Check out Schools of Thought's new home!
New school year! New buildings, new classrooms, new teachers, new subjects -- and a new home for Schools of Thought!
August 12th, 2013
10:33 AM ET

Check out Schools of Thought's new home!

To all our friends @CNNschools,

Today, Schools of Thought moves to a new home on CNN.com. The new CNN.com/education will continue to share education news and opinions that CNN gathers from around the world, while reporting on ideas, innovation and technology that are making schools evolve. We'll be helping families navigate education, from the hard good-bye at the pre-K door to the hugs outside college commencement.

We'll also keep the discussion going on Twitter @CNNschools, on Facebook at CNN Living, and will be working closely with CNN.com/Living and CNN.com/Parents, where we're already examining how parenthood and families are changing. Our friends at CNN Student News will continue to provide a commercial-free 10-minute news broadcast for middle and high school classrooms every weekday, as well.

Check out the new site, and good luck on the start of a new school year — there's always more to learn!

Jamie Gumbrecht, Donna Krache and John Martin

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Filed under: Voices
August 10th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

My View: Why I won't break up a school fight

By Robyn Barberry, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Robyn Barberry teaches English and drama at a Maryland high school. With her husband, she manages Legends of the Fog, a haunted attraction with more than 200 teen volunteers. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction from Goucher College and blogs about motherhood for The Catholic Review.

(CNN) - In Florida, a 64-year-old bus driver has been criticized for failing to physically intervene in a three-on-one fight that took place in July. The bus driver says he was afraid to step in. As a high school teacher, I can't blame him.

The adults who work in public schools are outnumbered. When a violent, hormone-fueled scene unfolds, it's our duty to quell the calamity with every resource we have in the name of safety. But where do we draw the line?

Early in my teaching career, I was afraid of some of the bigger boys at school, especially one. I could see he carried a great deal of hatred inside - for me, for his classmates, for the world. He was tall and muscular; he could have been an athlete, but his poor grades, bad attitude and spotty record kept him from playing sports.

One afternoon, as I waited outside my classroom door, I heard a scuffle behind me. The boy I feared and another, smaller boy were shoving each other by my white board. I stepped in, and told them to stop. When they didn't, I shouted louder and told another student, my go-to helper, to get another teacher. As the shoves turned to punches, rage grew in the larger boy's eyes. The other student asked him to stop, but he had thrust his hands around his neck. I tried to pull him free, but the large boy shoved, pressing the other student and my arm against the cinder block wall. I felt trapped and frightened, and thought I might black out. Just then, two male teachers pulled the boys apart and dragged them to the office.

"Are you OK?" a third teacher said. "Look at your hand!"

My wrist was red and swollen. It hurt, but not as much as knowing I wasn't safe in my own classroom. My neighbor teacher took over my class so that I could go to the office to fill out an incident report. I could barely grip the pen. Two police officers assigned to our school urged me to file assault charges against the boys, but I insisted they just hadn't seen me. I wanted to believe that they wouldn't hurt me, but I also wondered if the boy would retaliate if the law got involved.

Fortunately, my wrist was only sprained and I returned to work the next day in a cumbersome brace. But I kept wondering, what if the boy had pushed the other one harder? What if his anger was directed at me? Suppose it was my head that was smashed against that cinderblock wall? What if he'd had a weapon?

On the other side, what if adrenaline gave me undiscovered strength and I had hurt one of them? Could their parents sue me? Would I lose my job?

Read Barberry's full column

My View: Don't segregate boys and girls in classrooms
"Single-sex classes might do more harm than good," Michael Kimmel says.
August 9th, 2013
10:58 AM ET

My View: Don't segregate boys and girls in classrooms

By Michael Kimmel, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Michael Kimmel is distinguished professor of sociology and gender studies at Stony Brook University. His new book, "Angry White Men," will be published by Nation Books in the fall.

(CNN) - Is your daughter a tomboy? Your son not especially into football? Does your daughter excel at math? Your son a skilled artist? Or does your daughter switch roles, relatively easily, from skinning her knees on a soccer field to worrying about what to wear to a party? Or does your son, like mine, come home sweaty and bruised from lacrosse practice only to sing gorgeously in the shower as a member of his high school a cappella group?

If your answers are yes - and probably most parents recognize some elements of these traits in their children - you can breathe a bit easier today. That is, at least, if you happen to live in Wood County, West Virginia.

That's because recently, under a legal challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union and its local affiliates, the Wood County Board of Education agreed to abandon for two school years its program of separating boys and girls into single-sex classes. The ACLU had filed a lawsuit on behalf of a mother and her daughters who claimed the sex segregation was a form of sex discrimination against girls.

