My view: Ten myths about gifted students and programs for gifted
November 14th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

My view: Ten myths about gifted students and programs for gifted

Courtesy Pieces of LearningBy Carolyn Coil, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Carolyn Coil is a speaker, educator and author. She works with teachers, administrators, parents and students, offering strategies for raising achievement, developing creative and critical thinking skills, motivating underachievers, differentiating curriculum and assessing student performance. She has taught graduate-level gifted endorsement courses for more than 20 years. You can follow her on Twitter, @CarolynCoil.

(CNN) - American educators have struggled for more than 40 years to define giftedness. Yet even now, there is no universally agreed upon definition of what it means to be gifted. U.S. federal law defines gifted students as those who perform or who show promise of performing at high levels in any one of five categories: general intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creative or productive thinking, leadership ability or visual/performing arts.

Beyond that definition, there are no specific national criteria for identifying gifted and talented students nor does federal law provide funding or mandates for identification of these students or programming for them. This definition is left to the states.

The result has been a wide variety of state definitions and methods for the identification of gifted children. Some states have specific definitions for giftedness, while others have none. Some states require programs for gifted students, while others do not.

In other words, the availability of programs and services for gifted students depends for the most part on where a student lives and what state, school district or school he or she is in.
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Filed under: Curriculum • Gifted education • Policy • Practice • Voices
My View: Kindergarten redshirting different for each child
November 12th, 2012
03:51 AM ET

My View: Kindergarten redshirting different for each child

Courtesy Barbara McClintockBy Donna McClintock, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Donna McClintock is the chief operating officer of Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc. She has served in a leadership role in early childhood education for more than 29 years and has been in a senior executive leadership role for more than a decade. She has authored several books on the topic of early childhood education, including “The Heart Connector Series.”

I often read materials that approach a subject as if there were only one solution. Such is the case of “redshirting” children for kindergarten, which is the practice of holding a child back from school until he turns six. There is certainly a best answer for each child, and parents and educators must determine what that answer is by considering his individual needs and development and not by blindly following a trend.

No matter WHAT you decide to do, we know for sure that parents must understand that a child’s brain cannot be redshirted or held back. The child’s experiences during the fifth and sixth year of life are extremely important because the brain continues to develop and form synapses, and learning is at an all-time high.

It is the responsibility of parents and educators to challenge, nurture, inspire and ignite in our children a love of learning and exploration during this critical time. How do you do this when formal education in a school system begins as an individual choice for each child? There are several key factors to consider, but the child’s individual needs are the trump card in this decision.

Most research clearly shows that any gaps in levels of success between younger and older children are usually bridged by the third grade. This leaves parents to wonder if there is an advantage to holding their child back. I offer the position that the type of program your child is in during the first year of formal school is really the key to success.

Each child deserves a developmentally appropriate setting that understands how children 5 to 6 years of age learn, whether that is a formalized kindergarten program, the home environment provided by parents, or another alternative.
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November 2nd, 2012
01:00 PM ET

School board member wants football ban

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - A New Hampshire school board member says that he wants to ban football in his district. Paul Butler, a retired surgeon and first-term board member for the Dover school district, says that the risks of injury in the sport are too great. "I think it's bad to take this away I certainly do. But it's worse to let it continue," Dr. Butler told CNN affiliate WHDH.

The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t just call football a contact sport. The medical group also refers to it as a collision sport, because participants routinely slam into each other or into the ground.

AAP released updated guidelines in 2010 on dealing with head injuries in children, recommending that some student-athletes retire from football after multiple concussions or if symptoms from a concussion last longer than three months.

The medical group doesn’t say young people shouldn’t play varsity football, which is what it said about youth boxing in 1997.

Some parents say there are benefits to playing on the gridiron. "I think there's a lot of positive things you can get from playing football. A lot of good lessons kids learn, teamwork, working together for a common goal," Harold Stephens says in the video above.
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George Lucas: Disney money will go toward education
November 2nd, 2012
10:44 AM ET

George Lucas: Disney money will go toward education

From the Marquee blog, CNN

(CNN)–George Lucas knows exactly what he's going to do with the payout from Disney's $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm, and it's not going to get funneled back into Hollywood.

Instead, the filmmaker said in a statement, the majority will go toward helping – and educating – others.

“For 41 years, the majority of my time and money has been put into the company," he said. "As I start a new chapter in my life, it is gratifying that I have the opportunity to devote more time and resources to philanthropy."

And, more specifically, to improving education, an effort he committed himself to back in 2010 by participating in The Giving Pledge. He explained in a letter dated July, 2010 that his belief in growing and developing young minds was the reason why he created the organizations Edutopia and the George Lucas Educational Foundation, the latter of which focuses on innovations in the field.

Now that he has a windfall from Lucasfilm – according to CNN Money, Disney is paying for the company with $2 billion in cash and around 40 million shares of its stock – Lucas plans to put the proceeds into his philanthropic passion.

