January 25th, 2012
05:56 PM ET

USDA issues new rules for school meals

By Madison Park, CNN
(CNN) - School meals will have to offer fruits and vegetables to students every day under standards issued by the United States Department of Agriculture on Wednesday.

The meal programs, which feed about 32 million students in public and private schools, will have to reduce sodium, saturated fat and trans fats. Schools must also offer more whole grains as well as fat-free or low-fat milk varieties.

These standards go into effect July 1 and will be phased in over a three-year period, according to the USDA.

The new nutrition standards are largely based on recommendations by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, as part of efforts to curb childhood obesity. Recent numbers show that about 17% of children in the United States are obese.

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Filed under: On air • Policy • School lunch • video
Your thoughts on President Obama's education agenda
U.S. President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) delivers his State of the Union speech on January 24, 2012.
January 25th, 2012
11:02 AM ET

Your thoughts on President Obama's education agenda

By the Schools of Thought Editors

(CNN) Education was one major focus of last night’s State of the Union address.

President Obama talked about the value of good teachers, stemming the tide of high school dropouts, the cost of college and a path to citizenship for some students.

You can read the transcript of the entire speech here.

Here are some excerpts from the speech that focus on education:

On Teachers:

Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let’s offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.

On the Dropout Crisis:

We also know that when students aren’t allowed to walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. So tonight, I call on every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen.

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Filed under: Policy • Practice
January 25th, 2012
07:45 AM ET

My View: Education reform based on school choice

Andrew Campanella By Andrew Campanella, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Andrew Campanella is the vice president of public affairs for National School Choice Week. He is the former national director of communications at the American Federation for Children, the school choice movement’s largest lobbying and political organization, and was also a senior adviser for the federation’s nonprofit affiliate, the Alliance for School Choice.

For a moment, try to envision an America where, regardless of how much money you make or where you live, the government empowered you - even encouraged you - to send your children to better schools.

I’m talking about schools that inspire your children, challenge them to excel, and encourage them to dream big and plan for their futures, all while teaching them to love learning.

Sounds impossible. Sounds impractical. Sounds expensive.

But it isn’t.

It’s called school choice, and it’s the notion that across the country, families should be empowered to choose the best educational environments for their children - public schools, public charter schools, private schools, virtual schools and even home schooling.

Millions of Americans now agree that we must abandon archaic central planning that told us that if you live in one ZIP code, you can choose only one public school. Choice has become a centerpiece of American life, so why shouldn’t it extend to education?

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Filed under: At Home • Charter schools • Issues • Policy • School choice • Voices