University sues student for finishing too fast


I had a Scooby-Doo moment when I saw this news brief in Inside Higher Ed. Americans would applaud this studenti’s initiative, but the reaction by his German alma mater has been downright litigious.

Twenty-two-year-old Marcel Pohl earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in only 20 months from The School of Economics and Marketing in Essen, Germany. Pohl accomplished this feat by teaming up with two buddies to cover lectures in 60 courses and sharing their notes, then sitting for exams. The student says that the college agreed to this arrangement, but now the university wants nearly $4,000 more in tuitiion from Pohl due to his untimely departure.

From UPI:

The School of Economics and Management in Essen is asking the court to make former student Marcel Pohl, 22, pay an extra $3,772 after he obtained his degrees in only three semesters instead of the usual 11, The reported Tuesday.

“When I got the lawsuit, I thought it couldn’t be true,” Pohl told the Bild newspaper. “Performance is supposed to be worth something.”

Pohl said school officials agreed in advance he and two friends could take their 60 required exams despite divvying up the lecture hours between them and sharing notes afterward.

“We didn’t get any freebies, and we agreed [to] our plans in advance with the school,” Pohl said.

Read more.



Tales from Kafka: Innocent woman spends 53 days in jail, loses everything

This story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is brought to you by the Atlanta Police Department and the Fulton County Jail.

This is how the justice system can play out for you when you’re poor and black. It didn’t matter that none of the facts lined up, or that the victim repeatedly told authorities they had the wrong woman. In fact, it didn’t matter that Teresa Culpepper was cleared of the charges in court–SHE STAYED IN JAIL!

When she got out, she found that her belongings had been stolen and her vehicle had been sold for parts to pay the towing company’s charge. And she had to refund  disability payments from the federal government she received while in jail–the rules don’t differentiate between guilt and innocence.

By the way, she had a clean record before her arrest.

Read more.


50 years ago today, this machine tried to kill me!

My father Donald Grant poses with the villainous machine

I grew up on a farm. This has made everything else seem relatively easy.

When the incident I referenced above occurred, I was six years old, working in the middle of a four-hour shift on the Kuhl eggwashing machine with my brother Dave. He was frontloading, I was working the back end. The machine’s conveyers were essentially a series of bicycle chains. They had woefully inadequate safety guards, and all it took for me to get injured was to trail one of my fingers. On July 4, 1962, I did exactly that. (Until a few weeks ago, I’d thought I was seven, but I found an old letter my mother wrote that proved I was six at the time. I stand corrected.)

High-pitched screaming ensued. The machine was shut down with my hand in it. It took five-ten minutes for my father and Charlie Harper (not Charlie Hand–that was a Freudian slip corrected by my oldest brother) to remove the chain that had wedged my right index finger into the cogwheel.  My father made me promise to not do this again. I swear to god. And I balked at his request, just to be defiant. That’s the kind of relationship we had.

Finally, after a few tortured seconds, I relented. After some back and forth, I was taken to the doctor’s in Sweet Springs. I believe it was my first trip to the town’s tiny new hospital. I was found to have mashed and broken my finger. It was splinted and I went home to watch my siblings shoot off fireworks, a privilege denied me due to my injury. Life isn’t fair.





Things are tough all over: Metro Atlanta schools edition

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a roundup of local school systesms’ financial woes, which are deep and many, affecting all disctricts in the metro area.  Fulton County suffers the fewest cutbacks, having tightened its budget previously. Here’s an outline from the article of what the larger systems have been forced to do:


• Budget: $575 million, $30 million less than the 2011-12 amended $605 million budget.
• Teacher jobs eliminated: About 375, including 150 from the CRCT cheating investigation.
• Teachers laid off: A “reduction in force” is still being implemented.
• Class size: No change.
• Furlough days: 4 days
• Number of school days: 180
• Other cuts: 10 percent cuts to major departments, 7 percent for Curriculum Division.
• Adopted: June 4

Clayton County

• Budget: $336 million*, down $11 million from $347 million
• Teacher jobs eliminated: 385 classroom, art, music and physical education teaching positions.*
• Teachers laid off: Unknown
 Class size: Up 2 students
• Furlough days: 5
• Number of school days: 175
• Other cuts: Drop elective courses with low attendance
• Adopted: June 25

Cobb County

• Budget: $842 million, down $10 million from the $852 million budgeted in 2011-12.
• Teacher jobs eliminated: 350
• Teachers laid off: None
• Class size: Up 2 students
• Furlough days: 3
• Number of school days: 177, with school days lengthened for the equivalent of 180 days instruction.
• Other cuts: Delaying step increases for eligible employees to mid-year.
• Adopted: May 21

DeKalb County

• Budget: $760 million, up from $775 million 2011-12 budget but down from actual expenditures of about $799 million.
• Teacher jobs eliminated: Approximately 500, including special education teachers.
• Teachers laid off: None yet, according to school system spokesman Walter Woods.
• Class size: Up 2 students
• Furlough days: 2
• Number of school days: 180 (furloughs were taken from teacher planning days)
• Other cuts: 200 paraprofessionals, 188 bus monitors, 70 central office employees, 54 media specialists and clerks, 20 interpreters, 18 bus drivers, 10 assistant principals, 10 counselors, 10 school officers and 40 percent of Fernbank Science Center’s budget.
Adopted: June 21

Fulton County

• Budget: $814.1 million, up from $811.6 revised 2012 budget
• Teacher jobs eliminated: No cuts
• Teachers laid off: None
• Class size: No change
• Furlough days: None
• Number of school days: 177, same as last year
• Other cuts: The school system is pulling $19 million out of savings to balance the budget. A pay freeze is planned for staff.
• Adopted: June 5

Gwinnett County

• Budget: $1.2 billion, down $60.6 million from last year
• Teaching jobs: Not filling more than 585 jobs, the majority of which were teaching jobs (specifics not immediately available)
• Teacher layoffs: None
• Class size: Up 2 students
• Furlough days: 2
• Other cuts: No longevity salary step increases, eliminating 54 vacant central office jobs
• Adopted: May 17

* Figures from Clayton County approved budget

Bullies get suspended; bus monitor gets vacation

Bullied school bus monitor Karen Klein’s vacation fund is now worth $650,000. (She plans to give most of it away.) The kids who taunted her will spend a year in alternative education and serve 50 hours of community service with elderly people.

I hope this incident will continue to get publicized since it is such a total and complete smackdown of bullies. Think of your actions. Consider the consequences. Remember the Golden Rule (and not “Those that have the gold make the rules,” at least not right now).

Here’s a good wrap-up from The New York Times.