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The Princeton Review names top party schools

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has a reason to jump around this year

The school tops The Princeton Review's list of the nation's top party schools

>> Read more trending stories

The Princeton Review ranks these schools based on online student surveys distributed to 143,000 students at 381 colleges. West Virginia University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign completed the top three, respectively. 

So, what does it take for a school to make this list? According to The Princeton Review, they rank the schools on criteria such as daily hours spent studying, alcohol and drug usage and popularity of frats and sororities. 

By that metric, the University of Wisconsin-Madison badgers study the least, are under the influence the most often and have expressed that Greekdom is a pretty big deal. 

Earlier this year, 24/7 Wall Street named Madison, Wisconsin, one of the drunkest cities in America. Want to guess who helped compile the data? The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute — in Madison. 

For the school's that didn't crack the top three, there's always next year. 

Father crosses Mexico border to get kids to school

A father and his two children make a harrowing trek to school every day. It is only one mile, but they must cross over Hidalgo International Bridge. 

The bridge spans the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

"I bring them to school every day," Jose Luis Dominguez told KENS. "We cross the border so they can have a better education because schooling is better here than in Mexico."

>> Read more trending stories  

Dominguez and many other parents in Mexico have enrolled their children in school in America. All they need is an address in the U.S., but they don't necessarily live there. The children attend American schools through charter schools or tuition  programs, KENS reported.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.7";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>A new school year can be a challenge for many parents, but imagine taking your kids out of the country every day.http://on.kens5.com/2bLxvmAPosted by KENS 5 & Kens5.com on Friday, August 26, 2016

"It's ugly across the border," Dominguez said. "Kids are being abducted. It's better here [in the U.S.], safer, knowing that nothing will happen."

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Dominguez has been making the trek for two years. He works at a fast food restaurant across the street from his children's school. He said that the money he earns is not enough to pay for him to live in the U.S.

Alabama law mandates cursive writing in schools, parents express mixed views

These days, many school assignments are completed online and essays are typed before being turned in. But a new state law in Alabama requires that schools teach children how to write in cursive.

>> Read more trending stories 

Lexi's Law, which went into effect Aug. 1, requires cursive handwriting to be taught by the end of third grade in all of the state’s public schools.

Cursive writing lessons will begin in second grade with instruction for how to write lower-case and upper-case letters. By third grade, students should be proficient in writing words and sentences in cursive. The writing practice is to be continued in fourth and fifth grades, the Montgomery Adviser reported.

"It's an ongoing process, just like reading. You start reading, and you read smaller words than you graduate to bigger words, and I think cursive is the same way," Stephanie Odle, an Alabama mother of five in favor of the law, told WBMA. "You can write your name, but there's more to cursive than writing your name."

Lexi's Law gets its name from State Rep. Dickie Drake, who sponsored the bill after his granddaughter, Lexi, said she wanted to learn "real writing."

"She was in the first grade and wanted to learn 'real writing,'" Drake told TODAY Parents. "After much research of schools in the state of Alabama, I found that it was not being taught all over the state -- hit and miss … This bill is for all my grandchildren and others just like them."

Cursive writing has always been a requirement in the state, but the new law requires schools to impose more standardized teaching methods, with benchmarks each school year to certify they are meeting proficiency standards. Teachers will be given more specific instructional plans, and superintendents will have to sign off that students are meeting the requirements.

State legislatures in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee have passed bills and enacted similar mandates in schools to require teaching cursive.

Reactions from parents have been mixed.

Jared and Chelsea Jones are foster parents that say cursive requires less muscle control for their children, who have fine motor issues.

Andrea Overman, a teacher at Alabama Christian Academy, said cursive writing is easier to read than print.

"With cursive all letters start on the baseline, which is the same place and therefore less confusing," Overman told the Adviser. "Individual words are connected with spaces between words, which helps with word recognition."

One New York mother said she would "definitely feel sad" if cursive writing was taken away from her 6-year-old daughter's curriculum.

"Even if these kids are mostly typing when they grow up, I would still like her to learn script," Lyla Gleason said. 

But others disagree.

"When you shake through the arguments, it becomes clear that the driving force keeping cursive alive is really just nostalgia and romanticism," a June Vice.com column states. "For the average person, it’s a skill that will likely not be retained and will definitely not be needed."

