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 _____."FULL STORY
(CNN) - As Washington lawmakers try to hammer out an immigration reform plan, millions find themselves caught in the middle, including many students.
With protestors outside, President Barack Obama threw his support behind comprehensive immigration reform on Tuesday while speaking inside a Las Vegas high school with a majority-Latino student population. Some 1.8 million young people could apply for "deferred action," an executive order Obama signed last year that allows people who entered the country illegally as children to remain and work without fear of deportation for at least two years. But the policy change doesn't apply to everyone in their families. One 16-year-old girl said, "It's like being out in the cold and me having the only blanket in the family."
Some undocumented students are trying to get an education now, despite uncertainty about what job prospects or additional educational opportunities will be available to them in a couple of years. For now, they're keeping one eye on their studies, and one on the immigration debate.
By Brad Lendon, CNN
(CNN) - Schools must give students with disabilities equal opportunities to participate in extracurricular athletics, including varsity sports, the U.S. Department of Education said Friday. And if existing sports don't meet the needs of those students, schools must create additional athletic programs.
Some advocates compared the move to Title IX, the 1972 amendment that mandated gender equity in education and sports programs at schools receiving federal funds. The department’s Office for Civil Rights pointed to a 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office that said disabled students were not getting equal opportunities to participate in sports, a right they were granted under the Rehabilitation Act, passed in 1973.
Denying disabled students’ participation meant that they “may not have equitable access to the health and social benefits” of playing sports, the education department said in a statement Friday.
“Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion and courage, and this guidance will help schools ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from the life lessons they can learn on the playing field or on the court,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in the statement accompanying the guidelines.
Examples of the kinds of accommodations the department is seeking included offering a visual cue, along with a starter pistol, to allow deaf students to participate in track races or allowing a one-hand touch to end swimming races, rather than a two-hand touch, which would allow students with only one arm to participate.
By Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Michelle Rhee is the founder and CEO of StudentsFirst, a nonprofit organization that identifies as a “grassroots movement” to produce “meaningful results" for education on local and national levels. She previously served as chancellor of schools in Washington D.C.
Joel Klein is CEO of Amplify, the education division of News Corporation, and a StudentsFirst board member. He is the former chancellor of New York City schools.
(CNN) - It’s hard to watch Robert Griffin III play football and not think about education policy.
RG3, as fans call him, is a rookie who has been playing in the National Football League for all of 18 weeks, but led the Washington Redskins to twice as many victories as they had last year, their first winning season since 2007 and their first divisional championship in 13 years. Now imagine if the Redskins had a little less money to pay salaries next year and cut Griffin from the team, keeping instead a handful of bench-warmers. It sounds ridiculous, but that practice is exactly what happens in most school districts where policies require teachers to be laid off based on seniority, not talent.
Here’s another nonsensical example: There’s overwhelming evidence that quality public charter schools provide a viable education option, particularly for students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. In fact, test scores released in July 2012 showed New York City public charter schools outperforming traditional schools throughout the entire state, despite poverty rates 150% of that of the rest of the state and far greater numbers of minorities. Incredibly, eight states still do not allow public charter schools to exist. That means children assigned to low-performing schools in places such as Birmingham, Alabama, Louisville, Kentucky, and Omaha, Nebraska, are trapped without a choice or a way out.
These aren’t teacher problems, or student problems. These are policy problems. In far too many states, the laws and policies in place that govern education put up significant barriers to higher student achievement.
In fact, according to a first-of-its-kind report card that we published this week, nearly 90% of states earned less than a “C” grade on the subject of education policy. Ours is a new type of education report card that doesn’t look at teacher performance or students’ test scores, but instead focuses solely on the laws in place determining how our schools are allowed to operate. StudentsFirst will publish it annually, and this year no state earned higher than a B-minus.
That ought to shock parents, educators, and lawmakers alike. It indicates that no matter how hard our children study, and no matter how much passion teachers pour into their classrooms, the rules and regulations governing education are holding schools back.
(CNN) - Arizona's attorney general proposed arming one principal or employee at each school to defend against attacks such as the recent Connecticut school massacre.
"The ideal solution would be to have an armed police officer in each school," Attorney General Tom Horne said in a news release Wednesday. But budget cuts have limited the number of Arizona schools with "school resource officers" on campus, he said.
The "next best solution," Horne said, "is to have one person in the school trained to handle firearms, to handle emergency situations, and possessing a firearm in a secure location."
A shooter, armed with a semiautomatic rifle and two other guns, on December 14 killed 26 people - including six faculty members and 20 young students - at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown.
Horne compared the plan to the FAA's program adopted after the September 11, 2001, attacks to arm airline pilots.
