Watch: Town rallies around girl pranked for homecoming

A small town in Michigan is rallying behind a teenage girl who had thoughts of killing herself after students at her high school elected her to the homecoming court as a joke, the Lookout reports.

“I had actually thought about suicide,” Whitney Kropp, a 16-year-old at Ogemaw Heights High School in West Branch, Mich., told Detroit’s WXYZ-TV after she found out about the homecoming hoax. “I thought I wasn’t worthy.”

But residents of Kropp’s farming community quickly rallied around her. A Facebook page was launched to support the bullied teen, generating nearly 40,000 “likes.” And local businesses—including a hair salon and a dress shop—pledged to donate their services to help her get ready for the festivities that culminate with a school dance on Sept. 29……Read More

Study: Junk food doesn’t cause obesity in middle schools

A new study of nearly 20,000 middle schoolers has found that kids who attend schools that sell junk food such as soda and doughnuts do not gain more weight than students who attend schools where that type of food isn’t available, the Lookout reports. The study, published in this month’s issue of Sociology of Education, contradicts earlier research with smaller sample sizes that showed the availability of junk food correlated with rates of childhood obesity. The new study’s author, Pennsylvania State Professor Jennifer Hook, said in a statement that the results surprised her. Hook hypothesizes that kids don’t actually have that much time to eat at school, so their out-of-school eating habits are a more important factor in determining their weight. “Children’s environments at home and in their communities may provide so many opportunities to eat unhealthy foods that competitive food sales in schools have little influence on children’s weight,” she writes. Eating habits are set very early, so efforts to encourage healthy food choices should start before middle school, Hook adds…

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Watch: Actor Matt Damon defends teacher tenure in testy exchange

Actor Matt Damon got into a tense exchange with a journalist from the libertarian Reason TV site after she asked him whether teachers with tenure would lack incentive to work hard at their jobs, the Lookout reports. The journalist argued that Damon has an incentive to work hard as an actor because he lacks job security, while teachers do not…

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High school graduation rates up, but some states lag behind

More high school students are hitting the books and getting their degrees within four years, data from the National Center for Education Statistics show. But not every state is part of that positive trend, the Lookout reports. About 74.7 percent of high school students in the class of 2007-08 graduated on time, up from 72 percent of the class of 2002. But on-time graduation rates dropped by more than 5 percent in Utah, the District of Columbia, and Nevada over the same period…

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Cash-strapped public schools nickel-and-dime parents

Whatever problems may now dog our public education system, at least every child can get a free education, right? Well, not exactly, reports the Lookout. Crafty K-12 administrators who are battling budget cuts have found creative ways to bring in extra revenue through fees for anything from enrolling in honor courses to mandatory “registration” or “instruction” fees, the Wall Street Journal‘s Stephanie Simon writes…

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