By Chuck Conder, CNN
Los Angeles, California (CNN) –For the better part of a century, Hollywood High School has been known as the high school of the stars: Judy Garland, Carol Burnett, Sarah Jessica Parker and James Garner are among the famous alumni.
But Judy Garland might not recognize her old alma mater today.
When she attended Hollywood High in the 1930’s the student body was almost all white.
Today, it is predominantly Latino, and made up of teens whose families came to America from every corner of the world. “Hollywood has always struck me as a place where it doesn’t matter where you are from,” said Principal Jaime Morales, who immigrated from Nicaragua. “You are welcome here.”
School valedictorian Karla Samayoa’s parents fled political turmoil in El Salvador. Though she was born in America, she still feels a strong connection to her Salvadoran roots.
Ed Chang left his lucrative career as a physical therapist to invest in kids education instead.
Editor's note: Farai Chideya is a journalist and the author of four nonfiction and fiction books, and she blogs at Farai.com. She is a spring 2012 fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
By Farai Chideya, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Over President’s Day weekend I traveled from the halls of Harvard to my childhood home in Baltimore, a city far better known for The Wire than its education system. On Saturday night, I heard my mother coach a parent by phone on ways to ensure her child was focused and ready to study. My mother retired as a Baltimore City school teacher several years ago, but she still puts in the time to tutor kids through a program run by a local church. She cared about students then, and she cares now. And, although you would not know it from statements like Rick Santorum's attack decrying the "factories called public schools," dedicated teachers like my mother are not an exception. Not all teachers are great; nor all public schools. But the reason I have been at Harvard, twice – once for my undergraduate education, and now again as a teaching fellow at the Institute of Politics – is based on my parents’ efforts and the excellence that was present in public schools.
That's right – excellence. It's there. A couple of years ago, I had the chance to explain how I benefited from just one of the many extraordinary teachers in my life in a public service ad encouraging people to teach.
By Alyse Shorland, CNN
(CNN) – Republicans vying for the GOP presidential nomination are debating and disagreeing about the economy and foreign policy, but they backed each other on one issue this week: the English language.
At Monday's debate in Florida, Newt Gingrich said this week he supports English as an official language of the United States: “I think it is essential to have a central language that we expect people to learn and to be able to communicate with each other in,” he said.
Mitt Romney said everyone in school should be learning in English: “English is the language of this nation,” he said. “People need to learn English to be able to be successful, to get great jobs.”
By Gabe Ramirez, CNN
Los Angeles (CNN) - For a few hours a week in a community center in downtown's Rampart area, high school kids are learning to make music without any of the instruments in the typical school orchestra. Instead, they generate beats on computers and tunes they can use live shows at the center, or maybe on an album.
This is Sessions LA, an after-school activity guided by Patrick Huang, a 30-year-old Chinese-American man also known as DJ Phatrick.
He was raised in an upscale Houston suburb with nurturing parents and access to a great education, but when Huang got to the University of California at Berkeley, a career in business or science didn’t appeal to him. He'd always loved music; the most important things in his bedroom at home were his turntables. At Berkeley, he immersed himself in ethnic studies and applied his DJ skills to campus activism and made music as a tool for justice.
By Debra Goldschmidt, CNN In America
(CNN) – In 10th grade English at Los Angeles’ Grover Cleveland High School, Danielle Taklender's students read the book "Luna" by Julie Anne Peters. It's a story about a transgender teen.
Taklender has been teaching the book for seven years without any fanfare or push back. It’s getting noticed now as her school district takes the lead in developing a plan to comply with the first state law mandating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history and social science curricula. The California law, which takes effect in January, stops short of dictating how schools are to comply and leaves that up to the districts and schools themselves to figure out.
Editor's note: Soledad O'Brien chronicles the NewMe Accelerator journey in "Black in America: The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley," at 8 p.m. ET and 11 p.m. ET November 19 on CNN. There is an Educator and Parent Guide for this program, provided by CNN Student News.
(CNN) – As a young teen, Wesley Williams believed his only career option was to work at a local warehouse in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.
“I wasn’t planning on going to college, I wasn’t planning on graduating high school, I was planning on doing nothing with my life,” he said.
Now, nearly 10 years later, he is a college graduate and an IT administrator and developer.
“I would be either dead or in jail," he said. "Those would have been my options had it not been for BDPA.”
BDPA, formerly known as the Black Data Processing Associates, is a non-profit organization founded to increase the number of minorities in information technology related industries.
Educators and Parents: This Educator and Parent Guide is provided for teachers and parents to use as a catalyst for discussion and learning if they choose to watch this program with their students. CNN provides Educator and Parent Guides for all of its "In America" programming.
While much of the country struggles to emerge from a recession, California's Silicon Valley is booming, and technology companies like Facebook, Skype, and Apple are seeing their valuations soar. CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O'Brien reports that the ownership of this digital boom is mostly young, white, and male. For her fourth Black in America documentary, O'Brien asks why, according to industry analyst CB Insights, less than one percent of all venture capital money went to digital startups with African-American founders in 2010. She follows the progress of eight strangers after they were selected to live together for nine weeks in a unique, technology-focused "accelerator" developed to help African-American digital entrepreneurs secure funding to establish their businesses. Black in America: The New Promised Land - Silicon Valley airs November 13th at 8pm ET/PT and re-airs Nov. 13 at 11:00p.m. ET/PT
Watch or record "Black in America: The New Promised Land - Silicon Valley" when it airs on CNN on Sunday, November 13 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT and re-airs Nov. 13 at 11:00p.m. ET/PT. By recording the documentary, you agree that you will use the program for educational viewing purposes for a one-year period only. No other rights of any kind or nature whatsoever are granted, including, without limitation, any rights to sell, publish, distribute, post online or distribute in any other medium or forum, or use for any commercial or promotional purpose.
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