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
Northwestern, Northern Illinois top 'Academic BCS' rankings
The Northwestern Wildcats earned the #1 ranking in the New America Foundation's 'Academic BCS,' based on the school's player graduation rates and other academic factors.
December 13th, 2012
05:02 AM ET

Northwestern, Northern Illinois top 'Academic BCS' rankings

By Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) – Imagine a college championship bowl game where the teams are Northwestern and Northern Illinois.

The Wildcats and Huskies are not exactly the first teams that come to mind when you think of football powerhouses, but according to the New America Foundation, they are academic giants among the teams in this year’s Bowl Championship Series.

In its sixth annual Academic BCS, the foundation rated Northwestern No. 1 and Northern Illinois No. 2 among the 25 college teams in this season's final BCS standings.

How did they determine the rankings?  The Education Policy team at the New America Foundation considers several factors. It calculates the difference between an entire football team’s graduation rate versus that of the other male students at the school; the graduation gap between black and white players on the team versus the same gap among the total male enrollment at the school; and the gap between the graduation rate of black football players versus all black males at the college.

The Education Policy team also factors in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate, which according to the NCAA’s website is “a term-by-term measure of eligibility and retention for Division I student-athletes that was developed as an early indicator of eventual graduation rates.”

According to the Education Policy team’s formula, Northwestern was ranked No. 1 because it has a 90% graduation rate among its football players, with no graduation gap between its white and black players.
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Filed under: College • College football • Extracurricular • Graduation • Practice
December 12th, 2012
02:50 PM ET

Florida students score big in reading

Florida 4th graders rank #2 in a worldwide reading test. Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart shares the success story.

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Filed under: Policy • Practice • Reading • video
December 5th, 2012
04:32 PM ET

Keeping fighting in the ring and out of schools

By Shaina Negron, CNN

(CNN) - At age 16, Rob McCullough walked into an LA Boxing gym for the first time. The teen had left home, moving from one friend's couch to another, and now finally felt like he found a place where he belonged.

"I went to the gym and worked out, and worked out my stuff," he says. "That was kind of my safe haven."

After taking his first class and leaving with a compliment from the instructor, McCullough was hooked. "It built self-confidence," he recalls. "At the end of the day, I felt great about it."

Life was difficult at times for McCullough and his seven siblings who were raised by a single mother. Constantly relocating, he remembers how other kids were not always welcoming when the family moved to a new neighborhood. "I dealt with bullying growing up as a kid because I was always the new guy at the school," he says.

By the time he reached high school, a new challenge would shape his future.

Read the full story from Impact Your World
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Filed under: Behavior • Bullying • Extracurricular • Practice • video
December 5th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

Longer school day coming for thousands of students

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.
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Filed under: Arne Duncan • Policy • Practice • School funding
My View: Inspiring students to put their stories 'on the record'
Actress Hilary Swank, author Erin Gruwell and Maria Reyes, who inspired the character of Eva in ‘Freedom Writers,’ arrive at the movie’s premiere.
December 3rd, 2012
04:05 AM ET

My View: Inspiring students to put their stories 'on the record'

Courtesy Freedom Writers FoundationBy Erin Gruwell, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Erin Gruwell is the inspiration for the film “Freedom Writers,” starring Hilary Swank. She helped a group of disengaged students in Long Beach, California, turn their lives around by reading stories of people whose struggles they could relate to. She encouraged them to pick up a pen and put their stories on the record. She is the founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation and author of a new nonfiction reading and writing program from Scholastic called On the Record.

(CNN) - When I reminisce about my first day as a teacher, I can remember walking into my classroom in polka dots and pearls, with the hope that I could change the world – or at least the worlds of the students assigned to my ninth grade English class. Then I discovered that my students hated reading and hated writing, and complete and utter panic set in. Quickly, my idealism turned to doubt—and I doubted my decision to be a teacher and my ability to reach my students.

As a first year teacher, fresh out of college, I was confronted with a challenge that so many new teachers face every year—the reality that my students had checked out of school a long time ago. Many of them had never read a book from cover-to-cover. Nor did they intend to. And they didn’t see how school had any relevance in their lives.

In the minds of most of my students, school was not relevant to their daily struggles: poverty, the threat of gang violence, drugs, juvenile hall, or worse yet, funerals. My students looked at me and thought there was no way I could understand what it was like to be hungry, to have a father in prison or a mother who had to work three jobs just to put food on the table.

I remember one of my students, Maria, walking in on the first day wearing an ankle monitor around her leg, and a parole officer by her side. She was throwing up her gang signs in the back of the class, carving her initials on her desk and making it very clear that she was miserable. Her goal was to make me as miserable as she was. I was determined to get her to record her story, in the hopes that maybe she could rewrite her own ending.
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How to ensure no schoolchild dies of an allergy attack
Birthday party cupcakes or holiday treats brought from home can pose a risk to schoolkids with severe food allergies.
November 29th, 2012
05:03 PM ET

How to ensure no schoolchild dies of an allergy attack

By Ruchi Gupta, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Children should not die in schools. Children should not die from eating common foods. A minuscule speck of a peanut, not even visible, should not take a young child's life in minutes.

And yet this has happened in the past two years - to 13-year-old Kaitlyn in Chicago and to 7-year-old Ammaria in Virginia. As the holidays approach and celebratory treats are brought into schools from home, we must ensure children with food allergies are safe.

