Education Briefs

Back to July 2013 Ed Reporter

Education Briefs

The Supreme Court decided in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin that the Fifth Circuit Court must reexamine its earlier ruling that race may be used as one part of a holistic assessment used in the admission process. The lower court must affirm that racial consideration is necessary to obtain a diverse student body.

Teachers unions are pleased that Education Secretary Arne Duncan decided in mid-June that states have permission to ignore restrictions he previously put on No Child Left Behind waivers, including tying teacher evaluations to standardized tests. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who accused the Democrats of attempting to create a national school board, said, “If anyone is looking for further proof that our education system is congested with federal mandates, the education secretary is now granting waivers from waivers.” (, 6-19-13)

Contrary to requirements of Common Core, which mandate keyboarding but not cursive writing, neuroscience is finding that handwriting is important to a child’s overall intelligence. “In the case of learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates both sensation, movement control, and thinking. Brain imaging studies reveal that multiple areas of the brain become co-activated during learning of cursive writing of pseudo-letters, as opposed to typing or just visual practice.” (Psychology Today, 3-14-13)

Three North Carolina state senators are trying to force the University of North Carolina (UNC) to halt gender-neutral housing on campus, which is supposed to ease anxiety over living arrangements for lesbian, gay, and transgender students. According to one of the senators, “The purpose of [Senate Bill 658] is to help the UNC system regain its focus on the core mission of educating young people and helping them find meaningful employment in our state. UNC did not become a national leader in academics by wasting time and tax dollars on frivolous social experiments.”

Parents of students at New York Prep, a private high school costing over $40,000 a year, have concerns about a former public school teacher who assigned students to write suicide notes. The English homework assignment was in conjunction with reading The Secret Life of Bees. Students as young as 14 wrote from the point of view of a character who commits suicide, explaining their motives and “justifying why they had committed suicide.” (New York Post, 6-12-13)