“I am dedicating the majority of my wealth to improving education. It is the key to the survival of the human race," Lucas said in a statement. "We have to plan for our collective future—and the first step begins with social, emotional, and intellectual tools we provide to our children. As humans, our greatest tool for survival is our ability to think and to adapt—as educators, storytellers, and communicators our responsibility is to continue to do so.”

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Superstorm Sandy impacts education
Students gather in the only building at the New School that has electricity after Superstorm Sandy struck New York City.
October 31st, 2012
12:01 PM ET

Superstorm Sandy impacts education

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) – Even in its aftermath, Superstorm Sandy is having a major impact on education. Schools in New York City and much of the state of New Jersey, among other areas, were closed for the third straight day on Wednesday. NYC Schools is the nation’s largest school system, with more than one million students attending about 1,700 schools in the city.

CNN scanned a variety of local news sites and found weather-related school closings from as far south as South Carolina to as far north as Maine on Tuesday. By Wednesday, there were fewer closings along the coastal states, but significant closings in inland states like Ohio and West Virginia. Some schools, both public and private, still had no power Wednesday morning.

Colleges and universities have also shut down due to this disaster.
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Supreme Court to hear arguments in case of student who resold books
October 28th, 2012
03:04 PM ET

Supreme Court to hear arguments in case of student who resold books

By Bill Mears, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Supap Kirtsaeng had tuition and living expenses to pay when he arrived in the United States from Thailand to attend college.

So he started a side business, asking family and friends back home to ship him foreign editions of textbooks that often can be bought more cheaply overseas. Kirtsaeng resold them online and made money, but he was sued for copyright infringement and lost.

That decision was appealed and the case is now before the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on Monday in a dispute that has attracted interest from the Obama administration, media and publishing companies, and a range of consumer and retail groups.

Competing claims of intellectual property and owners rights in the electronic age have made Kirtsaeng's venture one of the most closely watched business cases at the high court this term.

"I have to say the Supreme Court is faced with a really difficult job here because the text of the [copyright] statute really seems to be hard to reconcile - the two provisions at issue seem to say opposite things," said Michael Carroll, a professor at American University's law school and an intellectual property expert.

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October 23rd, 2012
01:08 PM ET

Homebound student learns via Skype

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - When students are sick, many teachers send lessons home. At Father McGivney Catholic High School in Maryville, Illinois that’s 20th century thinking. Homebound teen Alixandria Horstmann uses technology to attend her classes there virtually.

Horstmann’s medical issues meant she had to stay home for about three months. The school already has replaced textbooks with laptops and iPads, so one of her classmates came up with the idea of carrying a laptop from class to class. Horstmann sits in her living room, listening – and contributing – via Skype on her iPad.

Father McGivney principal Michael Scholz told CNN affiliate KSDK that virtually attending school has advantages beyond academics. “The student who’s gone can still feel a part of your school and community,” Scholz said.

Parents: How do you think your child would handle learning via Skype?
Teachers: How would you accommodate a child who wants to learn virtually?

Please tell us in the comments below.

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Filed under: At Home • High school • Kids' health • Practice • Technology • video
October 23rd, 2012
04:36 AM ET

H.S. football player punished for pink

(CNN) - A high school football coach punished a player for violating the dress code when he wore pink on the field.


Filed under: High school • On air • Sports • video
October 22nd, 2012
02:13 PM ET

Homecoming queen breaks barriers

(CNN) - CNN's Don Lemon talks to Courtney Pearson, who became the first African American homecoming queen at Ole Miss.

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How housewives and the ‘Atlanta Nine’ integrated Georgia’s public schools
August 30, 1961: Lawrence Jefferson and Mary McMullen integrated Atlanta's Grady High School.
October 19th, 2012
04:01 AM ET

How housewives and the ‘Atlanta Nine’ integrated Georgia’s public schools

By John Martin, CNN

Atlanta (CNN)–My great aunt Muriel Lokey passed away August 27, 2012, at age 90. Family and friends gathered recently in Atlanta, more to celebrate her being and her attitude toward life than to mourn her passing. During her rich life, Lokey explored the world with her husband, Hamilton (Ham), climbing the world's mountains and rafting down America's rivers.

Muriel Lokey was one of the founding members of a group that helped integrate Georgia's public schools.

Muriel Lokey co-founded a group that helped integrate Georgia's public schools.

Decades before those accomplishments, Lokey was a force for justice and social change in her home city of Atlanta.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the now famous case Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, that all public schools must desegregate. Soon after, Georgia passed a series of laws, in defiance of the court, to bolster segregation. Ham Lokey, Muriel’s husband and my great-uncle, was in the state legislature and he and six or seven of his fellow representatives were often the only votes against these measures.

By 1958, the state of Georgia mandated that if any public school integrated, its school district would be shut down.

The Lokeys had five children and they believed in public schools. Muriel Lokey began to talk about the issue with other Morris Brandon Elementary School parents, over coffee or when dropping off or picking their children up from school in the daily carpool. Later, she told the Atlanta History Center, "The school crisis came to a head in 1958, and I had a front row seat in watching the amount of changing in our society and I climbed on the stage and played a role in the drama."
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