April 23rd, 2012
01:05 PM ET

Gov. Romney or Pres. Obama better on education?

Budget cuts hit poor students hardest. Christopher Metzler and Sam Chaltain discuss the educational gap between the wealthy and poor.

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Filed under: Policy • Politics • Practice • video • Your Bottom Line
Time spent playing video games pays off for student
Sinclair Community College student Trace Curry credits his video game playing as a factor in his success in the college's Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) program.
April 23rd, 2012
06:28 AM ET

Time spent playing video games pays off for student

by Katherine Dorsett Bennett, CNN

(CNN) Complaints by some parents to their school-aged children that video games "aren't good for you" may not necessarily be true.

Apparently, a "PlayStation" mentality can pay off for students interested in aviation and could lead to a future career in that industry.

The strong hand-eye coordination skills and familiarity with a visual readout (from playing video games) can particularly create an advantage for aviation students interested in the field of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), said Dr. Steve Johnson, President of Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. "I think there are a lot of things that go into being successful as a student in any program and this is no different," he said.

UAS is an aircraft (also commonly known as a drone or unmanned aerial vehicle) that doesn't carry a crew and is remotely piloted. There are a wide variety of these flying machines. A major benefit of this aircraft is that in theory it can perform many dangerous tasks as a manned aircraft without risking the lives of a pilot and crew.  Most UAS programs have been historically designed for the military, but commercial industries are now developing new types of UAS applications and need to hire people trained in this field, according to Adam Murka, the director of public information at Sinclair.

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Filed under: Practice • Technology
Obama pushes to keep low student loan rates
"We have to educate our way to a better economy," education secretary Arne Duncan said Friday.
April 20th, 2012
04:53 PM ET

Obama pushes to keep low student loan rates

By Jennifer Liberto, CNNMoney

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) - President Obama will use his bully pulpit to urge lawmakers to prevent a doubling of interest rates on federally subsidized student loans.

On July 1, the interest rate on federal subsidized loans will go from 3.4% to 6.8%. That means students taking out loans for the next school year will have to dig deeper in their pockets to pay them off.

"If we want to keep jobs in our country, we have to have an educated work force," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Friday. "We have to educate our way to a better economy."

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.

Read the full story

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Filed under: CNNMoney • College • Policy
April 20th, 2012
01:30 PM ET

Today's Reading List

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

NYTimes Schoolbook: With Test Week Here, Parents Consider the Option of Opting Out
In a show of protest against high-stakes testing that they say is counter-productive and doesn’t measure a child’s true ability, some parents are opting to keep their children out of the tests this year.

The Educated Reporter: Will Merit Pay Make Teachers More Effective?
Under a new law taking effect in Indiana, student test scores will now be taken into account in teacher pay raises.  Does this approach work?

WFSB:  Pro-choice, anti-abortion groups clash at UConn; 2 arrested
Two students were arrested on the Storrs campus when they blocked an anti-abortion group’s display.

WAOW.com: Students pledge to stop dirty dancing
Before students at one high school in Wisconsin buy a prom ticket, they have to sign a dance code of conduct pledge.

TurnTo23.com: Local Track Team Flooded With Donations From All Over America
Fremont Elementary's track team has gone from running in flip flops and house slippers to running in real track shoes, thanks to donations that poured in after their story went viral.



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Filed under: Behavior • College • Issues • Teachers • Testing • Today's Reading List
April 20th, 2012
11:13 AM ET

Colorado university hopes to repel stoners on '420' day

By Jim Spellman, CNN

Boulder, Colorado (CNN) - When the clock strikes 4:20 p.m. on April 20, or 4/20, marijuana fans will come out of the shadows to proudly smoke pot in parks and on college campuses across the country. The number 420 has become synonymous with all things marijuana, but exactly why is less clear.

Whatever the number's origin, "420" events across the country have become opportunities to advocate the legalization of marijuana. The expansion of medical marijuana in California, Colorado and other states is making efforts to legalize marijuana more mainstream and making more people comfortable coming out and smoking pot in public, according to Chris Conrad, curator of the Oaksterdam Cannabis Museum in Oakland, California.

One of the biggest pro-pot rallies is the annual smokeout on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder. The rally has taken place for about a decade and, in recent years, attendance has grown, according to university spokesman Bronson Hilliard. Last year, more than 10,000 people showed up to light up on the campus' Norlin quad.

"People fly in from around the country to participate," Hilliard explained. "We don't understand why they have to come to (this) campus."

This year the university is attempting to put an end to the annual ritual. They will shut down the campus to everyone except faculty, staff and students. Violators could face trespassing charges.

A haze of smoke rises above marijuana advocates at the UC Boulder 4/20 rally in 2010.

To discourage students from lighting up, the university has decided to fertilize the grassy area of Norlin quad on Friday.

