Republicans demand action on student loan interest rates
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas, faulted Senate Democrats on Saturday for this week's hike in student loan interest rates.
July 7th, 2013
08:00 AM ET

Republicans demand action on student loan interest rates

By Ted Barrett and Ashley Killough, CNN

(CNN) - Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas, faulted Senate Democrats on Saturday for this week's hike in student loan interest rates and urged the upper chamber to pass legislation that resolves the issue as soon as the holiday recess ends.

"For too long, politicians have been in charge of setting these rates, and we keep coming back to cliffs and deadlines like this one," Jenkins said in the GOP weekly address. "Paying for college is difficult enough without all this uncertainty. I have two kids in college, I know how hard it can be."

The interest rates on some student loans officially doubled Monday – to 6.8% from 3.4% – after the Senate failed to reach a compromise by the July 1 deadline.

The hike hits about seven million new subsidized Stafford loans this year for middle- and low-income students, but does not apply to existing loans.

Negotiators are stuck largely on the question of whether to require an overall cap above which interest rates on new loans could not rise.

Read the full post on CNN's Political Ticker blog

California lawmakers advance nation's first law protecting transgender students
California Gov. Jerry Brown's office hasn't said whether he'll sign a bill dealing with transgender students.
July 5th, 2013
11:30 AM ET

California lawmakers advance nation's first law protecting transgender students

By Michael Martinez, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) - Transgender students in California would be able to choose which school bathrooms and locker rooms to use and which sport teams to join based on their gender identity under a measure approved this week by the California Legislature.

The proposal now awaits the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown, whose office has declined to comment on whether he will sign it.

The proposal would be the first state law in the nation that specifically requires equal access to public school facilities and activities based on gender identity, though some states have general policies to the same effect, said Shannon Price Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of several groups backing the legislation.

But enactment of the measure would "simply mean that California will be catching up with other states that already have enacted regulations based on a general prohibition of gender identity discrimination in schools," Minter told CNN.

Read the full story

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Filed under: California • Diversity • Gender • Politics • Students
I was an affirmative action 'imposter'
CNN writer John Blake reveals what he learned when he became an affirmative action imposter.
July 5th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

I was an affirmative action 'imposter'

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - I walked into the room hoping no one would discover my secret.

I feared my accent would betray my identity, so I kept silent. I glanced self-consciously at my cheap clothes, wishing I could afford better. I stared at the photogenic, self-assured students around me as if they were from another planet.

For me, they were from another world.

I was a 17-year-old African-American from an impoverished, inner-city community and had no idea what I was getting into. Next to me in a college freshman orientation class were students who came from private schools and grew up in homes with swimming pools and maids.

But here was the catch: I wasn't an affirmative action enrollee at an elite white university. I was a black student thrust onto the campus of a predominantly black university. My hang-up wasn't race; it was class. I was suffering from "class shock." I was on a path to self-destruction because I didn't know how to cross the bridge from poverty into this strange, new world.

I thought about that period in my life after learning last week that the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld the use of race in college admissions but had signaled that it may soon abandon that position. People are already preparing for what may come next: Colleges are going to create diversity by using class instead of race. Some call it economic affirmative action.

It is something liberals and conservatives seem to support. That's part of its appeal. Such an approach would create diversity on college campuses without resurrecting the endless wars over race-based affirmative action.

Richard Kahlenberg, dubbed the "intellectual father" of economic affirmative action, says the current approach to affirmative action in higher education does not help many poor black students.

In his paper, "A Better Affirmative Action," Kahlenberg cited research that found 86% of contemporary black students at selective colleges were either middle or upper class.

Class-based affirmative action is something all kinds of Americans - including conservative justices on the Supreme Court - could support, he says.

"Even the most right-wing justices, like Clarence Thomas, have said that they support the idea of race-neutral affirmative action for economically disadvantaged students," he says.

Maybe so. But my experience suggests that there is a hidden challenge to such an approach. Placing poor students in top-tier colleges is only half of the battle. There's another psychological battle that some of these students will fight within themselves, and, as I found out, there's no college prep course out there to help.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Affirmative action • College • Diversity • Legal issues • Sports • Voices
My View: Do our children know how to be citizens?
A new U.S. citizen holds a flag July 3 along with her citizenship papers. Would-be citizens must pass a civics and history test.
July 4th, 2013
03:00 PM ET

My View: Do our children know how to be citizens?

By Robert Pondiscio, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Robert Pondiscio is a former fifth grade teacher and the executive director of Citizenship First, a civic education organization based at Harlem's Democracy Prep Public Schools.

(CNN) –– When you're chowing down on hot dogs and hamburgers on this most patriotic of national holidays, try this experiment: Ask your friends and neighbors across the picnic table why they send their kids to school.

Chances are good that nearly everyone you ask will give an answer that reveals a private, dollars-and-cents view of education. We want to see our kids go to college, get good jobs, earn a decent living and make something of themselves.

We send our kids to school and hope they grow up to lead happy, productive lives, and with luck wind up a little better off than their parents. For most of us, education is the engine of upward mobility. These private aspirations are as American as apple pie.

But we send kids to school not just to become employees and entrepreneurs, but citizens capable of wise and effective self-government in our democracy. This public dimension of schooling was a founding principle of American education. We have all but forgotten it in the current era of education overhaul.

Read Pondiscio's full column

July 4th, 2013
11:30 AM ET

The secret life of a college mascot

(CNN) - A college's mascot is one of the best known, most beloved figures on campus. The thing is, for the students behind the mascots, it's a secret. They can't tell anybody.

Georgia Tech's Buzz is his own bee, his own personality - not the one of the student inside - and like many schools, they try to keep the personalities separate.

"For the most part, we can lie our way our way through," one Buzz said. "Just lie on top of lie on top of lie."

