May 18th, 2013
06:25 AM ET

Making college worth it

(CNN) - Christine Romans asks former Education Secretary William Bennett about the proposed Student Loan Fairness Act and rising tuition costs.

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Filed under: College • College costs • Financial aid • Politics • Students
Tim Tebow homeschool bill approved by Texas Senate
In Texas, the 'Tim Tebow bill' might change rules regarding homeschooled athletes playing sports.
May 10th, 2013
03:30 PM ET

Tim Tebow homeschool bill approved by Texas Senate

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.

Read the full story from Bleacher Report

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Filed under: Bleacher Report • Homeschooling • Politics • Sports • Students
May 10th, 2013
01:44 PM ET

Senator wants deep discounts on student loans

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.

NRA-backed group wants gun training for school staff
Former GOP congressman Asa Hutchinson headed the National Rifle Association-backed School Safety Shield.
April 2nd, 2013
11:48 PM ET

NRA-backed group wants gun training for school staff

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.

READ: Texas superintendent explains why some of his staffers carry guns

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.

Read the full post on CNN's Political Ticker blog

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Filed under: Guns in school • Politics • School safety
New Jersey stepping in to run Camden's troubled schools
"For too long, the public school system in Camden has failed its children," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said.
March 25th, 2013
05:06 PM ET

New Jersey stepping in to run Camden's troubled schools

By Laura Ly, CNN

(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.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Politics • School administration • School budgets
Forced spending cuts slash hope for teachers
Kindergarten teacher Christine Milders worries that forced spending cuts could increase her class size and affect her students.
March 19th, 2013
11:40 AM ET

Forced spending cuts slash hope for teachers

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.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Elementary school • Politics • School budgets • Students • Teachers
March 7th, 2013
09:34 AM ET

My View: Congress, help fight bullying

Robert CaseyBy Robert Casey, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Robert Casey, a Democrat, is a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.

(CNN) - CNN and the Cartoon Network's presentation of the AC360° special feature, "The Bully Effect," spotlight a serious issue affecting children across our nation. The film underscores the damaging consequences of bullying and the need to prevent and respond to it.

Lawmakers have a responsibility to ensure that our schools are safe, which is why I have made addressing this problem a priority in the United States Senate. I firmly believe that all children have a right to an education free from fear of being bullied. The denial of this basic right is a betrayal of children who simply want to learn.

The impact of bullying for students and for our nation are severe. In an era when a quality education matters greatly in a competitive global economy, students must be able to focus on their studies. Bullying distracts students who worry more about surviving the day unscathed than about the grades on their report card. Research has indicated that bullying causes increased absenteeism, dropout rates and academic underachievement, all of which undermine a child's ability to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

I am particularly disturbed by stories of bullied youth who feel powerless to change their situation and who choose not to seek help from adults. A recent report from a newspaper in my home state of Pennsylvania told the story of a 12-year-old boy who regularly asks his parents not to report when he has been bullied because he fears possible retaliation. Rather than speak up about the threatening environment at school, he felt that his only option was to keep quiet or risk making things worse.

Putting an end to bullying will require a consistent message from adults, including lawmakers, that young people can make a real difference in their lives and the lives of others when they speak up about bullying and harassment.

Recently, I reintroduced bipartisan legislation to help prevent bullying and harassment - the Safe Schools Improvement Act. My bill, which I'm proposing with co-sponsor Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, will require school districts that receive federal funding to develop codes of conduct that specifically ban bullying and harassment.

Read Casey's full column

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Filed under: AC360 • Bullying • Politics • Voices
March 1st, 2013
03:20 PM ET

How forced spending cuts could impact students

(CNN) - Forced spending cuts that take effect today will slice $2.5 billion from the Department of Education's nearly $70 billion budget, CNN's René Marsh reports. At the college level, about 70,000 students could lose work study and grant money. The biggest cuts wouldn't take effect until the 2013-14 school year, and Pell grants will be spared.

