Money Matters - Simplified


Poll: Children embracing e-books

New York -- Children would read for fun more often if they could obtain e-books, but two-thirds say they still wouldn't give up traditional print books, a poll indicates.

In a study by Scholastic, the American publisher of the Harry Potter books and the "Hunger Games" trilogy, about 25 percent of the children surveyed said they had already read a book on a digital device, while 57 percent of those ages 9 to 17 said they were interested in doing so, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The report was "a call to action," one Scholastic executive said.

Fifth grader suspended for having lighter

Jamesxurgh-- Officials at a New Jersey middle school are defending the decision to suspend a fifth grader who brought a lighter to school.

Patrick Halpin said his 11-year-old son was suspended Wednesday from Grace M. Breckwedel Middle School in Jamesburg for bringing in a lighter he found at the side of a road near the school, Gannett New Jersey reported Thursday.

Halpin said his son was suspended for the day for bringing in a "weapon," despite the fact that teachers are allowed to bring in lighters and matches.

"I'm (a) little irate because he's a responsible kid," Halpin said of his son. "He's a Boy Scout."

However, school and district officials defended the decision.

Mixed-use neighborhoods can reduce crime

Columbus -- Mixed-use neighborhoods combining residential and business development may help lead to lower levels of some types of violent crime, a U.S. study suggests.

Ohio State University researchers say the results were just as true in impoverished neighborhoods as they were in more affluent areas, offering one possible way of improving blighted areas, a university release reported.

But the findings have an important caveat, researchers say: In a sparsely populated neighborhood, increases in business-residential density actually lead to higher levels of violent crimes, at least in the short term.

However, after building density reaches a certain threshold, some violent crime begins to decline, they say.

Multitasking called bad study strategy

Bloomington -- Students who "multitask" in class or while studying -- texting, typing, studying all at once -- aren't being as efficient as they think, U.S. researchers say.

Studies at Indiana University found that multitasking -- juggling cellphones, e-mail, texting, the Internet -- handicaps learning and steals a little bit from each task being performed, a university release said Monday.

"Why is multitasking, texting a problem? It has an impact on students' ability to understand and absorb, code, store and process information -- and learn," David Pisoni, IU professor of psychology, said.

"Memory and attention are limited. Students don't realize that when they study and engage in other activities, that multitasking comes at a price."

Cheating Brit teachers gave wrong answers

London -- British education officials say teachers at three schools were caught helping students cheat on a standardized test when kids gave the same wrong answer.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority said investigators discovered teachers at one school had altered the SATS exams, curriculum assessment tests taken at the end of primary school, when 18 of 19 students gave the same wrong answer to a question, The Sun reported Monday.

A head teacher at another school was found to have personally changed students' exams, turning some right answers into wrong ones, and investigators discovered teachers at a third school had made 93 changes to student papers.

None of the schools were named by authorities.

School requires contracts for dances

Independence -- A Missouri high school principal says students wishing to attend this year's dances must sign contacts designed to halt sexually charged dancing.

Principal Kristel Barr of Truman High School in Independence said the contract, posted to the school's Web site, must be signed by students and their parents before they can attend dances, KMBC-TV, Kansas City, Mo., reported Monday.

Harvard dealing with research fallout

Cambridge, Mass. -- Harvard University professors say they're doing damage control to deal with the aftermath of a scientific misconduct case against one of their colleagues.

A month after Harvard found psychology Professor Marc Hauser guilty of eight academic infractions involving three published papers and other work, faculty at the university are considering how to respond, The Boston Globe reported Monday.

In popular books, news stories, and television programs, Hauser talked about his studies that suggested monkeys, which seem far removed from humans, share some of the same basic cognitive abilities -- studies that have since been retracted by the journals in which they appeared.

Clickers' boost college participation

New Brunswick-- Students and professors at New Jersey's Rutgers University and other schools across the country are praising a classroom tool known as the "clicker."

Marketed as a high-tech "personal response device," the calculator-size clickers allow students to give multiple-choice answers to quizzes and take part in polling and student polling, the Philadelphia Daily News reported Monday. Teachers can use them to take attendance.

An estimated 2 million students in the United States are currently using clickers, which can run $35-$40, the Daily News said.

Neil Sheflin, an associate professor of economics at Rutgers, called clickers "the greatest educational innovation since chalk."

Sheflin said his students also enjoy using them.

Student debt surpasses credit card debt

Washington -- The amount U.S. students owe for tuition loans has surpassed what credit card borrowers owe for the first time, a private researcher said.

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of and, said student debt totals $850 billion, The Detroit Free Press reported. Revolving debt reported by the Federal Reserve Bank dropped to $827.8 billion in July.

With the recession forcing many to return to school, student borrowing rose 25 percent in 2009, skyrocketing to meet circumstantial demands of those who are out of work.

Concurrently, the recession has weighed heavily on consumer spending.

Tuition hikes have also outstripped inflation for the past 20 years, the newspaper said.

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