Principal Dies After Donating Bone Marrow To Someone He Never Met

A New Jersey high school is mourning the loss of its principal, who died from complications suffered while donating bone marrow to someone he never met.

Westfield High School Principal Derrick Nelson, 44, died Sunday after he lapsed into a coma during the donation procedure in February, according to His bone marrow went to a 14-year-old boy in France. 

“He couldn’t speak” as he was lying in a hospital bed after the procedure,” his father, 81-year-old Willie Nelson, said. “His eyes were open and he realized who [family members] were. But he couldn’t move. He never spoke again.”

Derrick Nelson couldn’t go under general anesthesia for the procedure because of sleep apnea, which makes sedation extremely dangerous, according to Inside Edition.

Nor were doctors able to draw blood from his arms either because he carried the trait for the sickle cell anemia blood disorder.

Instead, they put Nelson under local anesthesia and extracted cells from his bone marrow and sent them to the boy in France.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the most serious risk associated with donating bone marrow stems from the use and effects of anesthesia during surgery.

Nelson had served as Westfield High’s principal since February 2017. Before that, he was the vice principal of Westfield Junior High School. He also had been a member of the Army Reserve for more than 20 years, according to CBS New York.

Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle was among those mourning his death.

“He lived his life with daily acts of selflessness and kindness, so it’s a tremendous loss and people are reeling from it,” Brindle told reporters. “He just lived a life of service above self, and I think there is a lesson that we’re all going to take away from his untimely passing that hopefully we can apply to our own lives.”

Besides his father, Nelson is survived by his mother, Juanita, his fiancé, Sheronda, and the couple’s 6-year-old daughter, according to

A funeral will be held later at St. John’s Baptist Church in Scotch Plains. 

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How To Tell Relatives, Teachers, Babysitters — Even Your Spouse — Your Screen Time Rules

You wouldn’t send your kid to a sleepover without telling other parents about your kid’s allergies or bedtime bugaboos. Why not use the same logic with screen time rules?

We know it’s hard to do. It can feel like you’re being judgmental or don’t trust the other person to take good care of your child. But if you have strong preferences about what and when your child consumes media, you need to speak up even when you’re not around to supervise. Each situation calls for a different strategy. (And don’t forget to empower kids to talk to caregivers about what they are and aren’t comfortable watching, playing, or reading.)

Here are 10 ways to express your wishes to babysitters, friends and relatives.

Daycare or after-school program

  • Assess the situation: If you have a choice of daycare or after-school programs, ask the director about his or her stance on media use before you sign up. Say: “Do kids ever watch TV or play video games during the day?” But if you find out after the fact that your kids are consuming more media than you’d like ― or you don’t like what they’re watching or playing ― it’s time for a talk.

  • Be respectful but clear: Ask: “What’s your policy on TV/movie/etc. use when the kids are in your care?”

  • Find a solution that works for you: Try something like: “I’m not comfortable with my kids watching that much TV. What alternatives can we come up with?” If you still don’t get what you want, you can band together with other parents to present a unified front … or change caregivers.

The babysitter

  • Check in: Your kids might love the teenage babysitter who brings candy and lets them play on her iPhone, but when it comes to your house and your kids, it’s important to speak up for what you expect. Besides, if she wants more babysitting gigs, it’s helpful for her to know where you stand on everything from bedtime to posting pictures of your kids online.

  • Be specific about what is and isn’t OK: “I don’t want them watching any TV at all, but they can play 30 minutes of video games before dinner.” Or prepare them for the challenges you think they’ll face: “My daughter will probably ask you to read Goosebumps before bed, but please ask her to choose a different book instead. I don’t want her to have nightmares.”

  • Consider putting a checklist of do’s and don’ts on the fridge.


  • Be clear: Uncle Bob may love your kids but have no clue that Red Dead Redemption isn’t your idea of age-appropriate gaming. And how about the aunt whose taste in books leans toward the romantic? Help relatives (and yourself) by speaking up about your media rules. Say: “We’re only watching G-rated movies in our house right now.” Or: “I liked the book you got for Danny last year. He’s probably ready for the next in the series.”

  • Do damage control: If your sister tries to be cheeky and buys your daughter a “How to Flirt” book, explain to your daughter that you’ll have to keep it until she’s older, even if she gives you the stink eye.

Your spouse

  • Stay flexible: You may have had a great plan for how and when your toddler could watch TV or play with the iPad, but as she gets older, new choices open up.

  • Compromise: You have to agree on some basics so you can present a united front to the kids. Often one parent is more lax, and this can really irk the more restrictive partner. Hopefully you can work out something you both can live with. Just make sure to have this conversation behind closed doors. Try: “I’d like to start eating dinner at the table instead of in front of the TV. How do you feel about that?”

  • Fix mistakes: If one spouse breaks the agreement, hash out the issue after the kids are in bed. “We agreed the kids weren’t ready for PG-13 movies. I’m upset that you took them to see Alita: Battle Angel after we’d made that agreement. How can we talk to the kids about this change to our rules?”

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Art (and Art Teachers) Have Power

Allison Richo

“What are you going to do with that?” It’s a question college students and newly minted college graduates often hear from family and friends. For Allison Richo, who finished college in the 1980s, the that” was an art degree.

Today, she holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., and for the last 25 years has helped high school students in Prince Georges County, Md., see the world through artistic eyes.

“It’s been the best thing ever,” says Richo, who once owned an architectural design business with two friends.

When the business folded, Richo started to substitute teach.

“I did so well as an art teacher, I got a call [to return] and that started my career.”

Multiple Hats

It’s been nonstop for Richo, who teaches at Oxon Hill High School. Despite her love of art, and her long list of personal awards and recognitions, her attention is squarely centered on her students. So much so that she takes on a mammoth amount of responsibility: visual arts chairperson, interactive media and production coordinator, and academy and national art society sponsor. She also teaches five prep classes that include AP Drawing Studio, AP 2-D Design Studio, Basic Design, Drawing and Painting, and Art 1. Richo also earned National Board Certified status while battling a health crisis.

From your shoes to your cell phone, everything is connected to the arts.” – Allison Richo, art teacher

“I know it’s a lot, but I’m determined to give my students the best art education I can. If that means taking on more than what I need to, then I’ll do it.”

Richo is unafraid when it comes to looking directly at societal challenges, and bringing them into her classroom. Her students have examined issues like the murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man who was killed by police in Ferguson Mo., during August of 2014, and the Louisiana communities that were neglected following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The discussions help to fuel installation pieces the students create afterward.

By connecting art with everyday life, Richo helps her students understand art’s relevance. “From your shoes to your cell phone, everything is connected to the arts.”

Otherwise, students think it’s like it’s being in kindergarten, ‘Oh, we’re
just drawing and coloring.’ No. There’s more to it than that.”

The More

Art isn’t just painting a pretty picture and learning fundamental skills, explains Richo. Art builds character and critical thinking skills, and because of the giving that creativity requires, art also teaches empathy.

While Richo wants her students to achieve mastery and evolve in their technique, she also wants them to use their art to give back to their community.

To achieve this sense of selfless generosity, Oxon Hill High School students have participated in The Memory Project, which invites young artists around the world to create portraits as special gifts for children facing challenges in countries like Haiti, Syria, and Madagascar.

“Art teachers have so much power. We have the tools to equip students with the skills they need to go out into the real world and be successful and it’s up to [us] tp help them get there.”

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Stanford University Expels Student With Fake Sailing Credentials Tied To Bribery Scandal

Stanford University kicked out a student last week who is tied to the recent nationwide college admissions bribery scandal.

On April 2, the university said it had rescinded admission and vacated academic credits for the unnamed student after finding false information on their application. The student had “fabricated sailing credentials,” according to The Stanford Daily, the university’s student paper.

Stanford said the student was one of three associated with a $770,000 donation to the university’s sailing program from Rick Singer’s fake charity, Key Worldwide Foundation. Two of the students were not admitted to Stanford. The foundation donated $500,000 to the sailing program on behalf of this third student, per the San Francisco Chronicle.

Stanford fired its former head sailing coach, who pleaded guilty to charges in the case, but the student in question had not received any recommendation from the coach on their application and had no affiliation with the sailing program once on campus, per the university. The school said it received the donation several months after admitting the student.

Last month, the FBI charged dozens of people in an elite college admission scheme in which wealthy parents ― including celebrities Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman ― allegedly paid bribes to ensure that their children were accepted to schools such as Stanford, Yale and the University of Southern California. Parents allegedly paid to fraudulently change their children’s exam scores or have their children admitted as student-athletes even if they didn’t play the sport in question.

Huffman and more than a dozen others pleaded guilty on Monday to the charges brought against them in the case.

Stanford said it is taking steps to prevent future admissions fraud, including by reviewing every Stanford applicant involved in athletic recruitment. The university said it received no other donations from Singer’s foundation.

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Michelle Wolf Jokes: I’m ‘A Little Proud’ Of Felicity Huffman And Lori Loughlin

Michelle Wolf poked fun at the celebrities who have been arrested in the college admissions bribery scandal at Variety’s annual Power of Women luncheon event in New York on Friday.

The comedian joked she was “a little proud” of “Full House” star Lori Loughlin and “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman, who are among dozens of people alleged to have paid bribes to secure prestigious school spots for their children.

“It’s nice to have women running schemes where enough money is involved that it flags the FBI,” said Wolf. “That’s power.”

Wolf also roasted President Donald Trump:

She poked fun at former Vice President Joe Biden:

CNN and Fox News drew her ire:

Wolf suggested that “female assholes should get a chance, too.”

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was made fun of:

There was a message to white women about equality:

And on the red carpet, Wolf ridiculed Trump for not attending the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner for the third year in a row. Trump announced Friday he would instead hold a political rally on Apr. 27.

“I think he doesn’t have a big enough spine to attend,” said Wolf. “If a president can’t take someone making fun of them, I don’t really care about them.”

Wolf faced a backlash from conservatives after hosting the dinner in 2018, when she joked about White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

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Public Education ‘Ground Zero’ in Radical Right’s Assault on Democracy, Says Historian

Nancy MacLean is an American historian and the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University, where she teaches courses on modern U.S. history and the history of social movements. NEA Today caught up with MacLean for an in-depth conversation of her recent book Democracy in Chains, in which she details the decades-long effort of the radical right-wing to undermine U.S. democracy by establishing footholds in government, think tanks, media, the courts, and academia. The privatization of public education is a priority of this “stealth” campaign. In the book, MacLean introduces the reader to an important but overlooked player.

While many of us are familiar with Charles and David Koch—the Koch brothers—you introduce us to a new figure: James Buchanan, who would go on to win the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1986. Who was he and how did you discover him?

Nancy MacLean: James McGill Buchanan supplied the ideas that the Koch network has weaponized to achieve an agenda they know the people do not want: what amounts to a stealth plan to change our country.

I came across him when researching the State of Virginia’s fight against the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. This “massive resistance” mandated tax-funded vouchers for private schools and also the closure of any public school that planned to desegregate. Even after the forced closures left 10,000 white children school-less throughout the fall of 1958 and the courts ruled them unconstitutional, Buchanan wanted to keep the fight going. He urged, in essence, the privatization of public schools, which would have put them beyond reach of the courts.

Why, I wondered, would a believer in freeing markets with a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, be allying, in effect, with the most arch segregationists? I learned that the contest over Brown v. Board shaped Buchanan’s career. He arrived in Virginia in 1956, just as its conservative leaders were goading southern states to fight the ruling. Like them, he saw Brown not through the lens of equal protection of the law for all citizens, but rather as another wave in a rising tide of unwarranted federal interference in the affairs of the states going back to the New Deal. In his view, all this violated individual liberty, private property rights, and states’ rights.  Given a center to run at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, he made it his life’s work to understand how the other side became so powerful and, then, to devise a strategy for breaking down the liberal state they had created.

Buchanan and Charles Koch shared the same libertarian political views and espoused the same vision of what the United States should look like—specifically when it came to economic liberty. What defines the economic liberty worldview of Buchanan and Koch? Why should their views make the rest of us so nervous?

