In January, the Berkeley (Calif.) School Board began consideration of a near-unanimous recommendation of Berkeley High School's Governance Council to eliminate science labs from its curriculum, reasoning that the classes mostly serve white students, leaving less money for programs for underperforming minorities. Berkeley High's white students do far better academically than the state average; black and Latino students do worse than average. Five science teachers would be dismissed.
The Wisconsin legislature is considering a bill to designate a "state bacterium" (the Lactococcus lactis, which is crucial to turning milk into the state's famous cheese). If approved, the bacterium would join two dozen other state symbols (according to the Wisconsin Blue Book): coat of arms, seal, motto, flag, song, flower, bird, tree, fish, state animal, wildlife animal, domestic animal, mineral, rock, symbol of peace, insect, soil, fossil, dog, beverage, grain, dance, ballad, waltz, fruit and tartan.
New York City, under Mayor Bloomberg's leadership, has taken aggressive positions against cigarette-smoking and restaurant dishes made with trans fats, but the city's Department of Health is apparently more tolerant regarding heroin. A recently released, department-funded 16-page pamphlet instructs heroin users on "safer" ways to inject the drug (and suggests, if the first needle stab misses a vein, the more healthful course is to pull out and begin anew rather than try to maneuver the syringe). Of course, the booklet contains several warnings against any use of heroin, but those, obviously, are messages habitually ignored by addicts.