What parents and teachers say
March 14th, 2013
10:48 AM ET

'I'm not your enemy': 10 things parents and teachers want each other to know

By Nicole Saidi, CNN

(CNN) - Teachers and parents share a common purpose: educating children.

But differing beliefs, expectations and methods can make collaboration more challenging.

A 2011 story published on CNN.com by author and teacher Ron Clark, entitled "What teachers really want to tell parents," looked at reasons why educators give up on their field.

He asserted that negativity from parents places undue pressure on teachers and advised greater cooperation.

"We are educators, not nannies," Clark wrote. "We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don't fight it."

His opinion consistently resonated with readers over the next couple of years, which made it one of CNN's most-shared stories on Facebook. The story has been recommended more than 898,000 times.

Clark founded the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta and was named "American Teacher of the Year" by Disney and a "Phenomenal Man" by Oprah Winfrey.

But even Clark's status as a leader in his field didn't fully explain why this story captivated people, so CNN revisited the idea with Facebook users last week by asking them to finish this sentence: "The one thing parents/teachers really need to know is _____."

Read the full story

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Filed under: Parents • Policy • Practice • Students • Teachers • Voices
When teachers are the bully's target
Researchers said teachers often are victimized by students, kids' parents or colleagues, but many don't report the incidents.
March 11th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

When teachers are the bully's target

By Stephanie Goldberg, CNN

(CNN) Several years ago, Brendesha Tynes was taken aback when she received an e-mail from one of her former students.

The note directed her to a Facebook event for an all-night bar crawl an event with which Tynes, an assistant professor at the time, had nothing to do. But it featured an offensive image and listed Tynes as the host; another former student had set it up.

As an educator and researcher, Tynes had spent years looking into cyberbullying. Now, she was a victim.

Tynes said she was prepared to tackle the eye rolls and sharp tongues that can come with molding young minds, but being publicly humiliated by a student wasn’t in her lesson plan.

Reports from teachers say her case isn’t an anomaly. A 2011 study, "Understanding and Preventing Violence Directed Against Teachers," reported 80% of about 3,000 K-12 teachers surveyed felt victimized by students, students’ parents or colleagues in the past year.

Teachers reported that students were most often behind the verbal intimidation, obscene gestures, cyberbullying, physical offenses, theft or damage to personal property.

But few teachers or researchers are talking about it.

“People are very eager to talk about (teacher victimization) amongst co-workers and amongst friends, but they’re very hesitant to report it to authorities or to the media,” Tynes said. “People want to protect their students, even though they’re being victimized by them, and they’re worried about the reputations of the schools they work at.”

FULL POST

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Filed under: Bullying • Parents • Students • Teachers
February 26th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Fighting for your bullied child

By Chuck Hadad, CNN

Programming note: Learn more about Alex’s story and see how he has transformed from bullying victim to advocate in the AC360° documentary “The Bully Effect” on Thursday, February 28 at 10 p.m. ET.

(CNN) - The bullying Jackie Libby’s son, Alex, faced every day was so severe that she worried the emotional toll would drive him to suicide.

“I would lay up with my husband at night and … just cry and say … what if he decides he doesn’t want to be here anymore? I mean, at that point, there was really only one more way to disengage. He was failing out of school. He wasn’t involved with his family at all. He didn’t want to have anything to do with his siblings. He didn’t have any friends,” Libby said. “There was only one more way for him to get out.”

Alex first spoke about his tormentors not to his mother but on camera to documentary filmmaker Lee Hirsch in what would become the award-winning film “Bully.”

“They punch me in the jaw, strangle me. They knock things out of my hand, take things from me, sit on me,” Alex said in the movie. “They push me so far that I want to become the bully.”

The footage Hirsch captured of Alex being beaten on the school bus was so shocking that the filmmaker felt a moral imperative to show it to Alex’s mother and officials at his school in Sioux City, Iowa.

For Libby, it was the beginning of a battle for justice for her son. “My reaction was, I just started bawling, and then I got angry,” she said.

