Nearly half of America’s public schools failed to meet federal standards under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law in school year 2010-2011. The Center on Education Policy (CEP) issued a report showing that more than 43,000 schools, or 48 percent, did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) this year, tallying an 11-percent increase over the 39 percent of schools that did not make AYP in 2010 and the sharpest drop in educational achievement since the law took effect a decade ago.

Despite the excitement and anticipation for the Christmas season that pervades the nation every year, the religious element of the holiday continues to be a point of contention for some and a source of great controversy. In Paragould, Arkansas, for example, the Greene County School Board forced the removal of a Nativity scene that was displayed at one of its elementary schools, adhering to local atheists who articulated the tired maxim of “separation of church and state.” After some persistent protest and displays of heroism by the elementary counselor, Kay Williams, however, the school board gave in and permitted the Nativity scene to be put up once again.

A new study by the Pew Research Center has found that only 51 percent of adults in the U.S. are married, an all-time low for matrimony in America. The recent numbers pale in comparison to a high in 1960, when 72 percent of adults 18 and older were married, and represent a trend that is similar to that witnessed in other “advanced post-industrial societies,” says Pew.

The town of Athens, Texas, is modest. The Henderson County courthouse (left), as in many small towns in the South, is the center of the community. Normally, during this time of the year, Christmas decorations are on each corner of the square. But this year, that simple display of the holiday season has run into an unexpected bump.

A group of Girl Scout leaders in Louisiana has decided to dismantle its troops because of a recent decision by the national organization to allow boys who are confused about their gender to join the ranks of the female scouting program. The leaders, who oversee three Girl Scout troops at Northlake Christian School in Lacombe, Louisiana, explained that the move by the group’s national leadership conflicted with their host organization’s Christian beliefs. “This goes against what we [Northlake Christian School] believe,” Susan Bryant-Snure, one of the leaders, told Baptist Press News. Snure has three daughters of her own among the 25 girls participating in the Girl Scout program through the school.