A brilliant, simple exercise to teach privacy fundamentals

Kate Klonick, an assistant professor at St John's Law School, teaches an Information Privacy course for second- and third-year law students; she devised a wonderful and simply exercise to teach her students about "anonymous speech, reasonable expectation of privacy, third party doctrine, and privacy by obscurity" over the spring break. Read the rest

Higher education: cannabis as a college course

For years, college students have unofficially majored in weed. Now universities are beginning to offer cannabis studies programs because, y'know, marijuana is where the money is these days. From the Associated Press:

"We're providing a fast track to get into the industry," said Brandon Canfield, a chemistry professor at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. Two years ago, he proposed a new major in medicinal plant chemistry after attending a conference where cannabis industry representatives spoke of an urgent need for analytical chemists for product quality assessment and assurance.

The four-year degree, which is the closest thing to a marijuana major at an accredited U.S. university, has drawn nearly 300 students from 48 states, Canfield said. Students won't be growing marijuana, which was recently legalized by Michigan voters for recreational use. But Canfield said students will learn to measure and extract medicinal compounds from plants such as St. John's Wort and ginseng and transfer that knowledge to marijuana.

Agricultural schools are also getting in on the action. A similar program is being launched at Minot State University in North Dakota this spring. The college said students will learn lab skills applicable to medical marijuana, hops, botanical supplements and food science industries.

"All of our graduates are going to be qualified to be analysts in a lab setting," Canfield said, noting that experience could lead to a position paying $70,000 right out of school. Those wishing to start their own businesses can choose an entrepreneurial track that adds courses in accounting, legal issues and marketing...

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Funny video of high school student calling his teachers by their first names

When I was in high school, it always felt very uncomfortable speaking a teacher's first name aloud, almost like they couldn't really have a first name beyond Ms., Mr., or Mrs. (In fact, it was an odd transition to university when many of my professors preferred to be called by their first names.)

In the fun video below, Adam Lamberti walks through his high school greeting teachers by their first names. Some of them couldn't care less. Others are clearly discombobulated by the experience.

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Harvard Humanists troll the elites who fund the Harvard endowment by awarding Anand Giridharadas a prize

Anand Giridharadas (previously) is the Aspen Fellow/McKinsey consultant turned anticapitalist gadfly whose brilliant book Winners Take All exposes the "philanthrophy" of the ultra-rich as a form of reputation-laundering with the side benefit of allowing some of history's greatest monsters to look at themselves in the mirror. Read the rest

Millionaire dilettantes' "education reform" have failed, but teacher-driven, evidence-supported education works miracles

Rich "education philanthropists" (Bill Gates, the Waltons, the DeVoses, the Sacklers) have had a lot of business-world ideas for "fixing education" over the years, centered on a system of carrots (bonuses for high-testing schools and schools whose students get admitted to top universitites) and sticks (funding cuts for "underperforming" schools), all backed by high-stakes tests and standardized teaching materials. Read the rest

Why charter schools are the flashpoint for the LA teachers' strike

When teachers from the largest school district in America walked off the job this week, they were not campaigning for wages: rather, they were demanding smaller classes; more librarians, counselors, aides and special-ed teachers; and to rein in the Charter school movement, and that last demand is the key to understanding the whole thing. Read the rest

Karen Pence teaches at school that bans LGBTQ kids and staff: Report

Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, just started a new job this week. She's an art teacher at a Christian school that makes job candidates sign a pledge not to engage in homosexual activity. Gay kids, you're not welcome either. Read the rest

In LA, the teachers of America's largest school district are on strike

LA teachers are on strike today, fighting against privatization, standardized tests, giant classes, and clawbacks of in-class teachers' aides. Read the rest

Masters Class in Dad Jokes

Mark Marino is following up on his previous course on "how to write and read fake news" with an unaccredited Masters Class in Dad Jokes: "In this classy class, we’ll explore the ins and outs of jokes only dads would tell. Patronize the patriarchy with us as we explore a form of humor so painful to hear they’re endEARing. You don’t have to be a dad, have a dad, or have bagged a dad (ahem) to be in this course. All it takes is a shameless love a puns and a sense that no joke is too corny. Learn to make young people groan or maybe just to appreciate the punning paters in your life!" (apply here) Read the rest