This little-noted legal settlement gives all of us - parents, teachers, administrators, and kids themselves - something to think about: Are single-sex classes really an effective way to educate our children?

Historically, of course, single-sex schools - especially private schools and colleges - were the norm. But since the dawn of the 20th century, both educators and parents have seen them as historic anachronisms, especially for boys. Single-sex schools for girls may have challenged stereotypes, but single-sex schools for boys reproduced them, fostering what David Riesman and Christopher Jencks, in their monumental midcentury study, "The Academic Revolution," called "male arrogance."

Today, single-sex schools may provide some benefits, though these tend to be benefits that accompany the economic privilege of the families that can afford them. (That is, single sex private schools tend to also be schools for the elite.) But single-sex classes, in otherwise coeducational public schools, are entirely misguided.

Read Kimmel's full column

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Filed under: Gender • School choice • Voices
August 6th, 2013
03:12 PM ET

New Atlanta high school features rifle range

(CNN) - A new high school opening in Atlanta this week will feature 11 stories of space for students - and a new rifle range. The space will be used by Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and rifle team members, and will be under the direction of a trained educator, CNN affiliate WSB reported. The range will be used for compressed air-powered pellet rifles, and is modeled after an existing range at another Atlanta high school, but some parents and students said it raised safety questions.

August 6th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Meet the Burka Avenger, a fighter for female education

By Saima Mohsin, CNN

(CNN) - Most, if not all, super heroes wear cloaks and masks to hide their identity. But how about a burqa?

A new cartoon series in Pakistan is turning stereotypes on their head. It's centered around a woman who doesn't wear a burqa in the daytime but puts one on to transform into the "Burka Avenger" – and what's more, she's fighting for female education.

The cartoon is already the talk of the country and it hasn't even launched yet. "Burka Avenger" is a passion project of Pakistani pop star, Haroon.

"It was in 2010 and I was reading a lot of articles about girls' schools being shut down by extremists so that was in my mind," he told CNN after I met him at his studio.

"Living in Pakistan, all theses issues are staring you in the face constantly. So when you're creating art, whether it be music or anything else like a cartoon TV series - you want to incorporate social messages. I feel it's my duty to try and make a positive difference."

School teacher by day, by night the Burka Avenger (spelled with a 'k') dons a special burqa to protect girls' schools, fighting the bad guys trying to shut them down.."The Burka Avenger is a character called Jiya, orphaned as a child, adopted by a Kabbadi master, who is a master of this mystic martial art that I created, called Takht Kabbadi - the art of fighting with books and pens. It gives the message of the importance of education and that the pen is mightier than the sword," Haroon says.

Read the full story

August 5th, 2013
09:24 AM ET

Driver says he did all he could during Florida school bus beating

By Pamela Brown, CNN

(CNN) - The windmilling fists and stomping feet rain down blows on the 13-year-old boy.

Trapped on the floor between the bus seats, he cries out as he receives fierce punch after vicious kick from the three bigger, older youths.

As the relentless assault unfolds, the driver of the Florida school bus alerts the dispatcher, pleading for aid.

But he doesn't physically step in to help.

The bus driver, at least according to his school's policy, did nothing wrong.

'Get somebody here quick'

The attack took place July 9 in Pinellas County, Florida. But the horrific cell phone video - and the surveillance video - came out only recently.

As the boy is pummeled, the bus driver John Moody yells at the assailants to leave the boy alone.

He also asks dispatchers to send help.

"You gotta get somebody here quick, quick, quick, quick," he says. "They're about to beat this boy to death over here."

"Please get somebody here quick. There's still doing it," he adds. "There's nothing I can do."

Moody, 64, says he was too afraid to step in.

"The three boys just jumped on him and started pounding on him. And I did all can," he told CNN affiliate WFLA. "I was looking. It was like I was in shock. I was petrified."

Not required to intervene

The ferocity of the attack left the 13-year-old with two black eyes and a broken arm.

"There was clearly an opportunity for him to intervene and or check on the welfare of the children or the child in this case and he didn't make any effort to do so," Chief Robert Vincent of Gulfport Police Department told the affiliate.

According to Pinellas County school policy, the bus driver isn't required to intervene, only to call dispatch.

He can step in, if he feels it's safe.

Other counties actually forbid drivers from physically stopping fights.

Read the full story

Follow @CNNschools on Twitter!

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Filed under: Bus driver • Florida • School bus safety • School violence