"Is this handwriting requirement based on anything other than the argument that we learned it and turned out fine?" wrote Jarvis DeBerry, a dad and the deputy opinions editor at The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, in another column. "It would be nice if my daughter learned cursive, but not at the expense of her falling behind her counterparts around the world, whose fingers will be flying over keys."

A 2013 national survey of 612 elementary school teachers found 41 percent no longer incorporated cursive writing into their lesson plans.

Read more at TODAY Parents.

Florida school bus stop in front of sex predators' house concerns parents

Parents in one Florida town are complaining about a school bus stop that is directly in front of a home where multiple sex offenders live.

The home is located in Middleburg, where a Clay County School District bus picks up and drops off elementary, middle and high school students each day.

“Something needs to be done. They don’t need to be living that close to kids,” one neighbor said.

>> Read more trending stories

Devon Ray is a registered sexual predator. He was convicted of sexual battery on a child who was 12 years old or younger in 2012.

According to Department of Corrections records, he served less than a year in state prison. The state has him registered to the Middleburg home in question just this month.

Johnny Cole is a registered sex offender whose listed address is also the Middleburg home. Cole was convicted of molesting a child who was between 12 and 15 years old in 2013.

Cole is currently in the Clay County Jail. His arrest warrant said he violated his probation by visiting a school, a park and a Chuck E. Cheese.

Parents were shocked to learn both offenders are legally permitted to live there.

State law prohibits sex predators and offenders who are on conditional release from living within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop.

But Ray and Cole aren’t on conditional release; they’re on probation.

State law does not explicitly prohibit sex offenders and predators who are on probation from living near a school bus stop, although it does prohibit them from living within 1,000 feet of “where children regularly congregate.”

A look at Ray’s conditions of supervision documents for his probation confirms that school bus stops are not included in his restrictions.

“Nobody wants a sexual predator living near them and their children,” said state Sen. Audrey Gibson.

Gibson said the “where children regularly congregate” portion of the law gives judges the opportunity to decide what conditions are necessary for an offender on a case-by-case basis.

“I am certainly always in favor of judicial discretion, which is why we have judges in the first place,” said Gibson.

That may be little consolation for nervous parents.

“There has to be some way in the system we can fix this,” said a neighbor. “This is definitely a flaw.”

A spokesperson for the Clay County School District said parents who want the bus stop moved should contact the transportation office. She also said parents are responsible for supervising their kids until the school bus pulls up.

 

University explains why it named a training course #StopWhitePeople2K16

Officials with New York's Binghamton University said they were trying to be ironic when they named a training course for the upcoming school year "#StopWhitePeople2K16."

>> Read more trending stories

The training course was apparently meant to spur discussion about diversity, not demean any specific race.

"The premise of this session is to help others take the next step in understanding diversity, privilege, and the society we function within," the program listing reads. "Learning about these topics is a good first step, but when encountered with 'good' arguments from uneducated people, how do you respond?"

Brian Rose, the university's vice president of student affairs, said the training course was not in any way anti-white.

"We verified that the actual program content was not 'anti-white,'" Rose said Wednesday in a statement. "Topically, the discussion in the program was far-ranging, student-driven and explored reverse racism, the relationship of communities of color with police, whiteness, crime and segregation in an open conversation format."

Quite a few people appeared to have missed the joke.

In an article for the conservative news site Red Alert Politics, Ryan Girdusky, wrote:

"SUNY Binghamton has become a leader in social justice warrior education. The state university has announced that they'll be offering a 'Stop White People' course to help better inform any members of campus who choose to be 'woke.'

"A couple of decades ago the three 'R's' of education were reading, writing, and arithmetic. In 2016 they'd be racism, reparations, and rape culture."

Students learn chemistry via beer-testing lab

A college professor is using beer to inspire chemistry students.

University of Southern Maine professor Lucille Benedict told the Portland Press Herald it can be challenging to keep students engaged in chemistry, so she started using beer as a testing medium.

Benedict oversees the school's new Quality Assurance/Quality Control and Research Laboratory.

>> Read more trending stories

In a partnership with the Maine Brewers Guild, the lab will provide testing and training for breweries and brewmasters.

Students say the beer-testing lab allows them to use science to solve real-world problems. Students will focus on how a flawed brewing process can contaminate or ruin beer.