Follow us on Twitter @CNNschools!

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Filed under: College • Rivalries • Sports
July 4th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Child bride turned scholar: Education is the road out of poverty

By Tererai Trent, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Tererai Trent is a humanitarian, scholar and speaker. She grew up in rural Zimbabwe, unable to attend school until Heifer International helped her get an education. She now has three degrees, and is founder of Tinogona Foundation.

(CNN) - Eight-year-old Tineyi takes my hand and leads me into her mud-thatched hut in my home village of Matau in rural Zimbabwe. There, in a dark corner of the room, is a wooden bookshelf. Carefully crafted by her father, it protects her word-filled treasures from the smoky fire inside the small hut where her mother cooks. I smile, knowing that her father has recognized the value these books will bring to his little bookworm - a life ahead of her with limitless opportunities.

It was not a life intended for many girls in Africa. As a cattle-herding tomboy, I was bound to follow in the footsteps of generations of women before me: early marriage, illiteracy and poverty. Back then, most kids in my village never had a chance to attend pre-school because it didn't exist. Instead, we would spend hours chasing birds and monkeys from our parents' fields.

Gold mines and urban factories employed men, while women remained at home to look after their children. The more men could read and write, the better their chances of being employed and able to provide for their family. As a result, families wanted to educate their sons, who became village role models. Without an education, how could girls compete? How could they become role models, too?

That was more than 40 years ago.

Today, change is happening in my beloved Matau, and all across the long red dirt roads, verdant mountains and open blue skies of Africa. The leaders of African countries have made education more of a priority, even for girls. Now, girls can be role models. Girls like me, a cattle herder who married young, and by age 18 had three children and no high school diploma. But I defied the odds, got an education and came back to build a school.

Read the full story

July 3rd, 2013
09:49 PM ET

Teacher wore 1 outfit in 40 yearbook photos

(CNN) - Dale Irby retired this year after a four-decade career teaching gym and driving a school bus near Dallas, Texas. But his departure ends another long tradition: Irby wore the same outfit for every school yearbook photo for 40 years.

After he accidentally wore the same shirt and V-neck sweater in his first two yearbook photos, his wife, also an educator, jokingly dared him to continue. By the time he retired, it was a (slightly ill-fitting) tradition.

"I don't think I'll be wearing it again," the Garland, Texas, man told CNN's New Day. "It's pretty snug."

Follow us on Twitter @CNNschools!

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Filed under: Awesome • Teachers • Yearbooks
July 3rd, 2013
05:00 AM ET

An online summer camp for maker kids

By Heather Kelly, CNN

(CNN) - Hey, young readers: Instead of another summer uttering the dreaded phrase "I'm bored," how about meeting a NASA astronaut or building a working potato cannon?

Maker Camp, which kicks off its second year on July 8, is different kind of summer camp for kids and teens. Instead of canoes and kickball, it has microcontrollers and robots. There are no bus rides or cabins; camp can take place anywhere there's a computer and an Internet connection.

Check out the new site, CNN.com/parenting!

The camp is a free, six-week online program inspired by the maker movement - the trend toward do-it-yourself culture - and run by Maker Media in collaboration with Google. Maker Media also publishes Make magazine and organizes the Maker Faires.

The virtual camp guides kids through daily DIY projects and connects campers to each other using the Google+ social network. Each week has a different theme, and kids are encouraged to share their creations and ask questions during daily video broadcasts.

The lifeblood of the camp are daily Google+ Hangouts where makers, counselors and other special guests lead young viewers through a project. The day's project and supply list is posted in the morning and the hangouts start at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET). Participants must be at least 13 to have a Google+ profile, but many parents of younger kids use their own log-ins and do the projects together. They can also be viewed on YouTube.

READ: The high-tech return of high-school shop class

"It is like a camp. You go there, you choose an arts and crafts project or you choose archery and meet other people interested in the same things," said Maker Media founder and CEO Dale Dougherty.

Read the full story

Follow us on Twitter @CNNschools!

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Filed under: Summer learning • Technology
July 2nd, 2013
11:30 AM ET

Why foreign colleges are entering China

(CNN) - Carl Fey, dean of Nottingham University Business School China, discusses the growing number of foreign campuses opening in China. At his school, they spend the first year teaching students English, so they learn to work, study and speak in English before diving into subject matter.

"Your diploma looks exactly the same whether you graduated from Nottingham UK or Nottingham China," Fey said. "That's because the education's actually the same."

Your child's data is stored in the cloud
Some parents are worried about schools storing too much data about their children.
July 2nd, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Your child's data is stored in the cloud

By Erica Fink and Laurie Segall, CNNMoney

(CNNMoney) - Your child's school knows just about everything about your kid. Now, many school districts are storing all that information in the cloud.

Non-profit inBloom offers an Internet database service that allows schools to store, track and analyze data on schoolchildren. If you think about it, that information is more than just test scores. It's whether kids receive free lunch - a telling indicator of the family's finances. It's the time a student got into a fight in the schoolyard. And it could be a child's prescription medication.

The upshot of storing all that data in one location is that it can be used to tailor specific curricula to each child. If Johnny's data suggests that he's a tactile learner and he's failing math, inBloom's analytic engine might suggest a particular teaching approach.

Teachers say that kind of insight can be helpful.

Jim Peterson, a teacher in Bloomington, Ill., says inBloom has helped break down the silos in his school system's data collection. His school district supports 50 separate data systems.

"This is all about building personalized learning environments for kids," he says.
Peterson also thinks having this kind of data will spur new innovation in education, encouraging entrepreneurs to build applications that can help teachers make use of their students' data.

But as more school districts team up with inBloom, including New York, parents are becoming increasingly vocal critics of the data collection.

Read the full story from CNNMoney

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