Education

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Old Blackboards Discovered During Oklahoma School Remodel-Truth!

Summary of eRumor:

Workers remodeling Emerson High School in Oklahoma discovered blackboards from 1917 with perfectly preserved writings and drawings.

The Truth:

This one is true.

In June 2015, workers remodeling Emerson High School discovered writings and drawings on blackboards that were nearly 100 years old behind newer black boards that were covering them, the Oklahoman reports:  

“Emerson, built in 1895, is undergoing MAPS for Kids renovations. Workers discovered the blackboards Wednesday when they pulled existing chalkboards and cork boards off the walls to make way for Smart Boards, interactive whiteboards that use touch detection for user input.”

The writing indicates that new blackboards were placed over the older blackboards in a number of classrooms in November and December of 1917. “We this day give to this room slate blackboards,” is scrawled on one blackboard in cursive, along with the date November 30, 1917.

Children named Agnes, Gladys, Homer and Mable had signed the blackboards. There were also English and math assignments written on them, along with instructions on cleaning the room.

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Cornell University Would Welcome ISIS Training Camps, Speakers – Disputed!

Summary of eRumor: 

A Cornell University dean said he would allow an ISIS training camps and speakers on the campus.

The Truth: 

Claims that an assistant dean at Cornell said ISIS training exercises and speakers would be allowed there are disputed.

A man posing as a student from Morocco used a hidden camera to record an exchange with Cornell Dean for Students Joseph Scaffido for Project Veritas, an organization founded by conservative activist James O’Keefe.

In the video, the student asks Scaffido questions about starting a humanitarian group for distressed areas of the Middle East, bringing people to the campus to speak, and holding training exercises for “freedom fighters.”

Here’s a transcript of the conversation:

Student: I think maybe it would be nice to start a humanitarian group that supports distressed communities, a humanitarian group in the Middle East, in northern Iraq and Syria. I think it would be important especially for people in the Islamic State Iraq and Syria, the families and the freedom fighters in particular. I think it would be important to maybe just probably educate, but to maybe send them care packages, whether it be food, water, electronics.

Scaffido: There are a lot of our student organizations that do things like that all over the world.

Student: If you did like, supported like Hamas or something like that, is that a problem?

Scaffido: The university is not going to look at different groups and say, ‘You’re not allowed to support that group because we don’t believe in them,’ or something like that. I think it’s just the opposite. I think the university wants the entire community to understand what’s going on in all parts of the world.

Student: That would be good. Maybe, you know, get a group that educates on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and just educate people, maybe bring them in.

Scaffido: Ithaca is a great place. Ithaca itself, the community of Ithaca is also very active. I don’t know if you’ve talked to many people about it, it’s very liberal; the community is a very liberal community … There are funding sources on campus … kind of like grants, programming money. If I wanted to bring in a speaker…

Student: Maybe we could get like a freedom fighter to come and do like a training camp for students?

Scaffido: I have no idea. I mean, you would be allowed to do something like that. It’s just like bringing in a coach to do training on a sports team or something.

Scaffido definitely doesn’t say that these things wouldn’t be allowed on campus. But an unedited version of the video would be needed to understand his actual responses.

After video of the interview went viral, Cornell officials shot back that it had been creatively edited to make Scaffido appear to endorse ISIS training camps and speakers on the campus.

In a statement, Cornell University President David Skorton said the video’s allegations were ludicrous and offensive:

“As the president of Cornell University, I want to be clear that the notion that Cornell would allow ISIS training sessions on our campus is ludicrous and absolutely offensive.

“Project Veritas, the organization behind this shoddy piece of ‘journalism’ has been repeatedly vilified for dishonest, deceitful activity. It is shameful that any individual would pose as a student facing racial discrimination at another university, ask leading questions on hidden camera about Cornell’s tolerance for differing viewpoints and backgrounds, and then conveniently splice together the resulting footage to smear our assistant dean and our University. After speaking with Assistant Dean Scaffido, I am convinced that he was not aware of what he was being asked.

