March 1st, 2013
03:20 PM ET

How forced spending cuts could impact students

(CNN) - Forced spending cuts that take effect today will slice $2.5 billion from the Department of Education's nearly $70 billion budget, CNN's René Marsh reports. At the college level, about 70,000 students could lose work study and grant money. The biggest cuts wouldn't take effect until the 2013-14 school year, and Pell grants will be spared.

At the preschool, elementary and secondary levels, the Department of Education expects a $725 million cut to Title I grants, which Education Secretary Arne Duncan estimates will impact 1.2 million disadvantaged students, and put 10,000 teacher and support staff jobs at risk. States and districts might have to cover the cost of 7,200 teachers, aides and staffers as $600 million is cut from the special education, too. Some 70,000 Head Start students might no longer be able to attend classes.

How might the forced spending cuts affect your school? Share your story on iReport!

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Filed under: Arne Duncan • Politics • School budgets
Forced budget cuts lead to teacher layoffs in W. Virginia? Not quite
Arne Duncan's explanation about a school district's layoffs doesn't get an "A" for accuracy.
March 1st, 2013
11:21 AM ET

Forced budget cuts lead to teacher layoffs in W. Virginia? Not quite

By Jim Acosta, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Education Secretary Arne Duncan says a West Virginia school district is laying off teachers due to deep spending cuts across the federal government set to take effect on Friday. But officials from that region say it's not true.

Duncan told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that the Kanawha County school system was already handing out pink slips in anticipation of the automatic cuts that, among other things, will impact the amount of federal money states get through September.

"Yes, there's a district where it's happened. But, again, it's just because they have an earlier union notification than most – Kanawha County, West Virginia," Duncan said at the latest White House briefing where Cabinet officers detailed the impact of cuts under the so-called congressional sequester to their agency programs.

"Whether it's all sequester-related, I don't know, but these are teachers who are getting pink slips now," he added.

But Diane Young, the coordinator of the Head Start program for Kanawha County Public Schools, cautioned that Duncan's explanation does not get an "A" for accuracy.

Young blamed Head Start. She said the federal program for needy children has yet to notify the school system whether it will have Head Start money in the fall.

"The Board of Education cannot wait that long for the funds to come through," Young said.

Read the full post from CNN's Political Ticker blog

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Filed under: Arne Duncan • Politics • School budgets
My View: Does pre-K work? Ask old people
Parents in the IFC show "Portlandia" explain the value of preschool to their son.
March 1st, 2013
05:00 AM ET

My View: Does pre-K work? Ask old people

CNNBy John D. Sutter, CNN

Editor's note: John D. Sutter is a human rights and social justice columnist for CNN Opinion. E-mail him at CTL@CNN.com or follow him on Twitter (@jdsutter), Facebook or Google+.

(CNN) - There's a hilarious episode of the sketch comedy show "Portlandia" where two hipster parents give their preschool age kid a presentation about his future.

The kid, Grover, half-watches as mom and dad pull up two stock market-style charts: One shows his fortunes going up and up if he attends Shooting Star preschool; the other shows what happens if he fails to get in: a plunge into violence, shoplifting and poverty.

"The last thing I want is you out there, you know, shooting squirrels and birds for dinner," says the mom. "If we don't get you into that Shooting Star private preschool, you're gonna end up at a public school with a bunch of riffraff."

She adds: "We're gonna get you into preschool. We're gonna get you into college. We're going to get you some money. And we're gonna get you whatever you want!"

The skit is great because it's based in truth.

READ: Not all preschools are created equal

Yes, elite preschool admissions are perfectly absurd, but the benefits of preschool are seriously significant. Researchers in North Carolina and Michigan have spent decades following kids who attend preschool and comparing them with control groups of kids who didn't. While preschool, of course, does not single-handedly determine whether a kid will be successful and happy or end up shoplifting with the riffraff, on the whole the studies suggest the early schooling can reroute lives for the better.

The "Portlandia" charts are kind of real.

Read Sutter's full column

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Filed under: Early childhood education • Preschool • Voices
How teens experience social networks
March 1st, 2013
04:30 AM ET

When bullying goes high-tech

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

Editor's note: Don't miss the premiere of "The Bully Effect" on "AC360" at 10 p.m. ET Thursday. Note graphic language in this story.

(CNN) - Brandon Turley didn't have friends in sixth grade. He would often eat alone at lunch, having recently switched to his school without knowing anyone.

While browsing MySpace one day, he saw that someone from school had posted a bulletin - a message visible to multiple people - declaring that Turley was a "fag." Students he had never even spoken with wrote on it, too, saying they agreed.

Feeling confused and upset, Turley wrote in the comments, too, asking why his classmates would say that. The response was even worse: He was told on MySpace that a group of 12 kids wanted to beat him up, that he should stop going to school and die. On his walk from his locker to the school office to report what was happening, students yelled things like "fag" and "fatty."

"It was just crazy, and such a shock to my self-esteem that people didn't like me without even knowing me," said Turley, now 18 and a senior in high school in Oregon. "I didn't understand how that could be."

A pervasive problem

As many as 25% of teenagers have experienced cyberbullying at some point, said Justin W. Patchin, who studies the phenomenon at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He and colleagues have conducted formal surveys of 15,000 middle and high school students throughout the United States, and found that about 10% of teens have been victims of cyberbullying in the last 30 days.

Online bullying has a lot in common with bullying in school: Both behaviors include harassment, humiliation, teasing and aggression, Patchin said. Cyberbullying presents unique challenges in the sense that the perpetrator can attempt to be anonymous, and attacks can happen at any time of day or night.

Read the full story

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Filed under: AC360 • Bullying • Technology