December 6th, 2012
05:09 PM ET

Bleak outlook for young workers

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) - "America's young people stand last in line for jobs."

That's the warning from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private charity that aims to assist underprivileged children in the U.S.  The organization recently released a report that says youth employment is at its lowest level since the second World War.

The foundation says that only about half of Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 had jobs in 2011.  And when you look at the numbers for the teenagers in that group, 25% percent of them were employed last year - a significant drop from the year 2000, when 46% of teenagers had jobs.

The lingering effects of the Great Recession are largely to blame here.  Entry-level jobs at restaurants and clothing retailers have increasingly gone to more experienced, more qualified workers, according to the study.  This has left young people without a paycheck and without the workplace experience that could help them later in their careers.

It also places a burden on taxpayers, as the federal and local governments spend more to support young, unemployed workers.

The foundation lists a number of recommendations for addressing the issue.  You can view the full report here.

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Filed under: After High School • Carl Azuz • CNN Student News • Economy • education
Survey gives glimpse into where teens stand on election issues
A new survey shows that many teenagers share the same concerns as adult voters.
October 30th, 2012
04:17 AM ET

Survey gives glimpse into where teens stand on election issues

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) - The economy, health care and education aren’t just top issues for American voters. They’re also the concerns of those who’ll be voting for the first time in the next U.S. election, four years from now.

In a recent, nationwide survey by Junior Achievement, almost 73% of people between ages 14 and 17 said a top concern was jobs. Students are specifically worried that they’ll have trouble finding a job after finishing their education. (The current unemployment rate among Americans ages 16 to 19 is 23.7%.)

The economy as a whole was also cited among those surveyed, with 72% saying they were concerned about America’s fiscal health.

And not surprisingly, many teenagers have questions about their education. The cost of college, the quality of education, and the availability of scholarships were reasons why 64% said education was a concern.

Health care was cited by 32% of surveyed students, and the environment rounded out the top five concerns with over 18%.

Students were split over whom they’d vote for this time around. The Obama/Biden ticket got just over 38% support, while the Romney/Ryan ticket received about 37%. The margin of error was +/-3.6%.

Almost half of those surveyed said they didn’t think the candidates had good enough plans to help students land a job after wrapping up their education. And more than half - 56.6% - said the candidates were more concerned with winning the election than they were with listening to the American people.

That could contribute to another significant finding: About 14% of the teenagers surveyed said they wouldn’t vote in this election even if they were old enough.

You can see a graphic representation of the survey results on the Junior Achievement website.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Carl Azuz • High school • Voices
5 tips for a better parent-teacher conference
October 18th, 2012
04:20 AM ET

5 tips for a better parent-teacher conference

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) - For many parents and teachers, it’s the first opportunity of the school year to sit down face to face and discuss everything from curriculum to issues that arise in the classroom.  Here are some tips from both sides of the desk on how to make the most of a parent-teacher conference.

Do your homework

Talking to your child before the conference to find out if he has any questions or concerns of his own can give you ideas of what to address with the teacher.  A good next step:  having a physical list of questions.

The National PTA says that the “questions you ask during the conference can help you express your hopes for the student’s success in class and for the teacher.”

It’s an idea echoed by Ryan Koczot, an award-winning middle school teacher in North Carolina.  “Parents should come to the conference prepared (note pad, pen, list of questions) - just like teachers should be prepared (information on the child, progress report, questions for the parent).”  This will help get everyone on the same page.
FULL POST

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Filed under: At Home • Carl Azuz • Elementary school • Five things • High school • Middle school • Parents • Teachers
5 things teachers want parents to know
October 10th, 2012
04:18 AM ET

5 things teachers want parents to know

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) - During the average school day, teachers are with children as many waking hours as parents are. But many educators believe there’s a short in the communication lines between themselves and parents. When asked what they’d want parents to know about education, not all of the teachers we spoke to wished to be named - but they did share many common concerns from the classroom.

1. We're on the same team

First and foremost, teachers want students to thrive in the classroom, and they could use your help.

