Illinois Will Soon Require All Public Schools to Teach LGBTQ History

Carlos Alberto Kunichek/iStock via Getty Images
Carlos Alberto Kunichek/iStock via Getty Images

Illinois just officially became the fifth state to require its public schools to include LGBTQ history in the curriculum. CNN reports that Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Inclusive Curriculum Law on August 9, which will go into effect for the 2020-2021 school year.

The new curriculum will cover the 1924 formation of the Society for Human Rights—the nation’s first gay rights organization—and the fact that Sally Ride, the first U.S. woman in space, was a lesbian. And it doesn’t stop at LGBTQ history: Newsweek reports that Illinois students will also learn more about how women and minorities have impacted our history.

The law also stipulates that textbooks purchased must “include the roles and contributions of all people protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act and must be non-discriminatory as to any of the characteristics under the Act.”

The law was co-sponsored by Illinois state representative Anna Moeller and senator Heather Steans along with Equality Illinois, the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, the Legacy Project, and more than 40 additional education, health care, and civil rights organizations.

"The legislation exemplifies a demonstrated commitment to build and nurture an inclusive and supportive environment in the educational system in Illinois,” Mary F. Morten, board chair of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, said in a press release. It comes on the heels of a 2017 survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which found that 88 percent of LGBTQ students in Illinois had heard the word gay as a slur, and only 24 percent reported having been taught anything positive about LGBTQ figures in school.

California was the first state to pass similar legislation in 2011, followed by Colorado, Oregon, and New Jersey. According to The Washington Post, Maryland is working on changes, too; later this year, Maryland State Department of Education officials will seek approval from the State Board of Education for their curriculum plan, which includes LGBTQ and disability rights history.

Hopefully, more states will follow suit, especially in the wake of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots this past June. Too old to benefit from school curriculum updates? Enrich your understanding of LGBTQ history with this list of important locations for LGBTQ rights.

[h/t CNN]

The 25 Hardest Colleges to Get Into In America

An aerial view of John Kennedy Street in the Harvard University area of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
An aerial view of John Kennedy Street in the Harvard University area of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Roman Babakin/iStock via Getty Images

The website Niche uses statistics and reviews to calculate the best of everything, from neighborhoods across America to the country's best places to work. Though the 2019 school year has only recently begun, the review site is already looking ahead to next year. Using data they received from the U.S. Department of Education and reports submitted by Niche users, Niche crunched the numbers to come up with a list of the hardest colleges to get accepted to in the U.S.

With an acceptance rate of just 5 percent and an SAT range of 1460 to 1590, it’s no surprise that Harvard University claimed the top spot on the list. On the opposite cost, second-placer Stanford University is nearly just as picky, with a 5 percent acceptance rate and an SAT range of 1390 to 1540.

Though Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute may be lesser known than MIT, Yale, or Princeton, with an acceptance rate of just 2 percent, the San Francisco-based school (which is part of the Claremont University Consortium) has the most competitive acceptance rate in the top 25—though they only have 500 undergrads. Even the 25th college on the list, Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, only accepts 15 percent of those who apply.

Niche's full list of schools is rather long (you can view it here), but these at the 25 hardest colleges to get into in America.

  1. Harvard University

  1. Stanford University

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  1. California Institute of Technology

  1. Yale University

  1. Princeton University

  1. University of Chicago

  1. Columbia University

  1. Brown University

  1. University of Pennsylvania

  1. Northwestern University

  1. Vanderbilt University

  1. Duke University

  1. Pomona College

  1. Dartmouth College

  1. Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute

  1. Johns Hopkins University

  1. Swarthmore College

  1. Rice University

  1. Cornell University

  1. Washington University in St. Louis

  1. Harvey Mudd College

  1. Claremont McKenna College

  1. Amherst College

  1. Williams College

Students Will Never Have to ‘Memorize’ Vocabulary Definitions Again With This Image-Based App

monkeybusinessimages/iStock via Getty Images
monkeybusinessimages/iStock via Getty Images

Though you probably haven’t had to study for a vocabulary test in the recent past, you might still remember how it feels to read an unknown word and commit its definition to memory. Even if you succeed in memorizing the meaning, it’s difficult to truly understand how to use it without context.

To make it easier on students in kindergarten through 12th grade, speech-language pathologists Deena Seifert and Beth Lawrence have devised an app called InferCabulary, which pairs vocabulary words with audio and visuals that show how the word can be used in various scenarios. According to WBAL-TV, they call their teaching method semantic reasoning, because it gives students an opportunity to flex their critical thinking skills to infer the meaning of a term.

The app shows you four images—each accompanied by a caption that you can play aloud—and asks you to choose the word (from a list of four) that best matches the images. For example, the word buoyancy is the correct answer for the four images captioned as follows: “Swans glide easily on top of the water,” “The red lifesaver floats in the water,” “The lily pads seem to hover over the water,” and “Because beach balls float, they make good pool toys.” Once you choose buoyancy, you’re given its definition (“the ability to float on or in the water”).

Seifert and Lawrence originally intended InferCabulary to be an educational learning tool for students with specific learning challenges, but Seifert told WBAL-TV that “classroom teachers were using it with every student in the classroom … especially the middle kids who are struggling but don’t get any services.” Towson University and Google are both supporting the Baltimore-based project.

Educators aren’t the only ones endorsing InferCabulary—students love it, too. Keegan Nolan, a seventh grader at Calvert School in Baltimore, told WBAL-TV that “it’s a really good feeling because I get to impress my teachers with … big words.”

[h/t WBAL-TV]

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