Class Notes: Science Fairs, Student Loans and More Education News

Each week, TIME's Kayla Webley fills you in on the goings on in the education world, everything from pre-K to higher ed.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images

Ten States Get No Child Left Behind Waivers
All but one of the states that applied last fall for relief from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) have been granted waivers from the Department of Education. The waivers will allow states to escape some of the strictest requirements under NCLB, including the mandate that all students be proficient in math and reading by 2014. In return, the states have agreed to set new academic targets and establish new strategies for evaluating teachers. Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee all received waivers, while New Mexico was denied a waiver. Read more here.

Los Angeles School Reopens With New Staff in Wake of Sex-Abuse Scandal
Miramonte Elementary School reopened today with an entirely new staff after having closed for two days amid a child sex abuse scandal. L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy said he was replacing the staff so that the investigation could proceed without interruption. This comes after the arrest of Mark Berndt, a teacher at Miramonte, was arrested for allegedly committing lewd acts on 23 children between the ages of 6 and 10. Berndt, who had taught at the school for 30 years, is accused of taking hundreds of sexually exploitative photographs of students. A second teacher, Martin Bernard, was arrested last Friday, but one student who had accused him of fondling her has since recanted her story. Read more here.

White House Science Fair Highlights Commitment to STEM Education  
On Tuesday President Obama hosted the second White House Science Fair, complete with 30 exhibits, including a system to detect nuclear threats, a prosthetic hand, a high-speed marshmallow air cannon and portable disaster shelters. But the science fair wasn’t all flying marshmallows and robots. The President used the event to highlight his efforts to encourage STEM education in science, technology, engineering and math (which is what the acronym stands for). According to The New York Times, Obama will seek to dedicate $80 million for a new federal competition to support programs to prepare teachers to teach STEM subjects. He is also proposing a $60 million fund to improve mathematics education. Read more about the science fair here.

Bankruptcy Lawyers Warn of Increase in Student-Loan Debt Loads
In an effort to shed light on a policy they say “doesn’t make any sense,” a group of bankruptcy lawyers issued a report on Tuesday that highlights the need to change the U.S. bankruptcy code so that it offers college grads relief from inescapable debt loads. In the report from the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, four out of five of the 860 lawyers surveyed said the number of potential clients they encounter with student loan debt has “significantly” or “somewhat” increased over the past 3 to 4 years. Read my piece, “Why Can’t You Discharge Student Loans in Bankruptcy?” on TIME Moneyland here.

College Defends Its Sale of “Morning After Pill”
Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania came out with a statement in defense of its practice of selling Plan B (also known as the “morning after pill”) in a vending machine on campus after the media frenzy earlier this week. The school says the vending machine is provided on request of its students and is in a private room accessible only to students. The $25 fee for the pill is paid for by the purchaser. Read more here.

A School District’s War on Gay Teens
And, just in case you haven’t read it yet, Rolling Stone has a powerful story called “One Town’s War on Gay Teens” in its latest issue. In the article, writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely details how the Anoka-Hennepin School District finds itself in the spotlight for not only having an unusually high number of suicides, but also for having contributed to the death toll by cultivating an extreme anti-gay climate. Read the full story here.

Kayla Webley is a Staff Writer at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @kaylawebley, on Facebook or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.