(CNN) - CNN's Don Lemon talks to Courtney Pearson, who became the first African American homecoming queen at Ole Miss.
A referee who wanted silence throws a flag on a middle school marching band, but school officials declare him 'out of bounds'. (WFAA video)
by Lisa Sylvester, CNN
(CNN) This time of the year, even the youngest children know something is up. There's a running stream of political advertisements on television, mail flyers with smiling politicians asking for our vote and the ubiquitous bumper stickers on cars.
You can tell when children are getting their daily dose of politics the moment they start parroting back "I'm Barack Obama/Mitt Romney, and I approve this message."
But making sense of the electoral process can be overwhelming for children.
"One of the problems is civics is not taught adequately in schools. A Democratic system relies on an enlightened citizenry, as Thomas Jefferson said, to meet its goals," says Charles Quigley of the Center for Civic Education, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that promotes civic education.
Schools used to spend more time teaching children about the political process in class. But national education reform's mandate for high-stakes testing has teachers and school administrators now placing more emphasis on math and language arts at the expense of political science, explains Quigley.
The 2010 Civics National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation's Report Card, found the civics performance of twelfth-graders has been slipping. Only 64 percent of high school seniors were performing at or above basic level.
Achievement by U.S. 4th graders in civics was slightly better, with 77 percent at or above basic levels.
By Donna Krache, CNN
Editor’s Note: Not In Our School offers resources to help adults empower students against bullying. You may also want to check out The Stop Bullying Speak Up campaign, sponsored by Cartoon Network, CNN and Time Warner, a student-centered approach that also offers educator and parent materials.
(CNN) - It’s an anti-bullying message designed to hit home with a different audience - adults. And it hits hard.
The set is an office breakroom. The office bully calls a coworker names, then pushes and threatens him, even as horrified colleagues pretend not to notice. One gets up from his table and scurries away. The victim is humiliated. The bully revels in the power.
In the end, the boss intervenes, but not to bring justice - just to tell the bully and the victim to "get back to work."
Anyone who watches the public service announcement, “Break Bullying,” would see no office would allow the scene to play out that way. In reality, it didn't: It was based on actual experiences from the producer's middle school years.
And that’s the point, according to the organization Not in Our School and Mike Nelson, the producer of the spot: If we wouldn’t stand for bullying as adults, why do we allow it to happen in our schools?
by Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN
Dearborn, Michigan (CNN) - If the crooked blue staircase, colorful crank and dangling bathtub looked familiar, well, that's the point.
"Who wants to play 'The Life Size Mousetrap' - and sign a waiver?" a big top voice boomed across the Maker Faire at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, this summer.
Ahh, yes. At this annual celebration of DIY culture, of course this would appear: a scaled-up version of "Mouse Trap," the Hasbro game bent on marbles zigging through a plastic labyrinth. And the circus voice? That would be Mark Perez, creator of the larger-than-life board game. Almost every run begins with a boardwalk-style sales pitch of his grand machine.
"Are there any engineers in the house?" a voice bellowed over the sound system, drawing a few claps.
"Who likes to do math in here?" it demanded, drawing ... nothing.
"Let's not have this weak applause for math! MATH!"
Perez played "Mouse Trap" a lot as a kid - kind of. Nobody followed the rules, he said. They just liked to build the machine and make it work. In his house, they built and rebuilt the contraption so often, they'd get a new version of the game every couple years.
"I decided one day to put three of them together to see if I could make them all work and hopefully not poke my sister's eye out," he said.
By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN
Highland Park, Michigan (CNN) – A few weeks before school began here, parents filed into the high school cafeteria to meet the people just hired to revamp one of the state's worst-performing districts: their own.
They came with questions. What time would the school day start? What were these new uniforms they’d heard about? Would all the schools stay open? Would the same teachers be there? The same kids? Was there anything worth saving?
For years, financial and academic turmoil plagued Highland Park schools. The state of Michigan says the district ran at an operating deficit five of the last six years. Barely 800 kids still attended its three schools, and even those buildings were overgrown with weeds and tagged with graffiti.
There was a lot of cash coming in, more than $14,000 per student, but there weren’t enough textbooks to go around. Standardized test scores were embarrassingly low; among 11th-graders, 10% scored proficient in reading and 5% proficient in math. Some kids went on to college, but nobody – 0% – of kids reached the ACT's college readiness benchmarks.
The district drew national attention this summer when the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a "first-of-its-kind" lawsuit against the state, education leaders and Highland Park schools for allegedly failing to teach students to read at grade level.
Now the state-appointed emergency financial manager had handed the district over to a charter school operator, the Leona Group, for a five-year contract worth more than $750,000. In a statement, the Michigan governor’s office said it moved to address “a long overdue fiscal and academic crisis that was crippling the district” because it “can’t and won’t accept academic failure.”
For some here, it was a hostile takeover. For others, a new hope.
(CNN) - Millions of students are chronically absent. CNN's Athena Jones looks at what schools are doing to increase attendance.
By Chris Welch, CNN
West Branch, Michigan (CNN) - Whitney Kropp, the teen thrust into the spotlight after her peers nominated her for the school homecoming court as a prank, attended coronation Friday night surrounded by cheering fans.
Donning a red dress, she beamed as she clutched a bouquet of flowers.
"I had thoughts about not coming [still tonight]," the 16-year-old told reporters after halftime of the homecoming game.
"I just thought maybe I won't have fun, but ... I'm having actually a lot of fun right now."
"I'm so happy - this is so much right now for me," she added.
By Martin Savidge, CNN
(CNN) - If you want to get rich, let's just say teaching is not the career.
Make that wasn't the career.
Deanna Jump is turning such thinking upside-down. A couple of weeks ago it became official for the first-grade teacher from central Georgia: She's a millionaire, and teaching got her there.
Her specialty is kindergarten and for most of her 17 years at the head of the class, she and her husband, also a teacher, struggled to pay the bills.
I dropped in on her class of 14 students at Central Fellowship Christian Academy the other day and it's hard not to get caught up in her excitement, both for teaching and success. Like a lot of teachers I know, she's good, with a natural ability to enthuse her students about learning. She had them singing about spider anatomy. Her classroom is filled with colorful, cute displays and messages that she created to teach concepts that could be tough for anyone. For example, on the back wall, three construction paper trees stood out with red and yellow apples, each with a worm. She uses them to teach data analysis.
The goal is to make learning fun, she says. And she says every teacher does something like that.
Life changed three years ago when another teacher told Jump her stuff was so good she should share it on TeachersPayTeachers.com. The friend sent her a link, which Jump admitted just sat in her email in box for weeks. Then she tried it - and became rich.
TeachersPayTeachers was started by Paul Edelman in 2006. As a former teacher, Edelman knew that teachers were often stretched by long hours and limited budgets, not to mention pressure to improve learning performance. They often shared ideas and teaching strategies.
Then the light bulb went off: Why not let them make money sharing their ideas?
Lisa Sylvester reports on the differences between candidates Obama and Romney on education.
CNN’s Schools of Thought blog is a place for parents, educators and students to learn about and discuss what's happening in education. We're curious about what's happening before kindergarten, through college and beyond. Have a story to tell? Contact us at email@example.com