November 30th, 2011
01:35 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

The Telegraph (UK): Millions of children off school as teachers take to picket lines
More than half of England's schools are closed today as teachers joined a nationwide public-sector strike. Teaching unions and government officials are at odds over new pension plans.

Star Tribune: Governor to appoint task force on bullying
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is appointing a 15-member committee to investigate the effectiveness of anti-bullying measures around the U.S.

New York Times: Line Grows Long for Free Meals at U.S. Schools
As families across America feel the effects of economic uncertainty, more children are eligible for free and reduced lunches.

Educational Leadership: What We Learn from Grades
Author and educator Marge Scherer says that for grades to be meaningful, they must be accurate and fair.

Smart Kid
The author recounts his personal experience as a smart, but not necessarily motivated, student.

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Filed under: At Home • Policy • Practice • Retirement • teacher unions • Teachers • Technology • Today's Reading List
November 30th, 2011
09:39 AM ET

Family says undocumented student killed himself over fears he'd never go to college

By Rafael Romo, Senior Latin American Affairs Editor

(CNN) – Joaquin Luna was only 18. The senior at Juarez Lincoln High School in Mission, Texas, dreamed of going to college. But since he was in the country illegally, that was nearly impossible.

Luna was quickly losing hope of ever going to college, his family says. The Friday after Thanksgiving, Luna put on a suit, kissed his family members, went into the bathroom and shot himself in the head, according to family members.

"He didn't see no other way or no other option," his brother Diyra Mendoza told CNN affiliate KGBT.

Mendoza found the body after hearing the gunshot.

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Filed under: After High School • Issues • Policy
Five things to know about the SAT
November 30th, 2011
07:16 AM ET

Five things to know about the SAT

by John Martin, CNN

This Saturday, thousands of students across America will wake up, sharpen their number 2 pencils and proceed to take what could be the most important test of their lives – the SAT. There are some differences between the SAT that you probably took and the one students are taking this weekend. Here are five things to know about the big test.

1. What is the SAT?
The SAT is a college entrance exam taken by millions of students each year. The College Board, an association of colleges and high schools that creates and administers the test, says the exam tests skills and knowledge students acquire during high school and measures how that knowledge is applied, which many say is critical to success in college.

2. What is a perfect score on the SAT?
If you took the SAT before March 2005, you probably remember your score was out of 1600 points, 800 from math and 800 from reading. Today's nearly four-hour test includes a critical reading section, a mathematics section, and a writing section. Each section is still worth 800 points; 2400 is today's perfect score.
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Filed under: At Home • Five things • High school • Testing
Today's Reading List
November 29th, 2011
01:05 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

Good: Why Stanford's Free Online Education Experiment Is Booming
More than 35,000 students complete Stanford's free Introduction to Artificial Intelligence course, turning in assignments and taking exams for a "badge of completion" instead of college credit.

New York Times Opinion: How About Better Parents?
Thomas Friedman says that parents who are focused on their children's education make a huge impact on their classroom success.

Education Week: Multi-Million Settlement Helps St. Louis Move Toward Accreditation
The St. Louis school district won a $96 million settlement from a desegregation lawsuit dating back to 1972. Now the district is finally free to use the funds to pay its debts, and possibly allow it regain accreditation.

San Antonio Express-News: Gen TX teaching kids to think, not memorize
An ad campaign about college life morphs into lessons that help high school students learn problem-solving in preparation for college or career.

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Filed under: At Home • Policy • Practice • Teachers • Technology • Today's Reading List
Gardening with class
November 29th, 2011
07:38 AM ET

School garden cultivates more than vegetables

By Paul Frysh, CNN

Arugula, radishes, kale, pomegranates, persimmons, figs and quince - these are just some of the varieties of produce tended by students at Burgess-Peterson Elementary school, an urban school on the east side of Atlanta.

When the garden started three years ago, students hadn't even heard of - much less grown and eaten - a lot of the food now grown on school grounds.

And yet on the day CNN visited the school, fifth-graders ate quiche made with fresh spinach from the school garden, and fourth-graders chomped happily on slices of persimmon, an unusual orange-colored fruit, harvested from the school's fruit orchard.

You'd be surprised, said fifth-grade teacher Megan Kiser, what foods students are willing to try if they grow it themselves.

In the school's courtyard in November, students tended their plants - each class is responsible for a particular section of a particular bed. The students look in on their plants a few times a week, watering them as needed and harvesting them when the time is right. Each class from first to fifth grade weighs the produce for a friendly contest. The class that harvests the most weight by the end of the season wins a cooking demonstration from a local chef.