Read the full post on CNN's AC360° blog

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Filed under: AC360 • Bullying • Parents
February 14th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Students help dig out snowed-in schools

(CNN) - The town of Waterbury, Connecticut, was buried beneath snow after the massive winter storm that blanketed the Northeast last weekend. By Monday, snow removal was underway, but the town's 32 schools still hadn't been touched.

That is, until hundreds of teens, parents and teachers showed up with shovels. The mayor said he'd pay $8.25 per hour to those who dug out the schools, and 500 came to help, including 300 teens, CNN affiliate WFSB reported - a turnout that surprised everyone.

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Filed under: Parents • School communities • Students • Teachers • Weather
Our View: The missing piece in education reform? Dads
The writers warn that dads shouldn't think of their kids' schools as "mom's territory." Their presence helps.
February 11th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Our View: The missing piece in education reform? Dads

By Christopher Brown and Vincent DiCaro, Special to CNN

Courtesy National Fatherhood InitiativeEditor’s note: Christopher Brown is executive vice president of the National Fatherhood Initiative. Vincent DiCaro is vice president of development and communication of the National Fatherhood Initiative.

(CNN) - There is no shortage of answers about how to improve our nation’s schools, including more charter schools, school vouchers, standardized testing, lower teacher-student ratios and performance-based hiring, pay and promotion of teachers.

Courtesy National Fatherhood InitiativeHowever, what we find lacking in almost every debate about education reform is the role of families - especially fathers - and the support they can and should provide to ensure children’s educational success.

If parents, educators and reformers are to make a difference in improving children’s educational success, we must expand our definition of education reform. We must move beyond the myopic focus on education systems and implement tactics that include a more prominent place for parent involvement in schools.

The omission of “the father factor” is especially troubling in light of research released last month that examined family trends in 45 countries and how children’s educational success is affected by their parents. The “World Family Map” report by Child Trends, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, found that even when controlling for income, children in middle- and high-income countries who live with two parents have better educational outcomes than children living with one or no parents.

Specifically, children in two-parent homes were more likely to stay on track in school and have higher literacy, both of which are critical to overall educational success.

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Filed under: Education reform • Home Front • Parents • Voices
Florida mom donates $11K for deputies to patrol her child's school
A mom paid for deputies to patrol her child's school after the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.
January 23rd, 2013
01:49 PM ET

Florida mom donates $11K for deputies to patrol her child's school

By Nick Valencia, CNN

(CNN) - A Florida mother concerned about safety has donated more than $11,000 so that armed deputies can patrol the elementary school where her child attends, Flagler County Public Schools said Tuesday.

Laura Lauria made the decision to donate the money to the school district after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 young students were gunned down, said Principal Nancy Willis of Old Kings Elementary School.

Your ideas to keep kids safe at school

Lauria did not want to be interviewed, Willis said, and she could not be immediately reached by CNN.

"I spoke to her this morning and she may release a statement later today," Willis said. "We were very pleased because of the safety of our children and employees."

The money will help pay for a "rotation of deputies" to patrol the perimeter and hallways of the elementary school through the end of the school year. The program began about a week ago, Willis said.

Guns, guards and posses - in schools?

The school, about 20 miles north of Daytona Beach, has 1,165 students.

The Flagler County school board is looking into "having deputies at all five of [its] elementary schools," Superintendent Janet Valentine told CNN. A plan to have deputies in all schools will be presented to the school board in February, she said.

"There's been some indication from the sheriff that they could assist with the cost," Valentine said.

Read the full story

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My View: Don't harp on report cards this holiday break
Miriam Gamoran Sherin says report cards -- good or bad -- might not tell you how much your kids are learning.
December 24th, 2012
05:00 AM ET

My View: Don't harp on report cards this holiday break

Courtesy Bruce SherinBy Miriam Gamoran Sherin, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Miriam Gamoran Sherin, a public voices fellow with the OpEd Project, is professor of education and social policy at Northwestern University and mother of three.

(CNN) - In the past several weeks, middle and high school students across the country brought home their first-quarter report cards. Many make a push to improve scores and grades before the holidays, and over winter break, some will study for final exams, knowing those results are a major component of their semester class ranks.