NM: Those who subscribe to this philosophy believe that government should have only three roles: to provide for the national defense, ensure the rule of law, and guarantee social order (in short: armies, courts, and police).

Anything that impinges on the liberty of the propertied is suspect in their view, whether taxation for public schools or regulation of corporations—even to address a problem as urgent as climate change.

Only a tiny minority of Americans holds these extreme beliefs (polls find 2-4 percent at most) but because we have allowed such vast wealth to concentrate in the hands of the top one percent, Charles Koch and his fellow donors are able to drive changes they never would be able to without the vast infrastructure of organizations they can fund.

This infrastructure is huge. It includes dozens of ostensibly separate national bodies such as the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the Federalist Society; over 150 state-level organizations whose work is aligned through the State Policy Network; organizing enterprises including Americans for Prosperity, Concerned Veterans for America, the LIBRE Initiative, and Generation Opportunity; and university-based centers of allied faculty—with George Mason University’s Mercatus Center as the best-funded flagship, but many more developing.

Some 400 colleges and universities are now getting money from the Charles Koch Foundation. There’s a great organization called UnKoch My Campus that is fighting this corruption of academic integrity, together with faculty, student, and community allies. NEA members should be aware of them as allies, because the Koch network recently announced that transforming K-12 education will be a top priority going forward. No doubt they will use their university centers to push for privatization.

There are a few issues that particularly raise the ire of libertarians, including public education and unions. Why do they disdain public education so much? Why was breaking the power of unions a central element of libertarians’ playbook?

NM:  In fact, the first thing that brought Koch and Buchanan together, half a century ago, was their shared hostility toward public education—because it was public. The term libertarians use is “government schools.”

In their new order, parents will have to pay out of pocket the cost of their children’s schooling just as they pay for their food and shelter. That’s what the insiders mean by “personal responsibility.” And by attacking teachers’ unions and directing tax monies toward for-profit companies, they get closer to that goal without having to spell it out to the voters. They shift power away from the public and toward corporations that will then lobby to preserve their new sources of profit.

James Buchanan in 2010 (photo: Atlas Network)

Buchanan grew up in rural Tennessee, attended public schools and went to a local teachers’ college. Why did he have such animus towards public goods and America’s existing social contract when he was a direct beneficiary of them?

NM: I I think the answer lies in the right-wing populism Buchanan imbibed as a young white man in a bitter and propertied family. He came to identify with corporations as “producers” and view claimants on government assistance as “parasites” (the root of today’s “makers and takers” talk). This toxic way of seeing came from southern white elites who had to turn ordinary whites against their black fellow citizens to win, and it prepared him to perceive later experiences in patterned ways.

In Buchanan’s own telling, he had a formative experience in the Navy in World War II when he watched Northeasterners from Ivy League schools be promoted while he was passed over because he came from the South and attended Middle Tennessee State Teachers’ college. He knew he was as smart, if not smarter, than they, but believed he was seen as one of “the great unwashed,” in the words of this proud “country boy.”

I suspect that’s why the Brown ruling so upset him and changed the course of his life’s work. He saw the same kind of Northerners he disliked from that military experience now telling southern states what to do. Not just that, but imposing rulings that required communities to spend money on improvements that taxpayers like himself would have to pay for, whether they wanted to or not. He had no children himself and resented those who expected others to pay for teaching theirs.

We forget today how much southern segregationists argued in terms of tax burdens. Just like today’s defenders of local financing, they said why should blacks enjoy the same quality of schooling as whites if they weren’t paying the same amount in taxes? Never, of course, admitting the impossible vicious cycle they kept in place, where poor schooling meant poor job prospects and inability to pay higher taxes.

What role did Buchanan play in furthering Charles Koch’s goals?

NM: Koch was a CEO who in the late 1960s began to devour political-economic theory based on the notion that free-reign capitalism (what others might call Dickensian capitalism) would justly reward the smart and hardworking, and rightly punish those who failed to take responsibility for themselves or had lesser ability. It’s a kind of economic Social Darwinism. He believed then and believes now that the market is the wisest and fairest form of governance.

But before long Koch came to realize that if the majority of Americans ever truly understood the full implications of his vision, they would never support it.  Indeed, they would actively oppose it.

We have to always remember that the architects of this plan are doing what they’re doing in the stealth manner they are because they are afraid of the majority, of the people getting wise to what they’re up to and stopping them.”

So, Koch went in search of an operational strategy—what he called a “technology” —that could get around this big hurdle. He funded hundreds of thinkers until he discovered that technology in Buchanan’s thought. From Buchanan, Koch learned that for the agenda to succeed, it had to be put in place in small incremental steps, mutually reinforcing changes of the rules that govern our nation.

Koch’s team used Buchanan’s ideas to devise a roadmap for a radical transformation that could be carried out largely below the radar of the people, yet legally. The plan was (and is) to act on so many fronts at once, in what insiders call a “big bang” of “interrelated plays,” that others outside the movement would not realize the quiet revolution underway until it was too late to undo it. Examples include what we have seen in the 30 states now dominated by Republican elected officials who have been bent to the will of the Koch donor network: a battery of new laws to undermine unions, suppress the votes of those most likely to support active government, apply unprecedented gerrymandering to mispresent the will of the remaining voters, undermine other strong liberal lobbies such as Planned Parenthood, use privatization to alter power relations, alter the state courts, and more.

How do believers in a democracy for and by the people respond to a billionaire funded movement?

NM: We have to always remember that the architects of this plan are doing what they’re doing in the stealth manner they are because they are afraid of the majority, of the people getting wise to what they’re up to and stopping them. And I am seeing signs of that happening.

Nancy MacLean, author of “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.”

All over the country, I’m seeing a deepening awareness that we are at a pivotal moment, an all-hands-on-deck emergency for the future of government of, by and for the people. I’ve been impressed by the passion out there to protect democracy—and renew it to meet today’s needs.  That awareness crosses sectors, from union members to environmentalists, from feminists to civil-rights activists, from good government groups to senior citizens who worked hard to build a fairer world and don’t want to see it ruined for their grandchildren.

You can see it in the Red for Ed teachers’ mobilizations and the recent strikes to defend public education, in Black Lives Matter, in the Women’s March, in the thousands of Indivisible groups built since 2016, among the Parkland students and their March for Our Lives organizing. This spring, I am working as an Innovation Fellow with PolicyLink to help think through how to stop the Koch juggernaut and fix the chronic problems of our democracy that enabled it to get this far so that we can finally achieve racial and economic equity and environmental and social sustainability.

You mention that “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” In the world that we live in—one of “fake news” and extreme partisan polarization—does shedding light on these radical right activists’ actions matter? What actions should we take to stop them from taking over our democracy?

NM: It absolutely matters. It’s vital to inform and engage as many people as we can.

But for greatest impact, the work should be done as organizers would do it, working outward in concentric circles, starting with those most likely to get the need and become engaged. There’s no point now in trying to persuade those who are trapped in the right’s bubble of deliberate misinformation.

Instead, each of us can inventory those we know through our unions, schools, friendship networks, faith congregations, and community organizations and talk with those most likely to become active, maybe even get them in reading groups to discuss what’s happening and what seems most important to work on where they are, with their particular talents and passions and resources. When widening circles engage, the right’s unity will start to crack.

But again, the first step is becoming informed. And when people do, they will realize the right amassed its power through state-level work, so that’s an excellent place to start rebuilding collective power, launching popular education efforts, and working for democracy reforms.

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Texas Teacher Put On Leave After Alleged Ties To White Nationalist Group Exposed

A teacher in Texas has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into his alleged ties to a white nationalist group, school officials confirmed to HuffPost Thursday.

Stephen Arnquist, who teaches Japanese at Skyline High School in Dallas, will remain on leave “pending the outcome of an investigation” into comments Arnquist allegedly posted online, a spokeswoman for the Dallas Independent School District said in a statement.

Earlier Thursday, anonymous anti-fascist activists from an Oregon-based group called Eugene Antifa posted an article alleging that Arnquist is a member of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa.

Identity Evropa, whose members attended and helped organize the deadly 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is listed as an extremist organization by both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center

Identity Evropa members have long used the messaging app Discord to communicate with each other. Last month, the independent media collective Unicorn Riot obtained those communications and published them online. (Using those Discord messages, HuffPost previously identified seven members of the U.S. military connected to Identity Evropa. All are now under investigation by their respective military branches.)  

Stephen Arnquist, who teaches Japanese at Skyline High School in Dallas, has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into his alleged ties to a white nationalist group, school officials confirmed.

An Identity Evropa member going by the name of “Stephen – TX” posted 28 times in the Discord group. He stated that he “lived in Japan for 7 years” and that he is now “a high school Japanese teacher in the ghetto.”

“The school is 40% Black, 60% Hispanic school,” wrote Stephen-TX. “The school was was 90% white back in the 70s. Walking down the hall by the auditorium looking at the band, choir, etc, photos year by year, it’s… it’s not fun.”

According to publicly available data, 99 percent of students at Skyline High School are nonwhite.

Stephen-TX described his students as “somewhat higher tier blacks and Hispanics,” but added that “they’re still unimpressive compared to mostly white classes I observed in neighboring districts.”

Messages posted by "Stephen-TX" in Identity Evropa's server on Discord. 

Messages posted by “Stephen-TX” in Identity Evropa’s server on Discord. 

In December 2018, shortly after he appeared to have joined Identity Evropa, Stephen-TX posted the results of his 23andMe DNA test. The results showed that he was of mostly British and Scandinavian ancestry.

On the neo-Nazi website Stormfront, a commenter by the name of “Arnquist” introduced himself to other racists on the site as an “American of mostly British and Swedish ancestry.”

Elsewhere online, Arnquist appears to have been a frequent commenter on the white supremacist web forum The Right Stuff, where he posted under his full name.

Activists with Eugene Antifa also uncovered a blog Arnquist allegedly maintained on Blogger, where in 2014 he wrote about taking the “red pill,” a term frequently used by the so-called alt-right to describe an awakening to racist and fascist beliefs. 

Identity Evropa is a deeply racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic group. Its members participated in the torchlight march on the eve of the deadly “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, chanting “Jews will not replace us!” 

Arnquist did not respond to a HuffPost request for comment on his alleged membership in the group. 

Robyn Harris, a spokeswoman for the Dallas Independent School District, told HuffPost in a statement that Arnquist has taught at Skyline High School since August 2018. 

The district, Harris said, is “committed to providing high-quality instruction in every class.”  

“We proudly embrace the diversity of our students and value the families we serve,” she added. “Together, we believe every student can grow, succeed and achieve.”

This is not the first time that a teacher has been accused of being a white nationalist.

Last year, a HuffPost investigation exposed a middle school teacher in Florida as the host of a white nationalist podcast.

Earlier in 2018, a Catholic substitute teacher in Maryland was fired after it was revealed that he worked for a white nationalist think tank and had attended the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

And in 2017, the principal of a Louisiana charter school was fired after footage surfaced showing him wearing jewelry associated with white nationalism. He had also appeared on white nationalist podcasts.

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Congress Approves National Award Program for ESPs

After the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Recognizing Achievement in Classified School Employees Act (H.R. 276) by a vote of 387-19 in February, the Senate quickly followed suit with its own unanimous approval in March.

“This recognition is way overdue,” said Debby Chandler, president of the National Council for Education Support Professionals (NCESP), which works within the National Education Association (NEA) to represent the interests and issues of education support professionals (ESP).

It has taken more than a decade of seemingly endless meetings between elected officials in Washington, political appointees from two different presidential administrations, and numerous NEA staff, board members, lobbyists, ESPs and other activists for the bill to get this close to becoming law.

“The voices of our board members and activists who contacted Congressional members in the first few months of this year made the difference,” said Marc Egan, NEA director of government relations. “We had worked behind the scenes and knew we had a moment to try to capitalize on.”

Popularly known as the RISE Act, the bill has been sent to the president for review.

