April 26th, 2012
02:14 PM ET

Dad plants bug on autistic son to confirm school mistreatment

By Leigh Remizowski, CNN

(CNN) - A New Jersey man has launched a website to publicize what he calls "a culture of bullying" by teachers in his son's Cherry Hill classroom after sending the boy - who has been diagnosed with autism - to school with a covert recording device.

Stuart Chaifetz said he placed the recorder in the pocket of his 10-year-old son, Akian, in an attempt to find out why staffers at Horace Mann Elementary School had reported that the boy had been acting out and hitting his teachers.

What surfaced was more than six hours of recordings of what he says are teachers and aides apparently talking about alcohol and sex in front of the class, punctuated by yelling at his son to "shut your mouth."

Chaifetz posted the recording online Monday, which has since led to disciplinary actions, including the removal of at least one teacher, school officials said.

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Filed under: Autism • Bullying • video
Muslim and Jewish students join to celebrate art
Art on display at the interfaith art gala hosted by Muslim and Jewish student organizations at Emory University.
April 26th, 2012
06:40 AM ET

Muslim and Jewish students join to celebrate art

By Summer Suleiman, CNN

ATLANTA (CNN) - Canvases with bold colors and Arabic letters lined the walls of the rooms. Downstairs, students rapped about Islam and Judaism to their own version of the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” melody, followed by songs performed in Arabic, Hebrew and English. For the first time, Muslim and Jewish students at Emory University collaborated for an interfaith art gala.

The Muslim Student Association has planned galas for the past eight years, but this year, the group decided to take it a step further. It joined with Emory Hillel, the Jewish student organization, to host the gala. The program strives to use art to promote understanding and tolerance.

Asad Abdulla, president of the Muslim Student Association, is a senior at Emory. When he started as a freshman four years ago, he said, there was a clear divide between Muslim and Jewish students, with little interaction on campus. The students have worked hard to change that.

“We want to serve as a model for other schools, to show that this is what other campuses should try to strive for in terms of Muslim-Jewish relations,” Abdulla said.

Their efforts bear tragic relevance. Last month, an attack at a Jewish school in France left four people dead. In California, a Muslim woman was beaten to death in her home and left with a note that read, “Go back to your country.”

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Filed under: College • Issues • Practice
April 25th, 2012
03:15 PM ET

National Teacher of the Year's "business model"

2012 Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki shares how she used lessons from her business background in the classroom.

Watch part two of the interview:

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Filed under: Curriculum • On air • Practice • Teachers • video
April 25th, 2012
02:00 PM ET

Today's Reading List

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

CBS4 Denver: Bill Would Give Tax Break On School Supplies
The average American family spends an estimated $500 to $600 a year on school supplies and children's clothing. The Colorado legislature is considering a bill that would waive taxes on school supplies and clothing for three days in August, a waiver that already exists in about 16 other states.

CBS Philly: Philadelphia School District Could Close 40 Schools Next Year
Philadelphia's school district says its budget deficit could balloon to more than a billion dollars in the next five years if it doesn't take some drastic action. The district is looking at closing dozens of schools and trimming hundreds of positions from its central office staff.

NPR: Can A Computer Grade Essays As Well As A Human? Maybe Even Better, Study Says
A new study suggests that computer software may be able to grade essays more consistently and faster than humans – if the grades are based on language mechanics. What the software doesn't check for is facts, and it has a hard time with poetry and highly stylized writing.

CBSChicago: ‘Flipped Classroom’ Getting A Tryout At Suburban High Schools
In a flipped classroom in Chicago, students are watching 20 minute lectures at home. Then the students work on assignments in class.

Nanny.net: 10 Ways to Teach Young Kids to Write Computer Programs
Computer programming skills could help children gain the analytical skills to solve complex problems. The author offers up ten ways to teach young kids, even as young as 7, to learn programming.

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Filed under: Curriculum • Economy • Policy • Practice • Technology • Testing • Today's Reading List
When senioritis strikes
April 25th, 2012
06:40 AM ET

When senioritis strikes

by Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) Second semester, senior year of high school:  Senioritis hits like the flu.  Students’ hard work either has or hasn’t paid off by this point; many have been accepted into universities, and some have secured scholarship money to help pay for higher education.  Others are eyeing trade schools, planning to enter the full-time workforce…and concentrating on anything but schoolwork.

The symptoms are lack of motivation, disinterest in classes, withdrawal from extracurricular activities, and general apathy regarding anything but the people they’re dating.  According to a student at New Jersey’s Madison High School, the causes and conditions don’t have favorites.  “Let me assure you,” the writer says, “true senioritis applies only to those two-hundred-plus members of the Class of 2012 who have entered into the home stretch.”

There’s some comfort in knowing that others are going through it, too.  But the fact that they are is part of the problem, according to an eHow article on fending off senioritis.  Having someone to motivate an affected student – a friend, a teacher, a sibling – can help keep the student focused on school when he’s distracted with everything but.

The article also goes on to suggest planning coursework in advance, avoiding procrastination (a tall order for most), and saving the slacking for the weekend – all helpful tips in powering through the last part of senior year.

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Filed under: Behavior • College • High school • Practice
Student loan rate hike: What you need to know
Congress has until July 1 to extend current low rates on subsidized student loans for more than 7 million undergraduates.
April 24th, 2012
04:39 PM ET

Student loan rate hike: What you need to know

By Jennifer Liberto @CNNMoney

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) - On July 1, the interest rates on student loans subsidized by Uncle Sam will double to 6.8%.