San Bernardino will pay $390k to settle suit against cop who arrested 7th graders "to prove a point"

In 2013, San Bernardino Sheriff’s Deputy Luis Ortiz took the decision to arrest a group of seventh grade girls -- 12 and 13 year olds -- because they wouldn't speak when he demanded to know who among them had been the aggressors and who had been the victims in a series of bullying incidents; Ortiz's rationale for these arrests was that the girls were "unresponsive and disrespectful" and that by arresting them, he could "prove a point," that he wasn't "playing around" and this would "make [them] mature a lot faster," by teaching them that the law was indifferent to "who [was] at fault, who did what" because "it [was] the same, same ticket, same pair of handcuffs." Read the rest

Phishers steal San Diego school data going back to 2008 -- UPDATED

After a successful phishing attack that captured over 50 accounts, hackers stole 500,000 records from the San Diego Unified School District, for staff, current students, and past students going all the way back to 2008; including SSNs, home addresses and phone numbers, disciplinary files, health information, emergency contact details, health benefits and payroll info, pay information, financial data for direct deposits. Read the rest

Independent study guide to logic for philosophers and mathematicians

Retired Cambridge professor Peter Smith has distilled his experience in teaching philosophers and mathematicians about formal logic into a free, frequently updated (last updated: 2017) study guide to logic, constructed to be easily accessible, with quick-start guides for different kinds of learners, written on the assumption of very little education in either maths or philosophy. Read the rest

Elementary students assigned elf murder case

When eight- and nine-year-old students at Hyde England's Flowery Field Elementary School walked into class last week, they were confronted with a crime scene. Behind the police tape was chalk outline of an elfin figure and a desk smeared with blood. Their assignment? Solve the mystery of the murdered elf. Apparently it was a writing exercise. And surprise! Some parents were pissed.

"My daughter came home and she was absolutely traumatized," one parent said. "I'm not the only parent who felt like that. A lot of the kids in Year 4 were unsettled by it."

Apparently, that did not discourage head teacher Ian Fell who encouraged the students to continue their detective work.

"I have been a teacher for 30 years and this is, in my judgement, an appropriate, engaging and exciting thing that children aged eight and nine have done," Fell said. "They have been so up for it."

(UPI and Manchester Evening News)

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Rhode Island lawsuit argues that the Constitution guarantees a right to sufficient education to be an informed citizen

In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not guarantee Americans "equal" education (which would require similar per-student funding in both rich and poor neighborhoods), merely "adequate" education. Read the rest

The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy writing workshop is open to applications for the 2019 session

The Clarion Workshop, hosted at the University of California San Diego at La Jolla, is an annual, six-week, intensive writing workshop for aspiring science fiction and fantasy writers (I'm a graduate of Clarion, a frequent instructor, and a member of the board of the Clarion Foundation, a nonprofit that administers the election); the 2019 workshop runs June 23 - Aug 3, with instructors Carmen Maria Machado, Maurice Broaddus, Karen Lord, Andy Duncan, Ann VanderMeer, and Jeff VanderMeer. Apply here. Scholarships available. (Image: Locus) Read the rest

MIT Media Lab announces this year's Disobedience Prize winners: #MeToo and #MeTooSTEM

For the second year now, the MIT Media Lab has awarded a "Disobedience Prize" of $250,000, no strings attached, awarded to people whose disobedient work has benefitted society; this year's prize is share among three leaders of the #MeToo and #MeTooSTEM movements: BethAnn McLaughlin, Sherry Marts, and Tarana Burke. Read the rest

US tax shortfalls have our public schools begging for donations

Between Trump's massive tax-breaks for the super-rich and rules like California's disastrous Prop 13, our cities perennially cash-starved and have led to the erosion of the same public services that make cities attractive to businesses (for example, the subway, public education, roads, grid and other public services that made NYC so attractive to tax-dodging Amazon for its second headquarters). Read the rest

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