by Donna Krache, CNN
(CNN)– If you’re a parent with college-age kids, you probably experienced sticker shock the first time you checked out tuition costs. And maybe even a few times after that.
The College Board says that the average yearly cost for a four-year public university for an in-state student is now $8,240. For a private college, it’s $28,500 per year.
William Thierfelder, president of Belmont Abbey College, says that most students are so discouraged with what he calls the "sticker price" of higher education that they don’t even consider applying to a school they think is beyond their families’ means.
So Belmont Abbey is taking a different approach: The college has announced that it is "resetting" its tuition, reducing it by 33% next fall for incoming freshmen and transfer students.
By Ruchi Gupta, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Children should not die in schools. Children should not die from eating common foods. A minuscule speck of a peanut, not even visible, should not take a young child's life in minutes.
And yet this has happened in the past two years - to 13-year-old Kaitlyn in Chicago and to 7-year-old Ammaria in Virginia. As the holidays approach and celebratory treats are brought into schools from home, we must ensure children with food allergies are safe.
Congress can contribute to that by rapidly passing the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. This bill would provide states with incentives to require elementary schools and secondary schools to maintain, and permit school personnel to administer, epinephrine - a form of adrenaline that eases hives and breathing difficulties and when injected, prevents rapid death.FULL STORY
by Donna Krache, CNN
(CNN) Sequestration: The word strikes fear in the hearts of school boards and administrators nationwide, and with good reason.
What does it mean? The term refers to the across-the-board budget cuts that will automatically occur in federal programs in January 2013, unless Congress reaches an agreement by the end of this year on reducing the deficit.
What kind of cuts will this mean for education?
The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) estimates the reductions would amount to over $4 billion. That would plunge education funding into pre-2003 levels, according to the National Education Association.
Why is that so scary? Part of the reason is that America’s schools have added 5.4 million new students to their rolls since 2003, and costs have risen about 25%. Budget cuts triggered by the fiscal cliff could potentially affect millions of students and teachers by reducing programs and services and increasing class sizes.
According to Deborah Rigsby, director of federal legislation for the National School Boards Association, if sequestration happens, each school district could lose more than $300,000 for every 5,000 children enrolled.
“Sequestration would hurt our school districts and ultimately, our students,” said Rigsby on a conference call Wednesday.
Not all of the effects would be immediate, although some federal programs, such as Title I, Head Start, and state special education funding would feel the impact of the cuts right away. Schools that receive Impact Aid funding would also experience immediate cuts.
By Marisol Castillo, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Marisol Castillo teaches at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington. Castillo taught in California’s Bay Area, and then at a small high school in the South Bronx before relocating to Washington, D.C. In 2009, she received her National Board Certification. Castillo is a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow.
(CNN) - I’m a lucky teacher.
In the nine years I’ve been in the classroom — at three different urban schools — I’ve consistently experienced evaluations that have allowed me to grow as an educator. I’m a better teacher because of that, and my students have benefited.
All teachers should be so lucky as to experience high-quality evaluation. But unfortunately, they’re not. According to a 2012 national survey of teachers conducted by the nonprofit Teach Plus, Great Expectations: Teachers’ Views on Elevating the Teaching Profession, nearly half of all teachers say they either had not received an evaluation in the past year or did not find their evaluation feedback useful.
Recently I was able to address these survey results in front of policymakers on Capitol Hill. I told them that, according to the Teach Plus report, teachers who have been in the classroom for less than 10 years support a range of reforms.
The report shows that a majority of teachers across experience levels think clear standards of effectiveness are critical for teaching to be recognized as a true profession. Many teachers, including nearly three-quarters of the New Majority, the 52% of teachers with less than 10 years experience, want student growth data to be a component of their evaluations.
by John Martin, CNN
(CNN) - The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) released a report of state high school graduation rates, which for the first time includes apples-to-apples comparisons among most states. Each state used to determine its own graduation rate; now states are moving toward a common method of measurement.
As Schools of Thought reported earlier, graduation rates for some states have dropped not because students are failing more often, but because the math has changed. The USDOE points this out in a press release on its website: "While 26 states reported lower graduation rates and 24 states reported unchanged or increased rates under the new metric, these changes should not be viewed as measures of progress but rather as a more accurate snapshot." The new data is based on a "four year cohort graduation rate," which also accounts for students who drop out or do not earn a regular high school diploma.
In the video, Brooke Baldwin examines the states with the highest and lowest gradation rates. Across the United States, the range of state graduation rates is between Nevada's 62% and Iowa's 88%. The District of Columbia's rate is lower than that of any state, at 59%. Some states, including Kentucky and Idaho, are not using the new method and were not included in the data released by USDOE.
Looking at the data itself another picture emerges – a gap between whites and blacks still exists, but an even wider gap persists between general graduation rates and the graduation rates of children with disabilities and limited English proficiency students. For these subgroups, graduation rates in many states are below 50%, and sometimes even below 30%.
by Sydney Morris and Evan Stone, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Sydney Morris and Evan Stone are co-founders and co-CEOs of Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization that seeks to ensure that teachers’ voices are meaningfully included in the policy decisions that affect their classrooms and careers.
School and union leaders in the nation’s largest school districts who are waging epic battles over teacher evaluation, compensation and the future of the teaching profession could learn a lesson from their colleagues in Newark, New Jersey. That’s where the city’s 3,300 teachers recently ratified a groundbreaking new contract that provides them unprecedented support and compensation.
