July 4th, 2013
11:30 AM ET

The secret life of a college mascot

(CNN) - A college's mascot is one of the best known, most beloved figures on campus. The thing is, for the students behind the mascots, it's a secret. They can't tell anybody.

Georgia Tech's Buzz is his own bee, his own personality - not the one of the student inside - and like many schools, they try to keep the personalities separate.

"For the most part, we can lie our way our way through," one Buzz said. "Just lie on top of lie on top of lie."

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Filed under: College • Rivalries • Sports
July 4th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Child bride turned scholar: Education is the road out of poverty

By Tererai Trent, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Tererai Trent is a humanitarian, scholar and speaker. She grew up in rural Zimbabwe, unable to attend school until Heifer International helped her get an education. She now has three degrees, and is founder of Tinogona Foundation.

(CNN) - Eight-year-old Tineyi takes my hand and leads me into her mud-thatched hut in my home village of Matau in rural Zimbabwe. There, in a dark corner of the room, is a wooden bookshelf. Carefully crafted by her father, it protects her word-filled treasures from the smoky fire inside the small hut where her mother cooks. I smile, knowing that her father has recognized the value these books will bring to his little bookworm - a life ahead of her with limitless opportunities.

It was not a life intended for many girls in Africa. As a cattle-herding tomboy, I was bound to follow in the footsteps of generations of women before me: early marriage, illiteracy and poverty. Back then, most kids in my village never had a chance to attend pre-school because it didn't exist. Instead, we would spend hours chasing birds and monkeys from our parents' fields.

Gold mines and urban factories employed men, while women remained at home to look after their children. The more men could read and write, the better their chances of being employed and able to provide for their family. As a result, families wanted to educate their sons, who became village role models. Without an education, how could girls compete? How could they become role models, too?

That was more than 40 years ago.

Today, change is happening in my beloved Matau, and all across the long red dirt roads, verdant mountains and open blue skies of Africa. The leaders of African countries have made education more of a priority, even for girls. Now, girls can be role models. Girls like me, a cattle herder who married young, and by age 18 had three children and no high school diploma. But I defied the odds, got an education and came back to build a school.

Read the full story

July 3rd, 2013
09:49 PM ET

Teacher wore 1 outfit in 40 yearbook photos

(CNN) - Dale Irby retired this year after a four-decade career teaching gym and driving a school bus near Dallas, Texas. But his departure ends another long tradition: Irby wore the same outfit for every school yearbook photo for 40 years.

After he accidentally wore the same shirt and V-neck sweater in his first two yearbook photos, his wife, also an educator, jokingly dared him to continue. By the time he retired, it was a (slightly ill-fitting) tradition.

"I don't think I'll be wearing it again," the Garland, Texas, man told CNN's New Day. "It's pretty snug."

Follow us on Twitter @CNNschools!

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Filed under: Awesome • Teachers • Yearbooks
July 3rd, 2013
05:00 AM ET

An online summer camp for maker kids

By Heather Kelly, CNN

(CNN) - Hey, young readers: Instead of another summer uttering the dreaded phrase "I'm bored," how about meeting a NASA astronaut or building a working potato cannon?

Maker Camp, which kicks off its second year on July 8, is different kind of summer camp for kids and teens. Instead of canoes and kickball, it has microcontrollers and robots. There are no bus rides or cabins; camp can take place anywhere there's a computer and an Internet connection.

Check out the new site, CNN.com/parenting!

The camp is a free, six-week online program inspired by the maker movement - the trend toward do-it-yourself culture - and run by Maker Media in collaboration with Google. Maker Media also publishes Make magazine and organizes the Maker Faires.

The virtual camp guides kids through daily DIY projects and connects campers to each other using the Google+ social network. Each week has a different theme, and kids are encouraged to share their creations and ask questions during daily video broadcasts.

The lifeblood of the camp are daily Google+ Hangouts where makers, counselors and other special guests lead young viewers through a project. The day's project and supply list is posted in the morning and the hangouts start at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET). Participants must be at least 13 to have a Google+ profile, but many parents of younger kids use their own log-ins and do the projects together. They can also be viewed on YouTube.

