By Janet Morgan Riggs, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Janet Morgan Riggs is president of Gettysburg College, alumna from the class of 1977 and professor of psychology.
Congress has been trapped in gridlock for much of President Obama’s term. Politics seem to consistently trump bipartisan civil discourse.
I’d like to offer Congress an example that might inspire them to move beyond politics.
My institution, this past semester, confronted an emotionally charged controversy with respect and civility. We forged a solution, and we shook hands across the aisle. We even shed a few tears of pride - because it was students who led the way.
Decades ago, the Army withdrew Reserve Officer Training Corps instruction from Gettysburg College as part of a consolidation of military programs. Students who wished to enroll in ROTC remained able to do so at another college about 45 minutes away.
However, the military’s rejection of gays and lesbians and subsequent don’t ask, don’t tell policy ran counter to the college’s values: We welcome all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression. Accordingly, our faculty ruled that academic credit would not be given for ROTC — despite its rigor and many benefits to our nation — because the program discriminated against some members of our community.
This decision was principled and symbolized our community’s support for gay and lesbian individuals. But what about our ROTC cadets? How could we not recognize their hard work and dedication? This was our conundrum and one that raised its head frequently.
Editor's note: William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.
(CNN) - Each spring, I monitor the list of commencement speakers at our nation's leading colleges and universities. Who is chosen, and who is not, tells us a lot about academia's perception of the most important voices in America.
Two of this year's most popular speakers were CNN's Fareed Zakaria, who spoke at both Harvard University and Duke University, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who spoke at both Tulane University and the University of Washington. Perhaps one of the most original choices, and the one who certainly stood out from the rest, was U.S. Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, who addressed the 2012 graduating class of Tufts University Sunday.
It's not often that elite universities honor military service members with commencement addresses. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower once spoke to a graduating class at an Ivy League university and remarked, "Your business is to put me out of business." So I applaud Tufts University for inviting Greitens.
He is not a household name, but he should be. The 38-year-old Rhodes scholar and humanitarian worker turned U.S. Navy SEAL served multiple tours overseas fighting terrorist cells and received several military awards. Today, he is the CEO of the Mission Continues, a nonprofit foundation he created to help wounded and disabled veterans find ways to serve their communities at home.
To the graduates of Tufts, Greitens issued a unique challenge, one rarely heard at commencements today: to sacrifice, to serve one's country and to live magnanimously. He called students to think above and beyond their own dreams, their own desires, and to be strong. Aristotle called this megalopsychia, greatness of soul, and considered it one of the greatest moral virtues.
(CNN Student News) - Teachers and Parents: Watch with your students or record "Voters in America: Vets Wanted?" when it airs on CNN on Sunday, May 13 at 8 p.m. ET and PT, or Saturday, May 19 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and PT. By recording the documentaries, you agree that you will use the documentaries 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.
The Educator and Parent Guide is provided for teachers and parents to use as a catalyst for discussion and learning if they choose to watch "Voters in America: Vets Wanted?" with their students.
Documentary Description: Multiple deployments interrupt lives and careers and can lead to health and financial challenges. Narrated by former U.S. Army infantryman and motivational speaker J.R. Martinez, "Voters in America: Vets Wanted?" looks at the unique burdens for families of men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it follows the reintegration of members of the Georgia National Guard's 877th Engineer Company into civilian life. Deployed to Afghanistan in December 2010, half of these veterans faced unemployment when they returned to the U.S. The documentary also examines whether the bipartisan Veterans Jobs Bill passed in November 2011 is of any help as our nation's heroes make full transitions back to the lives they left to defend America, and it offers insights into how veterans' unemployment may impact their decisions as they head to the polls this November.
All of the In America parent and teacher educator guides are developed by CNN Student News. CNN Student News is a ten-minute, commercial-free, daily news program for middle and high school students produced by the journalists and educators at CNN. This award-winning show and its companion website are available free of charge throughout the school year.
By Tomeka Jones, CNN
(CNN) April is the Month of the Military Child, which recognizes and salutes an estimated 1.9 million American children of military families. Meet Erika Booth, the 2012 Marine Corps Child of the Year. For the second year, Operation Homefront has awarded Military Child of the Year to young leaders, like Booth, from each branch of the military. The winners receive the honor for their resilience and community impact.
CNN Student News recently talked to Erika about her life as a military child.
CNN: What has life been life for you as a military child?
Erika Booth: I've moved 5 times, been in 6 schools, lived in 8 houses. I've actually really enjoyed being a military child just because I can say my dad fights for our country every day and that's his job and not everyone can say that.
CNN: What would you say is the hardest part about being a military child?
Booth: The hardest thing is the deployments, definitely; I've gone through 10 of them so I definitely know that is the hardest thing. My dad has missed my first day of school since 8th grade and I'm a junior in high school now. You just really have to know in your heart that they're going to come back and having family and friends really helps with that. Military children are always more resilient to things.
CNN: Erika, would you be willing to discuss with us how health issues have affected your life personally?
Booth: Having lupus has made me more responsible. When I was diagnosed and I was in the hospital I hit a brick wall and I was like I can either choose to do something or I can sit at home and stop my life. And I decided I need to keep going with my life it's not going to stop me.
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