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News Briefs

Science Experts Criticize Schools For Failing to Kindle Excitement

The Washington Post

A panel of leading scientists and science educators, unveiling the nation's first national standards for the teaching of science, criticized America's schools Thursday for failing to kindle excitement about the subject in their students.

"We're failing to communicate what science is," said Bruce Alberts, the president of the National Academy of Sciences and a panel member. "We've killed all the curiosity."

The draft standards, released after more than two years of debate, urge educators to emphasize the subject much more in elementary grades and to revise how it is taught to middle and high school students. They broadly define what "scientific literacy" should be for students by the time they reach the fourth, eighth and 12th grades, and they call on schools to emphasize hands-on instruction in science classes far more than memorization of scientific theories and terms.

The standards also ask educators to teach an array of science subjects - such as biology, chemistry or geology-over many grade levels.

"This will take a long time and tremendous commitment," said Richard D. Klausner, the chairman of the project and the chief of cell biology at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. "We need to set a vision far from where we are now."

Defeated Calif. Candidate Finances Ads to Report Suspicious Activity'

The Washington Post

Still clinging to the hope he can force a new election, defeated Republican Senate candidate Michael Huffington is financing a radio ad campaign asking listeners to call a toll-free "hotline" to report "suspicious activity" by illegal immigrants who may have voted in the Nov. 8 balloting.

Huffington, who spent more than $27 million of his money in his losing race against Sen. Dianne Feinstein, so far has committed $15,000 to broadcast the ads in six areas in California with large Hispanic populations, according to Harold Ezell, president of the Voter Fraud Task Force, an advocacy group pressing to overturn the election.

"Everybody's heard stories. All we're asking is that if they have any information, tell us," said Ezell, co-author of Proposition 187, which would deny health care, education and social services to illegal immigrants. Huffington endorsed the proposition, which passed by a wide margin but which has been put on hold pending a court challenge, and has claimed fraudulent voting by non-citizens opposed to the measure cost him the election.

Immigrant rights advocates said the radio ads will inflame an already highly charged atmosphere in California and lead to increased "scapegoating" of non-citizens.