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Indiana University mural depicting KKK rally will no longer be in a classroom

Published: Saturday, September 30, 2017 @ 6:04 AM

Woodburn Hall on the campus of Indiana University.
Indiana Public Media
Woodburn Hall on the campus of Indiana University.(Indiana Public Media)

A mural at Indiana University that depicts hooded Ku Klux Klansmen at a rally that included a burning cross will not be removed, school officials said Friday. 

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But a classroom that uses the room that houses the mural will be moved, the Indianapolis Star reported.

The artwork, created by Thomas Hart Benson in the 1930s, is more controversial now in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in nationwide efforts to remove monuments honoring Confederate leaders.

An online petition was circulated around campus and had more than 1,000 signatures requesting that mural be taken down from Woodburn Hall. In part, the petition urged the university to “take a stand and denounce hate and intolerance in Indiana and on IU’s campus.”

Campus officials said beginning in the spring of 2018, Room 100 at Woodburn Hall, where the mural hangs, will no longer be a classroom.

"While I believe that we can and should educate the public and our community about the murals, that intellectual work can and should take place in a context that does not involve the captive audience of classes devoted to other subjects," Lauren Robel, executive vice president and provost, said Friday in a statement. "Therefore, Woodburn 100 will convert to other uses beginning in the spring semester 2018."

Jacquline Barrie, a former IU student who started the petition calling for the panel's removal, told the Star on Friday that she considers the university's decision a "small victory."

She said that while the university has "a long way to go" in terms of overall diversity, the decision to repurpose the room sends a message to students that the university is hearing their voices.

"This is a step in the right direction," she told the Star. "This is progress, and any progress, no matter how big or small, is important."

Commissioned in 1933 for the Chicago World’s Fair, Benton faced criticism at the time from those who thought the mural painted Indiana in a bad light, but Hart prevailed in keeping it in his work because he wanted it to be an honest portrayal of Indiana's history, the Star reported.

Georgia State soccer player withdraws from school after backlash over racial epithet

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 3:53 AM

Georgia State Soccer Player Uses Racial Slur On Social Media, Suspended From Team

A Georgia State University soccer player who was suspended from the team after she used a racial epithet on social media has withdrawn from the school, officials said.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Georgia State soccer player suspended over racial slur used on social media

Some students had called for the expulsion of 18-year-old freshman defender Natalia Martinez after the epithet appeared on her Finsta page, a secret version of Instagram that is growing in popularity among teens.

>> On AJC.com: What is a ‘Finsta'? Teens and their secret Instagram accounts

“As a progressive, diverse university, we ... feel like this sort of behavior should not be tolerated,” said India Bridgeforth, who created a petition demanding the university take a tougher approach with Martinez.

The petition had garnered more than 500 signatures by Monday afternoon when the university announced Martinez had “officially withdrawn.”

Associate athletic director Mike Holmes told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that officials were made aware of Martinez’s post Friday morning — just days after the University of Alabama expelled a 19-year-old student who posted a video of a racist rant on her Finsta page.

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That student, Harley Barber, uploaded a second video on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in response to people who were upset by the language and threatened those who wanted to report her fake Instagram account, The Washington Post reported

Ohio lawmakers could mandate students learn cursive handwriting again

Published: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 @ 1:10 PM

VIDEO: Ohio Students May Soon Have to Learn Cursive Handwriting Again

Some Ohio lawmakers want elementary school students to be able to print letters by the third grade and write documents in “legible cursive handwriting” by the time they finish fifth grade. The Ohio House could vote Dec. 5 on a bill to require a return of teaching cursive writing

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In February, Ohio House Education Committee Chairman Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, introduced a bill to mandate that kindergarteners through fifth-graders be instructed in handwriting.

RELATED: Cursive returns to Louisiana schools with new law

Schools have dialed back handwriting instruction to make more time for core academic requirements, such as helping struggling readers in first through third grades.

RELATED: What happened last time lawmakers tried to bring cursive back?

