• Chip Somodevilla/Getty

    Bipartisan

    Congress Finally Moves on Sex Assault

    One in five women who attend college are sexually assaulted—and a bipartisan group of senators is launching a new bill to change that.

    Senators are rushing to pass campus sexual assault reforms, introducing a landmark bill designed to provide resources to victims and enforce accountability at institutions of higher learning.

    But the machinery of government will be slow to move. Even if the law were passed and signed into law today, it would take some time for colleges and universities to implement its required changes.

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  • Kevork Djansezian/Getty

    OUTRAGEOUS

    40% of Colleges Don’t Investigate Rape

    A stunning new Senate report shows nearly half of schools haven’t looked at a single case of rape and 20 percent don’t investigate all the incidents they report to the feds.

    More than 40 percent of U.S colleges and universities have not conducted a single sexual assault investigation in the past five years, according to a new survey released by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) Wednesday.

    “That is hard to believe, and obviously very problematic,” McCaskill said. These schools, she continued, were either “in denial or incompetent” with regard to sexual assault on campuses.

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  • Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post, via Getty

    New Reality Check for U.S. Kids

    They may not be as creative as we had assumed, a new study finds. Education expert Amanda Ripley on the lessons for American teachers and parents

    Wherever I go, from Santiago to Seoul, I am always comforted to hear one consistently positive thing said about Americans: we may not be the wisest or the thinnest people on the planet, but we can think outside of the box! The world will give us that.

    Usually, this assertion is accompanied by a passing reference to Steve Jobs or Google, and no one argues the point. In fact, each year, officials in places like South Korea and Singapore leave their higher-performing education systems to come study how we Americans cultivate creativity in our schools and universities. Never mind that the actual Steve Jobs loathed school for much of his childhood. There must be something we are doing right here!

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  • Diane Ravitch in her home office in New York on Feb. 3, 2010. (Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times, via Redux)

    Free Education

    The Apostate

    Education historian Diane Ravitch talks to Lauren Streib about how education reform has become a cover for privatization.

    In 1991, Diane Ravitch was appointed an assistant secretary of Education by President George H.W. Bush, becoming a leader in the education-reform movement for the next decade, when she championed the No Child Left Behind Act that was signed into law by George W. Bush in 2002. But when NCLB failed to produce the results she had hoped for and assessment tests began dominating policy, Ravitch made a 180-degree turn, and she has spent the last half-decade fighting an apostate’s battle. She has become one of the most vocal supporters of public education, thanks to her many books on education history and her influential blog, where she crusades against the rise of charter schools, vouchers, privatization in education, and standardized testing. Her latest book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools, argues that the American school system is not broken, and that the reform movement will destroy our schools. She also outlines a plan for improvement, including prenatal care for mothers, early education that stresses creativity, balanced curriculums, and more resources for schools. We spoke to the leading opponent of reform about the role of charter schools, which cities are doing things right, and her Twitter proficiency.

    In Reign of Error, you call the education of the poor and minority students a scandal. Do you think more Americans should be scandalized by the discrepancy in American educational system?

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  • Tyler Marshall/Getty

    The Dark Side of Homeschooling

    Because educating kids at home is almost entirely unregulated in much of the country, parents are able to hide their crimes—sometimes fatally.

    On September 9, the parents of Hana Williams, an Ethiopian teenager living in the state of Washington, were convicted of killing her. During the last year of her life, court documents show, she had lost almost 30 pounds as she was beaten, denied food, forced to sleep in a barn, and given cold outdoor showers with a garden hose. Much of the time she was kept barefoot, although she was allowed shoes if there was snow on the ground. Sometimes she was given nothing but a towel to wear. If Williams had been in school, someone might have noticed that she was underdressed and emaciated. But she was homeschooled, and so her parents, fundamentalist Christians in thrall to a harsh disciplinary philosophy, had complete privacy to punish her as they saw fit. She died naked, face down in the mud in their backyard.

    Williams is far from the only homeschooled kid to be tortured or murdered in recent years. Exactly how many is hard to say—research on homeschoolers is incredibly spotty, and what exists is mostly done by homeschooling advocates. But Heather Doney and Rachel Coleman, two women who themselves grew up in homeschooling families, have documented dozens of horrific cases on their website, Homeschooling’s Invisible Children, which launched in May. A database of local news stories and official documents, the site is searchable by category, including Fatality, Food Deprivation, Imprisonment, Physical Abuse and Sexual Abuse. Under Sexual Abuse, to take just one of them, Doney and Coleman found almost 70 victims since 2000—and those are just cases that made the papers.

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  • In this Aug. 17, 2013 photo, female students at the University of Alabama prepare to run from Bryant-Denny Stadium to their new sorority houses after receiving their bids in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The university is ordering changes in its sorority system amid charges of discrimination in the Greek-letter organizations, which University President Judy Bonner acknowledged on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, are segregated by race. (Dusty Compton/The Tuscaloosa News via AP)

    White Tide

    Alabama’s Segregated Sororities

    The University of Alabama’s Greek system has been accused of shutting out black pledges—and now students are demanding an end to the discrimination.

    Around 400 students and faculty filled the steps outside the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. They marched to the Rose Administration Building, holding a sign that read “The Final Stand in the Schoolhouse Door.” 

    This was not 1963, when Gov. George Wallace stood defiantly at an auditorium at the University of Alabama to prevent two black students from attending school. Rather this protest was held some 50 years later, on Wednesday, September 18, as the University of Alabama was forced into the national spotlight for ugly segregation once more.

