PUSHING THE KIDS TOO HARD? Quick summary of a Census report on the time use of children.

The report provides a snapshot in time, a snapshot of American kids at home, school and on playing fields. In some ways, it appears America may be growing more like author Garrison Keillor's fictional Lake Wobegon, where "all the children are above average." Nearly one in four children in the 12- to 17-year-old age group was enrolled in a special class for gifted students or high school honors and Advanced Placement classes. Three in four kids in that age group were academically on track for their grades.

"The percentage of kids on track academically has consistently been going up," says Bill O'Hare, director of the Kids Count Program at the Baltimore-based Annie Casey Foundation. "The dropout rate is going down."

In other ways, America has further to go. Around 30 million children participated in the National School Lunch Program in 2003. Black and Hispanic children also lagged behind non-Hispanic white children in a range of areas, from being read to at home to participation in gifted classes at school.

Looks like lots of material to occupy policy analysts of all types.

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