Welcome to Schools of Thought
November 14th, 2011
07:49 AM ET

Welcome to Schools of Thought

Welcome to CNN’s education blog!  Schools of Thought is a place to engage in a conversation on education. Here you’ll see stories and viewpoints about a wide range of topics, from No Child Left Behind to districts dealing with budget cuts to what’s hanging in your kid’s locker.  You’ll get news and perspectives from public, private and parochial schools, as well as homeschoolers.  You’ll hear from parents, teachers and students and other stakeholders in education who have stories to tell and opinions to offer.

And along the way, there will be lessons learned (no pun intended).  Have you ever thought you knew – but were afraid to ask - what AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) means? Are you wondering how to make the most of a 30-minute parent-teacher conference?  Are you a teacher who is being challenged to
meet the needs of a greater student population with fewer resources?  Are you a student who is weighing the pros and cons of a college education?  Well,
stay tuned.  These and other questions will be addressed in Schools of Thought.

In addition, a student’s educational experience often includes those life lessons that aren’t components of the curriculum. Our kids learn from participating in extracurricular activities like sports, clubs and service.  But they also learn about life from challenges that they might face daily, such as relationships, family
problems, bullying and financial concerns. There are teachable moments and opportunities for learning there as well. Our team of journalists, educators, parents and guest bloggers will address these issues, too.

And we’ll attempt to provide some insight into the bigger questions confronting education: How do we convey knowledge that the next generation needs in order to take its place in a world of new economic and social realities? How do we do our best, as educators and parents, to guide our students through their life challenges?

As a parent and former teacher, I know (and you do, too) that no one has all the answers.  We can find a lot that’s right – and wrong – with how we educate our kids.  But in our search for answers, there could be aspects of different educational experiences that offer solutions for your school, your child or you. There might be something you see here that gets you thinking, ignites an idea, nudges you to offer a comment.  We welcome your thoughts and story ideas at  SchoolsofThought@cnn.com or send us an iReport.

Which brings us full circle to what Schools of Thought is –an exchange of information, experiences and ideas. After all, isn’t that what education is all about?

- Donna Krache, editor

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November 14th, 2011
07:47 AM ET

Opinion: What happens when there is no message in the chaos?

Editor’s Note: Steve G. Manuel is a senior lecturer of communications at Penn State University. He earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Penn State.

By Steve Manuel, Special to CNN

The events at Penn State University this week forced many instructors to toss their lesson plans into the trash. Students were interested in only one topic: Joe Paterno, the legendary Nittany Lion football coach, whom the Penn State Board of Trustees fired in midseason. My classrooms were no exception. My largest class, Introduction to Public Relations, which normally has 232 students, went far beyond that as former students and others joined us, interested in what my discussion of the unfolding events might be. I specialize in crisis communications and teach the class every spring semester. There is a host of lessons to be learned, and unfortunately, many of them are needed by the leadership, not the students.

Students are by nature idealistic, and I believe even more so here on the Good Ship Happy Valley. They think with their hearts (which isn’t always a bad thing) rather than their brains. Emotion has a way of clouding objective thinking. I refer affectionately to State College, Pennsylvania, as the largest piece of insulation in the world. Nothing bad can happen here, or so people think. I must admit that it is one of the reasons I have spent nearly 19 years here. The alleged child molestation by a former Penn State football coach must have been a rude awakening to many in this idyllic town. But it isn’t Jerry Sandusky (the accused); Graham Spanier, the university president; Timothy Curley, the former athletic director; Gary Schultz, retired finance director; or even current assistant coach Mike McQueary - all central players in this drama - that the students focused on. It is, of course, the 85-year-old coach, Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in Division I college football.

The students were not alone. The media focused on Joe Paterno as well, rather than the real issue: the young victims. The news media can’t take all the blame. For several days the university remained silent, allowing Penn State critics and the news media to craft the message, a major error in effective crisis communications. Penn State alumni worldwide were outraged, hurt, disappointed - pick an adjective - and someone out there was feeling it, including me. I earned two degrees at Penn State.


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November 14th, 2011
07:16 AM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the Schools of Thought Editors are reading today:

The Independent: Trade training is tailor made: The business world rediscovers the value of the apprentice
Some British businesses want to bring back the centuries-old apprenticeship system, and a recent survey finds that many students would prefer apprenticeships over college.

Cleveland.com: Ohio teachers will be graded on students' academic growth
In a pilot program with 30% of the state's districts participating, value-added is being tested as a way to evaluate teachers.

PILOTed: Reducing Student Dropouts
Poverty is a key factor in the dropout rate, but there are ways to engage disadvantaged students and help them see that education offers hope.

NPR: Educated And Jobless: What's Next For Millennials?
Some of today's most popular college majors have the highest unemployment rates.

NYC Public School Parents: 10 Point Education Platform for NYC Public Schools: What We Demand!
A group of young activists from a youth arts organization lays out its 10 demands for quality education in NYC schools.

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento State psychology professor won't teach without snacks
Sacramento State psychology professor says students providing snacks encourages them to work collectively. When a class failed to bring snacks, the professor walked out.

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