July 19th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

School principal missing after lunch deaths in India

By Harmeet Shah Singh, Sumnima Udas and Ashley Fantz, CNN

Bihar, India (CNN) - A father holds his limp child in his arms, carrying her from the school he trusted to take care of her. A video camera focuses on his face locked in total anguish. Everyone around him is shouting. He goes to the back of an open van and struggles to keep the white blanket he's wrapped around his child's body from slipping as he lays the body down.The mother of a 5-year-old repeatedly calls her daughter's name.

Why aren't you coming back, she pleads.

"Why isn't anyone bringing Dipu back?!"

These moments came in the wake of the deaths of 23 Indian children who were poisoned by school lunches they were given Tuesday, authorities say.

The students, who authorities said were between the ages of 5 and 12, started vomiting soon after their first bite of rice and potatoes at their government primary school in the northern state of Bihar. Some fainted.

Earlier, authorities had said 22 children had died, but on Thursday district magistrate Abhijit Sinha explained that one deceased boy had not been counted in the initial death toll because his father had taken his body without handing it over for autopsy.

Grief and anger so permeate this poverty-stricken community that parents of at least three children have buried their lost ones near the school - one right in front of the building, according to CNN journalists who saw the burial mounds. Sinha told CNN that the burials were acts of protest.

Demonstrations have popped up around the area as people seek answers about how this tragedy could have happened. One video segment showed men apparently attacking a school bus with sticks. Others gathered and held signs.

Students at nearby schools refused to eat.

"I am scared now. ... There is fear in our hearts," one child told CNN sister network CNN-IBN.

Meanwhile, a top federal official said authorities had warned of safety problems with the state's school meal program months ago.

And police told CNN that investigators have been unable to find the headmistress of the school in order to question her.

Authorities have not named the headmistress and her husband, whom they also want to interview, local police chief Sujit Kumar said Thursday.

Read the full story

Senators announce deal on student loans
Students who graduated this year had an average of $35,200 in college-related debt.
July 18th, 2013
09:27 PM ET

Senators announce deal on student loans

By Ted Barrett, CNN

Washington (CNN) - A bipartisan group of senators announced an agreement on a student loans package Thursday that would cap rates, ending a standoff that lasted months and broke through a July 1 deadline for finding a solution.

Under the compromise measure, undergraduate students would pay a rate of 3.85% next year on subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans. The plan would cap rates on loans to undergrads at 8.25%, for graduate students at 9.5% and parents at 10.5%.

"While this is not the agreement that any of us would have written, and many of us would like to have seen something quite different, I believe we have come a very long way on reaching common ground," Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip in the Senate, said at a press conference Thursday.

Sen. Tom Harkin, the Democratic chairman of the committee that oversees federal education programs, also was present in announcing the deal. The Iowa senator had resisted for weeks agreeing to a plan unless it included caps on how high the interest rates on the loans could rise.

Read the full story

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Filed under: College • College costs • Politics
July 15th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Jeff Bridges: I dream of a United States with 'no kid hungry'

Editor's note: Jeff Bridges has worked for more than 30 years on issues concerning childhood hunger here and abroad. He founded the End Hunger Network in 1983 to organize the entertainment industry around this cause. Since 2010, Jeff has been the national spokesperson for Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry® campaign to end childhood hunger in America.

(CNN) - When I was growing up, I had everything I needed. My wonderful parents, Dorothy and Lloyd, made sure we had nutritious food and they taught us where food came from.

I have been blessed in many ways, and my wife, Sue, and I have been fortunate enough to pass that on to our own four daughters. We've never had to worry about how we'd feed our family.

Other families in America are not as fortunate as I have been.

Few Americans realize that the majority of low-income children in this country get most of their nutrition at school. Whether it's the free breakfast, reduced-priced lunch or after-school snacks, these federally funded meal programs provide a critical safety net for families struggling to put food on the table.

However, there is a huge gap in the number of children who could be getting these meals and the number actually accessing them.

Read Bridges' full column

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Filed under: Kids' health • Nutrition • School lunch • Voices
July 13th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Malala at U.N.: The Taliban failed to silence us

By Ashley Fantz, CNN

(CNN) - A Pakistani teenager nearly killed by Taliban gunmen for advocating that all girls should have the right to go to school gave her first formal public remarks Friday at the United Nations. It also happened to be Malala Yousafzai's 16th birthday.

"Today, it is an honor for me to be speaking again after a long time," she said. "Being here with such honorable people is a great moment in my life."

