Strange Stuff

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illustration:
UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE / TED RAHL

Taking from Soldiers' Kids

In an effort to fund his request for $87 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, President Bush attempted to cut money from the program that pays for schooling for military children.

The president hoped to trim about $172 million from Impact Aid, which provides school funds for almost 900,000 children. Congress rejected the proposed cutbacks, however, and added $223 million to the program.

Student Lineups

Police officials in Park Forest, Ill., offered $20 to young African-American males at the local high school to participate in criminal lineups.

In mid-October, officers approached six black males on the Rich East High School football team through their football coach, asking them to "help out" the police. The students sat for the lineup and their photos were taken for future reference. Most lineups consist of suspects already in custody.

Police told outraged parents that as long as the juveniles agreed to participate, the practice is not illegal.

Hip-Hop Army

The U.S. Army is now using hip hop to recruit African Americans. According to Salon.com, teams of recruiters drive Hummer Jeeps into inner- city neighborhoods and lure possible recruits with basketball contests and Army-branded jerseys and wristbands.

The Army launched its "Taking It to the Streets" campaign a year ago in cooperation with the hip-hop magazine The Source . According to Col. Thomas Nickerson, director of strategic outreach for U.S. Army Accessions Command, "Our research tells us that hip hop and urban culture are powerful influences with young Americans. We try to develop a bond with that audience. I want them to say, 'Hey, the Army is cool!'"

Girl Suspended for Hijab

Eleven-year-old Oklahoma Muslim Nashala Hern was suspended in October because she refused to take off her hijab , or headscarf.

School officials said their decision was based on a dress code implemented in 1997 that prohibits hats and other head coverings to stem gang activity. School attorney D. D. Hayes told Reuters , "You must treat religious items the same as you would any other item, no better, no worse. Our dress code prohibits headgear, period."

Hern refused to remove the scarf, saying it would violate the way she observes her religion. The girl's father has since met with school officials to appeal the decision and the girl was reinstated at the end of October.

Special Ed Cleaning Crew

Teachers forced special education students in an Olympia, Wash., high school to dig through garbage and pick up recyclables as part of the school's Work Experience Program.

Angry parents confronted school officials at Vancouver Heritage High School in October when their children reported taunts from other students about their janitorial duties. School officials have defended the practice, saying that it readies the students for "life experience."

"It seems rather demeaning," parent John Finders told the Associated Press. "My son's not going to be going through trash cans when he's out there [in the real world]."

Segregate by Language?

A Tennessee Board of Education member recently suggested to his colleagues that an elementary school should start segregating its students by language proficiency.

The Rocky Mount Telegram said board member Rick Horner said that too many non-English speaking students are placing a burden on the school's resources and taking time away from English speaking students' progress. Other school officials denounced his comments as racist and illegal.

No Español

In October, a judge ordered an Arizona father to speak only English to his five-year-old daughter as a condition of his visitation rights. The judge told Eloy Amador, who was released from jail seven months ago, that during visitation the primary communication must be in English because his daughter does not understand Spanish.

Amador told the judge that he was simply trying to pass down his culture to his daughter. The judge said that for the sake of the child's education English was best, but it "does not mean that [you] can't instruct and teach her the Hispanic language."