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NEWSROOM for July 10, 2001

Aired July 10, 2001 - 04:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Hello and welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: And I am Tom Haynes.

Today's show gets started in the U.S. capital. Here's a quick preview.

BAKHTIAR: Tune in to "Top Story" for the latest on the debate over education reform.

HAYNES: In "Health Desk," our focus now: battling bullies.

BAKHTIAR: We travel to Asia in "Worldview" as we check in on China's Olympic bid.

HAYNES: Finally, school's out for the summer so NEWSROOM is headed to camp.

First today, United States President Bush is calling on Congress to move forward with his education reform bill. One of the most contentious aspects of the bill is how much funding the federal government will allow for special education. The House and Senate disagree on the monetary issue and so do many parents and educators.

Kathy Slobogin reports from one school district that found more money was not necessarily the answer.



KATHY SLOBOGIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sam (ph) is a child with multiple disabilities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bunny. A rabbit.

SLOBOGIN: Because of the federal law passed 25 years ago, Sam is also a kindergartner in a public school.



SLOBOGIN: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, guarantees disabled children a public education. It now serves more than six million American children. But while IDEA has made moments like this one possible, it has also grown beyond all expectations, swallowing school budgets and dividing communities.

Roger Lulow, the superintendent in Greenwich, Connecticut, where Sam goes to school, says special ed costs nearly bankrupted the system there, forcing Greenwich -- the wealthiest district in the state -- to borrow money from the town three years in a row.

ROGER LULOW, SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: And the number of kids in special ed, well we were up almost to 20 percent of our student body, being identified as handicapped.

SLOBOGIN: Parents of disabled and nondisabled children were at each other's throats, according to Candace Timpson, who headed the PTA's special education committee.

CANDACE TIMPSON, PARENT: There was almost physical violence. So there was a general PTA meeting going on, and several parents turned. They knew who I was, and they said you're the reason we don't have soccer equipment for the kids.

SLOBOGIN: In many school districts, special ed eats up a quarter to a third of the school budget, while serving about 12 percent of the students.

(on camera): Special education programs have opened the school house door for millions of children who might once have been shut out, but their costs have had a profound effect on regular education, even getting in the way of reform. One estimate, by the Economic Policy Institute, found that special ed soaks up 38 cents of every new dollar raised for the public schools.

(voice-over): As Congress debates whether the federal government should pick up more of the cost, a growing number of educators are challenging the program itself.

CHESTER FINN, FORDHAM FOUNDATION: Special ed is cracked, if not broken, and after 25 years, needs to be rethought.

SLOBOGIN: Chester Finn, an editor of a new report on IDEA, says the current system is so troubled that more funding might actually mask its problems.

FINN: If you put an ice pack on a pain so that you no longer feel that sprained ankle, you don't deal with the fact that you actually have a sprained ankle that needs treatment.

SLOBOGIN: Beyond runaway costs, Finn says there's little evidence special education is actually effective. FINN: We do know that the graduation rate for special ed kids is very low. We do know that getting out of special ed is very rare. It's sort of a one-way street.

SLOBOGIN: Granted superintendent Lulow agrees the argument over money may be the wrong argument.

LULOW: Money in and of itself won't solve the problem. It's how you're going to use that money that's going to make the difference.

SLOBOGIN: Three years ago, Lulow and the school board decided to change business as usual in Greenwich.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ninety-five percent of the children her age are doing better than she is. However, there was some spark there as I worked with her ...

SLOBOGIN: Evaluation teams were organized to help teachers figure out whether students really need special education or whether some other intervention might work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to...



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... get on yellow...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and get all down.

SLOBOGIN: Literacy programs were introduced for every kindergartner. Here, reading and other learning problems are detected early. As a result, far fewer children end up in special ed.

FINN: These are preventable. You don't have to wait until the kid's in third grade and say, yikes, there's a reading disability.


SLOBOGIN: Greenwich has brought special ed down from nearly 20 percent of the student body to only 13 percent. Costs are under control for the first time in years.

LULOW: We've had no difficulty in passing our budget the last three years, and in fact, we've returned money to the town each year out of our budget for the last three years.

SLOBOGIN: Tension between parents has abated. Lawsuits are way down.