Cursive instruction is included in the state’s “model curriculum” for grades 3 and 4 and the State Board of Education passed a resolution in early 2014 in support of teaching cursive. But it isn’t a hard-and-fast requirement.

RELATED: Other states have mandated cursive for public schools

The same bill was introduced in 2015 but failed to pass before the two-year legislative session ended. Advocates of mandating cursive instruction say it helps hone fine motor skills, is needed for signing important records , and comes in handy when reading historical handwritten documents.

Substitute teachers accused of forcing students to crawl on asphalt track as punishment

Published: Saturday, December 02, 2017 @ 3:06 PM

The hands of one of the children allegedly injured during a physical education class in Florence, Texas.
Courtesy of Nancy Gonzalez
The hands of one of the children allegedly injured during a physical education class in Florence, Texas.(Courtesy of Nancy Gonzalez)

Police are investigating reports that two substitute teachers at a Texas middle school caused children to injure their hands Thursday by forcing them to crawl on an asphalt track during a physical education class, said Florence Police Chief Adam Marsh.

Charges have not been filed, Marsh told the Austin American-Statesman.

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Marsh said he has seen blistering and bruising on the hands of four children, who were in a sixth-grade class at Florence Middle School. He declined to release the names of the two teachers being investigated.

READ: Georgetown preschool teacher accused of slapping 4-year-old

Marsh said two sets of parents filed complaints with the police at 6 p.m. Thursday saying their children were forced to do bear crawls around the track. A bear crawl is done on the hands and feet without the knees touching the ground. The exercise is used for endurance and strength-building, Marsh said.

Police are continuing to investigate the case, which involves many children, he said. They will submit their findings to the Williamson County District Attorney’s office to see if charges should be filed, Marsh said. He said Child Protective Services also is involved in the investigation.

He declined to comment further on the case.

Lisa Block, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said the state agency is working with the police to investigate the incident.

One of the parents who filed a complaint with police, Nancy Gonzalez, spoke through an interpreter during a phone interview with the Austin American-Statesman Thursday.

Gonzalez said that when she picked up her 11-year-old daughter from school Thursday, her daughter had bruised hands. Gonzalez said her daughter told her that two substitute teachers forced her and her class to run and do bear crawls for half an hour around an asphalt track as punishment for what another student had done.

Gonzalez said she was “horrified” to see her child’s injuries and went to the school office to talk to someone, but that an official there wouldn’t talk to her.

Florence School District Superintendent Paul Michalewicz said Friday school officials are cooperating with police and also are conducting their own investigation. He declined further comment.

Teacher told student to 'go back to Mexico,' protesters say

Published: Thursday, November 16, 2017 @ 1:24 AM

School bus (stock photo). AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN file photo
AMERICAN-STATESMAN file photo/Austin American-Statesman
School bus (stock photo). AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN file photo(AMERICAN-STATESMAN file photo/Austin American-Statesman)

4 p.m. CST Wednesday: Several students who walked out of Fulmore Middle School in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday told the Austin American-Statesman they were protesting because a teacher in a Social and Emotional Learning class told a student, who was speaking Spanish at the time, to “go back to Mexico.”

The teacher made the statement about two weeks ago, according to students who were in her classroom at the time, and some Fulmore students felt that administrators did not adequately address what this teacher said.

In a letter to the school’s community, Fulmore Principal Lisa Bush acknowledged that "an adult staff member made an insensitive statement to a student. Comments such as that are not tolerated at any level and appropriate actions were taken."

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Bush’s letter did not specify what was said nor what action was taken.

Multiple students said the school building was damaged during the protest. Students mentioned a window was broken, part of a fence was knocked down and a ceiling tile in a hallway was punched.

At least one school board member commented on the situation. 

“I am confident the superintendent and his team are gathering the facts and responding appropriately,” said school board member Geronimo Rodriguez, who represents South Austin. “I expect a quick response. This is a teachable moment for our diverse community regarding our culture of treating people with dignity and respect.”

ORIGINAL STORY: A group of students walked out of the Fulmore Middle School building as part of a protest Wednesday, according to school officials.

School officials said students are now back in their classrooms.

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