back to school
September 1, 2020

New York City schools are set to begin in-person classes a bit later than expected.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced on Tuesday that as part of a deal to avoid a potential teachers strike, the start of in-person classes in the nation's largest school district will be delayed ten days to Sept. 21, The New York Times reports. This delay, the mayor said, will allow for more time "for our educators and staff to get ready under these unprecedented circumstances."

The United Federation of Teachers had previously threatened a possible strike as educators called for more time before the reopening of schools, with the teachers union's president, Michael Mulgrew, recently saying, per The Wall Street Journal, "We'll know shortly over the next couple of days if we're going to have a major war, even a bigger war, with the city of New York. Or if we can actually get to the hard work of preparing each one of our schools to open in a way that is safe."

There will be a "three-day transitional period" beginning on Sept. 16, de Blasio said on Tuesday, during which remote instruction will begin. When classes resume in person, New York City schools will be following a blended learning plan with not all students being in school in person on the same days. Mulgrew expressed approval of the agreement on Tuesday, saying that "we can now say that New York City's public school system has the most aggressive policies and greatest safeguards of any school system in the United States of America." Brendan Morrow

August 5, 2020

Students at a Georgia high school that went viral this week after a photo of its crowded, mostly mask-less hallways on the first day of school surfaced online told BuzzFeed News they had little choice to attend class in person despite the coronavirus pandemic.

One North Paulding High School student's parents were prepared to keep him home after seeing the photo, but when his mother spoke to the school she learned students who chose to stay home because of concerns over the virus could face expulsion or suspension, BuzzFeed reports.

A parent of a student at a nearby school said she tried to enroll her daughter in the Paulding County School District's virtual learning option, but wound up on the waiting list after it filled up and was told her daughter "would be withdrawn" from the school if she didn't show up in person.

Per BuzzFeed, many parents, students, and teachers at North Paulding High School — where there are reports of positive coronavirus cases among students and staff — are concerned about the situation and think it's irresponsible in-person learning is back in session, but others are in favor, noting that virtual distancing is a challenge for many families. Read more at BuzzFeed News. Tim O'Donnell

October 25, 2016

Samantha Bee sat down with "fellow nasty woman" Madeleine Albright in Monday night's episode of Full Frontal, in the hopes that the first female secretary of state could help her figure out why everyone is so hung up on Hillary Clinton's gender. After playing a montage of people criticizing everything from Clinton's voice to her facial expressions, Bee asked Albright, "So, does playing into her womanness help Hillary, or does reminding people that she's a woman hurt her chances of winning the election?"

Albright wasn't quite sure, but she did have a theory for why men like Donald Trump are so afraid of powerful women. "I think we're seen in whatever previous relationship they have had, like the third-grade teacher that told Johnny to be nicer — or Donald," Albright said.

As for Bee's question about whether this "pulsing cancer of misogyny" ever goes away, Albright deferred to woman leaders across the globe. Watch everyone from the president of Croatia to the prime minister of Norway counsel Bee on the difficulties of leading while female, below. Becca Stanek

May 23, 2016

On screen, Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie Pitt has played everything from a tiger to a tomb raider, but for her next role, she won't have any cameras on her at all. Instead, Jolie will be joining the London School of Economics' Center for Women, Peace, and Security as one as four visiting professors in a newly established master's program that begins this fall.

"I am very encouraged by the creation of this master's program. I hope other academic institutions will follow this example, as it is vital that we broaden the discussion on how to advance women's rights and end impunity for crimes that disproportionately affect women, such as sexual violence in conflict," Jolie said in a statement.

In addition to her successful acting career, Jolie has served as a humanitarian, working with the United Nations for more than a decade on concerns including refugees, women, and sexual violence. "I honestly want to help," she said. "I don't believe I feel differently from other people. I think we all want justice and equality, a chance for a life with meaning."

The announcement from the London School of Economics does not include details on how often Jolie will be teaching, or what her specific duties will be. Courses in the program include "Women, Peace, and Security," "Gender and Militarization," and "Gender and Human Rights." Jeva Lange

September 7, 2015

As American children prepare to head back to school tomorrow, many of them will return to racially homogenous classrooms. A 2014 report found that 60 years after the landmark desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education (1954), segregation in American primary education — though certainly not at pre-Brown levels — has significantly increased since the 1980s, which generally marked the peak of integration.

Gary Orfield, a UCLA law professor who co-authored the study, says the findings of his report still hold true in 2015, and the long-term consequences of subpar education at majority-minority schools could be dire. "Let’s say your family’s poor, and then your chances of going to a really great state university are basically nonexistent," he explains. "If this is sustainable then it's incompatible with democracy, and spells disaster for the long run."

Schools that almost exclusively serve minority children tend to have "far fewer resources than most white-majority counterparts, leading to high teacher turnover, less experienced or qualified teachers, less structure, less attention, worse access to opportunities, and poorer grades," The Guardian reports. About two out of five African-American children attend schools that are less than 10 percent white. Bonnie Kristian

September 3, 2015

If SAT scores are any indication, then hundreds of thousands of teenagers graduated in 2015 unprepared for college. According to College Board, which owns the test, SAT scores plummeted to their lowest average in a decade, despite the test being overhauled in 2005. The average score for the class of 2015 was 1490 out of 2400, down 7 points from 2014. Scores dropped across all three sections — in reading, writing, and math.

Only 42 percent of students who took the SATs earned a score of 1550 or higher, a troubling statistic considering the College Board calls this threshold the "college and career readiness" level. The scores were also lower for minorities: Only 23 percent of Hispanic students and 16 percent of African-American students made the 1550-or-higher cutoff. Poverty, language barriers, and low levels of parental education are cited by The Washington Post as possible factors in the dismal scores.

Although a new version of the SAT, with an essay-optional writing section, will be given to the class of 2016, it would likely take a major education overhaul to surmount the troubles students encounter when they hit high school level classes. "Simply doing the same things we have been doing is not going to improve these numbers," Cyndie Schmeiser, the chief of assessment for the College Board, told The Washington Post. "This is a call to action to do something different to propel more students to readiness." Jeva Lange

August 12, 2015

Next time someone tries to say the Civil War wasn't about slavery, here's your stern retort, courtesy of West Point.

"There has to be another reason, we are told. Well, there isn't," Colonel Ty Seilude, head of West Point's history department, says, looking into the camera in his dress blues. "Slavery was the single most important cause of the Civil War."

Watch the military historian explain why below. Nico Lauricella

January 5, 2015

A former teacher who now serves as a judge in Detroit has begun requiring offenders who haven't finished high school to the "sentence" of completing their degree. Judge Deborah Thomas, a Detroit native, also displays the completed diplomas — now numbering about 40 — on the wall in her courtroom. It has proved to be a motivating factor, she says, because "It shows a sense of pride."

"I remember Judge Thomas saying without my education there is no path you can go down, " says DeQuane Curry, 19, who completed high school at Thomas' direction and is heading to college this month to study nursing. "It woke me up and made me realize my diploma is the best thing I've got going. It feels good." Bonnie Kristian

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