“Let me be clear: Cornell has an unwavering commitment to the free and responsible exchange of ideas. However, we remain vigilant in maintaining an appropriate balance of freedom of expression within accepted boundaries. Of course, incitement to violence is not protected and would never be tolerated on our campus.”

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Children of Congress Members Don’t Pay Back Student Loans-Fiction!

35 Governors Have Sued the Federal Government to Create 28th Amendment-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor: 

A chain email says that children of members of Congress and their staffers have their student loans forgiven.

The email also says that 35 governors have sued for a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would limit federal power.

The Truth: 

Both of these claims are false.

There is a Student Loan Repayment Program in place to help attract and retain federal employees, but it does not extend to family members. Elected officials, uniform service members and other government employees are eligible under the law.

Federal employees can have up to $10,000 in federally insured student loans repaid each year, and up to $60,000 repaid over their career, the Office of Personnel Management reports.

And the federal government does not forgive these loans, as the eRumor claims. The loans are repaid. That’s important because it means federal employees have to pay taxes on loan payments just like the rest of their salaries.

In 2013, $52.9 million in student loan repayments were made for 7,314 federal employees, the Office of Personnel and Management reports.

The email’s claim that 35 governors had sued the U.S. government for a 28th amendment is also false. The email says that the proposed 28th amendment would state:

“Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators, Representatives of Congress; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States…”

That same language was used in an eRumor that TruthorFiction.com found to be false in 2013. Click here for that story.

Both versions of the eRumor said that 35 governors had signed onto a petition for a constitutional convention to create the 28th amendment, but that’s not true.

At last count, three states had tried to force a constitutional convention. Resolutions in Kansas, Georgia and Indiana sought to balance state and federal power, the Huffington Post reports.

And under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, 34 states have to pass a resolution on the same subject to force a constitutional convention — not 38 states, as the eRumor claims.

The Atheist Professor At USC Who Encountered God Through a Piece of Chalk-Fiction! 

 

Summary of eRumor:

A notorious atheist professor at the University of Southern California is known for challenging students about their faith.  He dramatically drops a piece of chalk to the floor saying that if God existed, he could prevent the chalk from breaking.  This happens year after year until a particular Christian student becomes a part of the class.  This time, when the professor drops the chalk, it bounces off his clothing and ends up harmlessly on the floor.  The stunned professor runs from the room in shame and the student preaches the Gospel to the remaining class members.

 

The Truth:

This has been one of the most commonly circulated inspirational stories on the Internet and one of the most commonly asked-about at TruthOrFiction.com.

We’ve never found any evidence that an incident of this nature has taken place involving a piece of chalk, but there is a first-hand source of a similar, older story, which the chalk tale may be based upon.

First, the University of Southern California has officially denied that this ever happened there.  Dr. Dallas Willard, a philosophy professor at USC, has told TruthOrFiction.com that he’s never heard of it happening in his more than 30 years at the school.

There is a related story, however, told by author Richard H. Harvey in his book 70 YEARS OF MIRACLES.  It’s a first-hand account of his experience in a Chemistry class at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania in the 1920’s.  Harvey says the professor, a Dr. Lee, was a deist who annually lectured against prayer.   In one of the class sessions, Dr. Lee said he was going to drop a glass flask on the floor and asked if anyone would like to pray first that the flask would not break, therefore demonstrating the reality of prayer.  Richard Harvey volunteered and prayed.  The professor dropped the flask and it rolled off his shoe to the floor without damage.  The class cheered and the professor stopped his annual lectures against prayer.  TruthOrFiction.com has confirmed with Allegheny college that Richard Harvey was a student there and that Dr. Lee was a professor.  Richard Harvey’s son, Rev. John Harvey, a minister in Toccoa, Georgia, says this all happened before he was born, but confirms that the story was told by his father.

Updated 2/18/01

For more information:

Statement on the USC website

Winston Churchill’s Father Paid For The Education of The Discoverer of Penicillin…then, in turn, Winston Churchill’s Life Was Later Saved by Penicillin-Fiction!