Classes for brewers begin in the fall. 

Brewers can also send samples to the lab for testing. The lab charges $25 for basic testing.

University of Chicago won't support 'trigger warnings,' 'intellectual safe spaces'

A letter sent out by University of Chicago officials warned incoming students that they won't find any "intellectual safe spaces" on the school's campus.

>> Read more trending stories 

The letter goes on to acknowledge that the university is committed to "freedom of inquiry and expression" and encourages each student to challenge and broaden their perspectives on issues.

"You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion and even disagreement," the letter read. "At times, this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.

"Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called 'trigger warnings,' we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual 'safe spaces' where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own."

The letter pointed students to more information on freedom of expression and quotes a former president of the university, Hanna Holborn Gray, as saying that "education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think."

The University of Chicago is ranked as one of the top and most selective universities in the country. Less than 8 percent of the more than 31,000 people who applied to enter the class of 2020 were accepted by the school, according to The Chicago Maroon.

WATCH: Student-teacher welcomes 4th-grade class with viral rap song, video

A Chicago area student-teacher's creative way of welcoming his class back to school has gone viral.

<iframe width="390" height="219" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XBLcuGunRxU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

According to WMAQ, Dwayne Reed, a student-teacher at Jane Stenson Elementary School in Skokie, Illinois, joined forces with his friend, filmmaker Ty Gotham, and producer Stevo Thompson to record a rap song and make a music video for his fourth-graders.

“I wanted a cool way to introduce myself to the students and the parents I was gonna have,” Reed told WMAQ.

>> Download the track here

According to the YouTube description, "the song and video emphasize the reality that hard work is a must, but that school and learning can certainly be fun!"

>> Read more trending stories

The video, uploaded Saturday, has been viewed more than 161,000 times. 

Read more here.

>> Click here to watch the video

Florida man upset after niece brings home 'excuse from Pledge' form

A Florida man took to Facebook last week after he said his niece brought home a waiver for her parents to sign if they wanted their child excused from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

WTIC-TV reported that the post was made by Micah Brienen, of Cape Coral, Florida, on Aug. 18 where he said the form is "the dumbest thing" he has ever read. He also said he was "ashamed" of the form.

>> Read more trending stories  

The post, which has been shared more than 24,000 times, shows the form.

My niece brought this home from school today...What is happening to our country?!?Posted by Micah Brienen on Thursday, August 18, 2016

Brienen followed up the initial post three days later asking his friends to contact the school’s superintendent about the form, but students in Florida have had the right to opt out of saying the pledge since 2000, according to WTIC.

Earlier this year, Florida’s House Education Committee unanimously approved a bill that would "change how students are notified of their right to skip the daily pledge and what the excused student must do during the pledge." This controversy also comes a year after a Florida superintendent spoke out against a sign that offered students the option to stand up and recite the pledge.

In Palm Beach County, students are required to stand and say the pledge at the beginning of each day. The district's policy also says schools must post a notice of a student’s right not to stand and recite "in a conspicuous place." If a student under 18 years old wants to exercise that option and skip the pledge, he or she would need a signed excuse from a parent.

Read more at WTIC.

Atlanta school's video will make you rethink how you talk to kids

A video made by the Atlanta Speech School illustrates the impact that different attitudes and phrases have on children.

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The video starts with a young boy who explains what it feels like when an adult ignores him or loses patience with him.

When he begins his day, he is happy and upbeat, giving a bus driver an enthusiastic hello that's met with little more than a dismissive wave of a hand. Throughout the day, his interactions with teachers and other adults leave him deflated. 

The Atlanta Speech School, a comprehensive school for language and literacy, has released the compelling new video, titled "Every Opportunity," which switches gears halfway through the piece to illustrate how teachers, school bus drivers and other school staff -- through small every day changes showing kindness inside and outside the classroom -- can enhance a child's ability to thrive and learn. Ultimately, the video shows examples of how teachers, school bus drivers and school staff can make the most of every interaction with students.

"Everyone a child meets throughout the day can make a difference -- all the difference," Comer Yates, executive director of the Atlanta Speech School, said in a press release. "Every time a child is ignored, or yelled at or silenced, a teacher takes away what is possible. As the video exemplifies, each of these moments can be missed opportunities to empower a child and develop their vocabulary."

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