March 7th, 2012
03:50 PM ET

Opinion: Let's teach our students about character

by William J. Bennett, CNN Contributor

Editor's note: William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.

(CNN) - When the gunman entered Chardon High School cafeteria and opened fire, killing three students and injuring two others, he came face-to-face with assistant football coach Frank Hall.

Hall, a study hall and cafeteria monitor and the football team's offensive coordinator, didn't back down. When other people panicked and ran away in fear, Hall confronted the 17-year-old suspect and chased him out of the school.

His work didn't end there. He returned to the side of the victims, Demetrius Hewlin, 16, Russell King Jr., 17, and Daniel Parmertor, 16. He prayed with them, wiped their tears, and comforted them in their last moments.

In the end, the three boys died of their injuries. But Hall's remarkable courage saved the lives of countless other innocents that tragic morning of February 27.

Read the full story from Opinion
Valedictorian facing deportation gets reprieve in Florida
An immigration judge ruled last week that Daniela Pelaez was to be deported for being in the country illegally.
March 7th, 2012
02:10 PM ET

Valedictorian facing deportation gets reprieve in Florida

by the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) – A Florida high school valedictorian and her sister who were facing deportation will instead meet Wednesday in Washington with Sen. Marco Rubio, after being granted a reprieve.

An immigration judge ruled last week that Daniela Pelaez, 18, and her sister Dayana were to be deported for being in the country illegally.

But Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tuesday gave the sisters a two-year reprieve. The decision was made under the policy of prosecutorial discretion, which is designed to prioritize deportation for illegal crossers with a criminal record, instead of those who pose little or no risk.

"The agency exercises prosecutorial discretion, on a case by case basis, as necessary to focus resources on our stated priorities," ICE spokesman Nestor Yglesias said in a statement Wednesday

Read the full story from the In America blog
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Filed under: In America • Issues • Policy
March 7th, 2012
01:32 PM ET

Kate Beckinsale kicks off National Reading Month

By Jennifer Gerardo, CNN

(CNN) Actress Kate Beckinsale kicked off this National Reading Month by promoting the importance of reading through “The Nestlé Joy of Reading Program”. CNN’s J.D. Cargill sat down with Beckinsale at a recent event to discuss her love of reading and why she got involved in the project.

Beckinsale said that Nestlé’s commitment to providing books to underprivileged children is what attracted her to the program. She explained, “61% of low-income families have absolutely no books in their homes at all for children and 80% of preschools that serve underprivileged children have no age-appropriate books for those children.” Beckinsale thinks those statistics are disheartening and applauds Nestlé’s efforts to alleviate this problem.

Beckinsale says that reading is a very important part of her life and it’s one way she connects with her daughter. She’s gotten so much out of reading to her daughter and wanted to share that with other children.

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Filed under: At Home • Reading
Teacher buyouts: A sign of the times
March 7th, 2012
10:30 AM ET

Teacher buyouts: A sign of the times

by Carl Azuz, CNN

It’s happening now in Grapevine,Texas:  Almost 40 teachers have signed up for an early buyout. Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District is making an offer that many can’t (or simply don’t want to) refuse: a bonus of 10 percent of teachers’ salaries to those who retire or resign.

The offer, which was popular in Grapevine, will help the district cut down a $7 million budget shortfall.  And it’s certainly not the only district to try this.

Late last year, Pittsburgh Public Schools approved a buyout plan that would offer some teachers almost 70% of their pay, plus severance, over eight years. Baltimore offered more than 700 teachers 75 percent of their pay over a five-year period.  And in Dallas, hundreds of teachers camped out to accept as much as $10,000 to resign at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

Offering experienced teachers buyout plans enables schools to save money in the long run.  Those who’ve spent years in the classroom are more likely to have higher salaries, so giving them incentive to quit by offering lump sums of money or percentage pay enables schools ultimately to save on teacher pay and benefits.  Then, the school systems have the option to hire younger teachers who command smaller salaries – or simply downsize.

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Filed under: Policy • Practice • Teachers