At the preschool, elementary and secondary levels, the Department of Education expects a $725 million cut to Title I grants, which Education Secretary Arne Duncan estimates will impact 1.2 million disadvantaged students, and put 10,000 teacher and support staff jobs at risk. States and districts might have to cover the cost of 7,200 teachers, aides and staffers as $600 million is cut from the special education, too. Some 70,000 Head Start students might no longer be able to attend classes.

How might the forced spending cuts affect your school? Share your story on iReport!

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Filed under: Arne Duncan • Politics • School budgets
Forced budget cuts lead to teacher layoffs in W. Virginia? Not quite
Arne Duncan's explanation about a school district's layoffs doesn't get an "A" for accuracy.
March 1st, 2013
11:21 AM ET

Forced budget cuts lead to teacher layoffs in W. Virginia? Not quite

By Jim Acosta, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Education Secretary Arne Duncan says a West Virginia school district is laying off teachers due to deep spending cuts across the federal government set to take effect on Friday. But officials from that region say it's not true.

Duncan told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that the Kanawha County school system was already handing out pink slips in anticipation of the automatic cuts that, among other things, will impact the amount of federal money states get through September.

"Yes, there's a district where it's happened. But, again, it's just because they have an earlier union notification than most – Kanawha County, West Virginia," Duncan said at the latest White House briefing where Cabinet officers detailed the impact of cuts under the so-called congressional sequester to their agency programs.

"Whether it's all sequester-related, I don't know, but these are teachers who are getting pink slips now," he added.

But Diane Young, the coordinator of the Head Start program for Kanawha County Public Schools, cautioned that Duncan's explanation does not get an "A" for accuracy.

Young blamed Head Start. She said the federal program for needy children has yet to notify the school system whether it will have Head Start money in the fall.

"The Board of Education cannot wait that long for the funds to come through," Young said.

Read the full post from CNN's Political Ticker blog

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Filed under: Arne Duncan • Politics • School budgets
My View: When the president was my professor
Noni Ellison-Southall asked her old law school professor, President Barack Obama, to sign her class syllabus.
February 25th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

My View: When the president was my professor

Noni Ellison-SouthallBy Noni Ellison-Southall, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Noni Ellison-Southall serves as senior counsel for Turner Broadcasting System Inc., which operates CNN, and heads Turner’s music division. She is on the boards of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta, MARTA, the Atlanta Speech School and the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications. She is a graduate of Howard University and University of Chicago Law School.

(CNN) - I was in a dead sleep the night of February 13 when I got an unexpected phone call. President Barack Obama would be visiting a preschool in nearby Decatur, Georgia, just days after he’d announced a priority on early childhood education. I was invited to hear him speak.

It would be special to hear the president addressing the importance of education, but especially for me. He was my law school professor. I wondered if he, now the president of the United States, was aware that he’d had a profound impact on my life years earlier at the University of Chicago Law School?

I didn’t have long to reflect. My mind was racing as reality set in. With only 12 hours till showtime, what would I wear? What should I say? Would he remember me from class? I needed to get my camera, and of course, my syllabus from “Current Issues in Racism and Law,” the class he’d taught.

It was stored safely in a green binder in an old leather briefcase in the basement with my law books. He’d apologized in the notes for messy copies, a consequence of not having a teacher’s assistant. “On the other hand,” he’d written in the syllabus, “my wife tells me that she wouldn’t have minded getting the professor’s notations on her reading material when she was in law school.” I wasn’t sure if he would sign it, but I planned to ask.

At a recreation center in Decatur, I sat in the row with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Sylvia Reed, his mother. It’s a modest and very intimate space. There was festive music playing, press and security everywhere and a colorful banner that read “Preschool for All” hanging on the wall. Teachers walked around, giggling and taking pictures in front of the podium with the presidential seal affixed. A sense of excitement and anticipation filled the venue. It was surreal. Was I really going to meet the president of the United States today, all those years after I’d met him the first time?

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