Jennifer Bell, a 7th grade social studies teacher in Tennessee, suggests that parents do all they can to ensure that students are doing their homework, exercising, eating well and sleeping. Whether students come to class tired or ready to learn can hinge on parents’ involvement. “We need their support,” she says. “We can’t do this on our own.”

In the words of an elementary school teacher from Georgia, “We are professionals. Teaching children is our area of expertise. Your child benefits more when you support me.”

And while educators expect students to make mistakes, Mississippi teacher Beth Wilbanks Smith asks parents to help them learn from those mistakes. “They will grow to be productive citizens if we all work as a unified force,” she writes.
FULL POST

September 26th, 2012
01:09 PM ET

Worthy homecoming for bullied teen

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) - At Ogemaw Heights High School, one student shocked by the announcement of homecoming court was a girl named to be on it.

Whitney Kropp was not the most popular student at her West Branch, Michigan school. Described by the Detroit News as a “free spirit,” Kropp, with her bleached hair and alternative style, says she had been picked on in the past.

She’d shaken it off like so many others do, but the bullying she’d faced reached a new low earlier this month, when some of her classmates decided that nominating an unpopular girl to the traditionally popular court would be a good prank.

Kropp, of course, wasn’t in on the joke. When she heard her name announced in connection with homecoming, she was elated. Her mother said it never crossed Whitney’s mind that it could’ve been a prank; the 16-year-old was too happy.

Shortly after she discovered the truth that night, her mother found her in tears.

At the very least, Kropp was planning to skip homecoming. She said she’d felt betrayed and that she wasn’t a worthy student at Ogemaw Heights High.

Her mother and some of her friends had a different take: They told her to go to the dance anyway - that it would be the best way to get back at those who’d bullied her.

Kropp decided they were right. So did her community.

As word of the prank got around quickly in Kropp’s small town, her phone started ringing. People were calling just to encourage her.

Then, local businesses stepped in. One offered to cover the cost of Kropp’s homecoming dress. Another started planning her dinner. A local salon is picking up the cost of her hair, her makeup, her nails, and “anything else she wants,” according to the owners.

“Because so many people came together…it just turned right around,” said Bernice Kropp, Whitney’s mother.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Bullying • Carl Azuz • Character education • CNN Student News • High school
The college students you don't know
September 21st, 2012
01:10 PM ET

The college students you don't know

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) - Mother, early 30s, financially independent, loves shopping online:  The description may not match your idea of the typical college student.

But Edudemic.com is working to reshape the stereotype with some new data about today’s seekers of higher education.

For instance, over 6 million of today’s college students - about 30% - will go online for at least one of their courses, according to the report.  And they'll stay online to do their shopping; college students spent $16 billion over the internet in 2011.

It’s easy to understand how the recession drove many adults back to college campuses.  But the idea that 25% of today’s college students are over age 30 might come as a surprise.  So might the estimate that half of them are financially independent, whereas many of us remember calling home for pizza money.

A study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education estimated that only a third of new jobs created between 2008 and 2018 will require a bachelor's or higher degree.  Today’s enrollment reflects that.  Edudemic.com states that over 50% of today’s students are working toward a certification that takes less time to achieve, such as studying a trade or earning an associate’s degree.

And 27% will be balancing their studies with parenting.

The report notes that a total of 19.7 million people will enroll in college this year.  That works out to more than 6% of the U.S. population.

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Filed under: After High School • Carl Azuz • College • Graduation
Why students skip school
September 14th, 2012
01:20 PM ET

Why students skip school

by Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) - “School is boring,” say about half of American students who routinely skip.  But when asked what they’re doing instead of attending class, most say they’re just hanging out with their friends or sleeping.

A survey recently published at Getschooled.com cites data that as many as 7 million students - about 15% of the K-12 population - are out of school 18 or more days of the school year.  And many of them don’t think skipping school will impact their future.

That’s not in line with reality.  The study points out that students who skip more than 10 days of school are significantly (about 20%) less likely to get a high school diploma.  And they’re 25% less likely to enroll in higher education.

Can parents have an impact here?  Absolutely.  In fact, parental encouragement to attend school was the most widely cited factor in what would make students want to go to class diligently.