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  • Mel Evans/AP

    SHE SAID, SHE SAID

    Rutgers Employee: I Was Fired Due to ‘Lesbian Bias’

    School says she couldn’t meet deadlines.

    A fired Rutgers university professor is suing the school for being fired due to “lesbian bias” by one of the university’s deans.  The employee, Laura Frederico, was fired a year ago from a public relations position at the school, but she claims that Jacquelyn Litt, dean of the Douglass Residential College and a distinguished women’s studies scholar, dislikes lesbians and believes that "women who had men behind them were stronger and better employees." The university denies that any harassment occurred and claims that Frederico was let go because of her inability to meet deadlines.

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  • Ocean/Corbis

    Nice Try, Freshmen

    Hazed and Confused

    Towson University’s award-winning cheer squad has been suspended for the entire football season over secretive accusations of hazing. Caroline Linton reports.

    Towson University football will be playing its home opener on Friday, but the school’s cheerleading squad won’t be there to cheer the team on. Nor will the cheer squad be at the homecoming game on October 12. In fact, there won’t be any cheerleaders participating in any university exhibitions, either on campus and off, for the rest of the semester.

    Towson's cheerleading squad—the 2013 All-Girl Cheer National Champions—have been suspended from competing for the entire fall semester due to allegations of hazing. As bad as that sounds, the team had originally been suspended from competition and practice in August, but they were granted a reprieve by a university appeals board on Wednesday. The appeals board said in its ruling this week that the team had not been aware of the specifics of the hazing policy, since they were not considered an athletic team. The squad will have to complete 650 hours of community service by the end of the fall semester, and they have been prohibited from participating in any campus and off-campus cheer events, although they are now allowed to practice. New members of the team do not have to participate in the community service.

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  • Mark Humphrey/AP

    Three are booked, one remains at large.

    Four former Vanderbilt football players have been accused in the rape of an unconscious student in a dormitory room in June in a case that detectives described as “unsettling.” Brandon Vandenburg, 20, and JaBorian McKenzie, 19, turned themselves in on Friday, while Cory Batey, 19, was arrested the same day. The fourth suspect, Brandon Banks, 19, remains at large. All four were dismissed from the football team long before case went to a grand jury and charges were filed, but they were still players at the time of the incident. Police said the case came to light only after university officials saw something suspicious while going over surveillance footage for a different matter. 

    Read it at The Tennessean
  • Corbis

    60 percent of women from prestigious schools work, compared to 68 percent of other women.

    Do they teach classes on leaning out at the Ivy League? Women who study at top universities are more likely to opt out of the workforce than women who study at less prestigious schools, according to a study by Vanderbuilt University. Sixty percent of women with bachelor’s degrees from top universities such as Harvard and MIT work full-time, compared to 68 percent of women who studied at other schools. It’s even more stark when broken down by degree, and it’s not English majors who aren’t working. Just a third of women who have a master’s in business administration but did their undergraduate work at a top institution work full-time, compared to two-thirds of other women. Of course, one reason for this might be that women who attend top schools are both more financially well-off beforehand and marry people who have more money.

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  • Getty

    PUSH IN

    Preppy Sexism

    Could it be? Elite boarding-school girls say Andover not meritocratic.

    Phillips Academy at Andover hasn’t always had the best track record when it comes to girls—the school didn’t even admit them until 1973, and at the time many alumni worried that girls would take over the school (thanks, George Bush). Now there are roughly more girls than boys enrolled in the school, but the girls are reporting that the school has held them back in leadership positions. In the 40 years since girls were first admitted, only 4 have been elected president, and only 9 have been editor in chief of the newspaper. It’s not that the school is overtly sexist, the girls say, it’s that the attitude against girls still exists. The school claims to be a meritocracy, but as senior Maia Hirschler says, “Right off the bat, it’s not a meritocracy for girls. They’re starting behind because we don’t associate leadership qualities from them.”

    Case in point, the students say, is the recent presidential election. In an attempt to get a girl elected president, the school instituted a system of co-presidents this year. There were no teams made up of two girls, but there were teams made up of two boys and a girl and a boy. The two boys who won reported that they felt like they were attacked in the race for being boys. And for Junius Onome Williams, 16, one of the winners, the race had another personal aspect: he’s African-American, and the school has had only three African-American presidents since blacks were first admitted in 1865.

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  • Michelle Rhee chats with 3rd-grade student Charleisha Calde at J. O. Wilson Elementary School in Washington D.C. on Aug. 23, 2011. (Gerald Martineau for The Washington Post, via Getty)

    Higher Ed

    My Break With the Dems

    As a lifelong Democrat, controversial education reformer Michelle Rhee never thought she’d support school vouchers. Until she did.

    When I began my stint with the D.C. public schools, I had strong ideas about what education reform should look like and what it shouldn’t look like. I believed wholeheartedly that we had to have a very strong focus on teacher quality. I was also a believer in charter schools. I had seen their value when I served for a couple of years on the board of the St. HOPE Public Schools. I guess that was my first break with Democratic dogma. I knew that charter schools were anathema to teachers' unions. I also knew the best ones could serve children extraordinarily well.

    But I drew a very deep line in the sand when it came to vouchers. As a lifelong Democrat I was adamantly against vouchers. Vouchers provide public funds to parents who need help in paying tuition for private or parochial schools. Proponents, mostly Republicans, see vouchers as leveling the field and broadening choice for families. Detractors, usually Democrats, decry the use of public funds to pay for private education. I had bought into the arguments that Democrats and others use in opposition to vouchers: vouchers are a way of taking money away from public school systems and putting them into private schools; vouchers help only a handful of the kids; and vouchers take children and resources away from the schools and districts that need those resources the most.

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