High school will require mandatory drug tests for students

Badin High School, a private Catholic school in Cincinnati, Ohio, announced that starting next year, all students will undergo mandatory drug tests at least annually. According to the school's new policy, "If a student refuses to test when required to do so, the test will be treated as a positive test." The policy does not list what drugs will be screened for by the test and whether faculty and staff will also be tested. From WLWT:

Positive drug tests will result in confidential counseling.

"This is in the best interests of the students," Pendergest said. "The impact of drug use on young students and their families is staggering, and our community is not immune to this issue. Being proactive on drug testing is the appropriate action on our part..."

"We're talking about a health and wellness issue, not a punitive issue," (principal Brian) Pendergest added. "For their own wellbeing, students should not be doing drugs. We want to help them to make the right choices."

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Woman arrested for selling fake doctor's notes to students playing hooky

In Louisiana, police arrested Belinda Gail Fondren, 52, for forging doctor's notes that she sold to students skipping school. The notes were $20/each and she reportedly sold 14 of them before getting nabbed. She had been signing the name of a physician who previously employed her. Fondren was caught after the Vernon Parish School Board called the physician's office to look into the sudden increase in excuse notes from his office. It's surprising that the students would waste money on something they could easily make themselves given the endless free templates available online! From Yahoo! News:

Fondren was arrested on October 23 and charged with filing or maintaining false public records, according to the Bastrop Enterprise. The Vernon Parish School Board did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment and it's unclear whether or not the students who bought the fake notes will be punished.

If convicted, Fondren could face up to five years in prison.

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Student painting depicting police office as pig pulled from art show at government building

At the Madeira Municipal Building in Ohio, a high school student's artwork depicting a pig in a police uniform was taken down by the organizers of an annual student art show. In the artwork, the pig is standing in front of collaged newspaper headlines about police using deadly force. Guess what? People complained.

The unnamed student created the artwork as a response to the following assignment:

“Take current event articles published in newspapers or magazines on a similar topic and then summarize those articles into a visual representation of the feelings and emotions within the articles selected.”

The Madeira Police Department would not confirm or deny whether they asked for the painting to be removed. From WCPO:

“The members of the Madeira Police Department fully respect and support the student’s right to free speech and recognize that this young artist is very talented,” (a police) statement reads. “However, officers are troubled by the perceived message of the student’s art project.”

So was Lt. Dan Hils, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police and a frequent defender of Cincinnati officers whose use of force becomes the subject of public discussion. On Monday night, Hils said he was saddened by the piece but would not have asked for it to be removed.

“For me, the word I think of is just a little disappointed — disappointed that there is youth that believe that of police officers,” he said, adding: “It’s a beautiful thing our country has — the ability for people to express how they feel and this young person was expressing how they feel.

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Students' phallic prank as seen from a satellite

Students at Mackie Academy secondary school in Aberdeenshire, Scotland created a piece of high art on the playing field. While the act occurred last year, its documentation -- which was actually the real prank -- apparently lives on in Google Earth.

“I’m sure there is lots of penises drawn in lots of places around the school and many other schools across the country, but this really is impressive," said one former student.

(The Scottish Sun)

Of course, they weren't the first students to play this particular, er, long game. For example: "Suspected high school prank goes unnoticed by APS for years" Read the rest

Principal offers students $100 to stay off their screens

Diana Smith, principal of Washington Latin Public Charter School in Washington DC, offered rising 8th and 9th graders $100 each to stay entirely off their screens one day each week this summer.

“Kids have these phones under their pillows at night — they’re going to bed, they’re texting each other at 3, 4 in the morning,” Smith told WTOP. "I challenge them to stay off of any screens — so television, games, phones, tablets, everything — for the 11 Tuesdays that we have of summer break."

The students must provide two signed letters from adult witnesses to be eligible for the cash price.

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Knuckle-scanning anti-cheating software won't say what it's doing with Rutgers students' data

Rutgers students taking exams are required to pay $32 in fees for Verificient's Proctortrack, an anti-cheating program that collects, audio, video, web activity and "scans the ID, face and knuckles" as well as voice-prints. Read the rest

A day of Yik Yak hell in high school

Yik Yak is a social app that's basically an anonymous, hyperlocal bulletin board. Over at New York Magazine, Will Haskel, a senior at Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut, wrote about the day this social media product fueled incredibly antisocial and brutally nasty behavior among his classmates. To illustrate, just a few of the endless stream of posts from the day:

“L. M. is affiliated with Al Qaeda.”

“The cheer team couldn’t get uglier.”

“K. is a slut.”

“J. N. is a fag.”

“The fact that O. P. has diabetes makes me happy.”

“S. D. + 10 years = trailer park.”

“Nobody is taking H. to prom because nobody has a forklift.”

“J. T.’s gonna get lynched at SMU.”

