Chinese student to be deported after paying $3,000 to impostor to help her get into American university

A Chinese student will be deported after pleading guilty to paying $3,000 to have an impostor take an English-language college entrance exam that helped her get into an American university.

Leyi Huang, 21, was sentenced Monday in federal court in Boston to time served and she agreed to be deported, according to Reuters. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Huang told authorities she paid $3,000 and mailed her Chinese passport to an address in Massachusetts to have Yue Wang, 25, take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam to help her get into Penn State Behrend, the news agency reported, citing court papers.

Wang, a student at the Hult International Business School in Cambridge, also signed on to take the test for two other students as part of a similar scheme to help them get into Northeastern University and Arizona State University, collecting $7,000 in total, the Boston Globe reported.

The newspaper said Huang previously failed the exam on her own, which kept her out of Penn State Behrend. But she was later accepted into the school in Erie, Pa., and handed a student visa after Wang passed the exam for her in March 2016.

All four people were arrested on immigration-related charges in May and the two other women – who were also issued student visas after being admitted into universities – received similar punishments, according to Reuters.

Officials said Wang was sent back to China in September.

“Illegal schemes to circumvent the TOEFL exam jeopardize both academic integrity and our country’s student visa program,” William B. Weinreb, acting U.S. Attorney, had said following the arrests.

“The TOEFL exam ensures that international students have adequate English language skills to succeed in higher education programs in the United States. It also helps maintain the security of our borders and immigration system,” he added. “By effectively purchasing passing scores, they violated the rules and regulations of the exam, taking spots at U.S. colleges and universities that could have gone to others.”

Data from the Institute of International Education showed that the number of Chinese students studying in the U.S. in the 2016-2017 academic year was up 6.8 percent, to 350,755, Reuters reported.

Oklahoma teachers’ demands like a ‘teenager wanting a better car,’ governor says

Oklahoma’s teachers are asking for more education spending than the state can afford, Gov. Mary Fallin insisted Tuesday.

“Teachers want more,” Fallin told CBS News in an interview. “But it’s kind of like a teenager wanting a better car.”

Fallin, a Republican, signed a measure last week raising teachers’ salaries by about $6,100 per year, while increasing school funds by $50 million – roughly 20 percent of what educators were seeking.

On Tuesday, Fallin followed up by signing a measure to raise the wages of school support staff, such as janitors and teaching aides, by $1,250.

“I’m pleased to sign this bill that provides a significant increase in spending for our public school system,” Fallin said, according to Fox 25 in Oklahoma City. “I’m hoping this additional funding will result in improved K-12 public school results. Our job as a state is to empower our students, parents and teachers to succeed by setting the bar high and challenging each other to succeed.”

“Our job as a state is to empower our students, parents and teachers to succeed by setting the bar high and challenging each other to succeed.”

– Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin

Strikes began Monday, as hundreds of Oklahoma schools closed, with many public schools expecting to remain shut for the rest of the week, the Oklahoman reported.

In Kentucky, thousands of educators marched to the state Capitol of Frankfort on Monday to rally for additional funding. Last week, hundreds of Kentucky educators called out sick to protest the state’s last-minute changes to their pension system, which passed the Republican-controlled Kentucky Legislature and would change the pension plan for new teachers, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

The average starting teacher salaries in Oklahoma and Kentucky are below the national average, at $31,919 and $36,494 respectively. For the 2016-17 school year, the national average was $38,617, according to the National Education Association.

Last week at the Arizona state Capitol in Phoenix, teachers demanded a 20 percent increase in wages, the Arizona Republic reported.

West Virginia teachers earned a 5 percent increase in pay last month after a nine-day walkout.

Arizona high school principal resigns after unreported potential threat involving gun, homemade bomb

A high school principal resigned and is facing a criminal charge after learning about a potential school threat to the school and failing to immediately notify authorities, according to the school district and police.

