnati, ohio - Cincinnati teachers approved a merit pay plan last week to make the city's public school district the first in the nation to replace a seniority system with one based on performance.

Several schools across the country offer bonuses to teachers for good performance, but Cincinnati will be the first to implement a systemwide merit pay plan, which will be phased in over five years. Every teacher in the district will be evaluated by principals and master teachers in 16 scoring areas at least once every five years. Based on their scores, they will be placed in one of five categories. The pay scale will be aligned with each teacher's evaluation category.

Americans are more educated than ever

More than 83 percent of Americans age 25 and older graduated from high school, and more than 25 percent have at least a college degree - both record highs according to new Census Bureau statistics. In 1940, the earliest records available, 24.5 percent of Americans 25 and older had high school diplomas, and 4.6 percent had a bachelor's degree.

While applauding the improvement, education advocates noted that more work needs to be done in improving education levels for minorities, particularly Hispanics. By race, 84 percent of whites had a high school degree in 1999, compared with 77 percent of blacks and 56 percent of Hispanics.

ATTENTION 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: newcomba@csps.com or write to The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA, 02115.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society


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