“Lobbying for a bill like this is one of those moments where you realize how fortunate you are to work on behalf of educators nationwide,” Egan said. “Over the many years we fought for this bill, I would say to members of Congress, ‘This is as much of a mom-and-apple-pie bill that you can find.’”

“After many years by educators of advocating for such a national award, Congress is right to recognize the unsung and often unseen heroes of the education professions – education support professionals and classified school employees.” – NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.

The legislation provides recognition by the federal government for the outstanding contributions of ESPs to the nation’s public schools and the students they serve. If signed by the president, the legislation will direct the Secretary of Education to establish a national award program recognizing the excellence exhibited by these public school educators in pre-kindergarten through grade 12.

Similar to the National Teacher of the Year award program, governors from each state will work with educators, associations, and other stakeholders on identifying nominees for final selection by the education secretary.

“Schools simply cannot run without us,” said Chandler, who is an NEA board member and a secretary at John R. Rogers High School in Spokane, Wash. “We ignite the love of learning while providing essential services to the whole student.”

There are almost 3 million school support professionals in our nation’s public schools, colleges, and universities. They comprise one-third of the public education workforce.

“Although they seldom seek the spotlight, this national award will increase awareness of the important roles we play,” said Matthew Powell, the 2019 NEA ESP of the Year, and a custodial supervisor at Central Elementary School in Mayfield, Ky. Since 1992, NEA has recognized these educators annually with its ESP of the Year award. The award program will continue for NEA members even if the RISE Act is enacted.

Alfonso Salais teaches Spanish in the International Baccalaureate Program at Lansing Eastern High School in Lansing, Mich. He is a member of the NEA ESP Careers Committee and son of an ESP.

“My mom has been in the food and child nutrition service for over 35 years,” he said. “The level of expertise, dedication, and skills that she brings to her school district is second to none.”

Salais acknowledges that when most people think about educators, they have teachers in mind.

“This paradigm needs to change and broaden while highlighting all the important people at a school who play a critical role in the growth and development of children,” he said. “A bill like this will highlight the work of education’s unsung heroes — ESPs.”

Like his mother and family, Salais notes that ESPs “live in the same communities where they work, attend the same places of worship, and shop in the same grocery stores as their students and their families. They are an invaluable resource even outside of school.”

Of NEA’s 3 million members, almost 500,000 are ESPs represented in the following nine career groups:

  • Clerical services
  • Custodial and maintenance services
  • Food services
  • Health and student services
  • Paraeducators
  • Security services
  • Skilled trade services
  • Technical services
  • Transportation services

“In all these capacities and services, we give hope, build bridges, heal and mend broken hearts, build self-esteem and nurture students,” said Chandler. “Passage of the RISE Act will spotlight the important work ESPs do to make a difference in the lives of students.”

For more information about ESPs, visit:

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Teacher Shortage is ‘Real and Growing, and Worse than We Thought’

 While the teacher shortage is being felt across many states and school districts, its impact is not shared equally along socioeconomic lines, according to a new paper by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

Probably the most critical resource denied to many students is an experienced, full-certified teacher –  a deficit that is “much more acute problem in high-poverty schools,” said EPI Economist Emma García. “These shortages threaten students’ ability to learn and reduce teachers’ effectiveness, and high teacher turnover consumes economic resources that could be better deployed elsewhere.”

The study, co-authored by García and EPI research associate Elaine Weiss, is the first in a series  examining the “perfect storm” in the teacher labor market – the causes, the consequences and potential remedies. “The teacher shortage is real, large and growing, and worse than we thought,” they write.

As the U.S. economy slowly recovered from the Great Recession and school budgets began to improve, districts began to look for teachers. They soon found that filling positions was more difficult than they had anticipated. Too many districts have struggled ever since. Finding qualified teachers in mathematics, science and special education has been a particular challenge.

The Leaning Policy Institute (LPI), who has sounded the alarm about the teacher shortage in a number of reports, defines a shortage as “the inability to staff school at current wages with individuals qualified to teach in the fields required.”

As García and Weiss note, not all current teachers meet the education, experience, and certification requirements associated with being a highly qualified teacher.

“We argue that, when issues such as teacher quality and the unequal distribution of highly qualified teachers across schools serving different concentrations of low-income students are taken into consideration, the teacher shortage problem is much more severe than previously thought,” the EPI report said.

The shortages are especially severe in California. In 2017, LPI found that two-thirds of principals in high-poverty schools left positions vacant or hired less-qualified teachers. Less than half of their counterparts in schools with fewer lower-income students did so.

In Illinois, of the 1,006 unfilled teacher positions in the state, 74 percent are in majority-minority school districts while 81 percent are in districts where the majority of students are low-income. Ninety percent of vacancies are in underfunded school districts.

Students in high-poverty schools are more likely than their counterparts in low-poverty schools to have teachers who have less experience, fewer credentials, and lack the educational background in the subject matter they are teaching. (See chart below.) These teachers are also more likely to leave the profession.

how bad is the teacher shortage?

Source: Economic Policy Institute (Click to Enlarge)

The EPI paper also finds that the established link between strong credentials and retention weakens in high-poverty schools, as attrition drains these schools of qualified teachers at a greater rate. Richard Ingersoll of the University of Pennsylvania estimates that half of all teacher turnover occurs in 25 percent of public schools, predominantly in high-poverty urban and rural areas.

“There is no sign that the large shortage of credentialed teachers—overall, and especially in high-poverty schools—will go away,” García and Weiss write. Progress can be achieved only when the problem and its complexities are evaluated properly. This begins by understanding that the shortage is driven by several critical factors, including the teacher pay gap, stress and demoralization, and a scarcity of effective professional development, training and mentoring.

EPI will be take an in-depth look at these challenges – and potential solutions – in upcoming papers.

“In light of the harms the teacher shortage creates, as well as its size and projected trend, it is critical to understand the nature of the problem and the complexity of the teacher labor market,” said Weiss. “While most people understand teaching is a difficult job, our goal is to provide the attention that we have historically failed to in order to understand and fix the problems contributing to the shortage.”

What Happens When a Teacher Leaves Mid-Year?
teachers leaving mid-yearU.S. teachers leave the profession at higher rates than other countries, but the debate and discussion over teacher attrition – reflected in research and in the media – focuses on educators exiting the profession before the beginning of a school year, based on the assumption that’s when turnover occurs. Little is known about teachers leaving mid-year.

A Growing Recruitment Strategy for a Diverse Teacher Workforce

grow your own teachers“How do we help those who should be in classrooms working with students who look like them, sound like them, and will connect with them?” asks NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. An answer may rest within grow-your-own programs, which recruit local community members and help them become teachers, creating a workforce that’s reflective of the full diversity of the student population.

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Kentucky Judge Rejects Unvaccinated Student’s Request To Return To School

WALTON, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky judge has ruled against a student who sued after he wasn’t allowed to play basketball because he wasn’t vaccinated for chickenpox.

In the lawsuit against the Northern Kentucky Health Department, 18-year-old Jerome Kunkel claimed the vaccine is against his religious beliefs.

WXIX-TV in Cincinnati reports Boone County Circuit Judge James R. Schrand on Tuesday denied Kunkel’s request to return to school activities.

“Today the Boone Circuit Court issued a decision upholding the Northern Kentucky District Health Department’s statutory charge to protect the health and welfare of the community,” the health department said in a statement.

We are pleased with the Court’s careful and thorough review of the evidence and legal issues posed in this case. The Court’s ruling, which follows on the heels of the Northern Kentucky Health Department receiving national recognition through re-accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board, underscores the critical need for Public Health Departments to preserve the safety of the entire community, and in particular the safety of those members of our community who are most susceptible to the dire consequences when a serious, infectious disease such as varicella, is left unabated and uncontrolled.

Kunkel’s lawyer contended he faced discrimination because of his religious beliefs. Attorney Chris Wiest said Tuesday that Kunkel is disappointed in the ruling and will review his options.

An outbreak of 32 chickenpox cases at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Assumption Academy prompted the ban. Kunkel has been out of school since March 15.

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Teacher Fired After Students Found Topless Selfie She Sent To Boyfriend

A middle school math teacher in Bellport, New York, says she was unfairly fired after a student got a hold of a topless selfie photo she took three years ago.

Lauren Miranda, 25, said that she sent the topless photo to a fellow school district teacher she was dating at the time and that she didn’t think there was anything wrong with it

“It’s pure,” she told the New York Post. “I’m getting makeup in one hand, and I’m taking a picture in the other.”

The photo somehow surfaced in January in the hands of a student, which led to her being fired March 27 from Bellport Middle School, where she had taught for nearly four years.

“That picture was never posted,” Miranda told WPIX TV. “How it got out is the million dollar question.”

Once the photo became public knowledge, the superintendent of the South Country School District told her she could no longer serve as a role model for the students, her lawyer, John Ray told WABC TV.

“What is wrong with my image?” she said, according to WPIX TV. “It’s my breasts. It’s my chest. It’s my body. It’s something that should be celebrated.”

Miranda is now planning to file a $3 million federal suit alleging gender discrimination unless she gets her job back.

Ray, said his client is the victim of a double standard.

“Anytime a man has ever exposed his chest, no one has ever commented or had any problem with it whatsoever,” he told WABC. “But when a woman displays her chest, as happened here, she gets fired from her job.”

Ray told the New York Post he doesn’t know whether the student who exposed the photo was punished.

Meanwhile, South Country School District Superintendent Joseph Giani released a statement to local media saying, “The district does not comment on active litigation.”

Miranda told Newsday that she received excellent evaluations during her stint in the district, including one that called her ”an outstanding math instructor” who is “genuinely dedicated to the academic progress of all of her students.”

“I loved my job. I really thought this was where I was going to spend the next 30 years of my life,” she told Newsday. “Now my career has been ruined, my reputation has been tarnished, I have been stigmatized.”

Lauren Miranda, a middle school math teacher in Bellport, New York, said she was unfairly fired in March after a topless selfie of her surfaced.

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It Is All About You! Bring Your Personality and Interests Into the Classroom

We all want to make learning more meaningful and authentic, One way to do that is by connecting learning to the world beyond school. The easiest way to do that is by bringing yourself—your personality and your interests—into the classroom.

That’s right. In addition to differentiating our students, it’s also vital that we differentiate ourselves as we work to increase the level of student engagement.

My recent nationwide student engagement survey of sixth through twelfth graders revealed that students are engaged by nine different categories of strategies. One of the most frequently mentioned results was for teachers to “be more human.” This teases apart into different sub-categories:

• Teachers’ enthusiasm for subject area and students;
• A teacher’s ability to share humor and personal stories; and
• The ability to comfortably share personal failures and how the teacher
bounced back.

In a recent study of almost 400 students and their 25 teachers published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, the control groups of teachers and students were given information about five similarities they shared.

Merely knowing about those similarities was acknowledged as something that helps to strengthen their relationships, in particular “between teachers and their “underserved” students.” As a result, “This brief intervention appears to close the achievement gap at this school by over 60 percent.” Indeed, an increasing number of studies show a correlation between student achievement and the care educators show toward their students

That’s right: Your interest in gardening, running marathons, your food blog, or—in my case—comic books, can trigger student engagement and ultimately boost student achievement. Your interests—with you as the supplemental material— can defeat what I call, The monstrous “meh.”

That’s the lesson that gets the job done, but doesn’t quite land. It’s the unit that relays the standards, but is still greeted with a yawn.

Battling for student engagement, conquers the monstrous meh.

How To Get There

What are your interests? What was your journey toward education? What makes you … well … you?

Once you’ve identified the things that make you unique, connect them to your subject area. But remember, your personality can’t trump pedagogy. You have to leverage your own geekdom to supplement the curriculum. Because if the kids are moving from classroom to classroom, from period to period, and they know nothing about the diversity of people in those rooms, we are losing a valuable resource to prepare them for the world beyond school.

That’s its own lesson.

How Does This Look in The Classroom?