She looked out at an audience of hundreds of children from around the world and U.N. members, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and told them that she was wearing a pink shawl that once belonged to Benazir Bhutto, the two-time prime minister of Pakistan who was killed in 2007 in a suicide attack at a political rally.

"I don't know where to begin my speech," she said. "I don't know what people would be expecting me to say. But first of all, thank you to God for whom we all are equal and thank you to every person who has prayed for my fast recovery and a new life. I cannot believe how much love people have shown me."

Read the full story

Napolitano leaving Obama Cabinet to head University of California system
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will be nominated to be president of the University of California system.
July 12th, 2013
07:31 PM ET

Napolitano leaving Obama Cabinet to head University of California system

By Jessica Yellin, Aaron Cooper and Tom Cohen, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Friday she is resigning and will be nominated to become president of the University of California system.

In an e-mail to associates, Napolitano said she will leave the Department of Homeland Security in September. While her nomination must be approved by the university's board of regents at a meeting next week, Napolitano sounded confident of the outcome.

"Departing a job and community you love is never easy, but I am passionate about educating the next generation of leaders and the University of California is like no other institution in affording such an opportunity," her e-mail said.

She graduated from the University of Santa Clara in California in 1979 as its first female valedictorian.

Napolitano, 55, was confirmed as the nation's third homeland security secretary and the first woman to hold the post the day after President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

Read the full story

Iris scans are the new school IDs
Some schools and colleges are using iris scanning as a school security measure, CNNMoney reports.
July 12th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Iris scans are the new school IDs

By Laurie Segall and Erica Fink,  CNNMoney

New York (CNNMoney) - Kids lose their school IDs but they don't often lose their eyeballs.

That's one of the reasons why a growing number of schools are replacing traditional identification cards with iris scanners. By the fall, several schools - ranging from elementary schools to colleges - will be rolling out various iris scanning security methods.

Winthrop University in South Carolina is testing out iris scanning technology during freshman orientation this summer. Students had their eyes scanned as they received their ID cards in June.

"Iris scanning has a very high level of accuracy, and you don't have to touch anything, said James Hammond, head of Winthrop University's Information Technology department. "It can be hands free security."

The college will be deploying scanning technology from New Jersey-based security company Iris ID.

Read the full story on CNNMoney

USDA launches Greek yogurt program in schools
Arizona, Idaho, New York and Tennessee will participate in the new National Greek Yogurt Pilot Program.
July 11th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

USDA launches Greek yogurt program in schools

By Brittany Brady, CNN

(CNN) - In addition to the studies of Odysseus and Homer, school kids across the nation could get an additional Greek fix from in their yogurt, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture kicks off its National Greek Yogurt Pilot Program.

Arizona, Idaho, New York and Tennessee will be the first four states to participate in the project, which is a part of the National School Lunch Program for the 2013 – 2014 school year. The USDA announced in January that it would begin the pilot program to test the cost-effectiveness of including Greek yogurt in school meal programs.

Greek yogurt offers higher nutritional benefits than traditional yogurt with less sugar, carbohydrates, sodium and lactose, as well as an increase in protein per ounce. The ballooning demand for the dairy option has created a $2 billion industry.

New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, was particularly happy that his state, the largest producer of yogurt in the nation in 2012, had been chosen as part of the pilot.

“It is a win-win for the state, exposing our students to a nutritional product and expanding the marketplace for Greek yogurt producers and suppliers in New York State,” he said in a press release Tuesday.

Read the full post on CNN's Eatocracy blog

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Filed under: Kids' health • Nutrition • School lunch • Students
Five internship secrets from superstar college interns
Max Huluert interns for CBS Interactive's "GameSpot." He's attended conferences and updated graphics for shows and games.
July 10th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Five internship secrets from superstar college interns

By Julia Carpenter, Special to CNN

(CNN) - For many college students, landing a coveted internship is a feat. But making the most of the internship is the real accomplishment.With countless internship stories - both dream scenarios and nightmares - making the news lately, CNN chatted with interns past and present to find out what made their experiences so great.

Let's be real. Free food galore, tantalizing perks and pay were definitely touted, but many students say these benefits are not the keys to a great internship.

"The best internship I ever had was in the district office for Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson," says former intern Anam Iqbal. "While the internship was unpaid, the experience was priceless. I met many local political figures ... and many lifelong friends in the office."