 

 

 

Summary of eRumor:

A Scottish farmer saves a drowning boy’s life, but refuses a reward from the boy’s nobleman father.  The nobleman then offers to provide an education for the farmer’s son.  The son grows up to become Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin.  Years later, the nobleman’s son is stricken with pneumonia but saved by penicillin.  That nobleman’s son is Winston Churchill.
 
 

The Truth:

According to the Winston Churchill center in Washington, D.C., this is a myth.  There is no evidence these events ever happened.  Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, says there’s no record of Churchill nearly drowning or of his father paying for Fleming’s education.  Churchill was once treated for pneumonia, but according to the center, not with penicillin.

updated 07/06/07

Bill Gates’ High School Speech on The Eleven Rules of Life-Fiction!

Summary of the eRumor:

Bill Gates spoke before a group of high school students and gave them his eleven rules of life.

The Truth:

This is not from Bill Gates. It’s an excerpt from the book “Dumbing Down our Kids” by educator Charles Sykes. It is a list of eleven things you did not learn in school and directed at high school and college grads.

The Story of Mark Eklund, the Former Catholic School Student Killed in Vietnam-Truth!

 

 

Summary of eRumor:

This is the touching story of a teacher at a Catholic school in Minnesota.  She describes an unforgettable elementary student named Mark Eklund who had been likeable but frustrating because of his inability to stay quiet in class.  The teacher transferred to teaching junior-high and later had Mark again.  One day asked everyone in the class to write down each student’s name and also write the nicest thing they could think of about that person.  Years later, the teacher got word that Mark Eklund had died in Vietnam and she was asked to attend his funeral.  Mark’s family showed her that the piece of paper from junior-high with other student’s kind remarks about him had been carried in his wallet until the day he died.  The teacher then heard that other students had also saved their pieces of paper from that day and how much it had meant to them.  The story closes with encouragement to tell people how much we care for them and how special they are to us while there is still the time to do it.

The Truth:

According to Saint Mary’s school in Morris, Minnesota, this is a true story written by Sister Helen Mrosla, a Franciscan nun.  According to an Associated Press article published in the Topeka Capitol-Journal in 1998, Sister Mrosla decided to write about Mark for Proteus magazine, which had asked for stories about education.  That article was later printed in Reader’s Digest but has probably reached its biggest audience via the Internet. Some  versions of the circulated email also include promises of good luck if the story is forwarded to other people, something that Sister Mrosla is not happy about.  She said it cheapens it somehow.

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1895 Salina, Kansas Eighth Grade Graduation Exam-Unproven!

Summary of eRumor:
The email lists questions from what it says is an exam required for eighth grade graduation in 1895 in Salina, Kansas.  It is described as an example of how much more educated an eighth grader was a hundred years ago than today.
The Truth:

 

TruthOrFiction.com has listed this eRumor as unproven, even though there is a source for it and we have obtained an actual copy of the exam.  There has not been sufficient proof given, in our view, that the exam is what is claimed.

Rather than being for eighth graders, there are several aspects of the exam that raise the question as to whether it was intended for adults, perhaps newly graduated teachers or teacher applicants.

The eRumor says the exam is from the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society in Salina, Kansas, and was published in the Salina Journal newspaper.  That is true. Shirley Tower, the volunteer librarian for the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society, found the exam and posted it on their website in 1996 and the Salina Journal’s article appeared the same year.  The exam started circulating on the Internet and became the subject of numerous newspaper articles including in the Washington Post and the Boston Globe.

There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the exam, but there are questions about for whom it was intended (If the graphics are difficult to read, place your pointing device arrow over the graphic for details).

First, the original exam doesn’t mention the eighth grade.  Here is an actual photograph of the title of the document:

Title portion of examination
 

Second, the document describes itself as being administered orally and for “applicants.”  Unless eight graders were described as “applicants,” it makes one wonder if the exam was actually for newly graduated teachers:

The examination will be oral, and the Penmanship of Applicants will be graded from the manuscripts.

