UA In the News — May 13-15

Mostly White Alabama Town Can Split From Diverse District, Court Rules
Education Week – May 9
A federal judge has granted a mostly white town in Alabama permission to secede from a racially mixed county school district and start its own system—even though she concluded that race was the main motivation for the split. Civil rights lawyers and advocates for racially mixed schools fear the ruling—should it stand—strikes another blow to decades-long efforts to desegregate schools in the South … Residents have maintained that local control, not racial separation, is their goal. But the phrase “local control” can be coded language used to conceal true intent, said John Petrovic, an education professor at the University of Alabama. “I would suspect that it’s a belief that an increasing number of minorities will lower the quality of the school, that it will affect the achievement of students,” Petrovic said.
Ahead of HBO premiere, Gypsy’s father and filmmaker speak about bizarre case
NBC 5 (St. Louis, Missouri) – May 13
When Gypsy Blanchard turned 18, her father Rod called his ex-wife Dee Dee and asked to speak to the birthday girl. That’s fine, Dee Dee told Rod, but don’t tell Gypsy she is 18. Feldman, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Alabama and author of the book “Playing Sick?” — told the News-Leader he’s been studying Munchhausen by proxy for 25 years and this is the first case he’s seen where the abuse victim murdered her parent. In the film, Feldman said people can “understand the crime in terms of a hostage trying to gain escape.”

Finalists for Harper Lee prize announced
Tuscaloosa News – May 14
The University of Alabama School of Law and the American Bar Association Journal have announced the finalists for the 2017 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. The finalists are “Gone Again” by James Grippando, “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult and “The Last Days of Night” by Graham Moore. The prize, created to honor Lee, is given annually by the UA School of Law and the ABA Journal to a book-length work of fiction that features the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change. The winner is chosen based on a panel of judges and online voting by the public.
Alabama Public Radio – May 13
Bristol Herald Courier (Virginia) – May 13

Tattoos: The good, the bad and the bumpy
Science News for Students – May 11
Annabelle Townsend of Maple Grove, Minn. celebrated her eighteenth birthday with a trip to the tattoo shop. It was not a spontaneous decision. “I designed the entire thing over a few years,” she says of the three-quarter sleeve that now adorns her right arm. (A tattoo sleeve, like the sleeve of a shirt, covers the arm.) “I drew it over and over until I had perfected it.” Townsend wanted the tattoo to be a collection of many things that were meaningful to her … That’s the finding of a study by Christopher Lynn and his team at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Lynn is an anthropologist, someone who studies the social habits of people. He was interested in the idea that tattoos might signal someone’s good health to others.
Program hopes to bring on more science teachers
ABC 11 (Meridian, Mississippi) – May 13
In an effort to bring more teachers to the classrooms, the University of Alabama will partner with local schools and educators over the next few years. The Tuscaloosa News reports that a number of city and county schools will be taking part of the Developing Leaders in Science Teachers program starting in the 2017-18 school year. Students from the University of Alabama will be brought into classrooms to shadow science teachers in hopes of becoming teachers in the future. The program will include 15 scholarship students. They will spend the first year completing an Alternative Teacher Certification master’s degree program. Afterward, the students will spend the next four years teaching biology, chemistry and physics in high school. Each student will receive about $17,000 in scholarships.

No one in this world loves me more than my grandmother – May 14
When I was seven I asked my grandmother how old she was and she answered, “sixty-four.” Since then, the years have stretched past long and thin like spaghetti noodles. I never quite pictured my grandmother the right way. I never imagined her chained to time like the rest of us. (By Sophia Nadler, a student at the University of Alabama).

THE PORT RAIL: New symbol of status is ‘being busy’
Tuscaloosa News – May 14
In this age of being overwhelmed by information, some true, some not, some fabricated, and some perfectly inane, one needs to decide what is important and what is not. One way to do it is to determine what people “think” is important. And status symbols come to mind as indicators of where our culture is in this business of what is important and what is not. I heard a PBS broadcast that some social scientists recently studied “status”: like what are the most popular status symbols today? (Larry Clayton is a retired University of Alabama history professor. Readers can email him at

Red-state blue-state divide is showing up in tourism: Stereotypes are keeping liberals from Alabama beaches
Pressform – May 13
People from blue states like California typically don’t think “Alabama” when looking to plan a beach getaway. And most tourists visiting Alabama’s expansive, white-sand beaches either come from Alabama or from Trump-supporting states, according to recent data. But just why that is likely comes down to undue stereotyping more than anything else … But as political science professor Richard Fording of the University of Alabama told, those divides often exist solely in people’s heads. “People in Alabama and California are not as different as the people in each state tend to think . . . There are a lot of conservatives and liberals in each state—just somewhat more of the former in Alabama and somewhat more of the latter in California,” he said.
MSN – May 13

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