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Minnesota College Cancels Graduation Ceremonies Except for LGBTQ and Minority Students

The college has made no arrangements for straight white students.

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St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, has cancelled their graduation ceremonies for the general class this year, but separate online ceremonies for LGBT, minority and international students will still take place.

The college sent an email to the student body announcing that “self-identified domestic students of color, international students and LGBTQIA+ students” will have online graduation ceremonies in May.

The college has made no arrangements for straight white students, who will now have to wait and have ceremonies “rescheduled for a date in late May/early June of 2021.”

Campus Reform reports that three virtual graduation ceremonies for students in minority groups were announced by and will be hosted through the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion.

“This event acknowledges the value and uniqueness of students’ experience and serves to commemorate and highlight the accomplishments of individuals within their familial and cultural context,” reads the email sent to students.

St. Olaf College previously made headlines when a racist note that was later revealed to be a hoax prompted massive protests on campus.

Samantha Wells, a sociology and anthropology major at the time, claimed that she found a typewritten note on her car windshield that read, “I am so glad that you are leaving soon. One less [n-word] that this school has to deal with. You have spoken up too much. You will change nothing. Shut up or I will shut you up.”

Wells posted the note on Facebook, where naturally, it went viral.

After an investigation by the college, Wells admitted that she wrote the note herself.

St. Olaf President David Anderson wrote in an email to students at the time that “this was not a genuine threat. We’re confident that there is no ongoing threat from this incident to individuals or the community as a whole.” He followed up that “the reason I said in my earlier note that this was not a genuine threat is that we learned from the author’s confession that the note was fabricated. It was apparently a strategy to draw attention to concerns about the campus’ racial climate.”

Education

Poll Finds 40% of Families More Likely to Homeschool or Virtual School After Lockdowns

“Homeschooling is the new status quo.”

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A new national poll has revealed that 40 percent of families are more likely to continue home or virtual schooling after the lock downs end.

The RealClear Opinion Research survey also found that 64 percent of registered voters support school choice.

Homeschool has been under attack in a big way since the lock downs began, but mainstream media’s efforts to dismiss it is clearly not resonating with voters.

“Every single family with kids in school has been incredibly disrupted by the lockdowns. With 55 million students no longer in their normal educational setting, families are clearly considering new options and many are seeing the benefits of homeschooling and virtual schooling. Policymakers should note that there is a strong desire to have these and other educational options available to families, with both strong support for the general concept of school choice and even stronger support for a specific federal proposal, Education Freedom Scholarships,” John Schilling, President of the American Federation of Children, said in response to the poll results.

Schilling added that this is the time for leadership and for desperately needed bold reforms to be implemented across our K-12 education system.

“Millions of families are seeing the inadequacies of school districts that are too inflexible,” Schilling said. “We owe it to our nation’s families and students to give them more flexibility and additional educational options. Moreover, policymakers owe it to the taxpayers who are footing the $800 billion K-12 education bill to maximize their investment by ensuring every child has access to a quality education and outcomes are improved across the board.”

More black and Asian parents said that they are more likely to consider homeschooling now, with 50.4 percent of black voters saying so, and 53.8 percent of Asian parents. Just 36.3 percent of white parents said the same, and 38.2 percent of Hispanic.

The issue did not seem to be partisan, however, as 45.7 percent of Democrats said they are more likely to consider homeschool, as well as 42.3 percent of Republicans.

Corey A. DeAngelis, the director of school choice at the Reason Foundation told the District Herald that these shutdowns have helped parents to realize that homeschool works better than government schooling.

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Education

Arkansas Middle School Teacher Arrested for Rape, Sexually Grooming Child

He is currently being held at Mississippi County Jail without bond.

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An Arkansas public school teacher has been arrested on suspicion of rape, sexually grooming a child, and internet stalking a child.

Blytheville Middle School teacher Gregory Briggs, 29, was arrested on Thursday according to a statement from the town’s Police Chief Ross Thompson.

The investigation into Briggs began when the parents of a 13-year-old student contacted police about inappropriate sexual conduct from the teacher.

“They reported that they had been contacted by the parent of a 13-year-old student who had evidence of inappropriate contact of a sexual nature between their child and 29-year-old Gregory Briggs, a teacher with the Blytheville Public Schools,” Thompson said in a press release.

As law enforcement investigated the case, they uncovered evidence of additional crimes against other students.

The Blytheville Police received assistance from the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children division and school officials during the investigation.

Briggs is currently being held at Mississippi County Jail without bond.

A Missouri public school teacher was also arrested this week and charged with sexual exploitation of a minor.

According to investigators, Cassville School District teacher Brandon McCullough used the messaging app Kik to contact a minor in New Jersey under a fake name. The investigation found that in May of last year he engaged with a sexually explicit chat with the child, including sending pornographic images. The victim told law enforcement that she felt trapped as the teacher kept requesting more explicit photographs and threatening to post the ones she had sent if she did not comply.

A Florida school teacher was also arrested and charged this week for filming students changing on multiple occasions.

Thomas John Kovack, 41, admitted to detectives that he filmed multiple students changing in the bathroom during the pool party while he was a teacher at J.W. Mitchell High School. He also supplied them with alcohol.

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Education

Florida Public School Teacher Charged With Filming Students Changing on Two Occasions

He also supplied them with alcohol.

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A Florida public school teacher has been arrested for filming students changing at a pool party at his house in 2011 and again at the school in 2018.

Thomas John Kovack, 41, admitted to detectives that he filmed multiple students changing in the bathroom during the pool party while he was a teacher at J.W. Mitchell High School. He also supplied them with alcohol.

“Kovack provided the students with alcohol and offered for them to spend the night,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “While no students stayed the night, several were captured on the hidden camera without their knowledge or consent.”

Pasco County Sheriff’s Office arrested Kovack on Tuesday. In addition to confessing to filming students without their knowledge, he also told detectives where he was storing a hard drive with the videos.

Kovack went on to teach at Fivay High School, where a student caught him filming her while she changed.

NBC News reports that in 2018, “a student said she was changing for yearbook photos in a classroom closet when she found an iPhone filming her. She told authorities she saw Kovack setting up the phone to record after watching the video from the beginning, according to a complaint affidavit.”

The teacher claimed that he “regretted his actions” and deleted that footage.

Kovack has now been charged with video voyeurism in two counties.

“Kovack was in custody at the Pinellas County Jail as of Wednesday afternoon, according to inmate records. He had an initial appearance in court for the 10 charges stemming from the 2011 pool party on Wednesday and is scheduled to appear for a bond hearing at 10 a.m. May 19,” the report states.

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