The upshot? Students taking out loans for the next school year will have to dig deeper in their pockets to pay them off. Unless Congress steps in to stop the increase from going forward.

The issue has become a political talking point. President Obama, who called for congressional action in his State of the Union speech in January, is using the issue to stump for votes.

His Republican rival Mitt Romney says he, too, believes Congress should step in.

What's at stake: More than 7 million undergraduates have subsidized student loans, which means the federal government absorbs some of the interest rate for lower- and middle-income families based on financial need.

If Congress does nothing, the cost to students borrowing the maximum $23,000 in subsidized loans is an extra $5,000 over a 10-year repayment period. The cost to the federal government to extend the lower interest rate is $5.8 billion, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Read the full story from CNNMoney
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Filed under: CNNMoney • College • Policy
April 24th, 2012
12:35 PM ET

California middle school educator is Teacher of the Year

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) – President Obama praised more than 50 teachers at a ceremony at the White House on Tuesday. The educators were previously honored by their states and territories as Teachers of the Year. President Obama told the group “I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for teachers like these.”

On Monday, The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced that Rebecca Mieliwocki, a 7th grade English teacher from California, is the 2012 National Teacher of the Year. The 14-year veteran educator said, ““I have an unshakeable understanding that when children have a strong education, they can do anything.”

Earlier in an interview, Mieliwocki said, “I'm not the best teacher in America; I'm one of so many.”

California chose Mieliwocki as the state’s Teacher of the Year from among its roughly 287,000 teachers. The state’s selection process included a written application, visits by officials to her classroom and an interview. Mieliwocki is known for her teaching techniques at Luther Burbank Middle School. She would play music on her iPad while students work, or use playing cards to select students randomly to read in class.

Learn more about 2012 National Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki from CNN affiliate KTLA.

One of Mieliwocki’s colleagues, Sue Lipschultz, told the Los Angeles Daily News, “My feeling is that [Mieliwocki] should be training teachers – she's that good – but she loves those kids and loves being in the classroom."

A panel of educators from 15 national organizations chose Mieliwocki from the Teachers of the Year of all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., four U.S. territories and the Department of Defense Education Activity. State teachers of the year are nominated by students, teachers, principals and district administrators.

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Filed under: Practice • Teachers
April 24th, 2012
11:55 AM ET

Today's Reading List

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

U.S. News: Report: Community College Attendance Up, But Graduation Rates Remain Low
According to the article, community colleges are supposed to be a stepping stone to either four-year schools or high-tech careers. A new report shows that while enrollment at community colleges is up, less than half of their students graduate or transfer to a four-year college within six years.

WTHR.com: Students pay price for underage drinking
This past weekend was the biggest annual party weekend of the year at Indiana University. More students than ever were issued citations related to underage drinking, but will it change student attitudes towards alcohol?

ABC13: Boy, 16, takes special needs friend to prom
Amber House's parents know she is a social butterfly, but they thought House wouldn't get a date for the prom because she has Down syndrome. It turns out Matt Gill already asked her, and Gill says House always was his first choice for the big day.

Time.com: Berkeley High School Students Pull Off Ferris Bueller-esque Attendance Hack
Some Berkeley High School students hacked into the school's attendance system. Dozens of students who allegedly bought or sold login information or changed school records have been suspended and the school may expel the ringleaders.

Mail Online: When playtime wasn't ruled by 'elf and safety: Photographs show how children had fun before the inspectors took over
Most of the images in this photo essay were taken on British playgrounds in the pre-World War II era. The clothes, the asphalt surfaces, and the equipment have changed, but recess was then, as now, a time for fun outside.

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Filed under: Cheating • College • Issues • Policy • Practice • Today's Reading List
Texting teens learn to talk face to face
Lori Kelman (right) helps student Rebecca Smith and other teens improve fundamental communications skills lost to texting technology with her program, Enhancing Teen Communication.
April 24th, 2012
06:34 AM ET

Texting teens learn to talk face to face

by Jim Roope, CNN

Listen to CNN Radio's podcast from Jim Roope about a class that teaches teens to communicate face to face.

Los Angeles (CNN) It's an often-observed teenage obsession: texting. Kids today spend an awful lot of time bent over cell phones sending text messages to each other. In fact, you can observe them sitting within normal talking distance from each other yet instead of talking, they'll be texting a conversation.

"I see that the kids are so involved in texting that they shy away from communicating face-to-face," said Lori Kelman, founder of the program 'Enhancing Teen Communication.'

"They bury themselves in text, hide behind texting, will say things through text that they wouldn't in a million years say to somebody face-to-face. That's not a good thing," Kelman said.

Kelman, who spent most of her professional life as a broadcaster for Los Angeles radio station KFWB and in corporate marketing and public relations, said she got the idea for the program when attending her daughter's class one day and as the kids would stand to introduce themselves and talk a little about themselves, many could barely string two words together. On child she said, stood there, hands folded, staring up for five minutes, not able to utter a word. "My heart broke for her," Kelman said.

This lack of fundamental communications skills, she believes, is a result of texting technology. It can hurt teens, she says, as they interview for jobs or college.

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Filed under: Podcast • Practice • Technology
April 23rd, 2012
03:32 PM ET

The push for longer school days

Steve Perry talks about why he is in favor of longer school days, as long as the actual education is improved, too.

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Filed under: Perry's Principles • video • Voices
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