Watch this teacher's brutal resignation speech to her school board

In Kansas, the Shawnee Mission Board of Education adopted a three-year unilateral contract for teachers that their union fought against. On Monday, middle school teacher Amanda Coffman tendered her resignation from the school district with this powerful and emotional statement to the board.

Someone should hire Coffman as a highly-paid speech writer, pronto.

(Shawnee Mission Post) Read the rest

You can major in cannabis at this university. Officially.

College students have been majoring in cannabis for decades, but it's finally legit at Colorado State University-Pueblo. On Friday, the Colorado Department of Higher Education approved a new bachelor of science degree program in Cannabis Biology and Chemistry to launch in the fall. From CNN:

Graduates could begin careers either in the cannabis and hemp industries or in the government. But they could also be competitive in a "wide variety of businesses outside of the cannabis industry," (the program proposal) said, such as agriculture, food science, biochemistry and environmental sciences.

"Educating students who are capable of understanding cannabis science is required for the industry in all its aspects to be effective and safe for the consumer," it said...

CSU-Pueblo's program will not be the first of its kind. Its proposal cited Northern Michigan University's bachelor program in medicinal plant chemistry that it said was "primarily tailored to those wanting to enter the cannabis field."

Read the rest

Boston Police Union throws a tantrum over Black Lives Matter at school week

Boston's got a bad reputation when it comes to race. And unfortunately, much of it's deserved. Of course, there are people who are trying to fight and make a positive difference despite the segregation that's left the predominantly black neighborhoods behind in schooling and socializing. Which is why the Boston Teacher's Union planned a week-long series of events in coordination with Black Lives Matter, to help educate students on inclusion and restorative justice. After all, February is Black History Month. So that all sounds good, right?

The Boston Police Patrolmen's Association disagreed, and sent a letter to BTU President Jessica Tang condoning the events. In the letter, BPPA President Michael Leary refers to Black Lives Matter an "anti-police organization" who has endangered the lives of Boston police officers. This is demonstrably untrue. But BPPA refuses to let the facts get in the way of their feelings. The letter continues on about the "irrational hatred" of BLM, accusing them of "inaccurately demonizing police as racists who kill innocent people" before passive-aggressively warning about the potential dangers of not cooperating with Boston Police, like some kind of mob protection racket.

BPPA is also upset about an education initiative to provide more funding for guidance counselors, instead of just shoving more police officers into schools to solve behavioral problems by threat of force. Read the rest

Cheating term-paper-for-pay businesses recruited customers through subsidized on-campus parties

Companies like Edubirdie offer platforms for academic cheating, connecting freelance essay-writers with desperate students who pay hundreds of dollars to have their academic papers ghostwritten for them. Edubirdie has recruited customers with on-campus "epic parties" which offered organizers $250, along with branded cups and a standee with the company's mascot, in exchange for posting five or more photos of students posed with the standee and hashtagged with #EduBirdieParty. The organizer whose party that received the most attention would get $3,000 and a 2-hour DJ set. Read the rest

Three-year-old boy is now the youngest member of Mensa UK

Mensa UK has invited Muhammad Haryz Nadzim, a 3-year-old Malaysian boy living in England, to join the self-described "High IQ Society." Haryz scored 142 on the Stanford-Binet intelligence test and was evaluated by an educational psychologist. From CNN:

To become a member of British Mensa, an individual must "demonstrate an IQ in the top two per cent of the population," according to their website...

Haryz mom, an engineer living in Durham, England, says her family knew that he was special even before Mensa. At Kumon, the after school math and reading program, he was named last September to the honor roll for advanced students in both subjects. Although she refers to him as her "mini brainbox," the little genius is a normal kid by all other standards...

"He's very much your typical 3-year-old," (his mom Nur Anira) Asyikin said. "He really loves painting and reading books, really anything arts and crafts. He loves playing with Legos and Play-Doh especially ..."

Mensa International aims "to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity; to encourage research into the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence; and to provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members."

(top image: Nur Anira Asyikin/Facebook) Read the rest

Christian school expels student over rainbow birthday cake

For Kayla Kenney's 15th birthday party at a Texas Roadhouse, her mother asked for a cake with colors that 'pop'. A rainbow cake was provided and Kimberly Alford posted this charming photo of the youngster about to tuck in. Someone at her school, Whitefield Academy in Louisville, spotted the photo on social media, and Kenney was expelled for the "posture of morality and cultural acceptance" the cake represented.

Alford alleges the seemingly innocuous photo caused Kayla to be expelled from Whitefield Academy, a private Christian school in Louisville, where her daughter was a freshman. In an email to the family on Jan. 6, the academy’s head of school, Bruce Jacobson, wrote that Kayla’s enrollment was terminated, effective immediately, because of a social media post.

Alford said an image of her Facebook post was included as an attachment to the email.

“The WA Administration has been made aware of a recent picture, posted on social media, which demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs,” Jacobson wrote. “We made it clear that any further promotion, celebration or any other action and attitudes counter to Whitefield’s philosophy will not be tolerated.”