There are many ways to integrate yourself into your content area.

Stray from the textbook—Bring in examples of your content area from places outside the traditional textbook. Show you’re thinking of the material—and of your enthusiasm for it—by bringing in something you found on your own time.

Create assignments that ask students to mine their own lives for examples. You might find someone bringing in an example of an arch from local architecture, but you also might see an example of a trajectory from a football toss. Celebrating student findings is the ultimate in differentiation strategies and honors their personalities as well.

Help students to share their interests—Students will be more engaged if you are interested in them beyond the scope of academic learning. For instance, you can start a public event calendar, and students can add their own concerts, games, and other activities.

Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Celebrate uniqueness and passion as an ongoing theme in your classroom—Read A Bad Case of Stripes to your elementary students.

Have your middle schoolers analyze Apple’s “Think Different” ads through a persuasive lens. Bring in biographies of people who thought a little off-center and brought change to the world.

Share the many different personalities being celebrated in the world around them.

Share stories of yourself and your family as examples—Imagine your father won a lottery to drive a race car for a charity event. That story could become part of a lesson about velocity. Why did you select your own children’s names? You could talk about that when naming characters in a narrative. Teaching measurement?

Maybe there was a time your significant other had to try three times to level a shelf before the photo it was supposed to hold wouldn’t just slide away.

Administer a multiple intelligences test … to yourself— Analyze what makes you tick, and then deliberately embed other themes into your references and lesson planning. For me, this means not always referencing Star Wars and superheroes. But being aware of my Marvel-influenced tendencies, means I make sure to offer a few Major League Baseball references too.

Think aloud—This strategy is at the heart of everything. Narrate what you do and why you do it. Keep talking. Let the kids into your thinking process, and you will have shared both your personality and your expertise.

Of course, in the end, the real goal is to model comfort in yourself so that your students will feel comfortable with themselves. Engagement, after all, stems from comfort and comfort builds community.

You want a classroom that honors the interests of everyone. And that begins with talking about the things you like. Create a classroom culture that celebrates geekdom, and you’ll be advancing tolerance, empathy, and—yes—achievement

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Why I Choose To Work As A Stripper Despite Being A Magna Cum Laude College Graduate

A few years ago, I graduated with honors from a prestigious private university where I had received a full-tuition scholarship. And for over two years, I have been working as a stripper.

Many people would say that I’m not living up to my potential. I’m wasting my college degree. I’m avoiding “real life” and need to get a “real job.” I need to grow up.

I’ve been told that I’m not “the type of girl” that most people normally expect to find in a strip club. I’ve also been criticized for working there. Many customers with whom I have shared the fact that I have a college degree have commented that I’m “worth more” than what I’m currently doing.

It’s not only that people don’t approve of the job in general; people really don’t approve of me specifically having this job. It’s true that my bachelor’s degree is in no way being used to meet a requirement of the position, of course. It’s merely there, in the background, lingering in my arsenal of personal assets, awaiting the day I will decide to use it.

I used to work a 9-to-5, full-time, salaried job that offered health benefits, a 401(k), and impressive words to put on my resume. At the time, I thought I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. The job satisfied the expectations that other people had set for me. So why was I so unhappy?

I originally started working at the strip club because I thought it would be a fun, unique life experience that would make a good story later. I soon discovered that stripping had a lot more to offer me.

Strip clubs are sometimes perceived as being seedy and demeaning. But contrary to what many on the outside might believe, when I’m working at the strip club, I am completely in control. I decide which customers I want to engage with, who I dance for, how I dance, and how much (or little) contact I’m comfortable with. If people are rude to me, I simply don’t have to deal with them.

This ability to choose is wildly unlike my previous jobs, where customer service was so highly valued that even the most condescending and rude customers still “deserved” my respect and patience, according to my managers. In the club, I have complete autonomy. I am able to choose how I want to be treated in order to maintain my dignity. In this job, I feel more empowered than I ever did working in retail, food service, or behind a desk, where I was always told what I had to do.

I worked both my office job and my strip club job for the better part of a year. I’d spend my days in the corporate world, acting professionally, then head to the club to spend my nights dancing and flirting. I used my brain all day and my body all night. It felt like I was leading two separate lives. Working the two jobs combined took up most of my waking hours, but it honestly wasn’t that hard.

Eventually, I quit my day job and chose stripping instead. Leaving the day job was a spontaneous decision, but the overwhelming satisfaction and joy that I felt when I walked out of the building convinced me that it was the right one.

So why did I do it? Why did I give up a secure salaried job to go work in what many people consider to be a woman’s last resort? It’s not the money. I work in a small city, not Vegas. I used to make roughly the same amount at my old job, and when I left it, I essentially cut my average monthly income in half. But I grew up in a low-income family, and that taught me that money is not always a prerequisite for happiness.

My reason for this job is simple: I want freedom. I want to have the time to do things in life that are more important to me than work. Working only three nights per week for fewer than seven hours each shift gives me much more spare time than my old 9-to-5 ever could.

Not only do I have more time each day, I also have the freedom to decide when I want to work. I make my own schedule only a week in advance, so I can adjust it to accommodate any upcoming plans. I also have the unique ability to decide whether I want to come in to work at all. When I make my schedule for the following week, I can just decide not to be on it. What freedom! What liberty!

So now, in a normal week, I spend only 12 percent of my time at work, as opposed to my old job, where I spent between 23 percent and 29 percent of my time. In case math is not your strong subject, I am now working less than half the amount of time on average than I used to.

When I was given this gift of time, suddenly I developed hobbies. I rediscovered forgotten interests, I learned new skills, I began new projects, and I started regularly volunteering at nonprofits. My creative side began to flourish as I rediscovered my passion for art, photography and writing. I now devour books by the basketful and I find myself getting lost in my imagination for hours, browsing the fiction section in bookstores.

With time to browse the listings and visit potential properties, I was able to finally move into my own place. I spend more time outdoors now than I have in years. I’ve gradually beaten my previous running times and picked up new activities, like skateboarding. Life is finally fun again.

I used to spend my days inside, completing mundane tasks assigned to me by people I didn’t like. Now I spend my days doing whatever I want, wherever I want, with whomever I want.

All of this spare time has granted me opportunities that I didn’t think I would ever have when I was working for only two weeks of vacation time per year. I quickly discovered after leaving the day job that my favorite activity in life is travel — especially international travel. I have been fascinated with faraway areas of the world ever since I can remember. I love learning about new cultures, meeting new people, listening to others’ life stories, and exploring what our beautiful planet has to offer.

When I started my old day job, I then spent over 3 1/2 years stuck in one place. During the four years before that job started, I had traveled to 10 different countries. But during the 1,312 days I spent working a “real job,” I traveled to only two places outside of the U.S., for a combined total of only 15 days of travel. In contrast, in the 587 days that I have spent working solely as a stripper, I have spent a total of 224 days traveling. Does it make sense now?

It’s all about deciding what is most important in life. Everyone has unique priorities. This setup may not be ideal for most people in the way it is for me at this point in my life. I don’t mind not being “fulfilled” by my job. I don’t feel like I have to spend my time at work doing something meaningful. I spend my time outside of work doing fulfilling and meaningful things. But that’s my personal preference. It’s not the same for everyone.

I’m not professing to have discovered the secret to a happy life — all I did was find the secret to my own happiness.

I expect that my priorities will change over time. I know that I want this job to be just one phase of my life with a clear beginning and end, and I am confident I will be able to make that happen. But at least for my current bohemian and free-spirited lifestyle, I have found the perfect niche. Whenever I decide I’m ready for a steady career, my few years of being “self-employed,” as my resume says, will never be considered a waste in my mind. I am gaining interesting life experiences and I am thoroughly enjoying the activities with which I fill my time outside of work.

I’m not encouraging others to spontaneously quit their jobs and become strippers, but it may behoove people to take time to figure out what is most important to them in life. Make that a priority. That’s where true happiness is found.

Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on HuffPost? Find out what we’re looking for here and send us a pitch! 

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Amy Klobuchar Outlines Support For Free 2-Year Community College

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) may not support free college for all like some more left-leaning 2020 presidential contenders, but she does think certain one- and two-year community college programs could realistically be offered for free. 

Speaking on Saturday at the Heartland Forum in Storm Lake, Iowa, which was co-sponsored by HuffPost, Klobuchar outlined some of her ideas about higher education, including college loan reforms and making certain programs more accessible. 

“When I look at the jobs that are available right now, out there, we have a lot of job openings in areas that could use a one-year degree, a two-year degree, and we’re just not filling those jobs,” said Klobuchar, who entered the crowded presidential field in mid-February.

According to Klobuchar, such an initiative would be particularly beneficial to young people in rural areas.

“Part of this would be an economic imperative, but the other part of it is, there are a lot of kids that just go off the grid, and a lot of kids that could work in rural jobs, and if we can get them started in that way, and they can later get another degree, they can later go on to complete the four-year degree,” Klobuchar said.

She added: “That’s what my own sister did. She didn’t graduate high school. She came down to Iowa, worked in manufacturing for years then got her two-year degree, then got her four-year degree, and is now gainfully employed as an accountant. There are many paths to success in the United States of America.”

Klobuchar previously dismissed the idea of free college for all as a commendable but unrealistic proposal.

“If I was a magic genie and could give that to everyone and we could afford it, I would,” she said at a CNN town hall in February

The idea of free college for all has been espoused by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is also vying for the Democratic presidential nomination. 

Klobuchar has long voiced support for other ways to make college more affordable, however, such as implementing what she calls the “Buffett Rule,” or the idea that America’s wealthiest would provide the funding needed for students

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After Moving to a 4-Day School Week, There May be No Going Back

The decision last year by School District 27J in Colorado to switch to a four-day school week wasn’t just a case of yet another district taking this consequential and controversial step. Colorado, along with Oklahoma, Oregon, and Montana, has pioneered cutting a school day off the weekly schedule. Half of the state’s districts currently operate on four-day weeks, most of them small and rural communities.

The move by 27J was significant because it’s a suburban district northeast of Denver. Headquartered in Brighton, 27J serves 18,000 students. Around the same time,  Pueblo City Schools, an urban district about 90 miles south, also voted to adopt a four-day week.

While there’s no disputing the growing number of districts taking this step, whether the four-day week makes further inroads into more metro-area districts remains to be seen.

Chopping Friday (or Monday) off the school schedule seems like a drastic step, so why are so many districts taking it? First and foremost, it’s seen as a necessary cost-saving measure, although few districts expect a windfall.  According to to the National Commission of State Legislatures (NCSL), on average, savings ranges from 0.4 percent to 2.5 percent of a district’s overall budget.

District 27J is expected to accrue somewhere north of $1 million annually.

That’s a little more than 1 percent of its annual operating budget. Still, for one of the most underfunded school systems in the Denver area, it was necessary, says Kathey Ruybal, president of the Brighton Education Association (BEA) – particularly after voters rejected a a $12 million bond that would have helped fund better teacher pay and resources for classrooms.

Ruybal was fed up with seeing good teachers come and go, some moving 30 miles west to better paying positions in Boulder. “We were desperate. We had to do something.” (A 2017 BEA survey found that 60 percent of its members reported working a second job, with half doing so during the school year.)

Despite just modest savings from the shorter week, Ruybal believes the switch will prove worthwhile because it will attract more teachers to the district.

“The four-day week is freeing up more time for our teachers to help them professionally, and that’s going to help our students.”

Hitting the Brakes?

Since NEA Today first took a look at this issue back in early 2016, the number of districts moving to a four-day week has grown dramatically, from approximately 120 in 21 states to 560 in 25 states.

Typically, districts modify the week into four, longer days. In District 27J, the school day for middle and high schoolers now begins at 8:30 and ends at 4:32. Whereas most districts opt for Friday, the no-school day in 27J falls on a Monday.

Once a district has taken this step, it is unlikely to return – voluntarily at least – to a five-day week. That’s not to say, however, that the supposed benefits of a four-day schedule aren’t being re-evaluated.