Third, some of the questions don’t seem to be oriented toward students, but rather toward a teacher or a teacher applicant, for example:

District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000.  What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?

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School Science Fair Email Projects

Summary of eRumor:

It has become popular for schools to launch email projects asking those who receive their messages to let them know who they are or where they are and asking that the email be forwarded to all their friends. The class then plots all the replies on a map to measure how widespread the email was circulated.

The Truth:

Most of us would like to help a student project, but it pays to be cautious. If the project is really sponsored by a class of students whose only purpose is to see how widely and how quickly their email massage will spread, that’s fine. But if not, than this is one of the eRumors that could result in your email address ending up on a Spammers list. The school email projects generate a lot of return emails and if the recipient is not a class and a teacher, but is a person who is merely collecting email address for sending unsolicited messages, that is a problem. Most legitimate school projects will list the name of the school, sometimes the teacher’s name, will use an institutional email address such as from the school, may sometimes have a web page posted where you can find out whether the project is still current, and will often tell you the date when the project is over. A surprising number of these school email requests, however, do not list identifying information and use a “free” email account for the return address such as Hotmail or Yahoo. That is a warning not to reply. Not long ago, TruthOrFiction.com followed up with an email provider about a school science fair message that looked suspicious. We suggested that the provider contact the email user to find out if he or she really was a teacher as was claimed. We received a reply from the provider thanking us for the tip and informing us that the user address had been discontinued and the person was no longer a customer.

Los Angeles elementary school project-Unproven! Said to be Discontinued!

This was one of those that had no identifying information. It said it was from an elementary science teacher. We sent an email to the address on the message and received a reply saying the project was halted because of too much response. We don’t know if it was authentic.
updated 05/03/02

Second-graders at McComb Elementary school in Caro, Michigan-Truth! but Discontinued!
The school tells TruthOrFiction.com that the project was to have gone until May 1, 2001, but had to be halted because of the number of obscene emails being received.
04/28/02

Fourth-grade class at Scottsdale Christian Academy in Phoenix, Arizona-Truth! but Discontinued!
This was a month long project that ended on November 12, 2001
updated 11/15/2001

Fourth graders at Riverton Elementary School in Riverton, Illinois-Truth! but Discontinued!
The school confirmed the project to TruthOrFiction.com, but said it was brought to an end on April 9, 2001.
updated 05/05/2001

Fifth-grade class at Tomball Intermediate School in Tomball, Texas-Truth! but Discontinued!
A spokesperson for the school says it was halted in January, 2001, because of overwhelming response.

Posted 02/08/01

Middle School Students in Tennessee Are Collecting 6 Million Paper Clips for a Memorial to Jewish Victims of the Nazi Holocaust-Truth! but Discontinued!

 

Summary of eRumor:   

This email says it’s an article from the Washington Post about a group of students in Whitwell, Tennessee.  They are from the Whitwell middle school and as a part of a course on the Nazi holocaust during World War II, an idea got started to construct a memorial to the 6 million Jewish victims of the holocaust:  to collect 6 million paper clips and use them for the memorial.  The idea has gained international attention, partly because of a book published in Germany about the project.

The Truth:

This article and story are true and have resulted in an interesting story.

The children at Whitwell school discovered that the Norwegians, who invented the paper clip, wore paper clips during World War II to protest Nazism.  It was decided to try to collect 6 million paper clips to represent the number of Jews killed during the holocaust and to erect some kind of memorial for them.  The collection project mushroomed and the children received paper clip contributions from people like President Bill Clinton and director Steven Spielberg.  By 2001 the school had received more than 30 million paperclips.

One thing led to another and the school was able to secure an actual railroad car from Germany that was used to transport holocaust victims.  It is the heart of a memorial that contains 11 million paper clips, representing all the victims of the holocaust, not just Jews.

Updated 1/12/07