NJ school district bans indebted students from prom and field trips, refuses offer to pay off lunch debt

America has a food insecurity problem, and poor, hungry kids who can't pay their school cafeteria lunch debt are performatively ridiculed and humiliated by their schools. Despite this shaming, these kids parents refuse to stop being poor, and so schools are turning to desperate measures to provide the right incentives to these parents (meanwhile, kids from wealthy families are being offered front-of-the-line privileges in exchange for their parents' "donations"). Read the rest

Students wore boxes on their heads during exams to prevent cheating

Last week, students at Haveri, Karnataka, India's Bhagat Pre-University College wore boxes on their heads to prevent cheating on exams. Apparently the front of the boxes were cut away so the students could see their papers while not allowing for peripheral vision. According to school officials, this was a trial of the anti-cheating measure and that parents had approved. In fact, the students brought the boxes from home. From CNN:

Before long, the school was facing widespread criticism on social media. Even government officials weighed in -- S. Suresh Kumar, the state education minister, said in a tweet that the school's practice was "unacceptable."

"Nobody has any right to treat anybody more so students like animals," Kumar wrote. "This (perversion) will be dealt with aptly."

The school has provided authorities with a written explanation of the trial and an apology, Sateesh said.

Read the rest

Grad student defended her dissertation while wearing a skirt made of rejection letters

Caitlin Kirby, a doctoral student at Michigan State University, defended her dissertation while wearing a skirt made of rejection letters she had received during her studies:

She told Lansing State Journal that she made the skirt as a way of normalizing rejection and taking pride in overcoming it:

It took 17 rejection letters to make the skirt, rejections from scholarships, academic journals and conferences. To make the skirt, she printed them out and folded each one into a fan, connecting them in rows until they resembled a skirt. Kirby still had many left over.

“The whole process of revisiting those old letters and making that skirt sort of reminded me that you have to apply to a lot of things to succeed,” she said. “A natural part of the process is to get rejected along the way.”

You can get a closer look here. Read the rest

#RedForEd rebooted: Chicago's teachers are back on strike

The #RedForEd movement swept America in 2018 and 2019 as teachers in both "red states" and "blue states" staged massive -- sometimes illegal -- strikes, demanding a fair deal for themselves, their students, and their colleagues who drive buses, clean classrooms, and do other related work. Read the rest

The Sacklers come to Sesame Street as a muppet is revealed to have had an addicted mother

Sesame Street continues its run of excellent, empathetic new muppets to help kids deal with a changing world: after introducing muppets experiencing homelessness, living with autism, and explaining marriage without recourse to gender norms, the show has introduced a muppet whose mother lost custody of her after becoming addicted to drugs. Read the rest

Girl Scouts can now earn badges in space sciences like astronomy and the search for ET

Through a collaboration with NASA and the SETI Institute, Girl Scouts can now earn badges in space science, from astronomy to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

“Part of science literacy is understanding our place in the big world, in the solar system, in the universe," Pamela Harman, the director of education at the SETI Institute, told Air & Space Magazine. "Once we realize that, I think it’s easier to think about protecting our planet.”

From Air & Space:

Girl Scout cadettes (grades 6-8) can earn the space science researcher badge by investigating properties of light and observing the night sky; seniors (grades 9-10) can obtain the space science expert badge by classifying stars and studying their life cycles; and ambassadors (grades 11-12) seeking the space science master badge will explore exoplanets through activities such as designing a habitat for an alien world.

Read the rest

How the "Varsity Blues" admissions scam punished deserving, hard working kids so that mediocre kids of the super-rich could prosper

Propublica's latest longread is ostensibly a profile of two kids who attended Orange County's Sage Hill School, where tuition runs $40,000/year and where an estimated 25% of students get into elite colleges thanks to their parents shelling out for "independent counsellors" who run the gamut from people who help with admissions essays and strategic donations to the schools of their choice all the way up to William "Rick" Singer, who pleaded guilty to collecting millions to grease the path for mediocre rich kids to attend elite colleges by bribing coaches. Read the rest

Even if you pay off your student loan, be prepared to spend decades trying to get bottom-feeding debt-buyers to acknowledge it

Kaja Robinson is 53 and has a daughter about to go off to college, but she is still embroiled in bizarre, kafkaesque disputes over the $17,000 student loan she took out in the 1980s: for decades, she has had to set aside whole days to call debt collectors and try to get them to acknowledge the payments she's made -- for which she has paperwork, but which the lenders lost track of, causing her loans to balloon to $49,000. Read the rest

Just This Banjo: free/open banjo instruction for an angry moment, because you can't be sad while playing the banjo

For years, I've been covering the career of Patrick Costello (previously) a deaf, copyfighting, open access banjo player and teacher who is responsible for a bounty of instructional books, videos, and meetups for would-be banjo players. Now, Patrick has finished a new book called Just This Banjo and made it open access, in the name of fighting the malaise and terror of our precarious moment. As Steve Martin has proved: you can't be sad while playing the banjo. Read the rest

If Bob Ross taught math

From Toby's "Tibees" YouTube channel: "A math lesson about logarithms inspired by the legendary painter Bob Ross."

Read the rest

School iPads have bugs. Real bugs.

St. Paul Public Schools in Minnesota found bedbugs infesting iPads issued to students. As of now, only a few of iPads were found to be buggy. From WCCO:

...The district encouraged students to take their tablets out of their cases to thoroughly clean the case and keyboard with a window cleaner to kill any bacteria...

In a statement to WCCO a spokesperson for St Paul Public Schools said in part:

“There is no indication of the presence of any additional pests in any other iPads. However, as the health and safety of our students are our highest priorities, we felt it was responsible and prudent to ask families to maintain the cleanliness of the devices.”

(via Fark)

image: Piotr Naskrecki (public domain) Read the rest

California to force NCAA to pay athletes

The NCAA is notionally an "amateur" league, but the only thing amateur about it is that the athletes (who risk their health and even their lives) are unpaid, while the universities effectively own and operate wildly profitable pro sports teams. Read the rest

Whistleblowers out Falwell's Liberty University as a grifty, multibillion-dollar personality cult

Jerry Falwell, Sr founded the Moral Majority, brought evangelicals into the voting booth, elected Ronald Reagan, and changed the face of American politics forever; his son, Jerry Jr now commands the Falwell empire, including Liberty University, which now has $3b in assets. Read the rest

NYT calls for an end to legacy college admissions

In the wake of the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal, a new debate opened up, about the mundane, everyday ways that wealthy people buy their way into elite institutions: from hiring, poorer, smarter kids to write their kids' essays, to surrendering custody of your kids in order to misappropriate low-income tuition grants, to simply "donating" shit-tons of money to the school. Read the rest

List of free and amazing online courses from top universities

Open Culture and Class Central compiled a list of thousands of enticing free MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and lectures from top-shelf educators at great universities like MIT, Stanford, and Harvard. Read the rest

Ohio State University files for a trademark on "THE"

"The Ohio State University" is apparently the full name of Ohio State, and to remind everyone of it, they're selling a line of clothing emblazoned with the stark word "THE," and so they've asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to give them the exclusive right to sell t-shirts, baseball hats and hats with the word "THE" on them. This is stupidly generic and unlikely to survive a challenge or even examination. Doesn't THE university have a law-school that could prevent this kind of public embarrassment? Read the rest

Make: a solar hot-dog oven (then learn the science)

Making a solar hot-dog oven is a science fair standby, but JohnW539's CNC-milled Sundogger Instructable really digs into the classroom portion, drawing on the creator's experience as a physics/astronomy/computer science prof at Middle Tennessee State University. Read the rest

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