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Inside Ed
Education news and issues
Viral meningitis cases at UM College Park

University of Maryland, College Park has identified cases of viral meningitis and viral syndromes on campus, according to an email school officials sent to students this week.

The email sent Wednesday by Dr. David McBride, director of the University Health Center, said that there are "confirmed and suspected cases of viral meningitis and viral syndromes on campus" and that the matter is being tracked by the University Health Center along with the Prince George's County Health Department and state health department.

"We have reached out to the organizations that are primarily affected with information about the condition and what to do in the event that they are feeling unwell," McBride said in the email.

According to the National Institutes of Health, viral meningitis is an infection of the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It is most often caused by viral infections that usually get better without treatment. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache,...

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Morgan State, UMBC receive NIH awards to attract minorities to biosciences

Morgan State University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County will receive millions of dollars from the National Institutes of Health to develop ways to attract and retain more minorities in the biomedical sciences, NIH officials announced Wednesday.

Morgan and UMBC are among 12 schools nationally that will receive the NIH funding during the next five years to improve such efforts, agency officials said.

"While past efforts to diversify our workforce have had significant impact on individuals, we have not made substantial progress in supporting diversity," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins. "This program will test new models of training and mentoring so that we can ultimately attract the best minds from all groups to biomedical research."

NIH officials said that the program was projected to award $240 million over five years, beginning with $31 million for fiscal year 2014. Officials said that after the end of the five-year period, schools can request another five years of...

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Towson associate professor suspended amid voyeurism charges in D.C.

A Washington rabbi who serves as an associate professor at Towson University has been suspended with pay by the school after being arrested and charged with voyeurism by D.C. police last week, school officials said Tuesday.

Towson University spokesman Ray Feldmann said that Barry Freundel, 62, has been suspended from all teaching duties and responsibilities but will continue to be paid under guidelines issued by the University System of Maryland, of which Towson is a member. Feldmann said that the school will conduct its own administrative review pending the outcome of the criminal case.

Freundel, rabbi of the Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown, has been accused of hiding a camera in a clock-radio to record as many as six women changing and showering at a ritual bathhouse, according to charging documents released last Wednesday.

Police found the camera when a woman reported seeing Freundel plugging in the fake clock and pointing it toward the showers in the mikvah, or ritual...

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Towson professor explores whether social media have left us disconnected

Towson University professor Andrew Reiner is concerned that the desire to be "liked" online has bled into the real-life interactions of some of his students. He wants to change that.

Reiner, a lecturer in English in Towson's Honors College, says students sometimes pretend to send text messages when they are alone out of fear that if they are not constantly connected to their smartphones, they will be seen as losers.

Students in his classes often seem hesitant to disagree with each other, he says — a development he attributes to their need to attract as much approval in real life as they get online. And he believes their careful curation of their identities on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter has made it difficult for them to connect with their peers on a deeper level.

In his course "Alone Together: Finding Intimacy in the Age of Facebook," Reiner, 50, is asking students this fall to explore whether technological advances and social media have left them more isolated from each other and...

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"Girls only" workshop at Naval Academy designed to spark interest in STEM careers

Thirteen-year-olds Vivian Lin and Jenny Tan crouched over a tiny plastic container holding a dozen possible specimens of faux smallpox and dripped in clear fluid through a syringe. The girls giggled as they argued over who would get to do the next step in the exercise, designed to simulate how epidemiologists test for infectious diseases.

"Is this what scientists actually do all day?" Vivian asked Sarah Durkin, a U.S. Naval Academy professor overseeing the activity, one of 10 hands-on experiments held Saturday during a workshop intended to interest some 300 middle school-age girls in STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Durkin told the teen that she has done similar tests in her career, but on a much larger scale.

At the Girls Only STEM Workshop, girls constructed aquatic habitats, simulated a surgical procedure, and worked on rockets. Fifteen female Naval Academy professors in STEM fields developed the activities, which are similar to what undergraduates...

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Redistricting debated for Annapolis' overcrowded Tyler Heights Elementary School

It's a gym. But it's also the lunchroom. Oh, and the band practices there.

At Tyler Heights Elementary School, every square foot counts. That includes the 13 portables in the back of the school, which house third through fifth grades.

"We do the best that we can with what we have," Principal Karen Walkinshaw said.

What they have is an overcrowded school — at the most recent count, 606 students in a structure with a state-rated capacity of 442. That's 37 percent over capacity.

A group of parents has been given the tough job of drawing up redistricting plans for Tyler Heights, and the committee has until Nov. 7 to make recommendations to schools Superintendent George Arlotto.

Nearly 70 percent of Tyler Heights students are Hispanic. An additional 26 percent are African-American, while about 3 percent are white. Lower percentages of students identify themselves as Asian or Pacific Islander.

Sharika Crawford, who has a son in first grade at Tyler Heights, said she is concerned about the...

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