Editor's note: Simon Hauger started Philadelphia's "Sustainability Workshop," a program for inner-city high school seniors that's organized around projects rather than traditional curriculum. Students build electric go-karts and solar charging stations. CNN's "The Next List" will feature Hauger on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
By Simon Hauger, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Working with teenagers is wonderful. They are a joy and a challenge. They are youthful optimists who believe in their power, and have boundless energy. Young people don’t know what they don’t know, and rather than making them arrogant, it fills them with hopeful idealism. As teachers, it is our job to make direct and audacious demands on their idealism.
My journey began 14 years ago in an after-school program I created at West Philadelphia High to engage kids around math and science. My students entered and won the Philadelphia Science Fair, something kids from West Philly weren’t supposed to do. Then we grew the program into the Electric Vehicle (EVX) Team. We built a full-size electric vehicle that outperformed top universities in the nation’s largest alternative fuel vehicle competition, the Tour de Sol. We went on to create the world’s first hybrid super-car: an awesome hybrid vehicle that was fast and environmentally friendly. At a time when most people had never heard of hybrids, West Philly students were building cars that were greener than the Prius and hotter than the Corvette. The EVX Team was gaining traction and recognition.
Our team of urban students won multiple national titles putting us in position in 2008 to be the only high school in the world to enter the $10 million Progressive Automotive X PRIZE. Although we didn’t win, we made it to the semi-finals of the competition. We built and raced two cars surpassing 90 of the original 111 entries. It was a wild ride that won us a trip to the White House.
But what does this have to do with education?
(CNN) - "It's a pretty basic educational problem we have: Students' willingness to learn is not there," says 17-year-old Joseph A. Ryan, Jr.
"I go to school where most kids don't even want to learn....They don't care, and teachers get in trouble for it," says Ryan. "They have to see the value in education."
We want to hear from parents, teachers and students. What do you think? Are most students motivated to learn? You can post your thoughts below.
By Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Stephen Joel Trachtenberg is president emeritus and university professor of public service at George Washington University. He is chairman of the Korn/Ferry Higher Education Practice and senior client partner at Korn/Ferry International, an executive recruiting firm.
(CNN) - Those who have been following the recent soap opera at the University of Virginia may think that it has to do with the blundering dismissal of the president, Teresa Sullivan, and her subsequent re-engagement by the Board of Visitors under instruction by the governor of the state to put their house in order or resign.
In fact, the heart of the drama is not about the president. Nor is it about the board. Rather, it is about the principle stakeholders of the University of Virginia and American higher education in general.
Those who recall the campus disruptions protesting the Vietnam War will remember a slogan of the time, "power to the people." It was meant to be a challenge of the "rulers" by the "masses." In 2012 in Charlottesville, Virginia, we see a similar confrontation.
But in place of chanting "Close the university," on this occasion the students, faculty and others assembled on the quad claimed the right to open the university as their own and called for the right to select their own leader - their own president.FULL STORY
By Carl Azuz, CNN
(CNN) If you’re planning on getting a four-year degree at college, a newly released study suggests you shouldn’t take five or six years to get it.
An additional year or two could cost you in more ways than the extra tuition.
The University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research found that people who earned bachelor’s degrees within four years saw, on average, higher wages than those who earned similar degrees within six years.
The difference between the wages of four-year and six-year graduates: about $6,000.
But it still pays to get an undergraduate degree, even if it takes six years to do it. Those who earned a bachelor’s within six years made about $6,000 more than students who attended college but didn't earn a degree at all.
The study considered several reasons for the differences in salaries, including the head start that four-year graduates had in the workforce. The authors also noted that some employers may see a difference in aptitude between those who graduate on time and those who don’t.
According to U.S. News and World Report, most American college students – around 60 percent – don’t graduate on time. And an extra year of tuition alone sets them back more than $8,000 at the average public university, while private school (take a deep breath) costs an average of $42,000 per year.
While it's true that many Americans place a priority on getting a college degree, millions of future workers may not need it. A study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education estimates that only a third of new jobs created between 2008 and 2018 will require a bachelor's or higher degree.
By Ted Barrett and Deirdre Walsh, CNN
(CNN) - House GOP leaders are expected to discuss whether or not to extend a rate cut on student loans at a meeting Wednesday morning.
On Tuesday, top Senate leaders from each party indicated they had reached an agreement but were waiting to hear whether House Republicans would accept the deal.
The White House issued a statement praising the Senate deal and pressed House Republicans to accept it.