TIMPSON: It's a much better environment to be in when you walk into a room and people aren't assuming you're the enemy. SLOBOGIN: While politicians in Washington debate how to fix special education, it's classrooms like these that might give them the answer.

Kathy Slobogin, CNN, Greenwich, Connecticut.


HAYNES: Well, another hotly debated issue right now in Congress is campaign finance reform. Sponsors of a reform bill that passed in the Senate in April are now trying to get it through the House, a task that may prove difficult.

Eileen O'Connor has more on campaign finance reform and the competing proposals currently on the House floor.


EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican Senator John McCain is pulling out all the stops, invoking the ghosts of reformers past to rally support for a House version of his campaign finance reform bill.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I believe that Teddy Roosevelt is very disappointed today, is very disappointed in a system where soft money and unlimited contributions come from every source, unaccounted and unregulated which has corrupted American politics.

O'CONNOR: At the same time, House Republican leaders are trying to pass their own version with fewer restrictions by forming some unlikely alliances, with black and Hispanic Democrats in Congress and even labor unions. At issue: soft money, unrestricted contributions from individuals, companies, unions or advocacy groups meant for party building but often used in issue ads that benefit specific candidates.

The House bill that McCain supports, sponsored by Republican Chris Shays and Democrat Martin Meehan, would ban national political parties from accepting or spending soft money contributions. The alternative, sponsored by Republican Bob Ney and Democrat Albert Wynn, would limit soft money contributions to $75,000 per year, restricting its use to get out the vote efforts and voter registration, critical in races with big minority populations.

REP. BOB NEY (R), OHIO: The coalitions have fallen apart. There's concern now by minorities on being able to register people to vote. There's a great concern by Democrats and Republicans that this is a gag rule on citizens. Advocacy groups are going to be restrained.

O'CONNOR: Congressman Marty Meehan says his bill gets big money and the influence it brings out of politics.

REP. MARTY MEEHAN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We have to change this system. It's having a corrupting influence on passing the Patients' Bill of Rights, on passing Medicare prescription drug coverage for seniors, we can do better than that. O'CONNOR (on camera): With the president politically unlikely to veto any campaign finance reform bill that comes his way, it's up to the House Republican leadership to either come up with a bill that is acceptable or one that is so incompatible with the McCain Senate version that it dies due to irreconcilable differences.

Eileen O'Connor, CNN, Capitol Hill.


BAKHTIAR: OK, gang, time to talk about a very serious subject: bullying. Now many of you have either witnessed or actually been a victim of bullying. Maybe you have been the bully a time or two. Some believe that teasing and taunting another person is all just harmless fun, but bullying isn't about just beating someone up and stealing their lunch money. It also includes name-calling and excluding someone from the group, all things that can hurt. And for those too fearful to seek help, the pain can really run especially deep. Parents and administrators are also struggling with a solution to this age-old problem.

Now here's Bill Delaney with news of a governmental effort to battle the bullies.


BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the course of any school year, studies now show three out of four students will be bullied. Like this young man...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you tell a teacher?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I felt like if I told the teacher, then that will be one more thing that they would make fun of me of.

DELANEY: Video shot by a staff member at a school outside Boston, illustrating just one aspect, talking it out, of the first statewide, state and federally-funded effort at six Massachusetts schools to apply a new, comprehensive approach to battling bullying.

ZOE PERRY, PROGRAM COORDINATOR: What we're doing now is we're helping teachers to know what do and to actually react to every single situation, so that students no longer are saying nobody cares.

DELANEY: Gradually making it acceptable for victims to talk, as well as so-called bystanders -- that great sea of kids who know about, but rarely tell about, bullying.

(on camera): The program now in place here at Lynn Community Charter School actually stems from a pioneering study on bullying in Norway in the 1970's in the wake of a wave of teen suicides in Europe. (voice-over): Studies that led to a so-called "Blueprint on Bullying Prevention," co-authored by Norwegian Dan Olweus, that's now been approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.

NANCY MULLIN-RINDLER, WELLESLEY COLLEGE: Teasing and bullying are known as the evaded curriculum. Kids know it happens, teachers know it happens, administrators and parents know it happens, but typically schools don't have a structured or systematic way of responding to the problem.

DELANEY: At Lynn, bullying incidents are reviewed openly, weekly, demystified through workshops and role-playing, and awards presented for confronting bullying and learning not to bully.

