This Week in the News…

Posted: November 14, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national news coverage George Mason received during the past week:

Sunday, Nov. 9, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Dean Flag Flap Raises Doubts

“The flap also drew attention to the fact that with just two months before the primaries begin, none of the Democratic candidates have galvanized the kind of support in the black community that former presidents and fellow Southerners Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter once did. ‘There has been no coalescing of African-American voters around any one candidate,’ said Jeremy D. Mayer, author of the 2002 book, Running On Race: Racial Politics in Presidential Campaigns 1960 to 2000, and an assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University in Arlington, Va. ‘I think it is important to realize that in almost every year since 1960, the [Democratic] candidate who is supported by African- Americans wins the nomination, with the exception of the Jesse Jackson election [in 1984],’ Mayer said.”

Sunday, Nov. 9, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Making Things Bigger for Big People May Be a Big Problem

“The proliferation of products may help erase the sense of shame associated with obesity.

In Fat History: Bodies and Beauty in the Modern West, Peter Stearns, former dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote about issues that sparked the U.S. obsession with weight. Now provost and professor of history at George Mason University, Stearns says that beginning around the turn of the last century, being overweight became a symbol of bad character, laziness and weakness. There were a number of social changes that caused this, he believes, but one of the most important was a sense of guilt in a society that was becoming more prosperous and consuming more and more. Focusing on overeating as a stand-in for all overconsumption ‘reflected a need for stringency as consumerism gained ground,’ he wrote.”

Monday, Nov. 10, Forbes

Desegregation’s Broken Promises

“A look at city-by-city numbers gives a clearer, even less encouraging view of what’s happened. Between 1967 and 2000 white enrollment dropped from 63 percent to 8 percent in Dallas, 73 percent to 15 percent in Boston, and 73 percent to 19 percent in Milwaukee. Moreover, even in cities and suburbs where there has been some real integration, such as Wilmington, Del., it doesn’t seem to have made much difference in educational achievement. David Armor, a professor at George Mason University and frequent consultant (for defendant school systems) in desegregation cases, finds that black students in segregated schools learn about as much as blacks in integrated schools. ‘It is quite clear that the racial composition of student bodies, by itself, has no significant effect on black achievement, nor has it reduced the black-white gap to a significant degree,’ he concluded in a 2002 essay.”

Tuesday, Nov. 11, The Record

Multicultural Holiday Cards Greeted by the Mainstream

“Do people want to send cards for Eid? Is it culturally and religiously appropriate? Are there certain nuances that might be deemed offensive to significant numbers of people? ‘If it’s not offensive to these religious communities and they use them, then they’re appropriate,’ said John Burns, professor of philosophy and religious studies at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., who has written about the commercialization of holidays. But the new Hallmark cards are adding to an American commercial culture, Burns said, bringing Muslims and Hindus into a way of life with a long history of holiday card giving. ‘This is really just a facet of all of these religions coming to the United States,’ Burns said. ‘But they inevitably become influenced by our way of life.'”

Thursday, Nov. 13, Associated Press

Math up, reading steady on national test scores

“Nationwide, 77 percent of fourth-graders reached at least a basic level in math, meaning partial mastery of skills needed for solid academic work. That’s up from 65 percent three years ago. Among eighth-graders, 68 percent performed at basic or better, up from 63 percent. In fact, the oft-quoted achievement levels are unrealistic and unfair, said Gerald Bracey, a George Mason University professor and prominent critic of the test’s scoring. Less than a third of students in both grades can do math at a proficient level based on the test, which is sanctioned by Congress and run by the Education Department.”

Thursday, Nov. 13,

Resistance (The Endless No’s)

“The technical name for your child’s fascination with the word ‘no’ is ‘toddler refusal’–and the simple fact is that toddlers say ‘no’ because they can. ‘It’s a will thing,’ says Susanne Denham, professor of developmental psychology at George Mason University and author of Emotional Development in Young Children. ‘They’ve just found out they have one, and they want to exercise it.’ This phase often comes on suddenly, leaving parents perplexed over their toddler’s sudden show of defiance.”

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