The issues on the table in this negotiation were similar to those being debated in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and elsewhere: How should teachers be evaluated? Who should evaluate them? How should the district use the evaluations to hire and promote educators and dismiss those who underperform? How should teachers be paid and how much?
But instead of the paralysis that has marked those other negotiations, Newark leaders were able to rationally discuss these points without the bluster and polarization we’ve seen elsewhere. They found a way to blend their demands in a way that will truly elevate the teaching profession. The two sides agreed to:
• A comprehensive evaluation system based on multiple measures including student growth, observations and peer reviews. Teachers will receive one of four rankings from highly effective to ineffective. Superintendent Cami Anderson was vocal about the need for more effective evaluation, while NTU President Joe Del Grosso won peer reviews as a way to give the voices of teachers more weight in their colleagues’ ratings.
by the Schools of Thought Editors
Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community. Some comments have been edited for space or clarity.
(CNN) – Educator and author Carolyn Coil recently wrote a “My View” piece for Schools of Thought titled “Ten myths about gifted students and programs for the gifted.” In the article, Coil points out that American educators have struggled for more than 40 years with a definition for ‘giftedness’ as well as national criteria for identifying gifted students. As a result, there are misconceptions about gifted kids and the best ways for them to learn.
Readers posted over 700 comments in response to the piece.
Some readers questioned the focus on the ‘gifted’ label:
K: So many "gifted" kids out there, yet so few intelligent adults making scientific discoveries, helping mankind move forward. Personally, I think overbearing parents use the term, "gifted," FAR too much and since these kids grow up to be nothing special, why waste any particular time or funds on them? Let them be the kid everyone goes to for help with their schoolwork. Let them be the ones who never have to study. No need to put them up on a pedestal and give them a swelled head. They’re going to have enough trouble when they get into the real world and realize nothing comes easy any more.
Andrea Saylor: They wanted to test my daughter for "gifted" and I opted out. I didn't want her to be "different" from the other students. She was shy by nature. She tutored other students and went on to be valedictorian of her graduating class. She went on to get her Masters in Psychology. She now tests students for "gifted" "special needs" "autism" etc. Funny how things turn out......
Tom: In my experience working in science almost all our notions about 'giftedness' or 'genius', including a few in this article, are BS. Your success in science is almost entirely determined by your motivation, i.e. your willingness to spend a lot of time to learn something hard, not by any innate talent. And any talent you have always comes from years of practice. The rest is mostly luck.
By Alexis Lai, CNN
(CNN) - Jay Lin is the embodiment of the American dream - and what is increasingly a Chinese dream.
Originally from Wenzhou in eastern China, he moved to New York City as a teenager. After earning degrees from Ivy League universities - Cornell and Columbia - he secured a comfortable job in a bucolic town in Connecticut.
Now he is helping others in China follow his path, where the desire for elite U.S. education is alive and well.
In the last decade, mainland Chinese have reshaped the international student body at U.S. colleges and universities, notably at Ivy League institutions. In the 2009-2010 academic year, China surpassed traditional "study abroad" heavyweights like Canada, India and South Korea, to lead international enrollment across U.S. higher education, according to the Institute of International Education. The U.S.-based institute's most recent figures reveal that mainland Chinese students increased 23% to more than 723,000 in the 2010-11 academic year.FULL STORY
by Deena Zaru, CNN
(CNN) Some kids spend after-school hours and weekends at music classes and football practice. For these kids, summer is the time for space camp and swimming lessons. But those whose families struggle to pay the bills and can’t afford extras often miss out on these educational experiences. And as their classmates progress, some find themselves getting further behind.
According to sociologist Roxanna Harlow, there is a direct link between poverty and a child’s level of educational achievement. And in Carroll County, MD, where over 90 percent of the population is white, kids of color face a unique set of challenges.
“I feel strongly that good education should be accessible to everybody, especially these extras that can really make the difference,” said Harlow. “We don’t turn anyone away based on money.”
Dr. Harlow founded Higher Learning Inc. (HLI), a non-profit organization that “provides active educational enrichment for underserved youth” because she was moved by the contrast between the affluent college students she taught and the young people she encountered on the street corners of Baltimore and her native Chicago, who had few opportunities to succeed.
The program offers Saturday sessions during the school year as well as two summer sessions.
“I decided to start a program that targeted students of color who are lower income and behind the most in terms of educational achievement” said Harlow, “and I chose to focus on academic experiences that they would not get in school.”
by Tomeka Jones, CNN
Editor's note: This post examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the CNN Student News community. Some comments have been edited for space or clarity.
(CNN) - Thanksgiving is more than a succulent turkey with all the fixings and a slice of sweet potato pie. At least that’s what some middle and high school students believe when it comes to a day of giving thanks. Many students shared with CNN that they’re most thankful for family, friends, and much more.
Read some of their heartfelt messages of gratitude:
Asia: I’m thankful that someone adopted me and that my sisters are able to get the proper TLC (tender loving care) that they need and I’m also thankful for my awesome civics teacher, Mr. Plyler.
Robert: I am thankful for my mom for keeping food on the table and keeping a roof over my head. I am also thankful for my father; he has passed away but he’s still here with me. I am grateful to have a caring mother and a loving father.
Angel: I have a lot of things to be thankful for. I'm thankful for everything that has entered my life, even the bad times. Without the bad things, something good after that would've never happened. I'm also thankful for my family and friends, they’re always there for me when I need them. And, for having life of music!