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Princeton and Harvard are the best colleges in the nation again

Princeton and Harvard are still at the head of the class when it comes to the best colleges in the nation. At least, that's according to the 2017 rankings list from U.S. News & World Report

>> Read more trending stories

Princeton scored the No. 1 spot again for the sixth straight year, and Harvard remained in second place. But there were some slight changes to the top five in this year's Best Colleges list. 

The University of Chicago moved up a spot to tie with Yale for third place and Columbia and Stanford tied for the fifth-place spot on the list. No college ranked fourth.

The authors of this year's annual report included data from more than 1,800 colleges and universities across the country and ranked about 1,300 of them. They considered graduation rates, faculty resources, financial strength, test scores of incoming students and other factors to determine where each school should fall in the rankings.

But U.S. News' chief data strategist told the New York Daily News "student outcomes" — like graduation and retention rates — carry the most weight.

It's really no surprise that the top half of the list has stayed pretty much the same for years now.

As The Washington Post points out, many of the data points taken into consideration only change slightly from year to year.

The top five ranked college are:

  • 1. Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey
  • 2. Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • 3. University of Chicago in Chicago
  • 3. Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut
  • 5. Columbia University in New York
  • 5. Stanford University in Stanford, California

To see where your favorite university landed in the rankings this year, you can check out the full list on U.S. News & World Report's website.

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Grandmother says first-grader was left on bus for hours

A grandmother is furious after she says her granddaughter was left to ride the school bus for hours on her first day of first grade.

"My blood is boiling inside me, I can't relax since this happened and I just want answers," Olga Curto told WFXT.

Talia Brown attends the Dante Alighieri School in East Boston. From there, Curto said she is supposed to be taken by school bus to an after school program at the East Boston YMCA on Ashley Street. When school let out at 1:30 p.m., Curto said Talia got on the bus, but never made it to the Y.

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"My daughter went to the YMCA at 5:05 to pick her up and they told her she wasn't there. At that moment, my daughter had a heart attack. She just basically almost fell to the floor," said Curto.

Curto said that an hour later, the Boston Public Schools Transportation Department called to say they had Talia. They said she had been on a school bus the entire time.

"The driver just continued on to his to four other routes whatever those routes were I don't know," Curto said.

Olga said she's doesn't understand why the school bus driver didn't notice her granddaughter or why the YMCA didn't call to tell her Talia never showed up

"I haven't gotten any response.  The only response I have gotten if from your news station," she said.

WFXT has reached out to Boston Public Schools Transportation and the YMCA, but hasn't heard back.

Students rally behind deaf teen whose backpack was stuffed in toilet by bullies

High school students in Omaha, Nebraska, are rallying behind a deaf classmate after he was the target of bullies.

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>> Watch the video from Newsy

Earlier this month, students at Burke High School shoved Alex Hernandez's backpack into a toilet during lunch.

"It's not OK to bully someone who is disabled, deaf or hard of hearing," Hernandez, who's been deaf since he was 1 year old, told Newsy's partners at KMTV. 

According to KMTV, Hernandez left his backpack on a chair in the school cafeteria while getting some food. And when he returned, the backpack was gone.

Hernandez immediately told school administrators about the missing bag, and they found surveillance footage that showed two male students walking off with it.

Another student later found Hernandez's belongings stuffed in a school toilet.

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The backpack contained some valuable items, including a battery for his cochlear implant, his debit card, school supplies and his English project.

"I was very upset because I know I work really hard on my project and homework because I just want to make my mom to be happy and know that I did a good job on the homework," Hernandez said.

Other students said they are outraged by the incident. 

"It just absolutely sickened me," Burke High School student Devon Fuller said.

Some of Hernandez's friends even set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to replace his ruined belongings. They raised more than $800 in just three days.

“Due to the increase and high donations, we decided to stop the fundraiser,” a student who helped organize the fundraiser tweeted. “We raised enough money for the student to replace his school supplies!”

Hernandez, who has said he wants to transfer schools, said he was grateful for the support.

"I wanted to thank all of my friends and those who wrote me for supporting me," he told KMTV. "I am very happy. It made me feel like I am not alone."

Hernandez says he wants to talk to the two students responsible and their families about doing the right thing. School officials investigating the incident issued a statement saying that the students involved "targeted an unattended backpack versus an individual student."

>> See the Facebook post here

So today at school my brother was bullied super hard at his high school. Some kids stole his back pack from the lunch...Posted by Analy Luevano on Wednesday, August 31, 2016

'Very unusual' university librarian leaves school $4 million fortune

Robert Morin lived a simple life, working for nearly five decades in the library at the University of New Hampshire.

