By Van Jones, CNN Contributor
Editor's note: Van Jones, a CNN contributor, is president and founder of Rebuild the Dream, an online platform focusing on policy, economics and media. He was President Barack Obama's green jobs adviser in 2009. He is also founder of Green for All, a national organization working to build a green economy. Follow him on Twitter: @VanJones68.
(CNN) - The student debt fight is back - with a vengeance.
Once again, current students are facing the possibility of interest rates on Stafford Federal student loans doubling.
Once again, we are asking what our leaders are doing about a crisis that gets worse every year.
Once again, the answer is: Not much.
It is the only form of household debt that has continued to rise during the Great Recession. It is also the only form of debt that cannot be discharged under bankruptcy or even death, as parents who have lost children have discovered to their horror. It is preventing young people from buying homes and starting businesses.
In short, student debt is a $1.1 trillion anvil dragging down the entire U.S. economy.
Unfortunately, the conversation in Washington is not about big fixes, but simply how to avoid making matters worse by letting interest rates rise.
By Doug Gross, CNN
(CNN) - Saying Web access is essential for students to compete in a wired world, President Obama on Thursday will announce an initiative to bring high-speed Internet to almost all of the nation's schools by 2018.
At a speech in a high-tech middle school in Mooresville, North Carolina, Obama was scheduled to order federal agencies to earmark funds for providing broadband and wireless access to 99% of U.S. public schools in the next five years, according to senior administration officials. The president is tasking the Federal Communication Commission with spearheading the project, and is also asking the FCC to fund high-speed connections at libraries.
"We are living in a digital age, and to help our students get ahead, we must make sure they have access to cutting-edge technology," said Obama in a statement released by the White House.
"So today, I'm issuing a new challenge for America - one that families, businesses, school districts and the federal government can rally around together - to connect virtually every student in America's classrooms to high-speed broadband internet within five years, and equip them with the tools to make the most of it."
The initiative, called ConnectED, also will ask private-sector industries for help in getting the most modern technology, educational software and apps into students' hands, and in providing tech training for teachers.
The effort does not require approval by Congress.
Atlanta (CNN) - Past, present and future came together on a thunderstorm-filled Sunday, as President Barack Obama received an honorary doctorate and gave the commencement speech at historically black, all-male Morehouse College, where the Rev. Martin Luther King and many other prominent African-Americans spent their formative years.
After opening with several one-liners, and more smiles than we've seen from him in the damage-control-filled recent weeks, Obama delivered a serious message to the class of 2013.
During a speech rife with both personal and historical references, the president invoked a past full of challenges, often resulting from racism, but noted that African-Americans need to break free from that past to succeed in a globally competitive economy.
"I understand that there's a common fraternity creed here at Morehouse: 'Excuses are tools of the incompetent, used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness,'" Obama said.
(CNN) - Christine Romans asks former Education Secretary William Bennett about the proposed Student Loan Fairness Act and rising tuition costs.
By Mike Chiari, Bleacher Report
(Bleacher Report) - There has been plenty of negative publicity surrounding quarterback Tim Tebow since being waived by the New York Jets last week, but his success playing in high school is now being used in an effort to gain expanded rights for homeschooled athletes in Texas.
According to Matt Wixon of the Dallas Morning News, the Tim Tebow Bill has been passed by the Texas Senate. Provided it is passed by the Texas House of Representatives and then signed into law, it will allow homeschooled athletes to compete for local high schools in Texas.
The bill is named after Tebow because the polarizing quarterback was homeschooled in Florida. Despite that, Tebow was allowed to play for Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida, according to Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo! Sports. Tebow led Nease to a state title, was named Mr. Football in Florida and went on to win two national championships with the Florida Gators.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, introduced a bill that would take the interest rate for student loans from 3.4% to less than 1%.
"If the American taxpayer is gonna invest in those big financial institutions by giving them a great deal on their interest rate, let's invest in those students by giving them the same deal," Warren told CNN's Jake Tapper.
Critics say it's not quite the same - student loans are riskier than short-term, bank-to-bank lending. Warrens says loans for big banks are no-risk because they're still "too big to fail."
"Let's make at least a level playing field on those investments," she said.
By Kevin Liptak, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A commission tasked by the nation's most influential gun lobby to assess school safety proposed a set of recommendations Tuesday that includes a plan to train and arm adults as a way to protect kids from shooters.
Former GOP congressman Asa Hutchinson, who headed the National Rifle Association-backed School Safety Shield, said the plan to train school personnel to carry firearms in schools made sense as a way to prevent shootings like the December massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
"Response time is critical," Hutchinson said at a press conference revealing the plan.
"If you have the firearms in the presence of someone in the school, it will reduce the response time and save lives," he said.
Hutchinson said the recommendation for school personnel to carry weapons includes the stipulation those adults undergo a 40-60 hour training program and are screened through a background check.
The entire report contains eight recommendations, including enhancing training programs for school resource officers and developing an online assessment portal for administrators to gauge their schools' security.
(CNN) - The state of New Jersey is taking over administration of the troubled public schools in the city of Camden, Gov. Chris Christie announced Monday.
A recent Department of Education investigation found Camden city schools are among the lowest-performing in the state, Christie said at a news conference at Woodrow Wilson High School in the city.
"We're taking the lead because for too long, the public school system in Camden has failed its children," he said. "Each day that it gets worse, we're failing the children of Camden, we're denying them a future, we're not allowing them to reach their full potential."
The poor student performance, a lack of a districtwide curricula, inconsistent and haphazard school staffing, lack of central leadership, and a failure to provide student support services has resulted in "full state intervention," the governor's office said in a news release.
Christie said the decision to partner with Camden school officials was not one made easily or quickly.
"I waited three years because I really felt like I wanted to give the folks in the city of Camden the chance without having to enter into a partnership with the state," Christie said.
The issues with student achievement and institutional administration do not stem from a lack of financial support. Camden is receiving more than $279.5 million in state funding, an increase of $3.6 million from last year. During the 2011-12 school year, Camden spent $23,709 per student, compared with the statewide average of $18,045, the governor's office said.
By Jareen Imam, CNN
(CNN) - Inside her Oxford, Ohio, kindergarten classroom, Christine Milders has 24 cubbies, 24 tables and 24 seats. It's a perfect fit for her 24 little students, no more.
But come next fall, she expects that number will grow to 30. That's when forced federal spending cuts, also known as the sequester, will kick in and start chipping away at education funding.
"Where will I put six more students?" Milders asked. "My young learners come to my classroom with little or no school experience. I not only need to meet their academic needs, but their social and emotional needs as well."
The government is set to cut $85 billion through the end of the fiscal year, September 30. Of that money, $2.5 billion will be coming out of the Department of Education's $70 billion budget.
Uncertainties surround how these large cuts will affect schools, because the decisions will be made on the state and local levels. But with budget cuts looming, many teachers like Milders are wondering what's left to cut.
Milders, who has taught kindergarten for 17 years, worries that more cuts to education will not only affect her students' ability to learn and grow, but also fears she will eventually be replaced by a younger and cheaper teacher, as she put it. "It happens often," she said.