"We're pleased that the Senate has reached a deal to keep rates low and continue offering hardworking students a fair shot at an affordable education," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "We hope Congress will complete the legislative process and send a bill to the president as soon as possible."
House GOP leaders were still looking at the details, said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. He also declined to say whether they would bring the deal up for a vote in the House.FULL STORY
by Rick Bastien, CNN
(CNN) On any given Sunday night, your child’s teacher might face this problem: How do you come up with a lesson plan for 20 or more students for an entire week when all your students are learning at a different pace?
Mike is great at reading but needs help in math. Katie excels in science but struggles with writing. They both need to pass the same state tests. And with states picking up new high standards for education, there isn’t always a precedent of how to teach. Even with textbooks and years of experience, the best teachers can struggle to find new ways of teaching complex subjects, especially when each student learns differently.
This is a problem that Eric Westendorf and Alix Guerrier are determined to solve. The two former teachers co-founded LearnZillion.com, a social venture that provides free lessons for students, all in organized YouTube-style videos.
The formula is simple: Videos have to be about five minutes long, illustrated by hand and voiced by a real teacher. The product simulates a real-classroom effect —it’s like your favorite teacher drawing the math lesson on the chalkboard, except that you can play it over and over if you don’t quite understand it. At the end, you take a brief quiz. But as it turns out, this resource is mostly utilized by teachers looking for new ways to teach the topics with which their students are struggling .
In other words, teachers need help from other teachers. Jonathan Krasnov, Learnzillion’s publicist notes, “Even great teachers don’t teach everything great.”
Westendorf was the principal of E.L. Haynes, a charter school in Washington, D.C., when he came up with the idea.
He told CNN, “We started using it because we came across the Khan Academy site. We liked this idea of instruction being captured and delivered to students. Then we said, ‘What if it could be based on the Common Core Standards, [which mostU.S.states have now adopted] , so that it is aligned with what students need? … It was out of these ‘what ifs’ that I came up with a prototype.”
Westendorf plans for LearnZillion to eventually make profit by selling services to school districts, such as lessons tailored to the needs of the school. But he says that the lessons posted online will always be free.
by Aaron Smith, CNNMoney
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - The GI Bill was designed to help veterans, but the biggest beneficiaries seem to be the for-profit private schools that are raking in taxpayer dollars.
The Department of Veterans Affairs bankrolls four years of higher education for veterans who have served since September 11, 2001. The VA paid out $4.4 billion for tuition and fees in the two academic years spanning 2009 to 2011. For-profit private schools raked in 37% of those funds, but educated just 25% of veterans, according to the U.S. Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee.
So what are taxpayers getting in return? According to the VA, the graduation rate is just 28% at for-profit schools like University of Phoenix and DeVry University (for all students, not just veterans). That compares with a graduation rate of 67% at non-profit private schools and 57% at public schools.Read the full story from CNNMoney
By Sarah Edwards, CNN
(CNN) - Butterfly in the sky I can go twice as high. . . Remember those lyrics from the once popular children’s show “Reading Rainbow”? Well, it’s back, but this time not on TV – on iPad.
Last week, Reading Rainbow host, executive producer and actor LeVar Burton, launched the Reading Rainbow app through his for-profit company RR Kidz Inc. Burton says he hopes the app will have the same impact on a new, more “digitally-native” generation as the show had on kids in the ‘80s.
The app, like the show, is aimed at children ages 3-9, who are just learning how to read. Like the show, Burton plays host, this time calling himself “Curator in Chief.” He, along with digital animations named Jane and Austin, guides children on a hot air balloon ride through the chosen story. Burton said, “The child will be able to navigate islands in a hot air balloon . . . a metaphor for a journey, a literal way to transport yourself from one place to another. The islands are themed and a child can go to these islands and find videos as well as books. Reading Rainbow was famous for giving you a backstage tour, giving you an experience that was based in the real world that was related to the literature and the featured book in every show and so the video field trips are a key component.”
The free app contains 150 books and 16 video field trips. However, to gain the full experiences parents will have to shell out $9.99 per month. That’s pretty pricey, considering the original program was free and widely available on PBS. Burton acknowledged the issue, but hopes that the education system can help bridge the gap. “We are aware that there are a lot of folks out there who don’t own iPads and can’t afford the $9.99 subscription price. We will be working, in the fullness of time, with schools, teachers and school districts all over the country. One of my goals is to make this technology, in general, universally accessible to kids. We have the ability as well as the knowledge to literally transform the way we educate our children in the United States. . . I think that with this technology, putting a tablet computer in every child’s hands should be our agenda,” Burton said.