He spent little money in his 77 years, driving a 1992 Plymouth and eating, according to friends, Fritos and Coke for breakfast and TV dinners for supper. That frugal lifestyle is what allowed Morin to leave behind a $4 million estate at the time of his death last year.

Morin, who lived alone, left the entire amount to UNH. The university announced the gift last week, after it had cleared probate court.

“Bob’s demonstrated commitment to UNH through his philanthropy is tremendously inspiring,” UNH President Mark Huddleston said in a news release. “His generous gift allows us to address a number of university priorities."

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Morin’s bequest included just one dedicated gift -- $100,000 for his beloved Dimond Library, where he worked until his retirement in 2014, according to the Boston Globe. The university said that money would be used to provide scholarships for work-study students, support staff members who continue their studies in library science and fund the renovation of one of the library’s multimedia rooms.

Another $2.5 million will be used to launch an expanded career center for students and alumni, the news release said. A total of $1 million will go toward a video scoreboard for the university’s new football stadium.

Living in an assisted living facility over the final year and a half of his life, Morin watched football games on TV and learned the game.

The school describes Morin as having a passion for movies, watching more than 22,000 of them between 1979 and 1997. After accomplishing that feat, he turned to books.

Over the years, he read every book published in the United States from 1930 to 1940, except for children’s books, textbooks and books about cooking and technology, UNH said. When he died, he had read a total of 1,938, the year of his birth.

Morin’s financial adviser, Edward Mullen, described him as a “very unusual gentleman” and a recognizable figure on campus, the Globe reported. He was about 5 feet tall, smoked a pipe, had a hunched back and wore an elevated shoe.

The library staff sometimes had to persuade him to shop for clothes. They took care of him over the years and drove him around after his health began to deteriorate.

Morin enjoyed the university’s students, particularly those working in the library, the Globe said. A memorial bench near the library bears his name and the year 1963, the year he graduated from the school he loved so much.  

Kindergartner running late for school stops to say pledge, pray

Kindergartner Royce Thompson, already running late for school, stopped in his tracks Thursday at the entranceway to Wollam Elementary School.

He placed his hand over his heart in honor of the Pledge of Allegiance, which had just begun.

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“I couldn’t believe that he acknowledged that that was a moment of, you know, you need to stop do the pledge and he just did,”  Officer Cibby Moore told FOX 26 in Houston. “He just ignored all the kids around him and kept doing it. And it was awesome.”

His mother Heather Nelson had been urging him to go into the building when she realized what he was doing. He followed the pledge with a silent prayer.

“I was so proud that he stopped when the Pledge of Allegiance came and stood his ground and did not move as the other kids were going in and then took time out and prayed and did not even care or think twice about it,” she wrote in a post on Facebook. “This is such a beautiful picture.”

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Georgetown University to make reparations for past ties to slavery

Georgetown University is taking steps to atone for its historical ties to slavery. 

The plan includes giving the descendants of slaves the same admissions advantages that children of alumni receive. Two buildings on campus will also be renamed.

One will honor Anne Marie Becraft, an African-American woman who opened a school for black girls in the Georgetown area, and the other will commemorate one of the slaves sold to help pay off the university's debt.

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In 1838, Georgetown University sold 272 slaves to pay off some of the school's debt. The slaves were uprooted from Maryland and sent to Louisiana.

The university has addressed its history with slavery before, but recently, a committee appointed to determine how the university should address its history found that slavery was deeply rooted in Georgetown's founding. 

Profits from the sale of slaves and from plantations run by slaves were a planned source of funding for the school, and many of the campus' early buildings were built, at least in part, by slaves.

Georgetown's investigation started in August, and the student body began putting pressure on the university last year to open a dialogue about its history with slavery.

The steps announced this week stopped short of calls for scholarships for the descendants of slaves, but the university claims its efforts won't end with Thursday's announcement. 

Father crosses Mexico border to get kids to school

A father and his two children make a harrowing trek to school every day. It is only one mile, but they must cross over Hidalgo International Bridge. 

The bridge spans the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

"I bring them to school every day," Jose Luis Dominguez told KENS. "We cross the border so they can have a better education because schooling is better here than in Mexico."

>> Read more trending stories  

Dominguez and many other parents in Mexico have enrolled their children in school in America. All they need is an address in the U.S., but they don't necessarily live there. The children attend American schools through charter schools or tuition  programs, KENS reported.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//;version=v2.7";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>A new school year can be a challenge for many parents, but imagine taking your kids out of the country every day. by KENS 5 & on Friday, August 26, 2016

"It's ugly across the border," Dominguez said. "Kids are being abducted. It's better here [in the U.S.], safer, knowing that nothing will happen."

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Dominguez has been making the trek for two years. He works at a fast food restaurant across the street from his children's school. He said that the money he earns is not enough to pay for him to live in the U.S.

