Editor's note: William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.
By William J. Bennett, CNN Contributor
(CNN) - American higher education is in the cross hairs of a heated national debate over the value and cost of a college degree. Yet in China, our fiercest global economic competitor, the popularity of American colleges and universities might be at an all-time high.
I just returned from a trip to Beijing, where I spoke with Chinese parents about the value of American education, where we excel and where we fall short. Not surprising was the extent to which the Chinese value education, especially primary and secondary education, and yearn for their children to attend American universities, and if possible, stay in America.
When I engaged Chinese parents about their children, they would often say, "My son (or daughter) is going to Princeton (or fill in the elite American university)." I would respond, "Great! What year is your son or daughter right now?" And they would say, "Three years old."
First, their children are better educated than American children in the STEM fields - science, technology, engineering and math. High standards and high expectations are the norm in China, not the exception, as is often the case in the United States.
Read William J. Bennett's full column
A 100-year-old high school graduation tradition is being changed because the valedictorian is an atheist. KABB reports.
By CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - Snigdha Nandipati, 14, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday night by spelling "guetapens," which means an ambush, snare or trap.
"I was just taking it one word at a time," the eighth-grader from San Diego told CNN on Friday morning. "I just wanted to get each word right. I didn't really think about winning, really."
The agony and ecstasy of the National Spelling Bee
She said that properly spelling the winning word, which is derived from French, was not difficult. She had seen the word before and knew it, she said.
Nandipati didn't truly register her victory until the confetti started falling, she said.
"I didn't expect to win. There were some very good competitors this year," she said.
In last year's spelling bee, she tied for 27th place.
By Michael Martinez, CNN
Los Angeles (CNN) - In the wake of a teacher misconduct scandal, Los Angeles school officials have referred the discipline cases of 604 teachers from the past four years to state authorities to decide whether the teachers' licenses should also be revoked, a school spokesman said Thursday.
Of the 604 cases in which teachers were fired or facing discipline, 60 teachers were accused of sexual misconduct with pupils on or off campus or with minors who weren't students, school officials told CNN.
The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing will investigate 366 of the 604 teacher cases, spokeswoman Anne Padilla said on Thursday. Most of the cases focused on allegations of teacher misconduct that involved student safety.
The referral of the cases to state licensing investigators is the latest turn in the nation's second largest school system. It has been reeling from a scandal at Miramonte Elementary School, where two teachers have been charged with lewd acts on pupils, including one teacher accused of putting children in adult-like bondage situations and placing semen-filled spoons at their mouths.
The lurid allegations prompted an internal review of the system's handling of past teacher misconduct cases, and the district determined that 604 cases needed to be referred to state licensing authorities for review, though "a substantial number" of other misconduct cases had already been reported to the state, school officials told CNN.
By Donna Krache, CNN
(CNN) - Admit it. You took one or two of “those” classes in college.
It's the kind of class that made your parents stop reading the newspaper and glance up at you with that “Seriously?” look. You convinced them that this was part of the college experience and necessary to a well-rounded education.
To be fair, maybe some of these different curriculum offerings might have been required if you had an out-of-the-ordinary major. But we’re going to guess that most of you took some strange classes for fun – and to keep your sanity.
Put yourself on a college campus today and you might be tempted to take some of these actual courses that we found in college catalogs. (Note to incoming freshmen who are registering now for the fall: You didn’t get the idea here.)
Do you find math dull, uninspiring? There’s a new game in town. Consider Basic Slot Math at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (where else?) The class is an offering of the UNLV International Gaming Institute. Even the course description isn’t the stuff of standard algebraic monotony: “How do slot machines produce a profit, or for that matter, how do all casino games produce a profit?” What are the odds on getting into this class?
Popular culture is awash with zombies. At Chicago’s Columbia College, you can take this fascination to an academic level by taking Zombies in Popular Media. Explore “the history, significance and representation of zombies in horror and fantasy texts.” The course demands look pretty intense, so you may want to hope for the zombie apocalypse to preempt the final exam.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a course in Digital Poetry, where you can experiment with creating poetry for wireless access on handheld devices. Flash-animated poems, digital videos and interactive poems are all elements of the syllabus.
Never thought it could be done.
An approach to try.
CNN’s Schools of Thought blog is a place for parents, educators and students to learn about and discuss what's happening in education. We're curious about what's happening before kindergarten, through college and beyond. Have a story to tell? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org