U.S. Mathematician Becomes First Woman To Win Abel Prize, ‘Math’s Nobel’

“I find that I am bored with anything I understand,” Karen Uhlenbeck once said – and that sense of curiosity is part of why she won the prestigious Abel Prize, from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

Uhlenbeck, an influential mathematician who was for decades a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and who has sought to encourage women to study mathematics, has become the first woman to win the Abel Prize — often called the Nobel Prize of math.

Uhlenbeck’s complex and wide-ranging work includes analyzing the “minimal surfaces” of soap bubbles and finding ways to unite geometry and physics through new mathematical approaches. She’s widely respected for her work on esoteric topics, such as partial differential equations and the calculus of variations.

Full story at NPR

Educators Endorse Safety Measures – Not Arming Teachers

THE TWO NATIONAL teachers union and a leading gun safety group called on federal and state lawmakers to pass a variety of gun laws to prevent future school shootings as part of a school safety report released Monday.

The report, published by Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, comes just days before Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, marks one year since a mass shooting in which a former student killed 17 children and adults.

“It’s been now almost a year since Parkland,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “I know students served as live witness to that tragedy, and their voices helped make 2018 the year of gun safety.

“There’s still a significant amount of work to be done,” he said. “It’s up to us to solve this problem.”

Full story at US News

How To Make Sure Your Math Anxiety Doesn’t Make Your Kids Hate Math

A spike in blood pressure. A racing heart rate. Sweaty palms.

For many adults, this is what they feel when faced with difficult math.

But for kids, math anxiety isn’t just a feeling, it can affect their ability to do well in school. This fear tends to creep up on students when performance matters the most, like during exams or while speaking in class.

One reason for a kid’s math anxiety? How their parents feel about the subject.

“A parent might say, ‘oh I’m not a math person, it’s okay if you’re not good at math either,’ ” Sian Beilock, cognitive scientist and President of Barnard College, says. “It can send a signal to kids about whether they can succeed.”

Full story at npr.org

When Weather and School Segregation Collide

WHEN A MAJOR WINTER storm ripped across the South over the weekend, dumping nearly a foot of snow in parts of North Carolina and prompting some school systems to cancel classes Monday, it sparked a public debate about school segregation.

“Long thread about our countywide school system and inclement weather,” Wake County schools posted to Twitter Sunday afternoon. “Grab a mug of hot chocolate and listen in.”

What came next was a long explanation-cum-history lesson about Wake County schools’ integration efforts: “Most importantly, there is a very, very, very important reason why our school system is countywide,” Wake County schools posted to Twitter. “It’s the foundation of our success as a community. It is the reason our community has prospered. It’s why our taxes are low. It’s what attracted many of you to move here. It is why all of our schools are good schools.”

The thread was a response to someone on Twitter who, in reacting to a Wake County science teacher’s tweet about the possibility of school being canceled Monday, argued there should be two separate school systems in Wake County because the weather impacts parts of the county differently.

Full story at US News

When The ‘White Tears’ Just Keep Coming

Talking about race is hard. It often involves hurt feelings and misunderstandings. And the words and phrases we use can either push those conversations forward or bring them to a standstill. One such term: white tears.

The phrase has been used to gently tease white people who get upset at things they think threaten their white privilege. It’s been used to poke fun at white people who think that talking about race makes you a racist. Or that Barack Obama’s presidency marked the end of America. Or that it’s a crime against humanity when a formerly white character is portrayed, or rumored to be portrayed, by a person of color. (Think Spider-Man. Annie. James Bond. Hermione. The Human Torch. Dorothy.)

Rather than spend time earnestly engaging with people who refuse to believe a fictional character could be someone who isn’t white, it’s easier (and way more fun) to just roll your eyes, dub their reaction “white tears” and move on.

Full story at npr.org

U.S. Department of Education Builds on Efforts to Improve Services for Students, Increase Effectiveness and Fairness of Office for Civil Rights Investigations

WASHINGTON — As part of its ongoing work to protect students’ civil rights and effectively, efficiently and fairly investigate civil rights complaints, today the U.S. Department of Education announced additional improvements to the Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) Case Processing Manual (CPM).

“Our top priority in the Office for Civil Rights is ensuring all students have equal access to education free from discrimination,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth L. Marcus. “Since joining the OCR team in June, I’ve reviewed our Case Processing Manual and received important and constructive feedback on it.  While we continue to work to improve the timeliness of OCR’s case processing, we have determined that additional revisions will help improve our work and allow us to be more responsive to students, stakeholders and our staff.”

The CPM provides guidelines for field investigators working to investigate and resolve complaints and to ensure schools comply with the laws and regulations enforced by OCR. The CPM underwent its last revision in March of 2018.

Full story at ed.gov

How Does a School Recover?

WHAT’S A HIGH SCHOOL TO do when it finds out that more than 60 boys in its graduating class of 2019 posed together, their arms extended in a Nazi salute, laughing, with at least one student flashing the “white power” sign?

That’s what Baraboo High School in central Wisconsin is figuring out after a photo taken before prom last spring at the Sauk County Courthouse in downtown Baraboo went viral this week.

Currently, school district officials are working with local authorities to investigate the incident and interview students and families involved to determine how and why the photo was taken, Lori Mueller, the school district administrator, said in a statement. She went further on Twitter, saying the school district plans to pursue “any and all available and appropriate actions, including legal,” to address the situation.

Full story at US News

How Schools Can Reduce Sexual Violence

No one ever shows up at brunch and says, “Oh my gosh, I was so sober last night!”

Risky behavior draws attention. As a result, people tend to assume that everyone else is doing it more than they really are.

But, over the last two decades, research on college campuses has shown that giving students the real facts about their peers reduces unsafe drinking. This approach is called positive social norms. It works because of a basic truth of human nature: People want to do what others are doing.

Now, that research is starting to be applied to a novel area: preventing sexual assault and harassment. From an unwanted comment on the street to groping in the hallways at school, surveys suggest more than half of young women and almost half of young men have experienced sexual harassment before age 18.

Full story at npr.org

U.S. Department of Education Fulfills Administration Promise to Invest $200 Million in STEM Education

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it has not only fulfilled but surpassed President Trump’s directive to invest $200 million in high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), including computer science, education. In total, the Department obligated $279 million in STEM discretionary grant funds in Fiscal Year 2018.

“It’s important that all students have access to a high-quality STEM education,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said. “These discretionary grant programs and this Administration’s increased focus on STEM will help ensure our nation’s students are exposed to STEM early in their lifelong education journeys and will have the tools needed for success in the 21st century economy.”

Full story at ed.gov

How a Tax Regulation Could Cripple School Vouchers

THE IRS HAS PROPOSED limiting the federal deduction of contributions made to charitable organizations. The move is an attempt by the White House to target a handful of states – most of them wealthy and Democratic – seeking a way around the limits on state and local tax deductions included the new tax overhaul.

But in doing so, the Trump administration would undercut its own education agenda by crippling private school choice programs in dozens of states that rely on charitable donations.

The conflict was on display Monday at a public IRS hearing, where advocates of tax credit scholarships pleaded for a carve-out to avoid collateral damage, while critics of such programs applauded what they see as a long-overdue change to the way charitable deductions are administered.

Full story at US News