Washington university cancels classes over hate speech

After a racist thread on social media sparked outrage on a quiet Washington state campus, college officials sent students home a day early for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Western Washington University sent out an alert cancelling classes and an email to students just after 6 a.m. Tuesday from President Bruce Shepard. It is unknown if the people who posted the threats are students at the state university in Bellingham, but the posts were made from a phone located within 10 miles of campus, Shepard said.

“I need to be very clear here: we are not talking the merely insulting, rude, offensive commentary that trolls and various other lowlifes seem free to spew, willy nilly, although there has been plenty of that, too. No, this was hate speech,” Shepard wrote in an email posted on the university website.

A series of threats against minorities were posted over the weekend on YikYak, an anonymous social media platform populated by college students.

The posts mentioned almost every ethnic group, including blacks, Muslims, Jews and American Indians, blaming

Midvale Elementary addition gives students, teachers a space of their own

The Midvale Mustangs have a few new corrals, so to speak, now that a $1 million expansion at Midvale Elementary has been completed.

Four classrooms were added to the 4-year-old school, located at 7830 Chapel St., to address high enrollment numbers.

Midvale Elementary Principal Chip Watts says there’s been a marked change in the attitude of the students in the month since the school’s fourth-grade and Dual Language Immersion program moved from portable classrooms to classrooms inside the building.

“I think the best feedback I have received from the students is that they feel like part of the school now,” Watts said in a prepared statement. “When they were in the portables, they felt like they were separate from the rest of the school. Teachers say they have noted a sense of community, and the feeling in the class has improved by being a part of the school.”

Watts said the addition, the first construction project completed with funds from a $250 million bond approved by voters in spring 2010,

Brussels schools reopen, maximum threat alert still in place

When Annelaure Leger dropped off her two children at school on Wednesday, it was like nearly every other day — except for the machine gun-toting policeman.

After a two-day school shutdown sparked by a threat alert across the Belgian capital, Brussels resident Leger was relieved that classes were back in session, even though she and her kids had to take their bikes since the subway was still not running in her neighborhood.

“It was like Christmas come early for the children,” Leger said. “They stayed at home and played with the neighbors’ kids.” She said the family lives partly in Paris and that the children are very aware of what’s happening both there and in Belgium.

“It would be better if the police had caught the terrorists, but the children know they are trying to do that so that everyone is safe,” she said.

Though the Belgian capital continues to be under the highest-level threat alert, meaning that authorities fear a serious and imminent attack, schools and subways began reopening across the city on Wednesday. That is restoring a sense of normality in the city, parts of which have been deserted since the alert was first raised to the top level in the capital

National Edition How public universities can brace for budget cuts without increasing tuition

Public universities in many states are scrambling to cover rising costs even as state commitment to cover them tapers off.

Colorado is currently facing steep budget cuts, with $20 million likely to be slashed from higher education, according to The Rocky Mountain Collegian.

Kentucky universities, meanwhile, are seeking to restore cuts in the face of pressure from Medicaid expansion and underfunded pensions. Higher ed has been slashed there for seven of the last eight years, WKU Public Radio reports.

The same is true in Oklahoma. “We are making plans today — and we have the past two months — to be prepared to deal with what will be a very significant budget deficit,” Oklahoma Higher Education Chancellor Glen Johnson told The Oklahoman last week.

The same story could be told of state higher ed spending in almost every state: budgets under pressure, while costs and tuition climb. Given these realities, are public universities making the systemic changes needed to regain fiscal balance?

“They haven’t,” writes Steven Pearlstein, a Washington Post columnist and a professor of public affairs at George Mason University. “Oh, yes, pay and hiring have been frozen, travel budgets cut, secretaries eliminated and class sizes increased, even as cheaper graduate students and adjunct

Time for Utah to develop comprehensive plan to address inequality in public education

Canyons School District recently changed its boundaries to shuffle students among its high schools, notably Alta High, which is well under capacity, and Corner Canyon High, which is operating at 115 percent of capacity. The district’s solution is to move only 63 students from Corner Canyon to Alta while moving 175 students from nearby Jordan High School to Alta. All this despite the fact that Jordan doesn’t have the overcrowding problem facing Corner Canyon, and, in fact, will ultimately end up with more students overall than before the boundary change.

Many parents, particularly those at Jordan High, see the changes as nonsensical. They insist the logical move is to make up Alta’s shortfall with Corner Canyon students, not Jordan students. They also point to the fact that Corner Canyon is slated for a multimillion-dollar expansion in the coming years, and a boundary change that diverted some of its student body to Alta would relieve some of the pressure making an expensive expansion necessary. Corner Canyon parents, however, overwhelmingly prefer to keep their children where they are, despite the fact that class sizes are large — 45 students per classroom in some cases — and are likely to remain so

Uintah Basin educator named Utah’s Carnegie Professor of the Year

Rich Etchberger, a wildlife science professor at Utah State University’s Uintah Basin campus, has been named the 2015 Carnegie Professor of the Year for Utah by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Etchberger, who created the wildlife science program at the Uintah Basin campus when he arrived in 1995, was presented the award during a ceremony Nov. 19 in Washington, D.C.