LISA DRAKE, LYNN COMMUNITY CHARTER SCHOOL: Just changing the climate into a place where bullying isn't going to be tolerated and where we're all going to do something about it. I think a number of students have turned around that way.

DELANEY: On a front line of a growing insistence all over the country that bullying doesn't have to be just part of growing up.

Bill Delaney, CNN, Lynn, Massachusetts.


BAKHTIAR: Despite awareness programs, bullying remains a major problem in our nation's schools. In fact, one study shows bullying, which includes sexual harassment, happens as frequently as it did a decade ago.

Kathleen Koch has more on the findings of that study and on the unwanted behaviors that are making many kids feel uncomfortable in school.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It happens in hallways and classrooms, everything from students groping and tugging at clothing, to whistling and sexual innuendo. In interviews with more than 2,000 eighth- to 11th-grade public school students, the American Association of University Women found 81 percent experience sexual harassment during their years in school, just as bad as they found in 1993.

JACQUELINE WOODS, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY WOMEN: It's extremely disappointing that there hasn't been more progress thus far, and especially in light of all the immediate attention in the most recent times, in terms of what's happening in our schools, and that many of our students, unfortunately, are acting out this behavior.

KOCH: Boys are increasingly targets of sexual harassment, often by groups of girls, with 56 percent reporting incidents. All this, despite the fact that 70 percent of schools now have policies against sexual harassment, versus just 26 percent in 1993. PAUL HOUSTON, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS: I think that schools are caught in a bind between trying to be effective in responding to the dangers that are created and the sort of psychological problems that are created by this, and the other side of it, of not overreacting, not cracking down to the point where schools become almost like prisons.

KOCH: Swanson Middle School, in Arlington, Virginia, crafted its anti-harassment program using the findings from the 1993 study. Step one: teaching kids to recognize harassment.

JANE MURRAY, DIRECTOR OF COUNSELLING SERVICES: What the instruction does and the curriculum does is set a standard, that this is what it is, and this is what you're going to be responsible for.

KOCH: Students there now stand up for themselves and others.

DAVID CAMPANELLA, SIXTH GRADER: Some kids tease me and call me bad names, and it kind of gets on my nerves, and I try to tell an adult.

JUDY JANKOWSKI, SCHOOL COUNSELOR: Even other kids will come and advocate for other kids and say they're aware of this kind of situation that's going on.

KOCH (on camera): Study authors say education experts need to get young people's input in order to draft anti-harassment programs that work and to start teaching kids in elementary school the difference between flirting and hurting.

Kathleen Koch, for CNN, Washington.


HAYNES: Our destination in "Worldview" today, the most populous country on the planet. Do you know which one it is? How about a hint? It's located in Asia. The answer, of course, China. Today we'll explore its progress on child rights, look at its bid for the Olympic games, find out why so many Chinese are learning English and even check out politics - check it out.

China is a place where political opposition is hardly welcome. Ever since Mao Tse-Tung and the communists took over more than 50 years ago, the government has tried silencing dissident voices. Perhaps the most famous example was the protest staged in Tiananmen Square back in 1989. Hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators were killed in a crackdown by the communist government, a thousand more were injured. Today, there are signs at least the situation is changing, if ever so slowly.

Rebecca MacKinnon introduces us to one woman in the capital city of Beijing who's apparently not afraid to take on the powers that be.


REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wu Qing is a people's representative. When she's not being an English professor or an activist for women' s rights, Wu is also a delegate to the Beijing People's Congress. This citywide legislature passes laws and regulations for China's capital and also selects representatives for the National People's Congress.

WU QING, BEIJING PEOPLE'S CONGRESS MEMBER: The major task of a deputy is to use the constitution and all the existing laws to supervise the officials in the court, in the court and in the procuratorial office. That's our job.

MACKINNON: Wu meets with constituents every week, listening to their problems. These men are involved in a land dispute. The law is on their side, they say. But certain officials and their cronies are not. She agrees to help. The stream of letters and phone calls is endless.

WU: Sometimes I would take some government officials to go and to see and to hear what people have to say. I think it's important.

MACKINNON: Delegates to the local people's congresses do go through elections in city districts, but there is a political screening process to keep out potential troublemakers.