High Desert Middle School in Globe, a mining town 90 miles east of Phoenix, is the subject of controversy after Globe Police say school officials were made aware of a potential threat on March 28, but police were only notified of the potential threat the next morning because of a concerned parent, FOX 10 first reported.

Globe Police said the principal is facing endangerment charges, while four students are facing charges of disruption of an educational institution and terrorist threats.

The potential threat, according to the letter, involved a map, a homemade bomb and guns, but police and the school didn’t specify how the plan was to be carried out.

The situation began this past Thursday when a student learned of the threat and told his parents, who reported it to police. In the course of the investigation, officers learned the principal knew about the threat the day before and didn’t notify officials.

According to a letter Globe Unified School District Superintendent Jerry Jennex sent to parents on Monday, the principal resigned and the incident highlighted the fact that the district needs to make sure staff members “do not become complacent and that all of our safety protocols are updated.”

The letter also says the district will have an increased police presence and will make students aware of the consequences of threatening students, staff, and/or schools.

Ex-Tennessee teacher who fled with teen to plead guilty

An ex-Tennessee teacher who fled with a 15-year-old student last year and set off a 39-day nationwide manhunt is scheduled to plead guilty.

A document filed by his lawyer last week in federal court in Nashville says 51-year-old Tad Cummins wants to change his previous not guilty plea. It says he “would like to enter a plea of guilty.”

A sentencing hearing is scheduled on Thursday afternoon.

Cummins is charged with transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in criminal sexual conduct and obstruction of justice.

Cummins and the girl disappeared last March. They were found in April last year at a remote forest cabin near Cecilville, California, following a tip to police.

Montana school choice case could strike a blow against religious discrimination

In a case that could have national implications, the Montana Supreme Court will hear arguments on Friday that could remove the biggest legal obstacle to providing families with genuine choice in education: Blaine Amendments.

Deeply rooted in anti-Catholic bigotry, Blaine Amendments are currently found in the state constitutions for 37 states, including Montana. These amendments often discriminate against students attending religious schools, by unfairly excluding them from receiving scholarships to attend the school of their choice.

Blaine Amendments earned their namesake from Maine Congressman James Blaine, who, in 1875, led a notorious crusade to amend the U.S Constitution to ban public funding for Catholic schools. At the time, many public schools were overtly Protestant. So Catholics instead created their own schools and pushed to receive their share of public school money.

Although Blaine’s amendment failed on the federal level, many states were inspired to amend their own constitutions to preclude funding of parochial schools. Congressional supporters of the Protestant public schools also often required new states entering the Union to adopt a Blaine Amendment in their state constitution.

Over a century later, these amendments are still hotly contested. The most recent flashpoint will be on Friday regarding Montana’s first school choice program. Passed in 2015 by the state legislature, the program allows individuals and businesses who donate to private, non-profit scholarship organizations to receive a modest tax credit of up to $150 each year. The scholarship organizations then use the donations to provide scholarships to low-income families who send their children to private schools. Similar programs in other states help pay to educate over 270,000 students nationwide.

But the state Department of Revenue refused to implement the scholarship program as written. Instead, the Department adopted a rule limiting scholarships to families who send their children to nonreligious private schools. Montana’s Blaine Amendment, the Department claimed, demanded that parents not be permitted to choose religious schools.

The rule has real consequences for families living in Big Sky Country. Take Kendra Espinoza, who homeschooled her two daughters before her husband unexpectedly left them, throwing their lives into turmoil. Kendra had to find jobs cleaning houses and doing office work. She put her girls in public school where one was mocked for her Christian faith and the other struggled in her classes.

Fortunately, Kendra was able to scrape together enough money to send her girls to Stillwater Christian School, where the girls are now flourishing. But even with the financial aid provided by the school, it is a tremendous struggle for Kendra as a single mom to pay tuition every month. Kendra often worries that she will not have enough money to make the payments.

