Buh-bye, Joe Paterno

No one wants to be reminded.

From the Associated Press:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The famed statue of Penn State coach Joe Paterno has been taken down from outside the football stadium.

Workers lifted the statue off its base and used a forklift to move it into Beaver Stadium early Sunday as the 100 to 150 students watching chanted, “We are Penn State.”

The university announced earlier Saturday that it was taking down the monument in the wake of an investigative report that found the late coach and three other top Penn State administrators concealed sex abuse claims against retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

The statue turned into a target for Paterno’s critics after former FBI Director Louis Freeh alleged a cover-up by Paterno and others that allowed Sandusky to continue molesting boys.

Sandusky was convicted last month of 45 counts of sexual abuse of 10 boys.

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Big ugly: Dougherty school system is crashing hard

On top of their own test cheating scandal, Dougherty County, Georgia schools are embroiled in a free-lunch program scandal that could cost the system $10 million in federal aid. That’s equivalent to 9% of the county’s total school budget.

Already there have been indictments and Gov. Nathan Deal has removed a school board member over her involvemnt in an alleged scam.  How seedy is it? A school principal and her husband have been indicted on charges they falsely claimed THEY were eligible for the free lunch program.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The Georgia Department of Education has determined that the Dougherty County School District is not eligible to receive at least $10 million in federal funds because of concerns that the district has inflated the number of students who qualify for federal meal assistance. The agency also said the district has not properly overseen federal grant programs.

Large chunks of the federal funding that goes to school districts is based on the number of poor students in a district who qualify for federal meal assistance.

The department’s move is an extraordinary step, one no one at the department can recall being taken before. If a district is found to use federal funds in inappropriate ways, the state is responsible for paying the money back.

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The district, which includes the southwestern Georgia town of Albany, has had its share of troubles in recent years. Investigations found that it and the Atlanta Public Schools system were major hubs for standardized test cheating in 2009.

The cheating investigation in Dougherty County also uncovered evidence that a principal in the district and her husband had falsely claimed that they were eligible for a free lunch program reserved for the poor. The couple was indicted, and similar charges were filed against Dougherty County School Board Member Velvet Riggins based on a tip to police, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported.

The governor removed Riggins from office earlier this month, according to the Albany Herald.

Losing $10 million for this school year would be a big blow for the district, whose operating budget is listed on its website as $114.8 million. The district could still receive the money if it complies with federal documentation requirements and clears up questions about the number of students who are eligible for federal meal assistance.

Hearing about possible misuse of the federal meal assistance program in Dougherty, the Georgia Department of Education attempted to investigate it in late May, state documents show.

Department officials, however, were denied access to program records when they visited the district, according to a letter the department wrote to Dougherty Schools Superintendent Joshua Murfree Jr.

The state warned Dougherty in that letter that it could place a hold on all federal funds that are distributed to districts based on the number of students who qualify for federal meal assistance.

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Penn State trustee quits over Sandusky scandal

From the Associated Press, via The New York Times:

The former chairman of the Penn State board of trustees resigned Thursday, becoming the first board member to do so in the wake of the Jerry Sanduskychild sexual abuse scandal.

The trustee, Steve Garban, was harshly criticized over his handling of a crisis that engulfed Penn State after Sandusky’s arrest last November, and he faced persistent calls from alumni and fellow board members to step down.

An internal investigation by the former F.B.I. director Louis Freeh found that Garban was briefed twice about developments in the Sandusky case but did not share what he knew with the entire board, depriving trustees of a chance to prepare for the worst crisis in Penn State’s 157-year history.

Freeh’s 267-page report portrayed a disengaged board that handed too much responsibility to the university president and failed to investigate deeply enough once it became aware of a grand jury investigation.

Hookahs on campus pose problems for women

Who knew?

ScienceDaily (July 18, 2012) — Nearly a quarter of college women try smoking tobacco with a hookah, or water pipe, for the first time during their freshman year, according to new research from The Miriam Hospital’s Center for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine.

The study, published online by Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, suggests a possible link to alcohol and marijuana use. Researchers found the more alcohol women consumed, the more likely they were to experiment with hookah smoking, while women who used marijuana engaged in hookah smoking more frequently than their peers.

They say the findings are troubling since hookah smoking rates have increased dramatically among young adults over the last two decades, with some studies putting it on par with cigarette smoking. Many college students also mistakenly believe hookah smoking is safer than cigarettes, even though hookah use has been linked to many of the same diseases caused by cigarette smoking, including lung cancer, respiratory illness and periodontal disease.

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Georgia schools: More kids, less money, grim outlook

Here’s a grim view of what funding cuts, coupled with increased enrollments, are doing to Georgia school systems, courtesy of Cedric Johnson at Georgia Public Policy Institute, via Maureen Downey’s Get Schooled blog:.

•First, Georgia’s K-12 student population has increased tremendously and at a much faster rate than other states. Since 2000, enrollment in Georgia’s public schools increased by 230,000 additional students. More than 1.6 million students will enter public k-12 classrooms in Georgia for the 2013 school year, representing the eighth-largest elementary and secondary school system in the United States.

•Even though schools need more resources to cope with the surge in students, state support for public education has steadily declined over the last decade. Lawmakers have cut the state’s core funding program for K-12 education by$5.7 billion since 2003, with most of these cuts occurring over the past four years. That equates to a loss of around $600 per student, or $15,000 for a classroom of 25 students, annually since the 2009 school year. When adjusted for inflation, per pupil spending is now at its lowest level in over 10 years.

•Third, responsibility for funding public schools has steadily shifted from the state to the local level. Whereas the state provided 60 percent of funding for K-12 education in 2000, it only provided 50 percent by 2010. While that might not seem like a huge change, a 1 percent shift in funding responsibility equated to $131 million in 2011.Property taxes are the major local revenue source for public school funding, and declining property values in the wake of the Great Recession have only contributed to school districts’ challenges.

Read the Institute’s FY 2013 Budget Analysis: PK-12 Education

Legal dilemma: Law school gives more student aid than it has

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

University of Louisville’s law school promised incoming students about $2.4 million more in scholarship money than they were supposed to get over the next three years because of an apparent mistake by its admissions director, who resigned Monday.

The Brandeis School of Law had budgeted $550,000 in aid for first-year students starting next month but instead made offers that totaled more than $1.3 million for one year, confirmed university spokesman Mark Hebert.

He said the school will make good on the offers for all three years that the students remain in law school because “it is the right thing to do.”

As a result, however, the school will run up a shortfall of about $2.4 million over that period that it will have to make up, he said. If it cannot, cuts may be required in scholarships offered to first-year students next year, or to other programs, Hebert said.

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