Alabama law mandates cursive writing in schools, parents express mixed views

These days, many school assignments are completed online and essays are typed before being turned in. But a new state law in Alabama requires that schools teach children how to write in cursive.

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Lexi's Law, which went into effect Aug. 1, requires cursive handwriting to be taught by the end of third grade in all of the state’s public schools.

Cursive writing lessons will begin in second grade with instruction for how to write lower-case and upper-case letters. By third grade, students should be proficient in writing words and sentences in cursive. The writing practice is to be continued in fourth and fifth grades, the Montgomery Adviser reported.

"It's an ongoing process, just like reading. You start reading, and you read smaller words than you graduate to bigger words, and I think cursive is the same way," Stephanie Odle, an Alabama mother of five in favor of the law, told WBMA. "You can write your name, but there's more to cursive than writing your name."

Lexi's Law gets its name from State Rep. Dickie Drake, who sponsored the bill after his granddaughter, Lexi, said she wanted to learn "real writing."

"She was in the first grade and wanted to learn 'real writing,'" Drake told TODAY Parents. "After much research of schools in the state of Alabama, I found that it was not being taught all over the state -- hit and miss … This bill is for all my grandchildren and others just like them."

Cursive writing has always been a requirement in the state, but the new law requires schools to impose more standardized teaching methods, with benchmarks each school year to certify they are meeting proficiency standards. Teachers will be given more specific instructional plans, and superintendents will have to sign off that students are meeting the requirements.

State legislatures in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee have passed bills and enacted similar mandates in schools to require teaching cursive.

Reactions from parents have been mixed.

Jared and Chelsea Jones are foster parents that say cursive requires less muscle control for their children, who have fine motor issues.

Andrea Overman, a teacher at Alabama Christian Academy, said cursive writing is easier to read than print.

"With cursive all letters start on the baseline, which is the same place and therefore less confusing," Overman told the Adviser. "Individual words are connected with spaces between words, which helps with word recognition."

One New York mother said she would "definitely feel sad" if cursive writing was taken away from her 6-year-old daughter's curriculum.

"Even if these kids are mostly typing when they grow up, I would still like her to learn script," Lyla Gleason said. 

But others disagree.

"When you shake through the arguments, it becomes clear that the driving force keeping cursive alive is really just nostalgia and romanticism," a June column states. "For the average person, it’s a skill that will likely not be retained and will definitely not be needed."

"Is this handwriting requirement based on anything other than the argument that we learned it and turned out fine?" wrote Jarvis DeBerry, a dad and the deputy opinions editor at The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, in another column. "It would be nice if my daughter learned cursive, but not at the expense of her falling behind her counterparts around the world, whose fingers will be flying over keys."

A 2013 national survey of 612 elementary school teachers found 41 percent no longer incorporated cursive writing into their lesson plans.

Read more at TODAY Parents.

University explains why it named a training course #StopWhitePeople2K16

Officials with New York's Binghamton University said they were trying to be ironic when they named a training course for the upcoming school year "#StopWhitePeople2K16."

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The training course was apparently meant to spur discussion about diversity, not demean any specific race.

"The premise of this session is to help others take the next step in understanding diversity, privilege, and the society we function within," the program listing reads. "Learning about these topics is a good first step, but when encountered with 'good' arguments from uneducated people, how do you respond?"

Brian Rose, the university's vice president of student affairs, said the training course was not in any way anti-white.

"We verified that the actual program content was not 'anti-white,'" Rose said Wednesday in a statement. "Topically, the discussion in the program was far-ranging, student-driven and explored reverse racism, the relationship of communities of color with police, whiteness, crime and segregation in an open conversation format."

Quite a few people appeared to have missed the joke.

In an article for the conservative news site Red Alert Politics, Ryan Girdusky, wrote:

"SUNY Binghamton has become a leader in social justice warrior education. The state university has announced that they'll be offering a 'Stop White People' course to help better inform any members of campus who choose to be 'woke.'

"A couple of decades ago the three 'R's' of education were reading, writing, and arithmetic. In 2016 they'd be racism, reparations, and rape culture."

Students learn chemistry via beer-testing lab

A college professor is using beer to inspire chemistry students.

University of Southern Maine professor Lucille Benedict told the Portland Press Herald it can be challenging to keep students engaged in chemistry, so she started using beer as a testing medium.

Benedict oversees the school's new Quality Assurance/Quality Control and Research Laboratory.

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In a partnership with the Maine Brewers Guild, the lab will provide testing and training for breweries and brewmasters.

Students say the beer-testing lab allows them to use science to solve real-world problems. Students will focus on how a flawed brewing process can contaminate or ruin beer.

Classes for brewers begin in the fall. 

Brewers can also send samples to the lab for testing. The lab charges $25 for basic testing.

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