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The Best of Our Knowledge # 821


Albany, NY – 1,750 FAILING SCHOOLS -
The U.S. Department of Education has identified 1,750 schools it says
are failing. The schools make this list because their math and reading
scores have fallen short for at leave five straight years. To put things in perspective, those schools account for only 3% of roughly 53-thousand
schools in the U.S. that receive federal aid. But there is growing concern
that the number of schools in serious trouble under NCLB is rising sharply
...up 44% over the past year. A number of schools that make the failing
grade are in the Northeast.
Dan Bobkoff reports. (2:50)

You might say this is an idea whose time has come. The so called
Greening the Cleaning program may soon be headed to a school
near you. The American Lung Association reports that childhood
asthma has nearly doubled in the past twenty years. And some
cleaning agents are believed to trigger those asthma attacks. Armed
with data like that, in 2001, the Hackensack University Medical Center
in New Jersey converted its entire cleaning system to the environmentally friendly Greening the Cleaning program. This means the removing of all cleaning agents and chemical substances whose components include
toxic materials, and replacing them with environmentally friendly, high
quality, non-toxic cleaning agents. The Green Cleaning movement has
gained additional momentum at educational institutions like Harvard
University. Harvard completed a two-year pilot testing program last year. Organizers say the environmentally friendly cleaning supplies and
techniques are ready for university-wide distribution. They believe the
move could reduce waste and improve indoor air quality. Environmental
health advocates in New York are urging that state's Office of General
Services to strengthen regulations on the type of cleaning supplies
schools are allowed to use. New York was the first state in the country
to adopt a Green Cleaning policy for its schools last year.
Jessica Bloustein reports. (2:35)

Despite widespread concerns in the U.S. that the daily recess period is
going away, a federal survey just issued, suggests that the vast majority
of elementary schools still offer unstructured playtime for students each
day. Last week we focused on the types of food that are available to
students in schools. The issue has come to the front burner because of
the nationwide concern over the obesity rate among students 6 to 11
years old...a figure that has tripled over the past three decades. This
week we look at contracts that allow vendors into schools (including the
recent announcement from soda distributors about curbing school sales)
...see how much exercise time schools are allowing each week...and
discover that many schools have not weighed-in on part of their own
student health assignments. TBOOK microphones were on hand in
Washington, D.C. just last month for the study's release by Commissioner
Mark Schneider, from the National Center for Education Statistics, the
research arm of the U.S. Dept. Of Education.
Glenn Busby reports. (6:20)

**(Attention Program Directors. For listeners who would like to learn
more about the study, go online to: www.nces.ed.gov)**

Last week we heard what schools in Scotland are doing to address
the problem of overweight students. This week we learn that it's also
a growing problem throughout Europe. Even the Netherlands is no
exception. And the same holds true for students in the Northern Dutch
town of Assen. Teachers at one primary school there, Valkenhorst,
have had enough. The school staff is opening lunch boxes to see if
parents may have included any food items they consider to be unhealthy.
Break the rule...students and their lunch boxes get sent home. We went
to school to witness the lunch police in action on a stakeout.
Nikki Brown reports from Radio Netherlands. (5:12)