WU: In 1990, the school party committee tried in every way to prevent me from being re-elected. They first warned all the party members that they shouldn't put me forward as one of the candidates, and yet a lot of people did.

MACKINNON: In return for that support, she says she's worked hard at getting city hall to help her community on bread-and-butter projects like this pedestrian walkway under a dangerous road.

(on camera): Wu Qing says she'd like to be a representative to this National People's Congress, but the Beijing Congress wouldn't choose her because she's too outspoken and not a member of the Communist Party. But she says the fact that she's gotten as far as she has is a sign that China is changing and that the will of the people can count for something.

Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN, Beijing.


BAKHTIAR: More from China as we explore its bid to host the Olympic Summer Games of 2008. The International Olympic Committee will make its decision in a few days.

And as time gets closer and closer, China is spreading the word in English more and more often as Denise Dillon explains.


DENNIS DILLON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Across Beijing, English language classrooms are filling up. People are trying to learn to speak English in anticipation of the city winning the bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I want to learn English so I can make more friends.

DILLON: Officials in Beijing hope if the residents learn English, it will help boost Beijing's chances of staging the Olympic Games.

Paris, Osaka, Toronto and also pushing to host the Olympics. Beijing's bid for the games has become something of a national crusade, and people here seem more than willing to learn some English phrases. This taxi driver learns as he works.

COMPUTER VOICE: Welcome to Beijing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Beijing.

DILLON: He's listening to Beijing's Peoples Radio Station, where the "Learning to Speak English" program is one of the most popular shows. The host says she hopes it will help people communicate with visitors to the Olympics.

ZHOU MIN, RADIO HOST: If the Games is held in Beijing, and there will be a lot of people from around the world come to Beijing, and for Chinese people, Beijingers have more opportunities to communicate with them.

DILLON: An estimated 600,000 people in Beijing have taken up English in the past few months. Now they may not all become fluent, but at least they will know some key phrases.


DILLON: Denise Dillon, CNN.


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: We turn now to children's rights in China and Asia. Recently, UNICEF held the fifth East Asia and Pacific consultation on protecting the rights of children. The United Nation's organization cited progress in protecting children but admits education is one of the obstacles holding kids in the region behind.

With more on the issue, here's Lisa Rose Weaver.


LISA ROSE WEAVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beijing hosted the UNICEF conference designed to highlight what's been done in the last decade to insure basic rights for children in the region. Despite better health care and education for many, UNICEF says the successes have not fulfilled the needs of all.

In this part of rural southwest China, little has changed. A documentary shot for UNICEF by a Chinese film director tells the story of a 17-year-old girl who once had dreams of continuing her education. She dropped out after the fourth grade because her family decided to educate her brother instead.

Despite progress in literacy overall, UNICEF found sex in equality in education in China and other countries remain...

WEAVER: UNICEF noted China's efforts to crack down on the trafficking of women and children inside the country. In the region, it's a problem that crosses borders.

CAROL BELLAMY, UNICEF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Clearly one of the emerging issues in many parts of the world is the exploitation of children. Part of that exploitation is through the trafficking of children.

WEAVER: The conference also pointed to the region's failure overall to cut malnutrition among children younger than 5 years old. And AIDS, a disease affecting more than 2.4 million people, including children, threatens Asia with a human catastrophe to rival Africa's.

Young activists lent their lobbying power to the conference in the hopes of leaving an impression that's moved into action.

NIKKI DEVERA, PHILIPPINES ACTIVIST: I think it's very important because there's nobody else in the whole world who could say what is our situation except for us because we are the ones who are experiencing -- all the ages -- like poverty and hunger and child labor.

WEAVER (on camera): Twenty-one countries signed on to the Beijing Declaration, a document which calls the well being of children the most important sign of a country's economic and social progress. Areas in which countries around the world have to do more to protect children will be brought up in a special session of the United Nations in September.

Lisa Rose Weaver, CNN, Beijing.


ANNOUNCER: Teachers, make the most of CNN NEWSROOM with our free daily classroom guide to the program. There you'll find a rundown of each day's show so you choose just the program segment that fits your lesson plan. Plus, there are discussion questions and activities and the guide highlights key people, places and news terms. Each day find hot links to other online resources and previews of upcoming "Desk" segments.

It's all at this Web address where you can also sign up to have the guide automatically e-mailed directly to you each day. It's easy. It's free. It's your curriculum connection to the news. After all, the news never stops and neither does learning.

