With Rosh Hashanah coming up next week, the time is right to think more explicitly about goodness — acts of kindness, forgiveness and making sure I’m keeping myself honest. This being the season of atonement, I was excited to see a story about UCLA creating a new institute to study the effects of kindness. And I’m glad to share it with you here.

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Whom do dual-language programs really serve?

In Bexar County, Texas, dual language classes are increasingly popular, reports Alia Malik in the San Antonio News-Express. “Before dual language came to San Antonio, bilingual education was limited to Spanish-speaking students, who were introduced to a little more English every year until all their classes were in English. Dual language is a type of bilingual education, broadened to include English-speaking students, that continues in both languages,” Malik writes. “School administrators pitch dual language instruction as a way for Spanish-speaking students to learn English and improve their native language skills at the same time. English-speaking students, on the other hand, are taking the dual language route because their parents see economic and intellectual value in becoming bilingual.”

Is kindness good for your health?

The University of California, Los Angeles will launch an institute to study kindness in an attempt to advance interdisciplinary research on the benefits of being good. Teresa Watanabe writes in the Los Angeles Times that UCLA scientists have already found that “mindfulness and kindness actually alter the behavior of genes, turning down those that promote inflammation.” 

How to succeed as a homeless college student

Elizabeth Montgomery writes a first-person essay for the Arizona Republic about her struggles as a homeless college student in Georgia. She recalled reading Zora Neal Hurston in her hot car, studying in the library and watching other students buy food she couldn’t afford. “No one knew what I was going through,” she wrote. “I made sure no one saw me take baths in the school sink or eat out of the cafe trash cans. If anyone saw me, they didn’t say anything.” She includes tips for how homeless students can succeed in school.

College is a socioeconomic sorting tool.

In The New Yorker, Louis Menand has a long piece critiquing the idea of meritocracy, and how that concept fits into recent news about college bribery scandals. He traces “educational sorting” to early in life, when kids are picked for “gifted and talented programs,” through high school, when some students are sent into honors or vocational tracks. But college, he writes, is different — because not everyone has to go. “Attributes extraneous to merit, such as gender, skin color, physical ableness, and family income, are not supposed to constrain the choice of educational pathways,” Menand writes.