The garden is not just for looks: Eight pounds of produce from Friday alone went home with teachers for the Thanksgiving holiday.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Elementary school • Lunch • Practice
November 28th, 2011
05:51 PM ET

FAMU drum major's family to sue after suspected hazing death

(CNN) - A lawyer for the family of Robert Champion, a Florida university drum major who died this month in what officials have called a hazing-related death, said Monday he will sue the school.

"We are intending to file a lawsuit to get answers" about hazing at Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University, lawyer Chris Chestnut told reporters. "We are concerned about the culture of cover-up, that hazing has been covered up at the Band FAMU for generations. So, it's time now that we expose the truth, eradicate this culture and come up with creative remedies on how to continue the excellence of FAMU's band, but without hazing."

Chestnut said he was not at liberty to discuss the facts of the case and noted that the medical examiner has not issued a report on the cause of death of the 26-year-old musician. But, he added, the facts that have emerged to date "point to the fact that hazing was a cause of Robert Champion's death, and it was under FAMU's watch."

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Filed under: College • Extracurricular • Policy • video
Kansas governor apologizes for 'overreaction' to teen's disparaging tweet
Emma Sullivan says she's not going to apologize to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback for a disparaging tweet.
November 28th, 2011
02:29 PM ET

Kansas governor apologizes for 'overreaction' to teen's disparaging tweet

(CNN) - Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback apologized Monday for what he called his staff's "overreaction" to a disparaging tweet directed at him by a high school senior during a state Capitol visit.

Emma Sullivan, 18, said late Sunday that she would not write an apology letter to the governor - as her principal had requested - that was due Monday.

In a statement, Brownback did not reference Sullivan by name or mention the prospect of any apology letter. He did emphasize his support for "freedom of speech," while thanking "the thousands of Kansas educators who remind us daily of our liberties, as well as the values of civility and decorum."

"My staff overreacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize," the governor said. "Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms."

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Mills: SAT scandal shows tyranny of standardized testing
Samuel Eshaghoff of Great Neck, New York, is arrested in September for impersonating high school students to take the SAT.
November 28th, 2011
12:18 PM ET

Mills: SAT scandal shows tyranny of standardized testing

By Nicolaus Mills, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Nicolaus Mills is professor of American Studies at Sarah Lawrence College and author of "Winning the Peace: The Marshall Plan and America's Coming of Age as a Superpower."

(CNN) - As education scandals go, the news that students at some of the best high schools on Long Island paid others to take their College Board tests seems mild. The Long Island scandal pales behind the sex scandal at Penn State.

Yet the fears driving the Long Island scandal come with much broader educational implications than those affecting Penn State. The cheating scandal reflects the tyranny that standardized testing has come to exercise over higher education in America.

Just before Thanksgiving, Nassau County district attorney Kathleen Rice leveled criminal charges against 13 students for their part in the Long Island testing scandal. Rice was right to treat as a criminal matter the testing fraud, which, after seven arrests in September, now includes 20 Long Island students.

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Filed under: Policy • Practice • Voices
Kansas teen won't apologize to governor's office for Twitter post
A Kansas teen said she will not a apologize for her disparaging tweet about Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.
November 28th, 2011
09:22 AM ET

Kansas teen won't apologize to governor's office for Twitter post

(CNN) - A high school senior, who faces a Monday morning deadline to apologize to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback for a disparaging tweet, has said she will not write the apology letter.

"I don't think I should write the letter, and I don't think it would be the best move for me," Emma Sullivan, 18, said late Sunday night. "At this time, I do not think an apology would be a sincere thing for me to do."

Sullivan said her parents and many of her peers support her decision.

The teen made national headlines last week for a tweet she said was intended just for her friends.

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Filed under: Policy
Today's Reading List
November 25th, 2011
08:39 AM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today:

Los Angeles Times: Californians willing to pay higher taxes for better schools
Even during a time of economic uncertainty, a majority of Californians are willing to pay higher taxes to fund public school systems says a recent survey.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Quality doesn't follow rise in voucher schools
Milwaukee's student voucher system allows students to attend private schools with public funds. The author believes that while some excellent voucher schools exist, student performance data doesn't show significant gains for voucher students overall.

The Baltimore Sun:  City schools launching Saturday School initiative
In an effort to reverse the trend of declining test scores, Baltimore will begin a 10-week Saturday School program for some students in grades four through eight.

Edutopia:  To Teachers: How to Stay Hopeful and Inspired
A former teacher and instructional coach offers some of her favorite inspirations.

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Filed under: Policy • Practice • Teachers • Testing • Today's Reading List
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