For some lawmakers in Oklahoma, the proliferation of districts opting for four-day school weeks has harmed the state’s workforce. Ninety-two of Oklahoma’s more than 500 school districts operate on shortened weeks. The legislature is currently considering a bill that would reinstate the requirement that school years be measured by days not hours.

The push has met with resistance from many district leaders, who have reported positive results in savings, teacher recruitment, and reduced student absenteeism. One superintendent said forcing schools to return to a five-day week was a curious preoccupation in a state that “has been starved of money, and teachers’ salaries have lagged behind every state in the union over the past decade.”

In 2018, New Mexico lawmakers placed a moratorium on any further four-day scheduling until the long-term impact is a little clearer.

“We have to get a handle of it to see if it’s something that we should allow all school districts to do, or if it is something that we need to put the brakes on,” Senator Howie Morales told PBS Newshour. “How are the students performing? Is it really helping as far as financially in savings for the school district? What’s going to happen in an economic development and a jobs perspective when parents may have to take Fridays off and care for their kids?”

While existing research has concluded that districts can expect only moderate savings from the switch, the impact on students is less clear. A 2015 study did show improved math scores among Colorado students on a four-day week, “suggesting there is little evidence that moving to a four-day week compromises student academic achievement,” the researchers wrote.

‘We’re Trying To Make it Work’

When the idea of a four-day week was first floated in 27J, the Brighton Education Association surveyed its members on the proposal. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The new schedule, says Kathey Ruybal, “treats teachers as the professionals they are.”

Teachers are in the building an hour longer than the students at the secondary level and 90 minutes longer at the elementary level. The days are longer, but they provide educators with more time for collaboration and planning. Professional development is now essentially built into the day.

Ninety miles south, educators in Pueblo are also welcoming the time the new schedule has freed up. The Pueblo Education Association (PEA) worked with the district on the details of the four-day week, a discussion that commenced only after a five-day strike in May 2018 by Pueblo educators for more funding was settled.

As four-day school weeks have proliferated, some experts are concerned that not enough is known about the impact on students and their families.

“We had been having discussions with the district about them wanting to move to the four-day week,” recalled PEA President Suzanne Etheridge. “But we didn’t commit to anything in writing until after the settlement from the strike.”

PEA worked on the details with district leaders to ensure the revised schedule would provide more time for professional development and support for Professional Learning Communities.

“One Friday a month is either a teacher workday or a professional development day,” explains Etheridge. “Quite a few teachers use Friday to get caught up on grading, planning, etc.”

Still, Etheridge adds, the strain on teachers with the longer workday hours was evident. By the end of the fall semester last year, “they were pretty tired.”

Most of Pueblo’s students qualify for free-and-reduced lunch. The impact of a four-day week on them and their families, says Etheredge, is an overriding concern for educators.

If four-day weeks begins to gain traction in more urban districts like Pueblo, experts fear low-income families could bear the brunt of a change that is otherwise quite popular with educators and others in the community. Shortened weeks present child care challenges and makes it more difficult for many students to get nutritious meals.

“The district hasn’t done anything to really keep students occupied on the fifth day by itself,” said Etheridge. “But some of the community partner organizations – local libraries, YMCA, the Boys and Girls club – have worked with the district and also stepped up to run programs of their own on Fridays.” (District 27J offers daycare, including lunch, at most of its elementary schools on Mondays.)

Educators who are supportive of four-day weeks are aware obviously that the underlying problem is a broken school funding system.

“The inequity in our schools is infuriating,” says Kathey Ruybal. “But we can’t stand by and watch good teachers leave our district. That’s hurting all our kids. This new schedule can help us but it has been a difficult adjustment. It’s a multi-year process and we’re trying to make it work.”

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Trump Claims He Saved Special Olympics, But Its Funding Has Nothing To Do With Him

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he pulled some strings to protect federal funding for the Special Olympics a day after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defended proposed cuts to the organization.

However, Trump likely played no role in whether the Special Olympics would keep its funding.

“The Special Olympics will be funded. I just told my people,” Trump said to reporters Thursday. “I want to fund the Special Olympics, and I just authorized a funding of the Special Olympics.”

Trump also claimed he had “overridden [his] people” to protect the organization’s federal funding.

While DeVos, acting on behalf of the Trump administration, proposed nixing Special Olympics funding, her proposal was not likely to make it into law.

The overall proposed budget cut, which includes cutting funding to other organizations supported by the U.S. Department of Education, was hotly opposed by Democrats who control the House majority. Similar proposed budgets cuts couldn’t even pass the House when Republicans had control.

Even if DeVos’ proposed budget cut were to pass the House, it would still have to be approved by the Senate before reaching Trump’s desk.

DeVos faced criticism from lawmakers and the general public Wednesday after she defended to a House subcommittee the decision to cut federal funding to the private organization.

The education secretary defended herself against the criticism in a statement Wednesday, praising the athletic organization while noting that it receives “robust” private support.

“There are dozens of worthy nonprofits that … don’t get a dime of federal grant money,” the statement read. “But given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations.”

On Thursday, after Trump made his announcement, DeVos adjusted her tone on Special Olympics funding, saying in a statement that she had been fighting to fund the organization “behind the scenes the last several years.”

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Betsy DeVos’ Proposed Education Cuts Go Way Deeper Than The Special Olympics

This week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos found herself at the center of a firestorm after Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) questioned her about a budget that proposed eliminating federal funding for the Special Olympics in a now-viral moment.

“It’s 272,000 kids that are affected,” he told her.  

The moment blew up, even though the administration’s budget was released weeks ago and the cut was previously proposed twice without success. DeVos’ response drove an entire news cycle, though there was no indication the proposed budget would ever make it through Congress. 

But advocates say the focus on the Special Olympics obscures the much deeper cuts DeVos is trying to make to other areas, even if it is an important program. Amid all the controversy, other at-risk programs have been overlooked ― even if those cuts are similarly unlikely to pass.

“So many people don’t understand there are so many programs that impact kids with disabilities,” said Curtis Decker, the executive director of the National Disability Rights Network. “Just because they don’t have ‘disability’ in their name doesn’t mean the cuts being proposed in a variety of program aren’t serious.”  

The Education Department’s proposed budget would eliminate 29 education programs, including a program that operates after-school programs for low-income kids, one that provides professional development for teachers and one that helps provide mental health services.

These programs are essential to kids with disabilities, according to advocates.

“This budget is pretty anti-disability,” said Decker.

Other areas have avoided proposed cuts. Grants that directly fund special education services are not being targeted. The administration is proposing that those funding levels remain flat.  

Still, advocates say current funding for such grants isn’t nearly enough.

“It does feel like a reduction as districts identify more and more kids who have special needs,” said Bob Farrace, a spokesman for the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Instead, DeVos has prioritized other areas, like charter schools and private-school vouchers. The proposed budget calls for tens of millions of dollars more to support charter schools and an increase in funding for a school voucher program in the District of Columbia.

It aims to cut over $7 billion from the Department of Education overall.

A focus on school choice ― at the expense of traditional public schools ― is an attack on students with disabilities, Decker said. 

“When you start going after public education, this is the major place kids with disabilities go. That’s where the protections are. That’s where the trained teachers are. That’s where there’s a familiarity of the rights of kids with disabilities,” he said.

The Trump administration’s original proposal aimed to cut $17.6 million from the Special Olympics, about 10 percent of the organization’s funding. But by Thursday, President Donald Trump said his administration would not make that cut, though it was proposed in his administration’s budget and Congress makes the ultimate decision about funding.  

DeVos echoed support for his decision, saying in a statement that it was “funding I have fought for behind-the-scenes over the last several years.”  

But during hearings before the Senate and House this week, she repeatedly defended eliminating federal funding for the Special Olympics, using the national deficit as justification.

“We had to make some difficult decisions with this budget,” DeVos told a House subcommittee on Tuesday. 

In a statement on Wednesday, she noted that the program is mostly privately funded.

“The Special Olympics is not a federal program. It’s a private organization. I love its work, and I have personally supported its mission,” she said in that statement. “Given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations.”

Advocates see the proposed federal defunding of the Special Olympics as symbolic of the administration’s larger disdain for people with disabilities, even if it accounts for a relatively small share of the program’s budget. 

“The Special Olympics cut gained a lot of prominence in large part because it’s a tangible expression of what we believe is a very cruel budget proposal,” said Farrace. “It’s a very easy shorthand.”

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California Lawmakers Propose Reforms To College Admissions After Cheating Scandal

Democratic lawmakers in California proposed new legislation on Thursday aimed at curbing unfair advantages for students of wealthy families in the college admissions process. The reforms proposed come just weeks after the elite college cheating scandal laid bare some of the more egregious (and allegedly criminal) tactics rich families have used to get their kids in.  

The legislative package proposed includes six bills, with one that would ban preferential admissions to California colleges for students related to donors or alumni (also known as “legacy” admissions); another bill would require any special admissions or “admissions by exception” to get approval from three administrative staff members; another would require college admissions firms and consultants to register with the Secretary of State’s office; and one proposes a study be conducted on the need for the SAT and ACT to determine admissions.

The goal of the package of bills proposed is for no student to “gain advantage over another because of their family’s wealth or social connections,” per a release from the lawmakers.  

“It’s time to close the wealthy’s side door to college,” Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) wrote on Facebook ahead of a press conference announcing the proposed reforms.

“For every student admitted through bribery, there is an honest and talented student denied access to college,” McCarty said in the press release, noting the legislative package aimed to “protect the sanctity of the admissions process.”

Earlier this month, dozens of people were charged by the FBI in an elite college admission scheme, in which wealthy parents ― including celebrity actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman ― allegedly paid bribes to ensure that their children were accepted to schools such as Yale, Stanford and the University of Southern California. The alleged scheme included parents paying for their kids to cheat on exams and apply to schools as student athletes, whether or not they actually had any skills in the relevant sport.

The University of California said in a statement to HuffPost that it shared “legislators’ outrage and concerns over the illegal and unethical actions” of those involved in the alleged scam.

“UC and legislators are aligned on the goal of ensuring a level playing field for every applicant, regardless of income, social status, or influence,” the University of California added, noting that its policies forbid “legacy admissions.”

The California lawmakers expected the proposals to be heard in committee after next month’s spring recess, per the release.

Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), who was behind the bill that would ban preferential admissions to students connected to donors or alumni, said it was an issue of “fairness and equality,” according to the release.  

“We raise our kids to believe that if they work hard, all opportunities will be open to them. But that’s just not true when it comes to college,” said Ting. “We must close the side door that enables privileged families to get their children into elite colleges, taking the place of deserving students.”

As news of the bribery admissions scandal broke, many people pointed out that higher education admissions were already rigged to favor wealthy and white students ― even before reaching the point of criminality.

Experts HuffPost spoke to earlier this month pointed to wealthy families in the U.S. buying their kids’ way into college with large donations to schools, or simply by providing extra tutors, essay coaches and interview prep professionals to give their kids a leg up in getting into schools.

Perhaps the most egregious issue of all was legacy admissions, the experts noted ― or students being more likely to get accepted to a school simply because a parent or other relative attended. 

“This scandal is just the extreme, the illegal extreme, but it’s in a continuum with legacy admissions … with all these other thumbs on the scale that wealthy kids get that are legal,” Susan Dynarski, professor of economics, education and public policy at the University of Michigan, told HuffPost earlier this month.

“If you look around a college campus and you’re thinking about who got in because of a thumb on the scale, it’s the rich white legacy kids,” she added.

This article has been updated with a comment from the University of California.

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Passport to Education – NEA Today

Passport to Education

By Mary Ellen Flannery

Thirty minutes before sunrise, along the border crossing between Columbus, N.M., and the village of Palomas, Mexico, a silver sparkle flashes in the night.

It’s the reflective stripe on a My Little Pony backpack.

Moments later, another twinkle. This time it’s a sequined hair bow. The child wearing it hurries to a school bus, idling nearby. Then, out of the darkness, in the 38-degree, pre-dawn chill, hundreds of children follow, in puffy coats and fleece beanies, some wearing copies of their birth certificates on cords around their necks.

