America's universities: Hedge funds saddled with inconvenient educational institutions

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Public and private universities alike have been transformed into financial shell-games for Wall Street's wealthiest hedge-funds, while tuition and student debt soar, adjuncts are exploited, and the lifetime expected returns on a university degree plummet. Read the rest

Shortly after her death, Harper Lee's heirs kill cheap paperback edition of To Kill a Mockingbird

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A court upheld the sealing away of Lee's will from public view, so it's impossible to say for sure what prompted the move, but this much is clear: schools that assign "To Kill a Mockingbird" -- one of the most commonly assigned books in US classrooms -- will have to pay a lot more for their books, and that money will not, and cannot, benefit the author. Read the rest

Proposal: replace Algebra II and Calculus with "Statistics for Citizenship"

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Andrew Hacker, a professor of both mathematics and political science at Queens University has a new book out, The Math Myth: And Other STEM Delusions, which makes the case that the inclusion of algebra and calculus in high school curriculum discourages students from learning mathematics, and displaces much more practical mathematical instruction about statistical and risk literacy, which he calls "Statistics for Citizenship." Read the rest

Black students say Donald Trump had them removed before his speech

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A group of about 30 black Valdosta State University students say that they were ejected yesterday from an on-campus Trump speech by Secret Service agents who told them that Donald Trump didn't want them in the audience. Read the rest

Teaching kids about copyright: schools and fair use

I'm incredibly skeptical of the project of teaching kids about copyright and fair use -- not because it's unimportant, because it's so dire. Read the rest

California parents: file this form to ask for your kids' school records to be kept private

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There's a hard-fought lawsuit underway about whether California schools failed in their duty to provide special ed to students, and as a part of that, the court has ordered disclosure of the school records of every California so the plaintiffs can analyze them. Read the rest

Stop paying your student loans and debt collectors can send US Marshals to arrest you

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Student debt is a life-destroying trap, engineered by Wall Street and backed by the US government. Read the rest

After 3d grade complaint, Florida school district bans award-winning "This One Summer" from high-school library

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Peter from the National Coalition Against Censorship sez, "A Florida parent thought 'This One Summer' was too graphic for an elementary school library. The district agreed, and then went further; they're restricting access to the graphic novel in the high school libraries as well. Read the rest

Donate: scholarship fund for the Alpha teen sf/f writing workshop

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Lara writes, "The Alpha SF/F/H Workshop For Young Writers is running a scholarship drive February 16-23. Make a tax-deductible donation to change a teen writer's life!" Read the rest

Psychedelic Space Alien themed Art Deco style 1931 high school yearbook

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Pea Hicks writes, "This is an album of scans I made from the 1931 Los Angeles University High School, CHIEFTAIN - 'Martian Number.'" Read the rest

Free Bitcoin textbook from Princeton

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The Princeton Bitcoin Book by Arvind Narayanan, Joseph Bonneau, Edward Felten, Andrew Miller and Steven Goldfeder is a free download -- it's over 300 pages and is intended for people "looking to truly understand how Bitcoin works at a technical level and have a basic familiarity with computer science and programming." Read the rest

Videos of this year's Shmoocon talks, starting with Gershenfeld's talk on nonbinary computing

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Shmoocon is a security conference that ranks with other top-tier events like Defcon, CCC, HOPE, Black Hat, etc: this year's talks are all on the Internet Archive for streaming or download. Read the rest

A would-be clinic-bomber & friends are terrorizing a charter school for being too close to a future Planned Parenthood office

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A group of anti-Choice extremists have come to Washington, DC to protest at the site of a future Planned Parenthood office, but because they are barred from the Planned Parenthood site, they've set up camp at a nearby charter school, with gory banners and scary chants, and they've devoted themselves to terrorizing the school's pre-K to fifth graders in a bid to get the school to join them in campaigning against Planned Parenthood. Read the rest

President Obama pledges $4 billion for computer science education in schools

President Obama delivers his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington January 12, 2016. REUTERS

In his weekly address, President Barack Obama this week pledged $4 billion in federal funding for computer science education in schools throughout the nation.

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Hacker puppets and Jean Claude Van Damme demonstrate how the internet crosses the ocean

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Gus writes, "How does the Internet cross the ocean? Ask a random person and they will probably guess 'satellites' — it just seems easier than wires, right?" Read the rest

Teller explains how performance and discomfort make education come alive

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The trend of making schools "safe places" to protect students from feeling uncomfortable is a bad idea, says Teller, the silent member of the magic comedy duo Penn and Teller, and a former schoolteacher. Here's a snip from an essay in The Atlantic:

And if Shakespeare (or Catullus or Vergil) makes students uncomfortable? That’s a good thing, Teller said. Learning, like magic, should make people uncomfortable, because neither are passive acts. Elaborating on the analogy, he continued, “Magic doesn’t wash over you like a gentle, reassuring lullaby. In magic, what you see comes into conflict with what you know, and that discomfort creates a kind of energy and a spark that is extremely exciting. That level of participation that magic brings from you by making you uncomfortable is a very good thing.”

As we were on the subject of discomfort I asked Teller what he thinks of schools’ efforts to protect students from discomfort as they learn through censoring teachers’ content and requirements for trigger warnings. For the first time in our conversation, Teller illustrated the power of his trademark silence, and the line went quiet.

Just as I’d begun to think we’d been disconnected, he replied,

“When I go outside at night and look up at the stars, the feeling that I get is not comfort. The feeling that I get is a kind of delicious discomfort at knowing that there is so much out there that I do not understand and the joy in recognizing that there is enormous mystery, which is not a comfortable thing.

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Meet the composer of "Schoolhouse Rock!"

Conjunction Junction, what's your function? That iconic tune (below) and others from the "Schoolhouse Rock!" cartoon were the work of composer Bob Dorough, now 92-years-old and still playing music. (Great Big Story)

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