So what's the secret? We got the skinny from interns past and present who say it's all in what you make of it. Here are five must-dos for a dynamite internship:

1. Don't get caught up on money

Caitlin Beck, a rising senior at Fordham University, interned with MTV News - for no pay - this past spring. She's working now as a restaurant hostess to save money for the school year. She says writing for the MTV News RapFix blog and coordinating guest segments in the "TRL" studio outweighed the pay issue.

"It never really made me mad because I loved it," she says. "When you're working somewhere like that, it validates you, so you almost can't get mad at them." Beck received some financial assistance, including reimbursement for transportation, from Fordham to make her internship possible.

Other interns also appeal to their schools for help making unpaid internships possible. While interning with Ashoka, a social entrepreneur think tank in Arlington, Virginia, Ayah Abo-Basha received a grant from her school's honors program - and she says it's a situation with which many of her fellow interns can sympathize.

"I'm not spending money left and right," she says. "All the interns bring their lunches."

Other students turned to part-time jobs. Iqbal had a morning job as a bank teller for the duration of her internship, and she coordinated her schedule with the bank and the congresswoman's office to make sure she could manage both commitments.

Read the full story

Regular bedtimes better for young minds
A new study suggests young children's bedtime consistency is tied to positive performance on intellectual tests.
July 9th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Regular bedtimes better for young minds

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

(CNN) - If your children are throwing temper tantrums because sleep seems unappealing, consider that it may be OK to let them stay up a little longer, as long as bedtime happens around the same time every night.

A new study suggests that consistency of young children's bedtime is associated with positive performance on a variety of intellectual tests. The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

"If the child prefers to go to sleep a little bit later, but it’s done regularly, that’s still OK for them, according to the evidence," said Amanda Sacker, professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London.

The study

Researchers looked at information about bedtimes and standardized test scores for more than 11,000 children who were part of the UK Millennium Cohort Study, a nationally representative study of children in the United Kingdom.

The Millennium Cohort Study followed children when they were aged 3, 5 and 7, and included regular surveys and home visits. Researchers asked parents about family routines such as bedtimes.

Children also took standardized tests in math, reading and spatial abilities when they were 7 years old.

Researchers controlled for socioeconomic status in addition to other factors such as discipline strategies, reading to children and breakfast routines.

The results

The study found that, in general, consistent bedtimes were linked to better performance across all subject areas. This was especially true for 7-year-old girls, regardless of socioeconomic background – they tended to do worse on all three intellect measurements if they had irregular bedtimes. Boys in this age group did not show the effect.

Read the full post on CNN.com's health blog, The Chart

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Filed under: Health • Kids' health • Parents • Students
July 8th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

The story of Malala's friend: Brightening girls' lives with education

Getty ImagesBy Gordon Brown, Special for CNN

Editor's note: Gordon Brown is a United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education. He was formerly the UK's prime minister.

(CNN) - Today we can tell the remarkable story of Shazia Ramzan, a 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl.

Last October Shazia was travelling home from school with her friend Malala Yousafzai when a Taliban gunman boarded their bus and shot both of them. Malala suffered head and facial injuries and had to be rushed to hospital in the UK. Shot in the neck and arm, Shazia spent a month in hospital while her deep wounds healed. Both were attacked by terrorists who wanted to stop girls going to school.

Shazia dreams of being a doctor. Fighting back from her injuries, she attempted to resume her schooling at home in the Swat Valley. So keen was she to return to school at the earliest opportunity that she ignored continuing threats to her life from the same Taliban terrorists who shot her and Malala.

For months she has had to be escorted to school each day by two armed guards. Her home has had to be protected by police. Sadly, the more that Shazia spoke up, the more the threats escalated, making it difficult for her and her family to remain secure.And in the past few weeks violence has escalated across Pakistan. A female teacher was gunned down in front of her young son as she drove into her all girls' schools. A school principal was killed and his pupils severely injured when a bomb was thrown into a school playground in an all-girls school in Karachi just as a prize giving ceremony began.

Only ten days ago, in a massacre which will long be remembered as the single worst terrorist assault on girls' education in recent years, the bus in which 40 female students were travelling from their all-girls college campus in Quetta was blown up by a suicide bomber. 14 girls were killed. So violent was the terrorist attack that another group followed the injured girls to hospital and opened fire on them again.

Despite the public revulsion against the violence, the attacks have continued. Only this weekend two schools were blown up, while another two girls were murdered for posting a video in which they were filmed dancing in the rain.

Read Brown's full column

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