"A Gossip App Brought My High School to a Halt" (Thanks, DMD!) Read the rest

Minneapolis SkepTech conference, coming April 5/6

Next week, I'll be speaking at the SkepTech Conference, a new gathering put together by University of Minnesota students. The lineup features some great folks from the science and skeptic communities, including bloggers PZ Myers and Hemant Mehta, and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal cartoonist Zach Weinersmith. Registration is free. Come check it out! Read the rest

University of Georgia wants student newspaper to stop catching people doing bad things

Top editors and much of the staff at the University of Georgia's student newspaper have resigned en-masse following managerial changes, and proposed content guidelines, that undermined editorial independence. Student newspapers like this one are independent entities: Students run them from top to bottom and faculty/consultants operate as advisers, not editors. Students have the final word. The University of Georgia hired a non-student manager and gave him veto power over editorial decisions. Meanwhile, the paper's editor-in-chief says she felt pressure to not publish certain content, and a leaked memo showed non-student board members wanted the paper to stop covering so much negative or "bad" news, such as "content that catches people or organizations doing bad things." Read the rest

Quebec cops kettle and mass-arrest demonstrators

In the Globe and Mail a Canadian Press report by Nelson Wyatt on the mass-kettling and arrest of protesters in Montreal last night. A long-running and hard-fought student strike over tuition hikes led to the passage of a shameful law that limits the rights of protesters. Quebeckers are out in force to protest this law, and often in sympathy with the students' demands. The police have responded with "kettling," the tactic of cordoning off a large area and declaring the resulting space to be a civil-rights-free zone, such that anyone caught inside is arbitrarily detained without access to shelter, food, health services, or toilets. (Above, a photo of Montreal police pepper-spraying demonstrators at a march last week).

Riot officers stood impassively around the corralled demonstrators, feet planted and batons clutched in gloved hands. On a nearby street, a Quebec provincial police officer was seen snapping a rod topped with the flag of the hardcore anti-capitalist Black Bloc and tossing it between two parked cars.

Police on horseback also provided reinforcement as officers sorted out the crowd.

Emmanuel Hessler, an independent filmmaker who had been following the march for a few blocks, said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press from inside the police encirclement that he was surprised by the action, saying, “Suddenly, there were police all around us.”

While the crowd waited to be led away one by one to be handcuffed and sent for processing at a police operational centre – a procedure expected to take several hours – a man started reading poetry and the crowd hushed to listen.

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Robot band performs "Come Together"

I'm having flashbacks to childhood visits to Showbiz Pizza, but this robot band, put together by researchers at Drexel University for an Engineering Week exhibition, is a bit more impressive than the animatronic animals that entertained people over plates of bad pizza.

For one thing: These musical bots aren't just going through the motions, performing pre-programmed movements in time to a tape of music.

Produced by the Music & Entertainment Technology Laboratory, the HUBOs are operating autonomously (not human-controlled). Their movements are directed by student-developed software to perform the gestures necessary to produce the appropriate notes and beats as dictated by a musical score. Every sound in the video was performed by the robots.

MET-lab student Matthew Prockup created the musical arrangement for drum kit and three "Hubophones", novel percussion instruments designed and constructed by the lab for this performance.

Video Link Read the rest

CUNY police bully peaceful Baruch College students during OWS protest over unfair labor practices, tuition hikes

Photographer and Boing Boing reader Timothy Krause shares the photos and videos above and below in this post, and says,

Here are some videos of police violence and beatings that occurred around 5:15 at Baruch College, CUNY, in response to an Occupy CUNY OWS protest about tuition hikes, unfair labor practices targeted toward adjunct and other faculty, and the privatization of the public CUNY system. Protesters had planned to attend a public trustees meeting, but we were not permitted to voice our grievances, in contravention of CUNY's policies and the rights belonging to a free people.

The first (below) is CUNY security and the order to disperse (protesters are occupying the building's lobby.

The second (further below) is CUNY security staff pushing and hitting protesters with nightsticks.

More shots by Krause. Here's a livestream. Related reporting at the Baruch college newspaper with more video from another POV, and here's a related item in the New York Times. Read the rest

Police officer pepper-sprays seated, non-violent students at UC Davis

[Video Link, by terrydatiger, and Video Link 2, by jamiehall1516].

At the University of California at Davis this afternoon, police tore down down the tents of students inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, and arrested those who stood in their way. Others peacefully demanded that police release the arrested.

In the video above, you see a police officer [Update: UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike] walk down a line of those young people seated quietly on the ground in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, and spray them all with pepper spray at very close range. He is clearing a path for fellow officers to walk through and arrest more students, but it's as if he's dousing a row of bugs with insecticide.

Wayne Tilcock of the Davis-Enterprise newspaper has a gallery of photographs from the incident, including the image thumbnailed above (larger size at davisenterprise.com). Ten people in this scene were arrested, nine of whom were current UC Davis students. At least one woman is reported to have been taken away in an ambulance with chemical burns.

This 8-minute video was uploaded just a few hours ago, and has already become something of an iconic, viral emblem accross the web. We're flooded with eyewitness footage from OWS protests right now, but this one certainly feels like an important one, in part because of what the crowd does after the kids are pepper-sprayed. Watch the whole thing. Read the rest