Education Briefs

Back to December 2013 Ed Reporter

Education Briefs

Tenured Michigan State University professor William Penn verbally attacked Republicans and hurled personal insults toward the Romney family in his class, but will be back teaching students next semester. In an eight-minute video filmed by a student and posted online, he claimed Republicans “don’t want to pay taxes because they have already raped this country and gotten everything out of it they possibly could.” The university continued to pay Penn his $146,510 salary and “reassigned” him for fall semester. The school is reviewing “in-class social media policies,” which could make it more difficult for students to expose ranting professors. (, 11-18-13)

A University of Michigan economics professor and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute reports an 812% increase in the cost of college textbooks since 1978; college students today spend an average of $1,200 a year on books. Students find buying alternatives such as renting books, online sources, and library copies difficult, so sometimes simply do without books. Buy-outs of small publishers by publishing giants have stifled competition and led to higher prices. (NBC News, 9-15-13)

Research by a University of Texas professor, published in the Journal of Criminology, shows that school bullying-prevention programs do not work and may actually increase children’s inclination to bully. Prof. S. Jeong studied 7,000 students from 195 schools in 50 states and found that bullying-prevention programs expose students “to what a bully is” and that students may actually be learning bullying skills from prevention programs.

Condoms have long been available at 19 Boston public high schools that have health centers, but in June the governing body of Boston Public Schools voted to make them available to students in all 32 of the city’s public high schools. “Sexual health education” is offered along with the prophylactics. Parents can choose for their children not to participate in the giveaway.