BAKHTIAR: OK, summer is here and school's out, so what's a young person to do? Has the idea of camp crossed your mind? Well, if it did, the thought was probably that you're too old and camp is too corny.

Well, guess again, my friend, Jason Bellini's about to take us to some camps that are way cooler than you thought.


JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a summer trip many parents know they themselves can't do -- keep their children from lying around, board, restless and climbing the walls. That's why Hanna's parents sent her to circus camp.

HANNA, CAMP PARTICIPANT: Before I went to this camp last week I was really bored.

BELLINI (on camera): You were really bored? Why?

HANNA: Just 'cause after being in school and having everything, you know, so intense and stuff then just having nothing to do was kind of boring.

BELLINI (voice-over): Summer camps are trying out new routines to attract older children who would otherwise be reluctant to go to camp, those difficult 10 to 16-year-olds.

(on camera): Do you get bored during the summer sometimes?


BELLINI: Not enough activity?

O'NEIL: Yes, not enough activity.

BELLINI: But here there's plenty of activity?

O'NEIL: Yes, there's tons of activity here.

BELLINI (voice-over): With the younger children camps don't have to worry as much about the "is this cool" factor? By the time they pass their mid teens, they have cars to get around in and jobs to keep them busy. Camps wanting to reach those the middle years are realizing they need to be creative.

ANGEL VIGIL, COACH, COLORADO CIRCUS CAMP: The 14-year-old doesn't want to spend his summer making menus.

BELLINI: Angel Vigil...

VIGIL: Push, kick.

BELLINI: ... is the coach and coordinator at Colorado Academy Circus Camp.

VIGIL: Now to be honest, it took us time to become savvy about this and kind of work through it in our own evolving way of developing programming. But now we're a little bit wiser about that and we're better able to match up activities with the interests of young people.

BELLINI: Recognizing interests vary, Angel maintains circus like atmosphere where campers can decide for themselves what they want to do. Parents applaud.

UNIDENTIFIED PARENT: I think kids need some structure. I think they also need to make choices inside those structures.

BELLINI: Another full camp this summer, the Field Science For Young Women Camp. Slackers need not apply for this five day long program high in the mountains near Vail, Colorado. After hiking around all day looking for the endangered burial toad, the girls have a pasta dinner then head outside again for a flower identifying contest.

UNIDENTIFIED CAMPER: Is it all kind of uniform?

BELLINI: Libby's parents picked this camp for her because...

LIBBY MALONEY, CAMP PARTICIPANT: Because they thought it would be a good experience.

BELLINI (on camera): Yeah, why?

MALONEY: Because it would be outdoors and hiking and all the adventure.

BELLINI: All the adventure?


BELLINI: Why do they want you to have adventure?

MALONEY: Because I'm not very adventurous.

BELLINI (voice-over): Church camps are also now offering alternative ways to reach new heights.

UNIDENTIFIED CAMPER: I mean there's stuff here that you can't do at home. You can't, you don't have a rock climbing wall at home.

MIKE DEBOER, CAMP INSTRUCTOR: I think kids need that stimulus...

UNIDENTIFIED CAMPER: Dude, this is so cool!

DEBOER: ... that just keeps them going, gets their adrenaline going. They're so used to video games and doing those kind of things, that it's just instant gratification.

BELLINI (on camera): What do you think you would be doing if you were home right now?


BELLINI (voice-over): The cost of sending kids to these new school camps? Circus Camp is $235 for one week, no overnights. Field Science for Young Women sleep-away camp, $425 for five days. And Camp Id-Ra-Ha-Je, around $250 for seven days and six nights.

The campers say their parents pay because...

O'NEIL: They like me learning this kind of stuff.

MALONEY: My dad is looking forward to getting lots of work done.

ROSENTHAL: There's not one second when I'm bored.

BELLINI: There's not one second when you're bored?

ROSENTHAL: Not one second I'm bored.

BELLINI (voice-over): Boredom cured and a bunch of happy campers.

Jason Bellini, CNN, Clark County, Colorado.


HAYNES: Man, what a great gig Jason Bellini has.

BAKHTIAR: Yes, time to come back and work here.

HAYNES: Yes, really.

Listen, we'll see you back here tomorrow.


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