Buzz

University of Pittsburgh researchers have done some research — and they’ve concluded that “parents should have strong relationships with their children’s teachers throughout high school.”

Hey, how ’bout that?

“Parental involvement” was determined by the “frequency and quality of communication between parents and teachers, how much parents encouraged children to problem-solve on their own, study time scheduled by parents at home and how much parents discussed the importance of education for success.”

The Pitt News reports:

The research showed that all types of parental involvement correlated to higher GPAs from seventh- through 11th-graders, and that a “high level of parental structure” particularly benefitted the grades of black students.

While most people know parental involvement through elementary school is important, [Pitt researcher and assistant professor of psychology in education Min-Te] Wang, who also holds a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology, said secondary school can be just as important.

Parents, Wang said, should adapt their methods as their children age and progress through school. What works while students are in elementary school is rarely effective throughout secondary school, he said. Quality communication between parents and teachers, parents challenging students to figure out their own solutions to homework and pressing the importance of education to children’s futures also linked heavily to “lower depressive symptoms” in adolescents.

Seriously — is common sense in that short a supply that we need researchers to tell us that parental involvement and structure are beneficial to children?

Read the full article.

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University of Washington academic student employees – teaching assistants, research assistants and the like – recently formulated their “initial bargaining demands” for union negotiations with the school and are putting them out for a vote to the entire membership.

Beyond the call for wages above Seattle’s new $15 minimum and zero-cost healthcare premiums, the union members have some unusual demands:

Forming a process to address issues of microaggressions campuswide and providing information and training on these issues to all UW Faculty and ASE’s;

Providing access to genderless bathrooms, and working towards bathroom equity in access to already existing gendered bathrooms …

It’s not clear from this list of demands how pervasive “microaggressions” are at UW.

The Daily only has five hits on “microaggression,” including an editorial endorsement of a student government candidate whose wants to “combat microaggressions” and a professor who argues that favoritism to one’s own group – rather than hostility to others – forms the majority of discrimination.

Also not clear what the “genderless bathroom” demand entails – new gender-neutral facilities, conversion of multi-stall gendered facilities, or some special access to private single-stall facilities for transgender students.

“Bathroom equity” apparently refers to more restrooms for women than men (though sometimes it works in the opposite direction).

It seems more convenient to simply convert all multi-stall restrooms to genderless facilities if women want more places to do their business.

The list was devised by a series of workgroups including one on “Discrimination and Micro-Aggressions.”

Read the full list of UW union demands.

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Another “John Doe” is suing another university for violating his rights.

The Denver Post reports that “his lawyers write in the complaint that CU’s ‘investigation was slanted in favor of Jane Doe and took her statements at face-value, while mischaracterizing John Doe’s statements.'”

The student’s lawsuit contends his civil rights were violated under Title IX, and that he was “wrongfully accused and suspended for three semesters after a night of consensual sex,” the Post reports.

The Post adds:

In the complaint against CU-Boulder, the male student’s attorneys write that investigators from CU’s Office of Student Conduct were employed to prosecute campus sexual assault, not to gather evidence in an unbiased way.

“When questioning John Doe throughout the process, their line of questioning was hostile in nature, more akin to cross-examination in tenor, and desired to (elicit) a confession, rather than an objective attempt to factually reconstruct an event,” according to the complaint.

CU officials have defended campus investigatory processes in the past as neutral and fact-finding in nature.

Add this lawsuit to the very long and continually growing list of complaints against universities for violating young men’s due process rights and railroading them after dubious and flimsy allegations of sexual assault.

Even the New York Times is getting on the bandwagon, reporting last week that a “database maintained by a group called A Voice for Male Students counted 11 lawsuits this year in which male students ‘wrongly accused of sex crimes found themselves hustled through a vague and misshapen adjudication process with slipshod checks and balances and Kafkaesque standards of evidence.'”

“At a moment when students who have been sexually assaulted are finding new ways to make their voices heard, and as college officials across the country are rushing to meet new government standards, a specialized class of lawyers is raising its voice, too. They are speaking out on behalf of the students they describe as most vulnerable: not those who might be subjected to sexual assault, but those who have been accused of it,” the Times reports. “To do so, they have appropriated the legal tools most commonly used to fight sexual misconduct and turned them against the prosecution, confronting higher education’s whole approach to the issue, which they describe as a civil rights disaster.”