A school would be invited to send the principal "or another designee" to "training in the use of firearms and how to handle emergencies such as that which occurred in Newtown," Horne's release said. Horne's office would oversee the free training with help from sheriffs, he said.
"The designated individual (no more than one per school) would then be authorized to keep a firearm locked in a secure place, and would have adequate communication to be alerted to an emergency in any part of the school," the release said.
Florida 4th graders rank #2 in a worldwide reading test. Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart shares the success story.
By Aadina Balti, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Aadina Balti is a veteran teacher and math coach in Boston's public school system. Balti is certified in moderate disabilities and elementary education. She is also a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow.
(CNN) – I've been in the classroom for 11 years - that makes me a minority in the teaching profession, as more than half of all teachers have taught for a decade or less. But I'm still striving to be a better teacher.
A recent report from national nonprofit Teach Plus shows that veteran teachers like me tend to be less receptive to the growing emphasis on teacher performance than our less-experienced colleagues.
The report, "Great Expectations: Teachers' Views on Elevating the Teaching Profession," highlights data from Teach Plus' recent national survey of teachers, showing that 42% of earlier-career teachers (called the "new majority" in the report) support more performance-based tenure and compensation systems, compared to just 15% of my fellow veterans.
As a teacher who has just crossed the line from new majority to veteran status, I understand how experienced teachers feel about the protections afforded them by the tenure system.
I understand because I’ve put in the time and effort necessary to establish myself in the school system. I understand because I, too, value my job security. Sometimes I even understand that it's easy to get comfortable and fall into doing the same old thing.
But the current lack of accountability is bringing our profession down.
While I value the tenure I've been granted, I would be willing to give up that protection to move our profession toward one that emphasizes performance.
I got into this profession because I want to have a positive impact on society and because I feel confident that all children can learn. As an educator, it's my job to make that happen. I ask my students to push themselves for excellence every day. If I’m not pushing myself for excellence, too, then I’m not just failing myself, I’m failing my students.
By Sam Chaltain, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Now that five states are planning to add 300 hours of class time in an effort to close the achievement gap and re-imagine the school day, I can only come to one conclusion: Something’s got to give.
On one hand, the Time for Innovation Matters in Education Collaborative is a welcome chance for us to shake off the anachronistic trappings of the agrarian school calendar. After all, just because we went to school from August to June doesn’t mean our kids should, and just because we got out of school at 3 p.m. doesn’t mean that dismissal time is a good idea. In fact, for poor kids in poor communities, the period between 3 and 6 p.m. is the most dangerous time of the day. So I take great hope in the project’s intent to “empower each student with the knowledge, skills, and experiences essential for college and career success.”
And I admire any plan to expand the sorts of learning experiences students have during the day - and where (and how) the day unfolds. As the Ford Foundation’s Jeannie Oakes puts it, “More time must mean better time.”
On the other hand, the 40 schools participating in this project in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee, don’t exist in a vacuum, and here in America we still rank schools as successful or unsuccessful based on a single metric - standardized reading and math scores. Knowing that, will these schools be able to follow through on their plans to explore academic content more deeply, provide teacher collaboration time more regularly and revitalize the arts more fully? Or will the extra hours be used to turn a small subset of “failing” schools into high-achieving ones?
by John Martin, CNN
(CNN) - School's going to be a little longer for about 20,000 U.S. students next year.
On Monday, The U.S. Department of Education, the Ford Foundation and the National Center for Time and Learning (NCTL), announced the formation of the TIME Collaborative. This initiative will support more than 40 selected schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee that will be open an additional 300 hours during the 2013-2014 school year. For schools on a 180-day calendar, that would add more than an hour and a half of instruction per day.
The TIME Collaborative, a partnership between NCTL and the Ford Foundation, is funded by federal, state and private funds. NCTL will provide technical support for schools, while the Ford Foundation is offering $3 million in grant funds.
One of the group’s goals is to reduce achievement gaps for children who live in impoverished communities. "More learning time was simply necessary to close opportunity and achievement gaps," David Farbman, senior researcher at NCTL, wrote on the organization’s official blog.
By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN
(CNN) – Georgia Turner grew up in a small town in eastern Kentucky. She studied hard, she played played soccer and she didn't even consider going to a party until she got to college.
The petite sophomore recalls her excitement to start classes at the University of Louisville. She even paid to move in early. Then, one August night two years ago, she went to a party, her first, with some people she'd just met. That's all she remembers from the night. The next morning she felt awful.
[2:30] "I had bruises all over my body. I really knew, it's just a feeling you know and I knew I'd been raped."
For about a month Turner just tried to cope.
Read the full story and hear the podcast from CNN Radio
[2:40] "I literally spent a lot of the time making myself throw up and trying to get whatever happened to me out of my body."