Oral History

Oral History

Oral History

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
March 4 1999 7:17 AM

Oral History

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, the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times lead with yesterday's Supreme Court decision saying schools must provide whatever nursing care is required to enable students with physical "special needs"--such as those in wheelchairs or on ventilators--to attend mainstream classes. The 1975 law governing the educational access rights of the disabled states that schools don't have to pay for "medical services," but the Court ruled that only applies to services provided by physicians. The New York Times, which also fronts the Court's disability decision, leads instead with the NYC school chancellor's threat to quit if the city goes ahead with a planned tax-funded private school voucher program, but the paper's top non-local story is the U.S.' imposition (as promised last December) of 100 percent tariffs on certain European luxury goods. The LAT also fronts the story, differing from the NYT and the Wall Street Journal in stating that the new tariffs will not be imposed before mid-March.

The coverage of the Court's call for classroom nursing support notes that it means fresh mainstream classroom access for many handicapped children and billions in unexpected costs for public schools, and hence for taxpayers. USAT says that in the particular case that went to the Court in which a boy, a high school sophomore, was rendered quadriplegic by a childhood accident, the cost to the school system of his attending classes was as much as $30,000 per year, compared to the nationwide average of $6,495 for "regular" students. ("Regular" is the paper's word; better would have been "able-bodied.") The LAT says that nationwide, the additional care could cost $500 million per year.

There is one area that all the stories on this decision gloss over. They each mention that the plaintiff's child in the case was injured in a childhood accident. All but the NYT note that it was a motorcycle accident when the boy was four years old. But everybody leaves it at that. Which leaves Today's Papers' nose twitching. Did one of the parents drive a motorcycle around with a four-year-old on the back? Or let somebody else do so? (Without a helmet?) If the answer to either question is yes, then here we have a case of the cost of parental irresponsibility being doled out to everybody else, a phenomenon the papers should be more curious about.

The NYT explains that the 100 percent tariff imposed on the likes of Louis Vuitton handbags, Parma ham, pecorino cheese and Scottish cashmere sweaters is a response to Europe's recent establishment of import limits on bananas grown by American companies in Central America. The story also reports that on Wednesday the House of Representatives passed a threat to keep the Concorde from landing in the U.S. in retaliation for a European ruling, designed to promote European aviation equipment sales, that would ban many older U.S. planes from Europe. The story does not explain when or under what circumstances the House threat becomes a reality. The Times notes that the U.S. moves are largely symbolic in that the goods involved and the Concorde flights are a very small part of European/U.S. commerce. (Although they probably disproportionately affect Times readers.)

The LAT, WP, and USAT front wash-ups from the Monica Lewinsky interview with Barbara Walters last night and her new book, out today. The NYT fronts a picture of Lewinsky from the interview, but stuffs her words inside. The USAT headline focuses on Lewinsky's claim in her book that President Clinton is "a selfish man who lies all the time." The LAT likens her story to a "romance novel, heavy on grief, despair and passion." And records her reaction to being presidentially dumped: "All I did was cry and eat pizzas and sweets." The WP passes along her claim that when stung by Ken Starr she considered killing herself by jumping out the hotel window, and the tidbit that to keep potential evidence out of investigators' hands, her father burned her White House souvenirs on the family barbecue.

The WP reports that a U.S. expert on bio-warfare walked through Capitol security yesterday carrying 7.5 grams of powdered anthrax in a plastic bottle, and then proceeded to a House hearing where he displayed his deadly sample. The man then testified that in addition he has done likewise "through all the major airports, and the security systems of the State Department, the Pentagon, even the CIA, and nobody has stopped me."

The WSJ reports that thanks to the raging bull market, just last year six colleges and universities--Grinnell (!), Brown, Purdue, Minnesota, Rochester, and Caltech--joined the ranks of schools with billion dollar endowments. And then the Journal asks the very natural question that the schools themselves never raise, Why, in light of this investment success, don't the schools use more of their own resources to help students? Why, in other words, the higher and higher tuitions and the proposed $52.1 billion in federal student aid? To drive the point home, the paper quotes a Harvard economist's calculations that it would only take a 1.8 percent return on its endowment for Harvard to provide all its undergrads with a free education.

*Know, like, thyself* The WP reports that in her book, Monica Lewinsky derides Linda Tripp's accent and her "lumpy figure."