Civil rights disaster indeed. Until campuses stop trivializing rape, more and more lawsuits like this will be filed.

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After more videos came forth of Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber pretty much putting his foot in his mouth, two universities took swift action in “rectifying” the situation.

The first, the University of Pennsylvania, took down a 2013 panel discussion featuring Gruber back on November 10. They put it back up, however, fairly quickly.

Last Monday, the University of Rhode Island removed their own Gruber video, “a 2012 discussion where Gruber explains how the law was passed to ‘exploit’ the American voters’ ‘lack of economic understanding.’”

Dave LaVallee, assistant communications director at the school, initially told National Review Online that the university was “currently investigating” why the video was deleted.

On Friday, URI posted the following explanation:

On Monday, November 17, the Associated Press – Broadcast News Center requested clearance to use a video of a lecture presented by MIT Professor of Economics Jonathan Gruber at the University of Rhode Island on October 30, 2012, as part of its Honors Colloquium series. The speakers in the series, or their representatives, require the University to sign contracts that specify distribution approvals and/or language relating to their presentations including the posting of videos to the University’s website. In reviewing the Gruber contract before responding to the AP request, it was clear that the University needed written permission to post the lecture to its website. The University, therefore, immediately removed the lecture from its website and contacted the agency holding the copyright of Professor Gruber’s lecture to secure permission to repost. The agency will not provide its consent to the University to repost the video.

Interesting how the contract/permissions issue didn’t seem to be much of a concern before last Monday.

h/t to Douglas Ernst.

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Good thing we have school administrators on the prowl for budding wannabe Luke Skywalkers.

At Stacy Middle School in Milford, Massachusetts, ten year-old Nickolas Taylor attempted to cut in a line … and while doing so “threatened” a few classmates with his finger “laser gun.”

School administrators quickly suspended the boy.

An assistant principal sent Nickolas’s father a note “explaining because Nickolas pointed a gun ‘made from his hand’ at two girls in a lunch line and then blew on his fingers as if to cool off the gun barrel its considered ‘a threat.'”

Reason.com reports:

The principal thought thus constituted a threat? Really? How paranoid of gun violence do you have to be to consider an imaginary ray gun some kind of threat against other students?

Administrators should have told Taylor to behave himself in the lunch room and save the pretend target practice for recess. That’s all. But not only did they punish him, they suspended him. He had to wait two days for school authorities to mellow out and let him return to class. I wonder how much trouble a kid could get into for attempting to use something more dangerous on his classmates, like, say, Force lightning? (Note to principals: That’s not a challenge.)

Keep in mind, however, that there are plenty of public school officials who do possess common sense. Thankfully, I’ve been fortunate to have worked with many of them.

Read the full article.

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Before enrolling in classes at Florida Atlantic University, it seems prospective students have to offer up some very personal details.

Student Cheryl Soley was pretty miffed: “I just don’t understand why questions pertaining to how many times I’ve had sex have anything to do with campus life.”

WPTV Channel 5 in West Palm Beach reports:

Among the questions:

-How many times have you had sex (including oral) in the last three months?

-With how many different people have you had sex (including oral) in the last three months?

-If you had sex (including oral) in the last three months, how many times had you used a condom?

The questions are part of a required online course called “Think About It.”

“It has to be changed. It is a total invasion of privacy,” Soley says.

But an FAU spokesperson says Federal Law requires all universities to offer training to students about sexual assault and prevention.

“Nationally, approximately 20 percent of women report being assaulted while in college. To help reduce this percentage, federal law now requires all universities offer training to students about sexual assault and prevention, and the U.S. Department of Education recommends mandatory training for all incoming students. To comply with this federal mandate, universities throughout Florida and the nation are rolling out similar training modules,” FAU spokesperson Joshua Glanzer said in a statement released to WPTV.

Of the three questions listed above, I’m curious as to how the first two actually pertain to “universities offer[ing] training to students about sexual assault and prevention.”

Soley is worried about confidentiality, too: “How do I know who is viewing that information…and can it be used against me?”

Spokesman Glanzer noted that out of 8,000 students required to take the training, only one percent have “expressed concerns.”

Read the full article.

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