Betsy DeVos tries to explain why money should be taken away from schools

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, whose life's work is to take funds out of public education and give it to private religious charter schools, struggled to explain her philosophy on 60 Minutes last night. It was a funny journey into the exciting new mode of conservative thinking that everyone's talking about. When the desire to do something isn't backed by a coherent ideology (or one you dare to explain), describing it becomes a deer-in-headlights nightmare of fixed smiles and random thoughts springing into life and evaporating almost before an interviewer can pop them with simple, unchallenging questions. Read the rest

Crowdfunding to help West Virginia's striking teachers

West Virginia's public school teachers have walked out en masse in a wildcat strike, demanding an end to decades of real-terms wage cuts that have left them among the poorest-paid teachers in America, as well as skyrocketing health insurance costs. Read the rest

California ballot initiative to make state university free again by reinstating inheritance tax for millionaires

From their inception, California's state colleges and universities were free or nearly free for in-state students, but since the 1970s, the state systems have been ratcheting up tuition and originating loans that impose crippling debt on students, leading to delayed fertility, late home-ownership, reduced retirement savings, and dampening entrepreneurial risk-taking. Read the rest

Students substitute gun control protest for active shooter drill

After the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students at MDI High School in Bar Harbor, Maine were scheduled to have a routine lock-down drill, in which students practice how to behave if their school is the site of a similar mass shooting; these drills teach children to sacrifice themselves by distracting the shooter before they are murdered in order to give other students a few more seconds during which the police might arrive and kill the shooter. Read the rest

Teacher charged with child abuse after "dragging" boy who sat for pledge

Details have emerged about Karen Smith, the teacher who allegedly assaulted a boy who did not stand for the pledge of allegiance. The BBC reports that she was charged with "child abuse - recklessly and with injury" and with third-degree assault after picking him up by the clothes and dragging him out of class.

Local school officials say students can sit or stand during the pledge. Federal law permits students to sit.

The school district released a statement to parents after the arrest saying they "are co-operating with the District Attorney's Office and respect their decision on this matter".

"We are unable to comment further because it remains a personnel matter that the school district is actively investigating."

If the reporting is true, it wasn't simply inappropriate or excessively physical discipline: Smith committed an act of political violence against a child. Read the rest

Watch these teachers' rad personalized handshakes for every student

Above, Jerusha Willenborg of Wichita, Kansas's Mueller Elementary. Below, Barry White Jr. of Charlotte, NC's Ashley Park Elementary School. It reminds me of my daughter's wonderful second grade teacher Ms. Foskett who at the end of every day took a moment to say goodbye to each student individually however they preferred, with a verbal "bye," hug, handshake, simultaneous clap, high-five, etc. I liked watching this ritual because you could really see in the kids' eyes the connection Ms. Foskett made with each one of them.

(via Kottke)

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Watch professor smash laptop in front of class

Boing Boing pal Eric Paulos, an engineering professor and artist at UC Berkeley, has a history of high-tech provocations, from his early work with machine performance group Survival Research Laboratories to his controversial art installations such as a vending machine for pathogens. Above is the performance/prank Eric recently staged to open his Critical Making class:

On the first day of class, I wanted to make a point about expectations – about expectations for this course and more importantly about leaving them behind as we engage in the material and topics within Critical Making. Rather than say it or even show a slide, I unexpectedly and dramatically lifted "my" laptop and smashed it across the floor of the classroom.

Next, I setup the room, ensuring that the impact area would be clear and safe and also that I could adequately conceal my real laptop underneath using a haphazardly stacked set of design textbooks as camouflage. You can see my real laptop in the image below, carefully concealed underneath the broken laptop. I was able to easily advance my slides using a handheld remote control. I placed a board across, concealing my real laptop and then placed the staged laptop on top. A few more books covered up the board and a fake cable were attached to the broken laptop giving the illusion that all was normal – as expected.

I rehearsed the staging, where I would stand, what I would say, and how I would grab the laptop. Remember the bottom of the laptop would completely fall apart if lifted improperly.

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Professor tells student "Australia isn't a country" and gives her a failing grade

[UPDATE 2/9/2018 12:47pm PT: The professor has been fired.] Read the rest

Oklahoma schools go on 4-day weeks so teachers can work at Walmart on Mondays to make rent

In 1992, Oklahoma passed a ballot initiative saying that the state could only raise taxes with a three quarters majority in the state assembly, creating a one-way ratchet where every tax cut becomes effectively permanent, including the sweetheart deals cut for frackers and the deep cuts to taxes on the wealthiest residents of the state. Read the rest

Publicly funded private school creates "poor kids' playground" for kids whose parents wouldn't contribute to new playground equipment

Wednesdbury Oak Academy in the West Midlands is an "academy school," similar to a US charter school -- a publicly funded, privately operated school, which, theory goes, is able to "experiment" with new educational techniques, by deviating from the standard curriculum, rejecting students on the basis of selection criteria, and hiring teachers without formal qualifications. Read the rest

Teacher removed from public education meeting in handcuffs after asking why superintendents get raises but teachers don't

Deyshia Hargrave is an English teacher at Rene Rost Middle Schools in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana; on Monday night, she attended a special meeting of the local school board and, when called upon comment period, politely asked why the board superintendants had voted themselves a raise while the teachers in the school district have been subjected to a long-term pay-freeze. Read the rest

The GOP tax plan will pay millionaires to subsidize failing religious schools

Until the GOP tax plan came along, rich people who donated to religious schools only get partial tax write-offs for their gifts, because the constitutional principle of separation of church and state obliged them to use special scholarship funds that were not under direct state control. Read the rest

UK Tory MP unclear on the concept of dystopia

The Getting to the Future First: How Britain can lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution report was created by Alan Mak, Conservative Member of Parliament for Havant, and it's a laughable compendium of trickle-down nonsense proposing that if all dividends from automation flow to capital, somehow everyone in the world will share in the benefits. Read the rest

Dynamicland: a collaborative programming environment inside a whole building that you modify by doodling on paper

Dynamicland is a new nonprofit based in Oakland, where they are building a collaborative computing space, kitted out with cameras and projectors that allow people to work together to compose computer programs by scribbling on ordinary paper, have those doodles parsed by an interpreter, and then have the programs run as projections on the flat surfaces of the rooms. Read the rest

The Quantum Game: like Laser Maze, but built on real principles of quantum mechanics

Laser Maze is a super-fun electronic board game that challenges players to arrange angled mirrors to route a laser beam from an emitter to a sensor, avoiding obstacles; in The Quantum Game, you undertake the same fundamental task, but with a virtual laser that only emits one photon, and virtual beam-splitters, absorbtive polarizers, quarter-wave plates, polarizing beam splitters, Faraday rotators, and other exotic apparatus. Read the rest

Student debt: more people, paying more money, and mounting year on year

Dissident economic statistician Matt Bruenig (previously) has parsed the latest numbers from the Survey of Consumer Finances, and brings us the news of the increased democratization of student debt: in 1989, only 16% of students and their families carried student debt -- in 2016, it was 44%. Read the rest

Investigators claim that Oxbridge and other top UK universities are operating a massive, illegal surveillance dragnet aimed at students/alumni and their friends and families

An investigation by the (generally terrible) Daily Mail claims that the Russell Group, which includes top UK universities like Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, the LSE, and 20 other universities, hired "wealth screening firms" that illegally spied on students, grads and their families and friends to determine who to ask for money, and how much to ask for. Read the rest

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