Christa McAuliffe Day
Space Shuttle Challenger lifts off on January 28, 1986.
January 27th, 2012
02:06 PM ET

Christa McAuliffe Day

by John Martin, CNN

I touch the future. I teach. - Christa McAuliffe 

Twenty-six years ago this Saturday, I was home from school. I remember that because I watched as the Space Shuttle Challenger launched a New Hampshire high school teacher and six NASA astronauts into the sky. Their flight only lasted 73 seconds  and ended in tragedy, but McAuliffe’s legacy as a pioneer and a teacher endures. This Saturday, the 26th anniversary of that fateful flight, is designated Christa McAuliffe Day in her honor.

In August of 1984 President Ronald Reagan announced that a teacher would be the first civilian in space. McAuliffe was one of 11,000 applicants to the Teacher in Space program. She wasn't a science teacher; her field was social studies.  On her application she said, “I watched the space program being born, and I would like to participate.” In July of 1985, Vice President George H.W. Bush announced McAuliffe's selection as the first teacher in space. Before the launch on a frigid January day, McAuliffe remarked, “Imagine a history teacher making history.”

Courtesy NASA
During the Challenger mission, McAuliffe was scheduled to perform a number of experiments and lessons for the classroom. The Public Broadcasting System planned to televise two of her lessons. Her first lesson, “The Ultimate Field Trip” would have featured a tour of the shuttle, while her second lesson, "Where We've Been, Where We're Going," was meant to demonstrate the impact of the space program on technology.

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Filed under: Practice • Teachers • Technology
January 27th, 2012
01:30 PM ET

Education and expectations

Some people say minorities are suffering because educators have low expectations of their kids. Suzanne Malveaux explains.

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Filed under: Issues • video
January 27th, 2012
12:46 PM ET

Today's Reading List

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

WAVY: Hundreds of VB teachers face layoffs
In order to cover Virginia Beach school district's $40 million deficit, 640 teachers received notices that they might not have a job next year. Most of the cuts will come from teachers who are in their first through third year of teaching.

NPR: Kids Have A Say In Louisville's School Lunch Menu
New federal school lunch guidelines are aimed at reducing fats and increasing fruits. The district worried that students wouldn't like the new foods, so they formed a student committee that performs taste tests.

U.S. News: What Does a College Budget Look Like?
A mother and daughter examine the daughter's college budget from two different perspectives. in her case, less than half of the money went towards tuition. Loomis kids give ailing principal a literacy lift
Principal Rick Judd hopes to return to his school soon after his cancer treatment is complete. Judd had implemented an independent reading program where students pick their own books. Now, the kids are reading to keep him going.

Obama unveils plan to control college costs
President Obama spoke at a UPS freight facility in Las Vegas, Nevada Thursday.
January 27th, 2012
11:54 AM ET

Obama unveils plan to control college costs

From Alan Silverleib and Tom Cohen, CNN

(CNN) - College affordability took center stage Friday for President Barack Obama as he made the final stop on a three-day road trip highlighting themes from the State of the Union address this week.

In an appearance at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the president outlined a series of new initiatives designed to control spiraling college costs and reform financial aid programs.

"We want a country where everybody has a chance," Obama said. America should be a "big, bold, generous country where everybody gets a fair shot."

Noting that student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt, the president declared Washington is "putting colleges on notice. You can't assume you'll just jack up tuition every year."

"We should push colleges to do better," he said. "We should hold them accountable if they don't."

Specifically, the administration wants to leverage $10 billion a year in federal aid, restraining costs by providing more assistance to schools that hold tuition down while cutting aid to those that do not. Obama is also pushing for the creation of a $1 billion competition encouraging states to contain public tuition rates.


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Filed under: After High School • College • Issues • Policy
January 27th, 2012
10:54 AM ET

CNN Student News anchor Carl Azuz talks with Dr. Sanjay Gupta about concussions

Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks about the medical science behind concussions and how young athletes and coaches can handle and prevent them.

Programming note:  Watch "Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports: Big Hits, Broken Dreams" Sunday, January 29 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET.

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Filed under: Carl Azuz • Policy • video
January 27th, 2012
07:35 AM ET

My View: An education crisis that never should have happened

Courtesy National Education Association by Sara Ferguson, Special to CNN

Editor’s Note: Sara Ferguson is a 20 year employee of the Chester Upland School District where she currently teaches Literacy and Math. She is a third generation educator in Chester Upland. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Widener University, a Masters of Education in Elementary Education from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from Cabrini College.

When I visited the White House for the first time, as a child, it was my teacher who brought me there. This week I returned, as a teacher and as a special guest of President Obama during his State of the Union Address. It was an honor to be in attendance, and I am grateful for the attention my struggling school district has received. However, if there’s one message I hope is heard across the country about the financial crisis in my school district, it is this: It’s a crisis that never should have happened.

Let’s back up for a moment. We have long had financial troubles in Chester Upland School District in Pennsylvania. The majority of students here come from families living at or below the poverty level. More than 70 percent of our students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, which is more than double the state average.

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Filed under: Policy • teacher unions • Teachers • Voices