Kendra, along with two other Montana moms, joined with the Institute for Justice and challenged the department’s rule in court. They argue that the department’s rule is invalid because it contradicts the will of the legislature. Moreover, using the Blaine Amendment to prohibit parents from using scholarships at religious schools violates the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause. This Clause requires that the government remain neutral toward religion; excluding religious schools from the program flatly violates this neutrality requirement. Essentially, the government is telling parents they must choose between following their religious beliefs and receiving a government benefit.

Educational choice opponents, however, argue that providing financial assistance to families choosing religious schools is the equivalent of aiding religious schools, in violation of the Blaine Amendments. Yet scholarships do not “aid” schools, any more than food stamps “aid” grocery stores. Instead, scholarships aid families. Not a penny flows to any school—religious or nonreligious—but for the independent choice of parents.

A Montana trial court agreed last May, and invalidated the department’s rule. But the department appealed that ruling to the Montana Supreme Court.

If the Montana Supreme Court decides that excluding religious options violates the U.S. Constitution, that could set an important precedent for other state supreme courts regarding their own Blaine Amendments. And if they uphold the department’s rule, the case could set up a blockbuster showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last year, in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Missouri violated the U.S. Constitution when it barred a church-run preschool from participating in the state’s grant program for playground resurfacing. But the Court did not address whether or not the government can discriminate against parents in a school choice program.

Of course, the principle of religious neutrality applies whether the government is enabling schools to resurface their playgrounds or empowering parents to direct their children’s education. Any contrary decision would amount to blatant religious discrimination.

Texas university pro-life students say banners promoting programs stolen five times in last year

Pro-life students at University of Texas at San Antonio noticed their banner promoting an upcoming speaker had been stolen Friday – for the fifth time in the last year.

The UTSA Student For the Right to Life invited former Planned Parenthood worker, Abby Johnson, to speak on campus Monday night and had been promoting the event with the poster for one week.

“Abby Johnson: Selling Planned Parenthood Lies” the banner read in part.

The pro-life group reported the incident to campus police, and condemned the theft of the university-approved sign in the McKinney Humanities Building on campus.

Johnson spoke Monday night as planned, which the group live-streamed on Facebook.

UTSA Students For the Right to Life President Sean Gillen said he hoped whoever took the sign would have attended Johnson’s talk and listened to her.

“The fact that are signs are being taken means people are reading them!” Gillen said in a statement. “Everyone is welcome at our events no matter what you think of the pro-life position. Instead of taking our signs down, come talk to us!”

The group reported that five signs have been taken down from the group over the last year.

Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America, is calling on the school to fully investigate the situation.

“The theft showcases that the pro-abortion groups have no real case to make,” Hawkins said. “They have to resort to crimes to prevent others from making their points. ​But the pro-life generation will not be silenced. We are so glad to see our students fighting back against the anti-free speech actions at their school.”

“As a registered student organization, this group is permitted to display banners promoting its campus events. Their unauthorized removal runs counter to UTSA’s culture of inclusiveness, respect and civil discourse in which differing opinions are valued for how they teach tolerance and prepare students to be global citizens,” the university’s spokesman Joe Izbrand told Fox News.

Teacher who called military ‘lowest of the low’ is fired

A Southern California teacher who was recorded bashing the U.S. military in a profane classroom rant was fired Tuesday evening.

Board of Education President Aurora Villon said the El Rancho Unified School District reached a unanimous decision to fire Gregory Salcido, a history teacher at El Rancho High School and elected Pico Rivera city councilman, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“His comments do not reflect what we stand for, who we are,” Villon said, adding that “the classroom should never be a place where students feel that they are picked at, bullied, intimidated.”

“His comments do not reflect what we stand for, who we are. The classroom should never be a place where students feel that they are picked at, bullied, intimidated.”

– Board of Education President Aurora Villon

Salcido faced a severe backlash after a student secretly recorded him asking his government class why they would want to serve in the military, calling those who serve “dumbs‑‑‑s.”

“Think about the people who you know who are over there. Your freaking stupid Uncle Louie or whatever. They’re dumbs‑‑‑s,” Salcido can be heard saying in the Jan. 25 tirade.