From their parents’ homes in Mexico, through the newly renovated, $85 million U.S. Customs and Border Protection-Columbus Port of Entry, students walk to their school buses. From there, it’s a quick 10-minute ride to Columbus Elementary School, where 70 percent of the 600 students live in Mexico. Older students, who arrive even earlier, face a 45-minute trip to the secondary schools in Deming, N.M., about 30 miles north.

All are U.S. citizens. Today, they live across the border. In years to come, they won’t. Educating them well for that future makes sense, New Mexico educators say.

“We want these kids to get the strongest possible education we can give them,” says local teacher’s union, NEA-Deming, co-president Charity Cheung.

That includes Valeria, a Deming High School senior who plans next year to follow her older sister’s path to Doña Ana Community College in Las Cruces, N.M., about an hour east, to study architecture. And Soledad, an eleventh grader who plans to become either a surgeon like her cousin or a U.S. Marine. “I see [the Marines] helping people, and I like to help people,” she says.

To get to class by 8 a.m., a future music producer named Brigid, whose dreams do not include Palomas, Mexico, sets her alarm for 4 a.m.

“I don’t want to miss the bus!” she says.

For as long as people here can remember, children living in Palomas have gone to school in Columbus. In fact, many of the teachers working in Luna County schools today made the same journey when they were students long ago.

“Back in my day, we walked from the border to the old school. There were no buses,” recalls second-grade teacher Lourdes Espinoza, a former Palomas resident who has taught for nearly 20 years at Columbus Elementary.

But, over the decades, one thing has not changed, she says. The purpose of the cross-border trip always has been the same: “To get a good education.”


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Mumps Outbreak At Temple University Sickens As Many As 105 People

Philadelphia’s Temple University is urging its students and faculty to get mumps vaccinations amid an outbreak that has likely sickened more than 100 people over two months.

As of Tuesday, the city’s Department of Public Health said there were 105 cases of mumps associated with Temple’s outbreak. Of those cases, 18 have been confirmed and 87 were probable. Six of those cases were outside of Philadelphia, the department said.

The school first announced the outbreak at the end of February, just before spring break, with four confirmed cases of the disease.

A line of mostly students waits to enter a vaccination clinic on Wednesday amid a mumps outbreak on the Temple University campus in Philadelphia.

“I think we have a handle on it, but we’re expecting a third wave,” Marky Denys, the university’s student health director, told CBS Philly.

Mumps is a viral infection that spreads through infected saliva. An infected person can spread it simply by sneezing or coughing around other people, or by sharing utensils or cups with another person, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website.

The university is offering free vaccines to its students and faculty at walk-in clinics this week.

“Because of the nature of mumps ― it can take up to three weeks for someone who was exposed to become symptomatic ― we realize that the outbreak will continue for a while longer, but hope that these clinics help bring it to a close,” James Garrow, a spokesman with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, said in a statement.

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. Though it does not guarantee protection, those who are vaccinated generally experience milder symptoms of the disease if it’s contracted. A higher number of vaccinated people also helps limits the size, duration and spread of outbreaks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People walk on the Temple University campus in Philadelphia on Friday. Philadelphia health officials say scores of people hav

People walk on the Temple University campus in Philadelphia on Friday. Philadelphia health officials say scores of people have contracted mumps at the school.

“There is no treatment for mumps, and it can cause long-term health problems. Before there was a vaccine, mumps was the leading cause in the U.S. for viral encephalitis (infection of the brain) and sudden deafness,” the CDC’s website says.

In some cases, public health officials may recommend two or three doses of the vaccine depending on a person’s risk of contracting the disease, according to both the CDC and the Mayo Clinic.

“A study of a recent mumps outbreak on a college campus showed that students who received a third dose of MMR vaccine had a much lower risk of contracting the disease,” the Mayo Clinic’s website says.

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‘Shame On You’: Betsy DeVos Slammed For Trying To Defund Special Olympics

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos tried to defend the department’s proposed budget cuts ― including the elimination of funding for the Special Olympics ― in a hearing before House lawmakers on Tuesday.

According to Education Week, the proposal released earlier this month would gut at least 29 programs in an attempt to save some $7 billion. 

“We had to make some difficult decisions with this budget,” DeVos told a House subcommittee. 

“Madam Secretary, I have to say, and maybe it’s offensive: Shame on you,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said per CNN.

The suggested budget has little chance of making it into law; the Trump administration has proposed similar cuts in previous years that didn’t pass when Republicans controlled the House. With Democrats now holding the purse strings, it’s even less likely to pass. 

But if the Special Olympics cuts were enacted, more than 10 percent of the organization’s revenue would be impacted. 

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) asked DeVos how many kids would be affected by the proposed Special Olympics cuts. 

DeVos said she didn’t know. 

It’s 272,000 kids,” he replied. 

DeVos admitted that the Special Olympics was an “awesome organization” but noted that it also received support from philanthropic groups. DeVos, a billionaire, even donated a portion of her salary to the organization last year. More than two years ago, she met with Special Olympics athletes and shared this image on Twitter: 

This week, that old image received many new replies: 

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What is Trump’s Free-Speech Executive Order Really About?

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

What students and faculty say shouldn’t be controlled—but what they think should be—are the mixed messages that lawmakers have sent this month.

In Florida, proposed legislation would require public universities to annually survey faculty and students to reveal their personal political beliefs. Meanwhile, President Trump last week threatened, by executive order, to withhold federal funds from public universities that regulate speech on their campuses, and a new South Dakota law orders state universities to protect speech that be “offensive, unwise, immoral, indecent, disagreeable…”

These measures are political MacGuffins that have nothing to do with the serious problems that face public colleges—like affordability and access, say advocates. Instead, political efforts aimed at on-campus free-speech problems are about the political effort, says NEA senior policy analyst Mark F. Smith and others.

“I don’t think the man who wants to investigate Saturday Night Live truly understands what freedom of speech means,” says Smith, referring to Trump’s Twitter-issued call for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to “look into” Saturday Night Live after it has repeatedly mocked him in comedy skits.

“The fact is public universities already are covered by the First Amendment. An executive order does not increase that pressure,” says Smith. “Speakers from all over the political spectrum are speaking on college campuses all the time. Controversial ideas are being explored—all the time—in college classrooms. This is what higher education is. Ideas can, and should, be challenged, your commitment to them can, and should, be re-examined.”

NEA’s own resolution on academic freedom says “academic freedom includes the rights of teachers and learners to explore and discuss divergent points of view.” At its heart is the idea that the pursuit of truth on campuses serves a common good in society.

“On our campuses, our members work to provide a safe public forum for free expression of diverse views. Freedom of expression is welcomes and encouraged. This happens on our campuses every day, without fanfare,” said Frederick Kowal, president of the United University Professions (UUP), a union of faculty and staff at the State Universities of New York.

What the Executive Order Means

The executive order doesn’t create any new protections for speech on campus. It just restates the obligations of public universities under current law and policy, such as the First Amendment.

But by previewing it in a speech to conservative activists, and unveiling it while surrounded by conservative activists, Trump is signaling “that this administration’s focus is on the free-speech rights of only some citizens—namely, conservatives,” wrote a Miami law professor recently in the Washington Post.

Trump first proposed the idea of an executive order around on-campus free speech in early March, in a speech that mentioned Hayden Williams, an activist for Turning Point USA, a right-wing organization that maintains Professor Watchlist to track faculty accused of liberal bias. (The intent of Professor Watchlist is to silence faculty speech—and target academic freedom in the classroom—and NEA has condemned Professor Watchlist for those reasons.)

Williams was recruiting students at UC Berkeley when he “took a hard punch in the face for all of us,” said Trump. His attackers were arrested by campus police, and the attack condemned by UC Berkeley officials. A statement from UC Berkeley’s chancellor says the university “has no information indicating” the attackers are affiliated with UC Berkeley.

Most of the so-called debate around free speech has been driven by conservative activists, such as Turning Point USA, who say they face too much hostility and vitriol on campuses. It can be ugly—but it’s extremely rare for any speakers to be silenced.

Even Richard Spencer, a leader of the violent, torch-wielding white supremacist rally at the University of Virginia that left three people dead in 2017, was allowed to speak at the University of Florida (UF) last year, despite concerns by United Faculty of Florida members that Spencer’s neo-Nazi supporters would target and endanger black, Hispanic, and Jewish students. To accommodate him, UF canceled classes and the state governor deployed National Guard reservists to campus. It cost UF at least $600,000, plus millions of dollars by state and local communities.

“It has become clear that Spencer’s cynical invocation of free speech rights is part of a larger assault on higher education,” wrote two UF authors in a NEA publication last year. “For decades, anti-intellectuals have pushed a narrative of universities as hot-beds of liberal indoctrination and political intolerance, rather than havens of free inquiry. This argument has been used as a pretext to defund public higher education and to attack whole programs…”

Spencer, in particular, they write, invokes his campus free-speech rights, so that he can get free publicity and use a university setting to legitimize his racist, white supremacist views.

What’s Next, Florida?

Now Florida faculty are alarmed by the attempts to police their personal beliefs. The bill that would require the state’s public universities to survey faculty and students about their personal political beliefs passed a House committee earlier this month, and has a companion in the Senate. Matthew Lata, professor of music at Florida State University and president of the United Faculty of Florida-FSU chapter, testified to lawmakers during debate.

“Are faculty and students going to be coerced into filling out such a survey?” he asked, and Inside Higher Ed reported. “If I refused to do that, am I going to be punished? Coerced speech is a violation of the First Amendment. I shouldn’t be forced to tell the state of Florida what I believe about certain political matters.”

And what do lawmakers plan to do with the results, he asked, according to a Tallahassee Democrat article. “Let’s say in political science you have 20 people and the survey determines 15 are liberal and five are conservative. Are you going to fire the liberals and hire more conservatives? What would happen?”

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This Is Everything You Need To Know About YouTube Today

Smosh, Jenna Marbles, Markiplier the names may not mean much to you, but chances are your kids are on a first-name basis. These funny YouTube hosts, with their off-the-cuff commentary, silly antics and bewildering (to adults) subject matter, are some of the most influential personalities on young teens, garnering millions (and, in the case of disgraced Swedish gamer PewDiePie, billions) of views. But information about these personalities’ shows the content, quality and age-appropriateness, for example isn’t easy for parents to find.

It would be great to be able to just download YouTube Kids and have your kids watch something hopefully more age-appropriate than regular YouTube. However, YouTube Kids has problems of its own. And the bottom line is: kids want to watch the original. But it’s tough to manage. Anyone can create YouTube channels, they crop up seemingly out of nowhere, they don’t follow program schedules, and they’re cast out among thousands of other videos. There are also serious concerns that YouTube collects data from young users, in violation of the Childrens Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

So if your kids really love it, you’ll have to strategize. Reading Common Sense Media reviews of YouTube channels is a good way to get a sense of their age-appropriateness and quality. And digging into the videos themselves watching with your kids or on your own is wise. You never know what’s going to come up on a particular channel, since all the content is user-generated.

Here are parents’ most commonly asked questions about YouTube and kids. Also, read Common Sense Media’s detailed review of YouTube.

What’s the best way to keep tabs on my kids’ YouTube-watching?

Simply ask your kids what they’re watching and join them. In general, kids are tuning into certain channels or following specific YouTube personalities because they’re entertained by them (not because they are actively searching for “bad” stuff). Many kids naturally want to share the videos they like. But be prepared to watch some weird stuff such as unboxing videos. If kids don’t want to share, get the name of the channel they’re watching and watch it later. Watch a few videos by the same creator to get a feel for the content.

How can I find out what my kid has been watching on YouTube?

If you’re concerned about the content your kid is watching on YouTube ― and you’ve tried talking to her ― there are ways of tracking her viewing habits. If she has a YouTube account (which only requires a Gmail address), her YouTube page will display her recently watched videos, recommended videos based on her watch history, and suggestions for channels similar to the ones she’s watched. Even if your kid deletes her “watch history,” the recommendations all will be related to stuff she’s watched.