“I motivate my students to grasp the opportunities to change their lives, to earn a degree and to contribute to their community,” Etchberger said. “I have been extremely fortunate to work with an amazing bunch of undergraduate students over the past 20 years.”

That dedication and focus on his students’ successes is one of the many reasons Etchberger took home the award that salutes the most outstanding undergraduate educators in the country. As one of only 35 to take home the award, Etchberger is the 14th honoree from USU.

“Dr. Etchberger pioneered a very hands-on wildlife science bachelor’s degree at the USU Uintah Basin campus,” USU President Stan L. Albrecht said in a statement. “His vision has given local, often nontraditional students a route to professional careers they would never have been able to achieve otherwise. Graduates from his program now

Former student sends letter of apology, money for stolen books to school decades later

RIVERTON — A former Riverton Elementary School student recently atoned for past mistakes after admitting to stealing paperback books from sixth-grade teachers decades ago.

Kyla Robertson, a Riverton Elementary administrative assistant, was going through the school’s mail when she came across an anonymous letter with $50 enclosed in it.

The letter’s contents revealed its sender’s former misdoings with instructions to use the money to purchase new books for the school, Robertson said.

“I was in sixth grade during the 1969-1970 school year,” the letter began. “I took some paperback school books from my teachers. I think their names were Ms. Stout, Mr. Wade and Mr. Bellon. I know I can’t pay them back, but take this and get some more books with it. Sorry for what I did.”

School employees were shocked, Robertson said, and thought it was cool the former student came forward after so many years.

Robertson confirmed that the money will be used to buy books, and she said she hopes the anonymous sender knows the school received it.

“No matter how old or what your situation in life is, you can always … if you have done something wrong, even if it takes you years … you can ask for

Escalante Elementary gets $10K for computer equipment

Cameron Wilson, vice president and chief operating officer of government affairs at Code.org, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science, presents a $10,000 check to Escalante Elementary School computer teacher Mischelle Colby and Principal Liz Gonzalez during an assembly at the school in Rose Park on Monday.

The funds will be used to buy computer equipment to support improved student outcomes in computer science. The award is part of the state’s partnership with Code.org to increase computer science opportunities for all Utah students in grades K-12.

Monday also marked the start of the global movement Hour of Code, which was created by Code.org in 2013 and reaches tens of millions of students in more than 180 countries. The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.

Was this teacher wrong to wash a student’s mouth out with soap? Here’s what parents are saying

References to the movie “A Christmas Story” aren’t uncommon this time of year, but a North Carolina teacher’s method of reprimanding one student has people mainly mentioning a scene in the film documenting an old-school form of punishment.

That’s “washing kids’ mouths out” with soap, traditionally done to deter them from deploying “dirty” language, Maureen Hoff wrote for Hello Giggles.

Wiley Elementary kindergarten teacher Tiffani Staton resigned from her post Wednesday after reports she washed a student’s mouth out with soap prompted an investigation, according to the Associated Press. The student’s parent complained to the school, which is located in Greensboro, North Carolina.

WFMY News 2 reported Staton faces no charges from the incident but that some parents of the school’s students are in “disbelief.”

“When you take your child to school, you trust they are in the best of care,” mom Setaria James told News 2. “You don’t want anything done to them that you won’t do. I would say some type of punishment would be appropriate, of course. But I don’t know what type.”

Opponents of the practice also point to cases of people receiving scrutiny for resorting to the same punishment with kids recently, according to Hello Giggles.

The Telegraph detailed one such

Tragic deaths of home-schooled kids rarely lead to new rules

A Detroit brother and sister vanished more than two years before they were found dead in a freezer in their home, and an 11-year-old Florida girl disappeared more than a year before she, too, turned up in a family freezer. And a 7-year-old Kansas boy hadn’t been seen for more than a month before authorities found the gruesome remains of a child in a pigsty inside his family’s barn.

All of them were home-schooled, but despite their disappearances going unnoticed for so long, opposition from the government-wary home-schooling community means it’s unlikely these states will start keeping closer tabs on home-schooled children.

“It’s largely a conservative thing, but even progressive home-schoolers tend to resist oversight,” said Rachel Coleman, co-founder of the nonprofit Coalition for Responsible Home Education. “Part of it is because there is an assumption that parents always know what’s best for their children.”

The most recent case, at a home near Kansas City, Kansas, is still being investigated and authorities said it could be weeks before they positively identify the child whose remains officers found in the barn. The officers were responding to a reported domestic disturbance at the home the day before Thanksgiving and were told of the 7-year-old’s disappearance.