For many families, report cards serve as the key measure of a child’s success in school.  They're assigned so much importance, grades can be the source of conflict and tension at a time when parents and their children could be celebrating the winter holidays peacefully.

But what if the report card itself is not so valuable? What do grades actually tell us about our children’s learning?

Not as much as we think.

Grades are one measure of our children’s success, but perhaps not the most important one. The level of learning is what matters.

My 12-year-old daughter is getting a B in her seventh-grade math class, and learning much more than last year, when she was getting an A. Her sixth-grade math class focused on rote computation with study guides that were almost identical to the following day’s test. This year, her class focuses on mathematical problem-solving. The tests challenge students to apply what they know.
FULL POST

My View: Toys your child actually needs this Christmas
The most educational toys usually aren't high-tech or expensive, early childhood educator Laurel Bongiorno writes.
December 21st, 2012
05:00 AM ET

My View: Toys your child actually needs this Christmas

Courtesy Kathleen Landwerhle/Champlain CollegeBy Laurel Bongiorno, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Laurel Bongiorno is director of the master’s degree program in early childhood education at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. She is working on a book on the value of play in early childhood development.

(CNN) - Parents want to buy the best toys for their children - the educational toys that will make them grow faster, read earlier and solve math problems faster.

Toy manufacturers often market high-priced toys that play by themselves (no child needed!), are connected to movies and television shows (no imagination needed!) or have just one purpose in mind. Once played with, they go in the closet.

On this last weekend before the Christmas gift-giving commences, parents should go back to basics when toy shopping for their young children from birth to age 8. Children are complex people who need holistic opportunities for development, learning, health and happiness.

Blocks, dramatic play clothes, art supplies, messy play opportunities, books and games are the stuff they need for the holidays. And, parents don’t have to break the bank to afford them. The local dollar stores and thrift stores have many of these materials.

Consider a 4-year-old building a highway with the blocks. She sorts, sequences, maps, plans, predicts, estimates, counts and compares. The 7-year-old might create bridges and ramps, using basic physics concepts. Blocks are open-ended materials that the children don’t tire of and retire to the closet when they are done. Parents can add to block-building fun by supplying play props such as cars, dinosaurs, animals and many other options. Math isn’t the only benefit derived from blocks; children use their small motor skills, build their vocabulary, play cooperatively with others and gain self-control and patience.
FULL POST

To help kids with tragedy, slow down, listen
A woman hugs her daughter on the steps of Trinity Church December 16, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut.
December 16th, 2012
02:33 PM ET

To help kids with tragedy, slow down, listen

By Michael Y. Simon, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Michael Y. Simon is a psychotherapist, school counselor and founder of Practical Help for Parents, a support organization for parents, educators and mental health professionals. Simon is also the author of "The Approximate Parent: Discovering the Strategies That Work with Your Teenager," published by Fine Optics Press in 2012.

(CNN) - I don't have the answers.

Under the weight of mystery, loss and grief, most of us long for healing and look for answers. After hearing of the mass killing in Newtown, Connecticut, I asked a friend, the principal of an elementary school, how the children and parents there were doing.

"There was a different feeling and a much longer line than usual to pick up the kids," he said "Hugs held longer, smiles broader, more patience all around; these parents were mindful of the privilege of picking up their children today."

Not including the tragic killings at Sandy Hook, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence lists over 170 school shootings in the United States since 1997, prompting many to describe the tragic shooting as part of an epidemic of gun violence in America.

How do we make sense of these incidents and their antecedents and envision a better future? I don't know, and neither do many of the so-called experts, but that hasn't stopped them and the mass media from weighing in very quickly.

Read Simon's full column
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Filed under: Issues • Parents • Voices
December 4th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Parents stampede school to get their kids in

Parents camped out for days in front of a South Carolina school that has an engineering curriculum in hopes of getting their kids enrolled. (WYFF video.)

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Filed under: Curriculum • Parents • Policy • video
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