December 1st, 2011
01:09 PM ET

Freedom University: studying in secret

By Thelma Gutierrez and Traci Tamura, CNN

Editor’s Update: In the hours since we first reported this story, there have been significant developments. The University Council at the University of Georgia voted to pass a resolution which opposes the Board of Regents policy passed last fall. The policy forbids undocumented students from attending five of its top public universities. It’s a symbolic win for supporters of academically qualified undocumented students who are banned from attending UGA, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University and Georgia Health Sciences University and Georgia College and State University, schools that the Board of Regents say had admitted undocumented students in the last two years. Regents spokesman John Millsaps told CNN while the regents have no plan to revisit the issue, they are not preventing undocumented students from getting an education. Millsaps says there are 30 other public institutions in the University System of Georgia that they can attend. He said the regents passed the policy amid growing public concern that undocumented students were taking limited seats away from qualified citizens and legal immigrants. He emphasized the regents have no plans to change the policy.

Every Sunday, in an unmarked building, in an undisclosed location in the college town of Athens, Georgia, a group of students quietly gather in secret. They are aspiring professors, diplomats and engineers who have been banned from Georgia's top five public universities.

But here, in this donated space, it is safe to study.

Undocumented students attending class at Freedom University

Undocumented students attending class at Freedom University

This place is called Freedom University. It has one classroom and four professors, scholars who've taught at the likes of Amherst, Harvard, Emory and Yale, who are teaching here, on their days off, without pay.

Their students are undocumented. They have nowhere else to go and no one else to teach them.

The American Dream

Keish grew up in South Korea. She remembers the harsh education regimen in her home town of Seoul. Classes Monday through Saturday. After-class academic programs every day. Keish and her fellow students in Seoul were basically at school from 8 in the morning until 8 at night every day except Sunday.

It sounds like a much more ambitious education system than in the United States. So how is it that Keish's parents, who lived an upper-middle-class life in Seoul, her father earning enough money as a salesman to enable her mother to stay at home – how is it that such a couple would move to America with one thing in mind: their children's education?

December 1st, 2011
07:34 AM ET

Herczog: Social Studies education is key to preparing our next generation

By Michelle M. Herczog, Special to CNN

Courtesy Michelle HerczogEditor’s note: Dr. Michelle M. Herczog is a former classroom teacher and Reading Specialist and is currently the History-Social Science Consultant at the Los Angeles County Office of Education. She serves on the Board of Directors of the National Council for the Social Studies, which is holding its annual conference in Washington, D.C. this week. Dr. Herczog has authored numerous social studies curriculum materials, provided professional development to hundreds of K-12 educators, and actively advocates for legislation to support effective social studies education at local, state and national levels.

The Arab Spring, Climate Change, Occupy Wall Street, Race to the White House, and the Super Committee. Real challenges in today’s world require great thinkers, innovative problem solvers and engaged citizens of a global community. How do we prepare the next generation to address these complex challenges?

The answer lies with Social Studies education. No other subject area offers the core content knowledge and deep critical thinking about the history of the world; the impact of geography on people, places and events; the cause and effect of complex economic conditions; and the role and responsibilities of governments and citizens. Social Studies provide the background knowledge, capacity for problem solving and critical thinking, as well as the collaboration and communication skills needed to address today’s problems head on in intelligent, thoughtful ways. And whether students’ lives lead them to college or the workforce, they must also be prepared to address complex challenges as effective, engaged citizens of our nation and our world in the 21st century.

Posted by
Filed under: Policy • Practice • Voices