Press Watch for May 2003

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Lawmakers Balk at Cost of Federal Education Law

Grappling with historic budget shortfalls, states are wondering how to fund programs associated with the Bush administration’s education initiative, the No Child Left Behind Act. A pending New Hampshire bill would preclude state or school district spending related to the initiative, and other states are also looking for ways out. April 8.

Economy, War Worries End 10-year Summer Camp Boom
Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Enrollment at summer residential camps is down as much as 25 percent this year, and many attribute the rapidly decreasing numbers to the soft economy and fear of terrorism. Despite discounting fees and augmenting security measures, the $18 billion camping industry may be in trouble. April 12.

Children Sometimes Gain Therapeutic Benefit From Court Testimony
The Salt Lake Tribune

Preparations for the prosecution of the two people accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart have led to renewed debate over child victims testifying in court. Smart’s parents have asked that her role be kept to the absolute minimum. Some experts say it’s empowering for children to speak out against those who hurt them, while others contend it’s a grueling public ordeal that should be minimized by using taped testimony and closing courtrooms. March 19.

An Act of Desperation
Tampa Tribune

An investigation by the Tribune found that in more than 16,000 cases last year, Florida families, schools, courts and mental health workers forcibly admitted children to psychiatric crisis units under a state law called the Baker Act. The Tribune’s multi-part series looks at how schools, crisis centers and law enforcement handle Baker Act cases, and lists resources for families with emotionally disturbed children. April 7.

To Get Help for His Daughter, Dad Had to Give Her Up
News-Leader (Springfield, Mo.)

Despite reforms passed last year, uninsured construction worker Doug Sarchette turned over custody of his 15-year-old daughter to the state of Missouri because he thought it was the only way to get her into a residential mental heath treatment program that he could not afford. The reforms were aimed at keeping children from becoming wards of the state, but parents like Sarchette say the state gave them no options and now gives them little information or input on their children’s treatment. March 31.

TV, Culture Drive Hispanic Assimilation
The Hartford Current

While Hispanics continue on a pace to become America’s largest minority group, a generation of Latino youth who are increasingly bilingual or speak predominantly English has emerged. Many Latino parents feel a cultural generation gap is developing as their children move away from their native cultures by losing fluency in Spanish and marrying non-Latinos. March 31. Search for “Hispanic assimilation” at

What We Learned in School Today
The Washington Post

The violence-prevention strategies that have been taught in schools over the past decade are one explanation for the number of teens and youth taking to the streets to protest the war in Iraq. Three-fourths of the nation’s schools have these types of programs, according to a national survey funded by the U.S. Department of Justice. Other statistics supporting the impact of violence-prevention programs include the 70 percent drop in violent deaths at schools since 1992 and significant declines in bullying. March 31.

New Jersey Opens Files Showing Failures of Child Welfare System
The New York Times

In response to a court action brought by The New York Times, New Jersey officials made public the state’s confidential files on the deaths and abuse of more than a dozen children in state care. The more than 2,000 pages of documents show mistakes and missed opportunities that led to the deaths of four children and prolonged abuse of 13 more. The files includes notes of frustration from caseworkers and insight into how the child protection system repeatedly failed. April 15. Registration required.