“They’re not like high-level thinkers, they’re not academic people, they’re not intellectual people. They’re the lowest of our low.”

Villon said thousands of emails flooded the school board, as veterans and relatives of military personnel from all over the world voiced their disgust with Salcido’s comments.

Salcido apologized at a City Council meeting in February, the paper reported, and attempted to clarify that his comments “had nothing to do with their moral character.”

“I don’t think it’s all a revelation to anybody that those who aren’t stellar students usually find the military a better option. … That’s not a criticism of anybody. Anything I said had nothing to do with their moral character,” he said, the paper reported.

During a break, he told reporters that he believes the military is the not the “best option” for his students, but added “that does not mean I’m anti-military, because I’m not.”

The student who secretly recorded Salcido — later identified by KTLA-TV as Victor Quinonez — told Fox News opinion writer Todd Starnes in January that his teacher had “a history of being anti-military.”

“Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion but at the same time they shouldn’t be disrespecting the veterans who have fought for our rights, who give up their lives and do stuff that other people are not willing to do,” Quinonez, who says he wants to be a Marine, told Fox News.

The rant even prompted a strong reaction from White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who said Salcido “ought to go to hell.”

“I just hope he enjoys the liberties and the lifestyle that we have fought for,” Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, told Fox News host Brian Kilmeade.

Women’s college instructs professors not to call students ‘women’

An all-women's college in Massachusetts is instructing its professors to say "students" in class instead of using the word "women."

An all-women’s college in Massachusetts tells its teachers not to say “women” in the classroom but rather use the word “students.”

Professors are instructed to say “Mount Holyoke students” instead of “Mount Holyoke women,” as well as avoiding statements like “We’re all women here…” or referring to “the two genders” as part of a Teaching & Learning Initiative.

The Supporting Trans and Non-Binary Students guide was created by officials at Mount Holyoke to promote a “gender neutral” environment, reported.

Yet, on the school’s website, it says, “Imagine if every day were International Women’s Day. Meet Mount Holyoke,” and also boasts of being founded “by a woman!” in 1837.

The college now wants professors to take an “intersectional approach” to the classroom by “becoming aware of the multiple forms of oppression and privilege each individual faces and how they interact with one another.”

mount holyoke college

An all-women’s college in Massachusetts is instructing its professors to say “students” in class instead of using the word “women.”  (Google Street View)

While Mount Holyoke maintains it is committed to its historic mission as a women’s college, it says it recognizes that what it means to be a woman is always changing.

“Traditional binaries around who counts as a man or woman are being challenged by those whose gender identity does not conform to their biology,” the policy states.

The college formed a gender inclusion task force to assist with the changes.

Any “biologically born female” can apply for admission, but only a “biologically born male” who “identifies as other/they/ze and when ‘other/they’ identity includes woman” and one who “identifies as a woman.”

But even with all the safeguards and changes, the college admits it makes mistakes.

“Classrooms are never neutral spaces and are marked by the same inequalities, exclusion and power struggles that exist elsewhere in the world,” the Inclusive Training manual reads. “The point is not to claim a privileged space for the classroom that is somehow exempt from those dynamics, but to work to eliminate them where we can, confront them honestly when we cannot, and find ways to listen and include all our students in equitable, just ways.”

Austin bombing suspect was unemployed college dropout

The man suspected of planting four bombs in the Texas capital this month that killed two people and injured four others was an unemployed college dropout who doesn’t appear to have left much of a trail online aside from some 2012 blog posts about gay marriage and other topics.

Authorities say Mark Anthony Conditt blew himself up in a motel parking lot overnight as a SWAT team approached his SUV. Police haven’t publicly released Conditt’s name, but a law enforcement official who had been briefed on the investigation identified Conditt as the suspect on the condition of anonymity because the official hadn’t been authorized to discuss the case publicly.

Conditt grew up in Pflugerville, a suburb just northeast of Austin where he was still living after moving out of his parents’ home. It’s not far from the site of the first of the four package bombings — a March 2 explosion that killed a 39-year-old man, Anthony House — though it’s unknown if Conditt knew any of the victims and authorities said the motive for the attacks remained unclear.