How can I minimize my kids’ exposure to iffy videos on YouTube?

Encourage your kids to subscribe to their favorite channels rather than hunting around on YouTube for the latest ones from a specific creator. Subscribers are notified when a new video is uploaded, plus all their channels are displayed in the Subscriptions section, making it easier, and faster, to go directly to the stuff they like. Consider choosing subscriptions together, and make an event out of watching the newest uploads with your kids. You can also try the Watch Later feature. YouTube gives you the ability to save videos to watch at a later time, which improves the odds that your kids will be exposed to stuff you’ve pre-approved. You can create playlists, too, virtually designing a customized programming schedule of content for each of your kids or for different subjects they’re interested in.

How can I find out who’s behind the videos my kid watches on YouTube?

Investigate the creator. The name of each video’s creator appears beneath the video window and usually has a bit of information about the person behind the video and/or the channel itself. Google the creator’s name to find out whether he or she has a Wikipedia page or another Web presence (most YouTubers use other social media including Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram to promote their brand). You might find out that your kid’s favorite YouTube personality has an impressive reach. Check out our recommendations of positive role models on YouTube.

How can I manage the related videos on YouTube?

The suggested videos listed on the right-hand side of the page are related in some way to the main video. Evaluate them to see if they seem age-appropriate, and that will provide an indication of the appropriateness of the main video. Here are some additional tips to make YouTube’s related videos a little safer.

Can I get rid of ads on YouTube?

There are tons of ads on YouTube. Even if your kids stick to kid videos, they’ll see commercials for stuff that may not be appropriate. You can try to reduce or manage exposure to advertising, but the best option is to talk to your kids about viewing all marketing critically so they don’t get sucked in. Alternatively, you can consider subscribing to YouTube Red, which doesn’t show ads and which also has exclusive content.

What should I say to my kid about all the mean comments people leave on YouTube?

YouTube comments are notorious for being negative, but it’s worth reading them to get a sense of the channels’ demographic and the tone of the discussion. It can be possible to find hate speech or child predators lurking in the comments of videos featuring or targeted to kids and teens. Channel creators have the ability to moderate their comments to reduce the amount of negativity. A well-groomed comments section may indicate a more responsible creator.

Are there any parental controls on YouTube?

YouTube is technically only for teens 13 and up, and what the site considers age-appropriate may not match your values. But YouTube offers a filter called Restricted Mode that limits the iffy stuff. Go to your account settings page and toggle on Restricted Mode at the bottom of the page. (It will remain on for logged-in users on the same browser.) The YouTube app also offers some settings that remind you to take a break and restrict your time, although these features are more a part of Google’s efforts to promote “digital well-being” than parental controls. If you want more control over what your kids can watch on YouTube, consider downloading the YouTube Kids app, which offers some features including screen-time limits and restricted search, to keep young kids a little safer on the platform.

How can I find good stuff on YouTube?

Most kids find out about new videos either from their friends or by clicking on the related videos (which may or may not be appropriate). But YouTube itself offers several ways to home in on quality content. Go to YouTube Spotlight for curated content in a variety of categories. Read about YouTube news on the company blog and check out our YouTube reviews and curated lists of decent YouTube shows for kids, such as Funny YouTube Channels, Positive Role Models on YouTube and Best YouTube Channels and Videos for Preschool Kids.

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Transgender Teen Wins Gender-Neutral Prom Title After Being Told He Can’t Run For King

A transgender boy won the title of prom royalty at a Georgia high school following a national outcry when it appeared he’d been barred from doing so in accordance with his gender identity. 

Dex Frier was named one of two “royal knight” seniors at the March 23 prom at Johnson High School in Gainesville, Georgia. In a change from previous years, the 2019 ballot used gender-neutral terminology and was not divided along the lines of “king” or “queen.” It was, instead, a list in which any two students could be voted prom royalty regardless of their gender identity. 

That decision came after more than 31,000 people expressed their support for 17-year-old Frier via an online petition

Frier’s friend, Sam Corbett, thanked supporters in a statement posted to the petition Monday, calling the array of signatures from all over the world “a symbol of the united support of human rights, but also a testament to the power of the individual.” 

“This plan was one of compromise on both sides, and we would like to thank administration, both at the school and county level, for listening and welcoming our concerns ― and most importantly, implementing a plan to address them,” Corbett wrote. “We hope this petition has not only pushed society further towards human rights equality, but also inspired someone to do the same for an issue in their community.” 

Prior to the March 23 dance, Frier had been nominated by the student body as one of six candidates to be senior prom king. The student, who has publicly identified as transgender since his sophomore year, said he was later told by school officials that he would only be permitted to run as prom queen.  

“Just because I’m not legally male I was going to get excluded from something that every guy has the opportunity to be in high school. It was really upsetting,” Frier told BuzzFeed in a March 21 interview. “As a student I felt I had the right to be put on the ballot.”

He continued: “I don’t know of many trans people who go to this school [but] I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this. It hurts being told you don’t deserve the same rights as someone else because you’re not the same as them.”

Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield responded to Frier’s claims in a strongly worded March 21 statement issued to local media, which read in part, “I am not interested in being responsible for placing our school district in the middle of a national social, societal and legal issue which would have the potential to substantially disrupt us from our core mission of providing an education for the boys and girls in our community.”

“Prom should be a time for students to fellowship together and celebrate their local school,” Schofield added. 

But by March 23, the compromise had apparently been made. 

Classmate Aniyah Norman told the Gainesville Times that she and other friends of Frier’s had planned to make “a visual statement” at the dance with hand-held, Mardi Gras-style face masks painted in the colors of the transgender flag. 

“We support Dex because we value Johnson’s all-inclusive atmosphere,” she said. “Prom is for the students, by the students. This has nothing to do with legal issues, or Johnson’s administration, but with the intolerance evident in this county.”

For his part, Frier is hopeful the gender-neutral update to Johnson High School’s prom voting system will be permanent. 

If not, “I’m going to be really upset because I should be the first and only person who has to go through so much trouble in order to be who I want to be,” he told CBS

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5 Of The Most Empowering Books From Reese’s Book Club

It’s safe to say Reese Witherspoon knows a thing or two about strong female characters. Over the past two decades, the actress has portrayed a diverse range of women — from Harvard-bound Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde,” to Madeline Martha Mackenzie in “Big Little Lies.”

Now, she shares her love for storytelling through a book club called Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine on Audible. (Hello Sunshine is the media company founded by Reese Witherspoon to celebrate women and amplify their voices.) For this venture, Witherspoon picks must-read, unique stories by and about complex women.

To celebrate Women’s History Month, we teamed up with Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine on Audible to share five empowering books from Witherspoon’s list that are brought to life through powerful audio performances.  

This article was paid for by Audible and co-created by RYOT Studio. HuffPost editorial staff did not participate in the creation of this content.

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10 Everyday Ways To Foster A Healthy Body Image In Your Child

When it comes to a child’s body image, it should come as no surprise that parents play a major role. The research ― and countless personal essays ― back this up.

“Parents influence how their children come to think about their bodies in a number of ways. These include the feelings, attitudes and conversations that parents have about their own bodies and appearance ― also, comments from parents about their child’s body and appearance,” said Amy Slater, an associate professor at the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England, Bristol.

Of course, there are other important societal factors at play, but parents can be a crucial source of positive or negative messaging from a young age.

“It is vital that we try to develop positive body image in our children, as we know that positive body image is associated with higher self-esteem and healthy behaviors, whereas negative body image is associated with a wide range of negative outcomes, including lowered self-esteem, depression, disordered eating, poorer academic achievement, and lowered engagement in healthy behaviors,” Slater explained.

To help prevent those negative outcomes, HuffPost spoke to Slater and other experts to identify everyday ways parents can foster healthy body image in kids:

1. Banish Negative Body Talk

“Children learn how they should think and feel about their own bodies from listening to the adults around them,” said Renee Engeln, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University and the author of Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession With Appearance Hurts Girls and Women. “If they hear adults engaging in negative body talk ― always focusing on ‘problematic’ body areas ― kids get the impression that bodies can never be good enough as they are. If they hear adults disparaging other people’s bodies, they learn to apply that same sort of criticism to themselves when they look in the mirror.”

While it’s almost inevitable for children to absorb negative body talk from peers and other adults in their lives, parents have the power to combat these harmful messages by banishing this kind of communication at home.

Parents should be mindful of the way they communicate about weight and body size with and in front of their children and refrain from making disparaging comments about bodies, which sends the message that personal value stems from physical appearance.

2. Stop Criticizing Your Own Body

Not only should parents stop speaking negatively about others’ bodies, but they should also do the same about their own. Slater advised parents to be aware of their attitudes and beliefs about bodies and appearance.

“Try to avoid making any negative judgments and comments about your own body,” she said, offering “I’m so fat” or “I don’t have the ‘right’ body to wear X” as examples.

“Think specifically about how we communicate with our children and in front of our children about our own weight or physical appearance,” said Rebecca Puhl, a professor in the department of human development and family sciences and the deputy director for the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut.

“As parents, we need to communicate respect for people of diverse body sizes,” she continued. “This means working on our own body image and feeling comfortable with our own bodies as well and being mindful of how we express these feelings to our children.”

Parents need to refrain from fixating on weight and engaging in negative body talk — about others and themselves.

3. Share Positive Body Messages

Just as it’s important to stop negative body talk, it’s also helpful to replace those harmful messages with positive ones.

“As parents, we need to give ourselves and our children permission to feel good about themselves, regardless of their body shape or size or physical appearance,” said Puhl.

“As I remind my daughter often, ‘All bodies ― including yours ― are good bodies,’” said Joslyn Smith, a policy and communications associate at the National Eating Disorders Association.

4. Emphasize Other Values

Engeln suggested committing to having a “body talk free” household, which shows children there are much more important things to discuss than how we look or how other people look.

“When you shut down all that body talk, you leave room for healthier, more affirming and more interesting conversations,” she said. “You also send your children the message that what matters is not how people appear but what they do and what they say.”

Slater echoed this sentiment, saying that parents should emphasize other qualities. “Encourage valuing aspects of self that are not related to appearance, like being a good friend,” she said.

5. Focus On What Bodies Do

“Teach children to appreciate bodies for what they can do rather than how they look,” said Slater. “You can model this by valuing and respecting your own body for all the amazing things it does.”

Instead of discussing weight or shape, talk to kids about what their bodies are capable of and how they feel, not how they look.

“When my daughter says things to me like, ‘My belly is getting big,’ or ‘Mommy, you’re fat,’ I tell her she’s right. She’s growing, and her belly is getting bigger, and I self-identify as fat,” Smith said. “[I say] that it’s so cool she’s noticing how she’s growing and getting older and stronger, that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes and are almost always changing in some way, that some bodies are able to do things other bodies aren’t and that every single person’s body is equally good and valuable.”

6. Model Healthy Behaviors

“Some parents may be worried about their child’s eating behaviors or sedentary activity. But communicating these worries as critical comments about weight or appearance can be harmful and can backfire,” Puhl explained.

Instead, kids are more likely to eat nutritiously and engage in physical activity if parents foster a home environment that makes these behaviors accessible and inclusive of the whole family.

“All parents want their children to be healthy, but this is more likely to happen if parents model the healthy behaviors they want to see in their children,” she added.

7. Be Aware Of Food And Fitness Talk

Rather than use weight as a peg, parents can encourage healthy habits by avoiding that topic.

“Focus on how exercise is great for keeping your body flexible and strong ― and that it’s a fun stress reliever. Focus on teaching your children to listen to their bodies’ own cues about hunger and satiety,” said Engeln. “Teach them to be intuitive eaters instead of sending the message that some foods are good and some foods are bad.”

The ways in which parents talk about food, health and physical activity can be just as critical to the development of a child’s body image as direct discussion of weight and shape.

“Teach children to appreciate bodies for what they can do rather than how they look,” said Slater.