READ: The high-tech return of high-school shop class

"It is like a camp. You go there, you choose an arts and crafts project or you choose archery and meet other people interested in the same things," said Maker Media founder and CEO Dale Dougherty.

Read the full story

Follow us on Twitter @CNNschools!

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Filed under: Summer learning • Technology
July 2nd, 2013
11:30 AM ET

Why foreign colleges are entering China

(CNN) - Carl Fey, dean of Nottingham University Business School China, discusses the growing number of foreign campuses opening in China. At his school, they spend the first year teaching students English, so they learn to work, study and speak in English before diving into subject matter.

"Your diploma looks exactly the same whether you graduated from Nottingham UK or Nottingham China," Fey said. "That's because the education's actually the same."

Your child's data is stored in the cloud
Some parents are worried about schools storing too much data about their children.
July 2nd, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Your child's data is stored in the cloud

By Erica Fink and Laurie Segall, CNNMoney

(CNNMoney) - Your child's school knows just about everything about your kid. Now, many school districts are storing all that information in the cloud.

Non-profit inBloom offers an Internet database service that allows schools to store, track and analyze data on schoolchildren. If you think about it, that information is more than just test scores. It's whether kids receive free lunch - a telling indicator of the family's finances. It's the time a student got into a fight in the schoolyard. And it could be a child's prescription medication.

The upshot of storing all that data in one location is that it can be used to tailor specific curricula to each child. If Johnny's data suggests that he's a tactile learner and he's failing math, inBloom's analytic engine might suggest a particular teaching approach.

Teachers say that kind of insight can be helpful.

Jim Peterson, a teacher in Bloomington, Ill., says inBloom has helped break down the silos in his school system's data collection. His school district supports 50 separate data systems.

"This is all about building personalized learning environments for kids," he says.
Peterson also thinks having this kind of data will spur new innovation in education, encouraging entrepreneurs to build applications that can help teachers make use of their students' data.

But as more school districts team up with inBloom, including New York, parents are becoming increasingly vocal critics of the data collection.

Read the full story from CNNMoney

Follow us on Twitter @CNNschools!

Student loan rates doubling on Monday
Students borrowing subsidized loans from the federal government this fall will see interest rates on their loans double to 6.8%.
July 1st, 2013
11:30 AM ET

Student loan rates doubling on Monday

By Jennifer Liberto, CNNMoney

Washington (CNNMoney) - Students preparing to take subsidized government loans will see their interest rates double to 6.8% from current levels, starting Monday, July 1.

But hope isn't lost yet. Lawmakers are working hard behind the scenes trying to strike a deal to save the 7 million college students who are slated to take the subsidized federal Stafford loans this year.

Senate Democratic leaders are throwing their weight behind a bill that would extend the 3.4% rates for another year, just as Congress did last year.

House Republicans have said they'd prefer a longer term solution, like the one they passed back in April to keep rates low for now but rise along with market rates in the future.

Students are being told to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

"We're advising our schools to tell students that their subsidized Stafford interest rates are going to be 6.8% on July 1," said Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Read the full story from CNNMoney

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Filed under: College costs • Politics
Surviving middle school - again
Wendy Sachs, left, posed with friends in 1986 on their last day of middle school. Has it gotten any easier since, she wondered?
July 1st, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Surviving middle school - again

By Wendy Sachs, Special to CNN

(CNN) - About a year ago, I sat in the auditorium at South Orange Middle School in suburban New Jersey and listened to the cheerful principal prepare the incoming sixth-grade parents for what would lie ahead. The big, bad dreaded middle school years were upon us. After the principal posted his Twitter handle so we could get his feed on our digital devices, he then tried to assure the jittery crowd that middle school isn't as awful as it used to be.

Leave your own baggage behind folks; we're in a gentler, more tolerant era.

Check out the new site, CNN.com/parenting!