Authorities released few details about the suspect, aside from his age, that he was white and that he was apparently unemployed. But online postings indicate he was home-schooled. He later attended Austin Community College from 2010 to 2012, but he did not graduate, according to a college spokeswoman. He worked for a time at an area manufacturing company and Gov. Greg Abbott told KXAN-TV in Austin that Conditt had no criminal record.

Conditt left little discernable trace on social media. Aside from a few photos of him on his family’s Facebook pages, he apparently made six entries on a personal blog in 2012 in which he addressed a range of topics. In those posts, a blogger identifying himself as Mark Conditt of Pflugerville wrote that gay marriage should be illegal. He also called for the elimination of sex offender registries and argued in favor of the death penalty. He described his interests as cycling, tennis and listening to music

Of gay marriage, Conditt wrote: “Homosexuality is not natural. Just look at the male and female bodies. They are obviously designed to couple.”

Jeff Reeb, a neighbor of Conditt’s parents in Pflugerville for about 17 years, said he watched Conditt grow up and that he always seemed “smart” and “polite.”

Reeb, 75, said Conditt and his grandson played together into middle school and that Conditt regularly visited his parents, whom Reeb described as good neighbors.

Conditt was living with roommates a few miles from his parents’ home and was in the process of gutting his home. He said Condit’s father, whom he referred to as Pat, worked as an Amway distributor and also bought electronics on the side to resell.

Authorities said they believe Conditt made all of the bombs and that he likely acted alone, though they’re still investigating whether he could have had help. He obtained at least some of his bomb-making materials from a Home Depot in Pflugerville, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, whose district includes the greater Austin area, told KXAN. They cautioned the public that there could still be package bombs that were planted in the 24 to 36 hours before Conditt’s death and that people should report any suspicious packages.

Trump’s ‘impeachment and removal’ focus of Harvard Law class

Harvard Law School has a class dedicated solely to President Trump and the impeachment process.

A prominent Harvard Law School professor who has repeatedly called for removing President Trump from office is teaching a course solely dedicated to impeaching the 45th president.

Laurence Tribe, a distinguished constitutional law professor and former Obama Justice Department appointee, teaches “Constitutional Law 3.0: The Trump Trajectory,” reported.

Students “will explore what the Trump presidency might mean for American constitutional law, how we might expect the Constitution to constrain Trump’s execution of his powers and duties, and what #impeachment and removal by other means might resemble in the Trump era,” according to the course description.

Outside the classroom, Tribe has made it clear he is anti-Trump.

The Harvard law professor wrote an oped for the Washington Post called “Trump must be impeached. Here’s why,” in which he called for Trump’s removal because “he poses a danger to our system of government.”

And while the Trump course doesn’t have any required textbooks, Tribe has a book coming out in May, which he billed as a “complete roadmap” for impeaching Trump called “To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment.”

Tribe is an avid controversial tweeter, frequently attacking the president and anyone connected to him.

“Trump should go back to bed, read the Constitution and the Special Counsel regs, learn to spell, stop referring to himself in the third person, and shut the hell up,” Tribe tweeted Wednesday.

He even took a swipe at his colleague, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, saying, “I’d rather be blocked by @realDonaldTrump (who wouldn’t dare!) than embraced and quoted by him (as I was to my shame, against @tedcruz during GOP primaries). Just saying.”

Tribe is a frequent guest on shows like MSNBC to discuss what he calls Trump’s “ongoing obstruction of justice.”

“He uses the power of the presidency to essentially defy the system of checks and balances,” Tribe told MSNBC host Joy Reid. “We have to start an impeachment investigation in the House…”

While Tribe has pushed for the impeachment and removal of Trump, unlike others on the left he has said the president has not committed treason.

The Trump-focused course is only open to 12 law students who had to submit a statement of interest for Tribe’s consideration prior to enrollment in the two-credit class.