“Teach children to appreciate bodies for what they can do rather than how they look,” said Slater.

“Because our eating and exercise patterns affect our mental health, developing a positive body image also requires a relaxed, open attitude to these issues. For example, parents can encourage children to enjoy a diverse range of foods and help them be able to navigate choices and celebrations involving, sometimes, food without it impacting on their self-worth,” said Laura Hart, a psychology and public health research fellow at La Trobe University in Australia and an author of the Confident Body, Confident Child study.

“If parents can find ways to enjoy being physically active with their kids without mentioning weight, this can help children to enjoy lifelong healthy movement without feeling guilty or ashamed about it,” she added.

8. Call Out Others

It’s not enough to simply stop negative body talk in your home. There may be situations when others in a child’s life promote these harmful messages.

“Point out examples of weight stigma or fat-shaming that you see, and explain to your child why shaming or stigmatizing people about their body is unacceptable and should not be tolerated,” Puhl said. “Do not allow family members to engage in weight-based teasing or negative comments about other people’s bodies or physical characteristics.”

9. Be Mindful Of Media

Outside the home, children are bombarded with messages from mass media and the fashion and diet industries that emphasize extreme ideals of thinness and buffness.

“Think about the media messages that their children are exposed to. What media are they consuming? What messages about bodies and appearance do these media promote?” said Slater. “Try to encourage media that promotes diverse appearances and that do not focus solely on beauty and appearance.”

There are many body-positive books for children, including Your Body Is Brilliant by Sigrun Danielsdottir and What I Like About Me! by Allia Zobel Nolan. Slater also recommended online resources like the Confident Body, Confident Child website.

10. Promote Diversity

Modeling healthy body esteem in front of your child involves showing respect for yourself and for others, regardless of how they look, said Puhl. “Point out to your child people of diverse body sizes who are successful, kind, athletic, ambitious, talented, leaders or helping their communities,” she advised.

These kinds of habits will teach children to value diversity by appreciating the many ways people can look.

“Practicing nonjudgment of others and ourselves is not easy. It takes practice. After all, we certainly aren’t socialized to be accepting or appreciative of all the different forms bodies take,” said Smith. “But I’m hopeful that if we start with rewiring our own brains to appreciate bodies, in all the ways they show up, and make sure that what we model that acceptance of others and self for our children, we can raise children to embrace all bodies and help build a more inclusive world, one where they know they are welcome as they are and take the initiative to welcome others.”

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Duke Agrees To Pay $112 Million After Being Accused Of Falsifying Grant Research

Duke University has reached a $112.5 million settlement with the U.S. government after being accused of falsifying scientific research to claim millions in federal grants, the Department of Justice announced Monday.

The North Carolina school was accused of knowingly submitting 30 grant applications containing falsified or fabricated data to the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency from 2006 to 2018, authorities said.

The settlement money will reimburse the government for the grants it received and cover associated penalties, the school said.

“We expect Duke researchers to adhere always to the highest standards of integrity, and virtually all of them do that with great dedication,” university President Vincent E. Price said in a statement. “When individuals fail to uphold those standards, and those who are aware of possible wrongdoing fail to report it, as happened in this case, we must accept responsibility, acknowledge that our processes for identifying and preventing misconduct did not work, and take steps to improve.” 

It was a former employee at the private school, Joseph Thomas, who brought the allegations to light after filing a lawsuit in 2014 under the whistleblower law, the False Claims Act. Under the terms of the act, he will receive $33,750,000 from the settlement, the DOJ said.

His lawsuit accused former Duke biologist Erin Potts-Kant of co-authoring the fraudulent reports, which were later retracted. She was arrested in 2013 for embezzling money from the school and pleaded guilty to two counts of forgery and paid restitution to the school.

Two of her supervisors were implicated in Thomas’ lawsuit and accused of negligence and ignoring warnings of misconduct, according to the student-led university paper, The Chronicle.

Duke argued in its court filings that it became aware of Potts-Kant’s misbehavior only after she applied for the grants.

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Charlottesville Students Walk Out, Demand Reform After Racist 4chan Threat

Students at Charlottesville High School in Charlottesville, Virginia, walked out of classes on Monday, issuing a list of demands to the school district days after they were targeted by a racist threat on 4chan.

The walkout, organized by local activist and student Zyahna Bryant and the high school’s Black Student Union, was framed around pushing the school district for cultural reform and increased safety ― particularly salient concerns in a city where white supremacists held a large and deadly rally less than two years ago. By one estimate, some 200 people joined the Black Student Union and marched through McIntire Park in protest.

“There can be no reconciliation without redistribution of resources for black and brown students,” Bryant told HuffPost Monday afternoon.

Students called for the school district to focus more resources on African-American history courses, hire more black teachers, give its resource officers racial bias training and install a lock and buzzer system at high schools for safety, among other demands.

“In the wake of the recent school closings due to threats of racial violence that targeted Black and Brown students, the students of Charlottesville High School are calling on the Charlottesville City Schools to address racism in all its forms,” the Black Student Union said in a press release.

On Thursday and Friday, public schools were closed citywide after a user on the message board 4chan threatened to commit “ethic cleansing” at Charlottesville High, using racial slurs and warning students to stay home.

Police tracked the post to a 17-year-old male in Albemarle County on Friday, and charged him with felony threats, as well as misdemeanor harassment. They didn’t identify him because he is a minor. The same day, another teen was arrested for an unrelated threat, also made on social media, against nearby Albemarle High School.

Students in Charlottesville have seen their city made into a staging ground for racist action time and time again. The deadly Unite the Right rally in 2017 ― which was falsely billed as a response to Bryant’s work to remove a Robert E. Lee statue from a public park ― wasn’t the first outbreak of racist violence in Charlottesville, nor the last.

Last summer, near the anniversary of Unite the Right, HuffPost spoke with Bryant, who noted that racism and white supremacy didn’t just march through town ― it’s always been there.

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Here’s What Americans Want To Ask 2020 Presidential Candidates

The Democratic field for the 2020 nomination is getting more crowded by the day. With at least 15 candidates trying to secure the nomination to go head-to-head with President Donald Trump in the general election, the presidential hopefuls are trying to stand out on the issues.

HuffPost asked readers to share what they would ask a presidential candidate, given the chance. In dozens of replies, readers touched on a variety of issues — from health care to LGBTQ rights to gun control to cannabis to student loan debt and more. We’ve compiled some representative responses from the most prevalent issues below.

Tune in to our Heartland Forum with Open Markets on March 30 ― where Pulitzer Prize-winning editor Art Cullen, and HuffPost’s Amanda Terkel and Zach Carter will speak with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Role Of The Government

What do you tell people who say they won’t vote in the general election or will vote for a minority party candidate if their candidate doesn’t win the nomination? — Eli Logan

Do you think it’s more important to try to pitch big (and possibly unrealistic) ideas for change or to find a middle ground? For example, “Medicare for all” versus an overhaul to the private insurance system. — Lisa Billings

As president, what would they personally be able to do? The president either vetoes or signs bills, yet most running points seem to be in the lawmaking process, which is Congress’ job. Other than requesting things be done by Congress, what could they do? Would we be seeing a lot of executive orders? — Derrek Labonte

Health Care

How does each candidate plan to make a single-payer system for health care a reality? — Beth Williamson

What do you see for Social Security and Medicare in the near future for those of us in our 70s? — Susan Thompson

The cost of medications in the U.S. is too high, but bills to obtain lower costs fail. What would you do to lower them? — June Secrist

How do you plan to help people like my father who can’t afford their insulin? — Allison Yakel

Student Loan Debt

What do you plan to do about the student loan debt crisis? Would you add any additional loan forgiveness programs? — Karyna Romo

With student loan debt currently amounting to $1.5 trillion in the U.S., it is the second-highest consumer debt category, behind mortgages, with the average college graduate accumulating $37,000 in debt for a four-year degree. How do you plan on reducing the cost of college and alleviating debt for the 44.2 million Americans currently burdened by student loans? Do you view student loan debt as a potential financial crisis? — Kerri Barron

Unlimited FDIC-insured student loans are causing massive inflation for college education, graduates with crippling student debt are deepening the wealth disparity and stunting the economy, and thousands have been deceived by the [Public Service Loan Forgiveness] program. If elected, how would you improve on or change our current system to aid indebted graduates and benefit future students? — Shannon

Some candidates want to push for the “refinancing of federal student loan debt,” but how is this not just privatization and how do you explain asking students to turn to the “kindness” of the private banking sector instead of keeping their federal debt that offers programs for income-based repayments and other hardship programs? Isn’t the lack of education about the ramifications of refinancing student loan debt just asking for another financial crisis but one that will cripple young people for life by not allowing it to be removed through bankruptcy? — Cortne Anway

We have a generation coming out of college with huge student loan debt. High cost of housing. And parents that haven’t saved for retirement. If this generation can’t afford to live, how can we grow economically and deal with $22 trillion in debt with an aging population? — Dan Bellock

Race Issues

How do you plan to go beyond securing “the black vote” or “the Hispanic vote” (etc.) and truly work toward changing our culture of whiteness and institutionalized racism? — Allison Yakel 

Trump’s election emboldened white supremacists and bigots in general. As a result, racism and oppression have come to the forefront of our political discussions. And as a black woman, I have often felt that Bernie Sanders’ positions on race fall short. Why should I continue to support Sen. Sanders when Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren are similarly economically progressive and support reparations for black people? I just want a candidate who understands that Democrats cannot continue taking the black vote for granted and that they must cater specifically to the black community’s interests. — Alex Boyd

For Elizabeth Warren: I like a lot of what you’re doing and what you’re proposing, but I remain concerned about how you have treated indigenous communities. What are you doing to repair your relationship with indigenous communities, including the Cherokee, and demonstrate that you will listen to them, take their concerns seriously and take steps to ensure their needs will be addressed? — Jessica Strong

What are their stances on reparations for Black American descendants of enslaved Africans? Why are they for or against? And what specifically is their policy plan to lift Black Americans out of the widening wealth gap? — Akeem Omar Ali 

When will police murders of black people be recognized for what they are, and can the victims ever find justice? When will cops be held accountable for their bad behavior? More importantly, when will these killings stop? — Delphine Fairley

What promises can you make to eradicate nationalism and the terrorism committed at the hands of white supremacists? — Erica Taylor


As the next president of the United States, what would you do to help repair our alliances with our foreign allies who have been shunned by President Trump? — Grady

The 2016 presidential primary divided the party to an almost irreparable degree and cost us the general election. How do you plan to use positive campaigning to ensure that we are united going into 2020? — Meghan Cusick Olson

I would like to know what steps would you take to heal a broken and hurt country? How would you contain, reverse and not contribute to the divisiveness? — Diana Leygerman

The current administration’s term has been the most divisive and combative of my living memory. Since the last election cycle, Trump’s entire messaging has pitted “us against them” — our country against other nations and citizen vs. citizen. His voters vs. “the haters and losers.” Citizens vs. “illegals.” What are your specific plans and strategies for helping us all heal and become whole again? How can we unify as a country of proud inhabitants, despite our differences? And how can we gain back a reputation of respect and trust on a global stage? — Erica Taylor

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

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Dr. Dre Boasts Daughter Got Into USC ‘On Her Own’ — After A $70 Million Donation

Hip-hopper Dr. Dre gushed on Instagram that daughter Truly Young just got into the University of Southern California “all on her own.” He was taking a shot at celebrity parents, like Lori Loughlin, recently busted for allegedly paying bribes to get their children into top universities. Dre failed to mention that he and his producer donated $70 million to USC.

“No jail time!!!!” smirked Dre (real name Andre Young), who posed in the Instagram photo with his daughter holding her acceptance letter.

He removed the post Sunday after blowback about the hefty donation.

Dre and his producer Jimmy Iovine gave $70 million to USC in 2013 to create the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation, according to a university press release. The men also have a campus building named after them. The school hailed them at the time as “forward-thinking visionaries.”

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