But many of those surveyed said their parents didn’t even know when students skipped.  In fact, 42% said their parents either never knew or rarely knew when their kids were absent from school; another 24% added that parents knew “sometimes.”  So parental engagement and knowledge of children’s whereabouts seem key to keeping kids in class.

Students also said that encouragement from anyone to whom they felt a personal connection, from teachers to coaches to celebrities, could influence better attendance.  “If we - parents, educators, and even celebrities - show them we truly care about them, their aspirations and frustrations, they will be more likely to care about making it to school,” writes Marie Groark, executive director of the Get Schooled Foundation.

Other solutions:  Those surveyed said they wanted to see a “clear connection” between their classes and the jobs they’d like down the road.  They also cited a better understanding of consequences, greater support of teachers, and more friends at school as factors that could make them attend more often.

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Filed under: At Home • Behavior • Carl Azuz • High school • Middle school
What not to wear on campus
The education may be higher, but the fashion isn't.
August 31st, 2012
04:10 AM ET

What not to wear on campus

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) - Nothing is further from "Project Runway" than a college campus.

It's true that not every lecture is delivered by a renowned virtuoso, and not every gathering is a frat formal. But it's also true that a lot of students look terrible.

You can help the ones you know clean up a bit by avoiding these common sartorial snafus.

Wearing pajamas when you're not in bed

It's hard to say when jeans became too dressy. It was probably sometime in the '90s. That's when people turned to Zubaz. (Zubaz were conceived when Hammer Pants mated with a zebra or one of its predators.) If you wore Zubaz, you might as well have been wearing pajamas. Hence, pajamas in class.

Here's the thing: No woman ever looks back on her college days and wishes she looked worse. Why do you wanna start behind the eight ball sleeping through Psychology 101 in Spongebob PJs?

For your high school prom, you paid $25 for the ticket and dressed to the nines. If you're gonna spend $8,000 a year on higher education, don't dress for Hulu and cold pizza. FULL POST

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Filed under: After High School • Carl Azuz • College
Doing the math behind homeschooling
August 28th, 2012
07:51 AM ET

Doing the math behind homeschooling

by Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) – Public, private, parochial, charter schools: There's no shortage of options on where to send your children for their education.

But a growing number of Americans are choosing not to send them anywhere at all, opting instead to educate them at home.

The National Center for Education Statistics says that 1.7 percent of kids were homeschooled in 1999, 2.2 percent in 2003, and 2.9 percent in 2007. Today, that figure is at 4 percent, according to an article published at EducationNews.org.

So it appears that the homeschooling growth rate is more exponential than it is steady.

Most parents aren't certified teachers, so it stands to reason why some question the effectiveness of a homeschool education. But the Home School Legal Defense Association, an advocacy group in favor of homeschooling, reported in 2009 that homeschooled students averaged 37 percentile points higher on standardized tests than their public school counterparts.

EducationNews.org backs that up, saying that while students in traditional schools mark the 50th percentile on standardized tests, students who are “independently educated” score between the 65th and 89th percentile.

Of course, there’s a time commitment involved in homeschooling that many families simply can’t make. If a single parent has a full-time job – or if both parents do – setting aside several hours a day to educate a child simply isn’t feasible.

And the arguments against homeschooling – from varying state requirements to reduced social interaction among peers to a lack of student competition – can be challenging issues to address.

But if the number of kids who are homeschooled continues to rise, it may signal a noteworthy trend.

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Filed under: At Home • Carl Azuz • Homeschooling • School choice
August 22nd, 2012
12:02 AM ET

Survey: 17% of high schoolers drink, smoke, use drugs during school day

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) - About 17% of American high school students drink, smoke or use drugs during the school day, a new survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University says.

It's no surprise to their classmates, either: 86% say they know the 2.8 million who are abusing substances during the day, according to the latest version of the center's annual back-to-school survey. The estimate is based on information gleaned from telephone interviews with about 1,000 kids ages 12 to 17.

The survey found that 44% of high school students know a classmate who sells drugs at school, and 60% say that drugs are available on campus. Marijuana was the most-sold on school grounds, students said, as well as prescription drugs, cocaine and ecstasy.

Here are some factors that can increase substance abuse, according to the survey.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Behavior • Carl Azuz • High school • Issues
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