May 31st, 2013
11:27 AM ET

New York eighth-grader wins national spelling bee

By CNN Staff

(CNN) - Arvind Mahankali, a 13-year-old eighth-grader from Bayside Hills, New York, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday, correctly spelling the word "knaidel.""It means that I am retiring on a good note," said Mahankali, who attends Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74 and was in his last year of eligibility. "I shall spend the summer, maybe the entire day, studying physics."

Mahankali, who wants to become a physicist, had finished third in the two previous national bees, being eliminated after misspelling words with German roots.

"I thought that the German curse had turned into a German blessing," he said, when asked what he thought when he heard the final word, a German-derived Yiddish word for a type of dumpling.

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Filed under: Awesome • Spelling • Students
Chicago board votes to close 50 schools
The Chicago Teachers Union, headed by Karen Lewis, opposes the closures.
May 23rd, 2013
03:07 PM ET

Chicago board votes to close 50 schools

By CNN Staff

(CNN) - The Chicago Board of Education voted Wednesday to close 50 schools, a controversial move that drew sharp criticism from the city's teachers union.The vote comes two months after officials announced plans to shutter the schools.

The closures "will consolidate underutilized schools and programs to provide students with the quality, 21st century education they need to succeed in the classroom," Chicago Public Schools said in a statement Wednesday.

The Chicago Teachers Union opposed the closures, which it said would disproportionately affect African-American students.

"Today is a day of mourning for the children of Chicago. Their education has been hijacked by an unrepresentative, unelected corporate school board, acting at the behest of a mayor who has no vision for improving the education of our children," said Karen Lewis, the union's president. "Closing schools is not an education plan. It is a scorched earth policy."

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Filed under: Illinois • School budgets • School closings • teacher unions
March 6th, 2013
11:30 AM ET

As classes resume, Oberlin grapples with hate messages

By CNN Staff

Oberlin, Ohio (CNN) - A day after students at Oberlin College put down their books to focus on how to respond to a spate of hate messages targeting blacks, Jews and gays on campus, classes resumed Tuesday amid tension.

The messages included graffiti with swastikas, posters containing racial slurs and other derogatory statements targeting various student communities and fliers bearing racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic language.

A student's report on Monday that she had seen someone on campus dressed like a member of the Ku Klux Klan led the school to suspend classes for the day.

"I saw someone in what seemed to be KKK paraphernalia walking on a pathway, like, a pathway that leads to South Campus," the student, Sunceray Tavler, told CNN affiliate WJW. "Just seeing that and having that sink in, this is something that's real, that actually happens."

Police said they received a report of a student wearing a blanket on his or her shoulders but could not say whether the incidents were related.

Two students have been identified as being involved in the postings from February and will be subject to college disciplinary procedures, Oberlin police said.

Oberlin President Marvin Krislov said he was not able to discuss the details of the ongoing investigation. "It is a law enforcement matter," he told CNN.

He praised Monday's campuswide focus on the matter, calling it "an educational moment." The students "feel inspired because this institution has the courage to talk about these issues and to confront concerns and that that is part of our educational mission," he said.

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Filed under: College • Diversity • School safety
NYC five-week school bus strike ending, 150,000 students will ride again
About 9,000 New York City bus drivers will return to work Wednesday after the end of a five-week strike.
February 16th, 2013
04:37 PM ET

NYC five-week school bus strike ending, 150,000 students will ride again

By CNN Staff

(CNN) - A five-week strike by a New York City school bus drivers' union is ending, with nearly 9,000 drivers heading back to work next week and some 150,000 students getting their rides to class again.

The strike - the first for school bus drivers in New York City since 1979 - began after Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in a cost-cutting move, put nearly 1,100 bus routes worked by the union drivers up for bids.

Michael Cordiello, president of the drivers' union local, said in a conference call Friday the union decided to end its strike after five current Democratic candidates for New York mayor pledged to "revisit the school bus transportation system" if elected. Drivers, who were demanding job security, will report for work next Wednesday morning, Cordiello said.

For his part, Bloomberg said Friday, "I urged the union leaders to end the strike and made clear that the City would not be held hostage ... Tonight, they agreed."

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Filed under: Issues • School staff
February 6th, 2013
10:12 PM ET

Action film star to lead school shooting response exercise

By CNN staff

(CNN) - Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s team will participate in a simulated school shooting as a training exercise, with help from a special celebrity guest, according to a statement.

Along with instructors, actor Steven Seagal will lead the simulation, to take place in the Arizona county on Saturday, February 9.

Seagal, who has made a name for himself headlining action movies such as “Above the Law” and Under Seige,” will help educate 40 armed volunteers on room-entry tactics and hand-to-hand tactics, the statement says.

It's one of several new school security events and strategies districts across the country are trying after the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Read the full post on CNN's Marquee blog

What do you think? Is it helpful to have star power, or distracting from real issues of school security? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Filed under: Issues • School safety
January 30th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Undocumented students in limbo during immigration negotiations

(CNN) - As Washington lawmakers try to hammer out an immigration reform plan, millions find themselves caught in the middle, including many students.

With protestors outside, President Barack Obama threw his support behind comprehensive immigration reform on Tuesday while speaking inside a Las Vegas high school with a majority-Latino student population. Some 1.8 million young people could apply for "deferred action," an executive order Obama signed last year that allows people who entered the country illegally as children to remain and work without fear of deportation for at least two years. But the policy change doesn't apply to everyone in their families. One 16-year-old girl said, "It's like being out in the cold and me having the only blanket in the family."

Some undocumented students are trying to get an education now, despite uncertainty about what job prospects or additional educational opportunities will be available to them in a couple of years. For now, they're keeping one eye on their studies, and one on the immigration debate.



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Filed under: DREAM Act • Latino students • Policy
Mayor Bloomberg's giving to alma mater tops $1 billion
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1964.
January 28th, 2013
04:00 AM ET

Mayor Bloomberg's giving to alma mater tops $1 billion

By CNN Staff

(CNN) - A kid raised in a middle-class Boston suburb, Michael Bloomberg took out loans to pay for his tuition at Johns Hopkins University and worked as a parking lot attendant.He learned early to pay it forward.

Bloomberg's first gift to his alma mater was a whopping $5 in 1965, a year after he graduated with a bachelor's degree in engineering.

Fast forward to Saturday, when the Baltimore university announced Bloomberg has now given a total of $1.1 billion. The latest commitment came in the form of a cool $350 million toward a "transformational" initiative aimed at cross-discipline solutions to societal problems.

In a statement, Johns Hopkins said Bloomberg, a former trustee, is believed to be the first person to ever reach the $1 billion level of giving to a single U.S. institution of higher education.

The university's Twitter feed was aglow with information on the gift. One tweet heralded the announcement with the words, "Big News," which might have been an understatement.

Among other things, the donation will fund 2,600 Bloomberg Scholarships over 10 years and 50 distinguished scholars.

Of the $350 million, $100 million will go toward "need-based financial aid" for undergraduate students.

"Johns Hopkins University has been an important part of my life since I first set foot on campus more than five decades ago," Bloomberg said in the press release. "Each dollar I have given has been well-spent improving the institution and, just as importantly, making its education available to students who might otherwise not be able to afford it."

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Filed under: Alumni • College • Financial aid