Not only has social media and modern communication like Twitter and e-mail opened access to teachers and staff, but a trickle-down effect of our progressive age apparently inoculates kids from some of the horrors of those hormonally charged and awkward adolescent years. Bullying is a big no-no at school, a punishable crime in New Jersey that the school administration, fortunately, takes seriously. It's unlikely for kids to be pushed into lockers or stripped naked at gym. But the fear that your kid would be the school loser or have the dreaded "cheese touch" courtesy of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series - well, that's something that even an aggressive, politically correct school policy can't prevent.

Despite the principal's peppy speech, we remained skeptical. Parents know that middle school can be another circle of hell. We know it, because we've all lived it.

Read the full story

Follow us on Twitter @CNNschools!

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Filed under: Bullying • Middle school • Parents • Students
June 28th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

At Scripps College, the walls do talk

By Hannah Button and Michael Martinez, CNN

Claremont, California (CNN) - Every year since 1931, students graduating from Scripps College have made their mark on the campus of the women’s college just before they say good-bye.

Every graduating class in the college’s 82 year history has painted a mural along the same wall, often signing all the graduates' names.
It’s known on campus as “Graffiti Wall,” and it embodies the changing styles and ideas of generations of students at the all-women’s liberal arts college, the zeitgeist of their era.

“Graffiti Wall is a mirror reflecting the bold, historical heart of Scripps College,” said Lori Bettison-Varga, the college's president. “The student-created pictures and words are powerful, authentic expressions of each graduating class.”

The mural is an ever-changing update to the campus’ colonial Spanish mission architecture, and a living history of the students’ experiences. What began as a whimsical show of school spirit is now a permanent fixture on the Southern California campus. The wall spans the length of a rose garden, creating a space of contemplation and relaxation on a campus, as well as a beloved spot for alumnae who visit.

“The value lies in the fact that the entire history of student life at the college is somewhat recorded on that wall,” said Scripps library director Judy Harvey Sahak, who describes herself as the school’s “unofficial historian.”

The earliest images evoke the genesis of Scripps, with paintings that show the construction of buildings and young women as scholars, or young women dancing.

By 1942, as World War II consumed the United States, seniors illustrated an angelic figure encapsulated by a dark cloud.

In the heyday of hippie culture, the class of 1969 drew a peace sign and wrote what became a signature slogan of the era: “Give peace a chance.”

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5 ways students changed in the last 40 years
A long-term assessment of student performance shows improvement in math and reading since the 1970s.
June 27th, 2013
11:31 AM ET

5 ways students changed in the last 40 years

By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

(CNN) - Every couple of years, the National Assessment of Educational Progress releases a short-term snapshot of how students fare in science, civics or other subjects.

But it doesn't  quite answer the big question: How are students really doing?

That's the job of a report released Thursday, "The Nation's Report Card: Trends in Academic Progress 2012." It's an assessment released every four years that tracks U.S. students' performance in reading and math since the 1970s. The 2012 assessment included more than 50,000 students from public and private schools. It tracks them at ages 9, 13 and 17, regardless of grade level, and compares their performance using tests - mostly multiple-choice questions - that take about an hour to complete.

Here are five things to know about academic progress since the 1970s, according to the 2012 report.

9-year-olds and 13-year-olds outscore 1970s counterparts
Indeed, those kids scored higher in reading and math. In reading, 9-year-olds and 13-year-olds improved at every level, so even the lowest-performing kids now are ahead of the lowest-performing kids then. In fact, kids in the low and middle range showed the greatest gains.

17-year-olds? Not so much
Seventeen-year-old students aren't scoring better in reading and math, but their scores aren't falling, either. In reading, the lowest-performing 17-year-olds made gains since the 1970s, as did lower- and middle-performing 17-year-olds in math. But scores overall are about the same as in the early 1970s - and that might not be all bad. In a conference call with reporters, Peggy Carr, associate commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics' assessment division, pointed out that there are far fewer dropouts than in the 1970s; even with more kids in school, performance has remained steady.

FULL POST

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