Just a few percentage points can make all the difference when it comes to illegal substances. Among teens, marijuana and alcohol abuse rates are rising for the first time in ten years, according to a study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. The 2009 Partnership/MetLife Foundation Attitude Tracking study, which recorded the number of teens who had reported use within the past month, found that alcohol use among teens increased from the 32 percent measured in 2008. Reported marijuana use shot up from 32 percent of teens to 39 percent of teens in the same time. Candice Besson of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America attributed this trend to several different factors, including a decrease in federally-funded prevention programs and an increase in the portrayal of substance abuse in movies and television.
MCPS special education made headlines in 2005 during the landmark case Schaffer v. Weast, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the burden of proof is upon the party that files suit (usually the families of special education students) when the question exists whether a school district must compensate for private school tuition if the system can't provide for a student's special needs. Now, the Court has taken special education rights one step further with the recent ruling in Forest Grove School District v. T.A., an equally important victory for special education students, their families and the schools that serve them.
Envision stimulating classroom discussion, thought-provoking literature and appropriately challenging curriculum tailored to each student. Now scrap all thoughts of MCPS as an enriching learning environment in favor of Superintendent Jerry Weast's new plan for MCPS as an intensive 12-year college prep course.
Here's the choice: abstinence or your life is ruined. Such is the ultimatum teens hear in many different forms - a polarity that sums up society's judgmental attitude toward sex. With nationwide ideological disputes between activists and bureaucrats over issues such as the appropriateness of teaching teenagers about methods of contraception, not to mention the prevalence of abstinence-only education, it's a relief to see the passage of legislation that acknowledges teen sexuality and takes a positive step toward making teen lives safer and healthier.
The little pill looks tame enough. It's reddish and comes in an eight-pack that resembles a prescription. The package, which contains barely any English writing, comes from a mysterious company that promises a "taste trip." The pills are affordable, legal and classified as a "dietary supplement" by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And for a few adventurous Blazers, they are a mind-boggling experience.
It's lunchtime in the social studies office, and a cry goes out around the room. "The printer's broken again!" yells NSL Government teacher Marc Grossman. Teachers bustle in and out to fetch lunches from the communal fridge as the scent of microwaved soup fills the air. Social studies resource teacher George Vlasits sits at a table with his colleagues and takes out his lunch. It's this sense of camaraderie, he says, that keeps him here past retirement age, despite his growing discontent with Blair policies.
As a native of Silver Spring, George Pelecanos knows how to hold a grudge. "I am a Northwood graduate, and it pains me to help Blair in any way," quips the local author.