Congress can contribute to that by rapidly passing the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. This bill would provide states with incentives to require elementary schools and secondary schools to maintain, and permit school personnel to administer, epinephrine - a form of adrenaline that eases hives and breathing difficulties and when injected, prevents rapid death.

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Filed under: At Home • Kids' health • Nutrition • Practice
My view: Great teacher evaluation shouldn’t be good luck
November 29th, 2012
03:57 AM ET

My view: Great teacher evaluation shouldn’t be good luck

Courtesy Teach PlusBy Marisol Castillo, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Marisol Castillo teaches at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington. Castillo taught in California’s Bay Area, and then at a small high school in the South Bronx before relocating to Washington, D.C. In 2009, she received her National Board Certification. Castillo is a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow.

(CNN) - I’m a lucky teacher.

In the nine years I’ve been in the classroom — at three different urban schools — I’ve consistently experienced evaluations that have allowed me to grow as an educator. I’m a better teacher because of that, and my students have benefited.

All teachers should be so lucky as to experience high-quality evaluation. But unfortunately, they’re not. According to a 2012 national survey of teachers conducted by the nonprofit Teach Plus, Great Expectations: Teachers’ Views on Elevating the Teaching Profession, nearly half of all teachers say they either had not received an evaluation in the past year or did not find their evaluation feedback useful.

Recently I was able to address these survey results in front of policymakers on Capitol Hill. I told them that, according to the Teach Plus report, teachers who have been in the classroom for less than 10 years support a range of reforms.

The report shows that a majority of teachers across experience levels think clear standards of effectiveness are critical for teaching to be recognized as a true profession. Many teachers, including nearly three-quarters of the New Majority, the 52% of teachers with less than 10 years experience, want student growth data to be a component of their evaluations.
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Filed under: Policy • Practice • Teachers • TeachPlus.org • Voices
Students give thanks
November 22nd, 2012
05:38 AM ET

Students give thanks

by Tomeka Jones, CNN

Editor's note: This post examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the CNN Student News community. Some comments have been edited for space or clarity.

(CNN) - Thanksgiving is more than a succulent turkey with all the fixings and a slice of sweet potato pie. At least that’s what some middle and high school students believe when it comes to a day of giving thanks. Many students shared with CNN that they’re most thankful for family, friends, and much more.

Read some of their heartfelt messages of gratitude:

Asia: I’m thankful that someone adopted me and that my sisters are able to get the proper TLC (tender loving care) that they need and I’m also thankful for my awesome civics teacher, Mr. Plyler.

Robert: I am thankful for my mom for keeping food on the table and keeping a roof over my head. I am also thankful for my father; he has passed away but he’s still here with me. I am grateful to have a caring mother and a loving father.

Angel: I have a lot of things to be thankful for. I'm thankful for everything that has entered my life, even the bad times. Without the bad things, something good after that would've never happened. I'm also thankful for my family and friends, they’re always there for me when I need them. And, for having life of music!
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Overheard on CNN.com: Should you hold your child back?
November 19th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Should you hold your child back?

by John Martin, CNN

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community. Some comments have been edited for space or clarity.

(CNN) – Donna McClintock, the chief operating officer of Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc. wrote last week's op-ed on redshirting kindergartners. You may have heard the term applied to college football players, but this isn't a sports story. Academic redshirting means holding a child back from school until he or she is ready. In the U.S., most kindergartners are five-year olds, so a redshirted kindergartner is usually six. McClintock says that when asking whether to redshirt a young child, "parents and educators must determine what that answer is by considering his individual needs and development and not by blindly following a trend."

Some readers questioned whether any child should ever be redshirted:

Rob Breisch: I can honestly say by my own example that it's far better not to redshirt your children – you are causing a life of issues from being not good enough for anyone's standards,and your children will face ridicule all their lives about it. So do them and yourself a favor – advance them and if required spend more time helping them learn.You can destroy a child by just setting them back like it's no big deal. Your child is not a toy nor a rat – so treat them with more respect and dignity and reach out and help them along – but don't make them repeat any grade!

Scott B: I know holding my kid back would be a very last resort. Regardless of what the article says, I went to school and remember how some of those held back kids were treated. About the only time it was a good thing was when they had a car before most of the class. Also, unless the kid simply can't cut it, I'd rather they be in a learning environment that challenges them more than I would want them to get better grades.

Amy: Everyone says "each child is different," and that's certainly true to some extent; however, there is a tendency for some parents to think that their child is particularly unique, different, special, etc. and must be treated differently (i.e. holding him/her back) because of that dazzling uniqueness.... With respect, I think some parents (especially moms) need to stop obsessing about this. Kids are more capable than many parents give them credit for.

Jeanne: What really annoys me is the parents who hold their kids back, so their kids are more than a year older than my kid, and then they claim that the curriculum isn't challenging enough. That is because your 7 1/2-year-old is supposed to be doing second grade work, not first grade.... So then the kid needs differentiated instruction, special trips to the library, and reading enrichment. Meanwhile my age appropriate 5-year-old summer birthday learns at the pace of the curriculum, because that is the age it is designed for. No, she's not special or advanced like your kid, but hey, she's a year and a half younger, and would have gone nuts being stuck in preschool another year. I still think my kid is getting the better end of the deal.

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