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Appeals Court Could Strike Down Affirmative Action Ban; Boy Genius Publishes Book

Child Prodigy. Moshe Kai Cavalin is one smart kid. The Los Angeles native enrolled in a community college at age 8, earned his first degree at 9, and now is poised to graduate from the University of California-Los Angeles this year as a 14-year-old. Oh, and he just published his first book. “You don’t really need to be a genius,” Cavalin said. “You just have to work hard and you can accomplish anything.” Cavalin soon hopes to enroll in graduate school but tries not to look too far ahead, pointing out that he’s still just barely a teenager. No kidding. [NY Daily News]

Affirmative Action Ban. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is once again deciding the fate of a controversial California ballot initiative. Proposition 209, which bans race and gender based affirmative action in public education, employment, and contracting, has survived several legal challenges since voters approved it 15 years ago. However, in the Ninth Circuit, Prop 209 faces its most daunting challenge yet. The appeals court recently struck down a California ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage. Black and Latino students represent half of California’s high school graduates but, on average, make up less than a fifth of the student body at the University of California’s most competitive campuses. [Washington Post]

FAMU Hazing Death. New details are emerging in the case of Robert Champion, a Florida A&M student who died recently after a hazing ritual went horribly wrong. Champion attempted to endure hazing to join a band clique known as “Bus C.” Members of the clique allegedly stomped on and violently kicked pledges as part of the hazing process, and Champion died after suffering blunt trauma blows and severe bleeding. Champion’s death brought about a wrongful death lawsuit and an investigation into hazing practices at Florida A&M. [Huffington Post]

Budget Cuts. In Pennsylvania, college students and faculty are outraged by continued cuts to higher education in the state’s budget. After slashing college funding by nearly 20 percent in 2011, Gov. Tom Corbett announced in his annual budget address a plan to further reduce funding up to 30 percent. While the cuts in education spending are part of an effort to trim spending across the board, experts say the funding decreases will unfairly place the burden of college costs on students. “What it means is higher tuition,” said Joni Finney, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. “What’s the state’s share? What’s the students’ share? It just seems to me that’s really critical before cutting another 20 percent.” The trend of cuts to higher education is unlikely to be reversed as long as Pennsylvania continues to face a budget deficit. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

Graham White was a former intern with Generation Progress and now is on the executive board of the Black Law Students Association at Yale. You can follow him on Twitter @GrahamWhiteNY.

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