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US calls for dual-language schools

WASHINGTON - Hispanic students are twice as likely as blacks and three times as likely as whites to drop out of high school. That's the word from the US Education Department, which published a study last week suggesting the US is ill-equipped to deal with the fastest-growing group of schoolchildren. Education Secretary Richard Riley called for public school districts to establish in the next five years 1,000 new dual-language schools that instruct children in English and in a native language, such as Spanish. Mr. Riley said dual-language instruction has been proven to help Hispanic children do better academically, while preserving their heritage and promoting bilingualism. But conservative critics of dual-language instruction said that it doesn't necessarily give non-English-speakers the language immersion necessary to improve.

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Meanwhile, in Hartford, Conn., the state Board of Governors for Higher Education voted last Wednesday to address the shortage of bilingual teachers by expanding an existing program that encourages college-educated professionals to switch to teaching careers. The program now allows prospective teachers to earn their licenses after an eight-week summer-training session.

Board answers pupils' prayers

AUBURN, N.Y. - School-district officials here decided last week that a group of 20 high school students has a right to meet in school after class to pray and discuss spiritual issues. Meetings must be without sanction and without a faculty adviser, said Charles Marangola, the Auburn School Board lawyer. The request by Youth in Prayer sparked concerns about the use of public facilities for religious purposes.

Charter schools lose again

BEDFORD, N.H. - Three more New Hampshire school districts voted against opening charter schools last week. Approximately 1,700 charters have opened in the 37 states that have charter-school laws. New Hampshire has such a law, but advocates say the approval process, which involves two local school-district votes and approval by the local and state boards of education, is too confrontational.

- Compiled from news wires by Sara Steindorf

Teachers: Interested in writing for us?

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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