Alford says neither the cake nor Kenney's jumper were a statement on sexuality. The school didn't respond to the Washington Post's inquiries, but told a local news channel Kenney had committed other "lifesyle violations" in the past, without elaborating. According to her mother, that infraction was for vape pods found in a bag search. Read the rest

Propublica offering diversity scholarships for students to attend 2020 journalism conferences

If you or someone you know is a US-based student interested in attending conferences such as Investigative Reporters and Editors, The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, or National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists, then you should consider applying for Propublica's Diversity Scholarship program, which offers $750 bursaries "to students who would otherwise be unable to attend," especially "people of color, women, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities." Read the rest

Security expert offers hacking advice to students whose campuses have implemented pervasive wireless surveillance

After a late-December Washington Post story revealed a nationwide epidemic of colleges quietly installing pervasive wireless location-tracking systems on campus, which gathered data on students without meaningful consent, inside and outside of class, broken down by protected categories such as race and gender, as well as on potentially invasive lines such as whether a student is from abroad, security researcher Lace R Vick (previously) tweeted an offer to students to explain how they could "dismantle such a system." Read the rest

Kentucky's Whitefield Academy expels student for wearing a rainbow shirt in a Facebook photo

The Whitefield Academy is a "Christ-centered, college-preparatory school for grades PreK-12 fostering a passion for learning, others ahead of self, and the living and active Jesus." That is to say, it's a school for religious maniacs. Read the rest

Top tech grads are increasingly unwilling to work for Big Tech, viewing it as a new, unethical Wall Street

About five years ago, I was trying to get a bunch of Big Tech companies to take the right side of an urgent online civil rights fight, and I called an old friend who was very senior at one of the biggest tech companies in the world; they told me that it wasn't going to work, in part because the kinds of people who were coming to tech were there because they wanted to get as rich as possible, no matter what they had to do. My friend contrasted this with earlier eras -- even the dotcom bubble -- when the financial motive was blended with a genuine excitement for the transformative potential of tech to make a fairer, more equitable world. Now, my friend said, the kind of kid who would have gotten an MBA was instead getting an electrical engineering or computer science degree -- not out of any innate love for the subject, but because that was a path to untold riches. Read the rest

How to read long, difficult books

Berkeley economics prof (and former Clinton deputy Treasury secretary) J Bradford DeLong (previously) has written a guide for reading "long, difficult books," in response to Andy Matuschak's "rant" Why Books Don't Work. Read the rest

Elementary school apologizes after children of color were asked by peers to role-play as slaves for lesson

The principal of Lafayette Elementary School in Washington DC has apologized after a fifth grade lesson on the Civil War and Reconstruction had some children of color role-playing "a person of color drinking from a segregated water fountain and an enslaved person." From CNN:

During classroom circles and small group discussions, (principal Carrie) Broquard said, some students said they were uncomfortable with the roles their peers had asked them to play. Others, she said, had been unsure how to respond or stand up for their peers who were uncomfortable.

"We deeply regret that we did not foresee this as a potential challenge in role playing so we could set appropriate parameters to protect students," the fifth grade team said...

Broquard outlined a number of steps the school is taking in response to the lesson.

In her letter, she said students who were directly affected have been meeting with the school's social emotional learning team and members of the administration to "process and talk through" the incident. The social emotional learning team and a racial equity committee at the school will work to ensure all assignments are "culturally sensitive and appropriate," she wrote.

The staff will participate in a full day of training on equity and race in January, and the school plans to create a diversity and inclusion committee, the letter stated.

Read the rest

School apologizes after parents complain that "Santa Goes Green" Christmas concert was anti-oil

On Thursday, the Oxbow Prairie Horizons School in Saskatchewan, Canada staged their annual student Christmas concert. The show, "Santa Goes Green," pissed off parents in the town where oil is one of the major industries. Here's a description from the Santa Goes Green sheet music:

Melting ice caps, global warming, surfing reindeer! The North Pole is going green this year and everyone is excited – everyone, that is, except Santa who likes things just the way they are. Solar panels, LED light bulbs, new power sources? It all sounds a bit inconvenient to him. Mrs. Claus, the elves, toys and reindeer have their hands full!

From CBC:

(Mike Gunderman, whose daughter was in the show,) said the concerns raised were not directed at the children. He said they did a great job singing and performing, but he felt it was "the wrong message to send at the wrong time of the season.

"Especially when our industry is suffering right now," he said. "It's a tough time for everybody."

Audrey Trombley, chair of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division where Oxbow Prairie is located, apologized to anyone who was offended by the concert, saying there was never any intention to make the show political.

"There was no political agenda," said Audrey Trombley, chair of the division's Board of Trustees. "The teacher chose the song because of the rhythm and the beat, and thought the kids would like it."

image: cover detail of Santa Goes Green sheet music book (Hal Leonard) Read the rest

Illinois schools don't just lock special ed kids in solitary, they also restrain them

Last month, Propublica published a characteristically blockbuster piece on the use of "quiet rooms" in Illinois schools, especially in special ed programs: these are a euphemism for solitary confinement, and their use is so cruel and grotesque that Propublica's reporting prompted state level action to ban quiet rooms in schools and reform the policy on their use. Read the rest

Students at elite Shanghai university protest the removal of "freedom of thought" from the school charter

Fudan University, one of China's elite centers of higher learning, has had its charter altered to remove "freedom of thought" from its values. In its place, the charter now promotes "arming the minds of teachers and students with Xi Jinping's new era of socialist ideology with Chinese characteristics." In response, students have launched a protest in the form of performances of the school song, which touts "academic independence and freedom of thought." Read the rest

Bernie Sanders got the GAO to study the life chances of millennials, and the report concludes that debt is "crushing their dreams"

Bernie Sanders commissioned the Government Accountability Office to study the consequences of the high degree of indebtedness borne by Millennials; the GAO's report concludes that Millennials dreams are being "crushed" by debts -- primarily student loans -- which have limited their abilities to seek good employment, good housing, and to save for retirement. Read the rest

Librecorps: an organization that connects student free/open source software developers with humanitarian NGOs

Librecorps is a program based at the Rochester Institute for Technology's Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) initiative that works with UNICEF to connect students with NGOs for paid co-op placements where they build and maintain FOSS tools used by nonprofits. Read the rest

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