"We're trying to do things to make it not a fun place to be," said Hilliard. "We are using a fish-based fertilizer. It is a rather foul-smelling emulsifier.

Read the full story

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Filed under: After High School • Behavior • College • Issues
College roommate survival tips
April 20th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

College roommate survival tips

by Jordan Bienstock, CNN

(CNN) It’s that time of year when colleges and universities send out acceptance letters. For prospective students, the euphoria of knowing where they’re heading for that first taste of independent living may be mixed with some anxiety about whom they’ll be living with.

How do I pick a roommate? What if we don’t get along?

Have no fear! The Schools of Thought blog is here with some college roommate survival tips.

Tip #1 – Get started early
Wesley Pickard works in the Residence Life and Housing office at Emory University in Atlanta. “Every university that has a good housing department is going to make roommate-finding software available to students,” Pickard says. “The onus is on the student to take advantage of that.” He says incoming freshmen who aren’t pro-active in the process are often the ones who end up having roommate problems.

Tip #2 – Best friends AND roommates? What could go wrong?!?
A lot. Deciding to room with someone you already know can have its benefits. It’s a built-in support system in an unfamiliar environment. But being friends with someone and LIVING with them are often two completely different situations. If you think you can weather the ups and downs, great. If not, you might want to consider rooming apart in order to keep the friendship together.

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Filed under: College • Practice
Living near good schools will cost an extra $200K
April 19th, 2012
06:04 PM ET

Living near good schools will cost an extra $200K

By Tami Luhby, CNNMoney

(CNNMoney) - Want to live in a good school district? It'll cost you an extra $200k.

Home values are $205,000 higher, on average, in neighborhoods with high-scoring public schools versus schools with low scores, according to a new report issued by the Brookings Institution.

Homes in high-scoring neighborhoods typically have 1.5 additional rooms, and 30% fewer are rented, the study found. Housing costs average $11,000 more per year in areas with better schools.

Some of the areas with largest differences in housing costs also have the widest gaps in school test scores. The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metro area in Connecticut, for instance, has both the widest gap in test scores between higher-income and lower-income neighborhood schools and the largest difference in housing costs, at $25,000.

Not surprisingly, income has an impact on test scores. The average low-income student attends a school that scores at the 42nd percentile on state exams, while the average middle/high-income student goes to schools that score at the 61st percentile.

Poor students have become more concentrated in schools with other poor students since 1998, Brookings found. The average low-income student attends a school where 64% of fellow students are low-income, though they represent only 48% of all U.S. public school students. The percentage of economically integrated schools is less than 7%.

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Filed under: At Home • CNNMoney • Economy • Policy
April 19th, 2012
02:23 PM ET

Opinion: All kids should take 'Poverty 101'

Editor’s note: Donna Beegle is president and founder of Communication Across Barriers, a consulting firm that works to increase communication across poverty, race, gender and generational barriers, in part with “Poverty 101” workshops. She has a doctorate in education leadership from Portland State University.

By Donna Beegle, Special to CNN

(CNN) – My dream is that a person will not be able to graduate from college without taking a Poverty 101 course. Poverty hurts all humanity and it’s the responsibility of everyone to bond together to eradicate it. Our ignorance about poverty perpetuates it and divides us as a nation.

I didn’t always know this. I was born into generational poverty; for many decades, most of my family members were uneducated, unskilled and, like 44 million Americans, illiterate. They survived in temporary, minimum wage jobs that didn’t pay in respect, nor provide opportunities for advancement.

My dad worked temporary seasonal jobs, the only ones he could get with limited literacy, no education and no specific job skills. My mom, like her widowed mom, picked cotton. We were highly mobile and survived mostly on migrant labor work in Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington. We followed the fruit season to pick cherries, strawberries, oranges and grapefruits. We picked green beans and dug potatoes. They were workers of the land, never owners. My family worked very hard and worked very long hours, but we were still evicted.

In school, I did not know the middle-class life examples teachers used to explain academic subjects. I was unable to understand and speak in their middle-class language; I said “ain’t,” didn’t know whether to use “gone” or “went,” didn’t know a difference between “seen” or “saw.” When told to “go look it up,” I dutifully went to the dictionary, only to find five more words I did not know and words no one in my world used. This just reinforced there was something wrong with my family, friends and me. It reinforced that education was not for me.

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Filed under: At Home • Economy • In America • video • Voices
April 19th, 2012
01:20 PM ET

Today's Reading List

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

The Atlantic: Fixing Education: The Problems Are Clear, but the Solutions Aren't Simple
A panel of educators, including New York City Public Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, agree that America's education system needs to be fixed. Several of their ideas, like school choice and strengthening neighborhood schools, seem to be mutually exclusive.

Miami Herald: Charter school principal suspended for tampering with FCATs
A charter school principal is accused of opening Florida's standardized test packets, taking notes and then making a study guide for teachers. Because of the allegations, students at Ramz Academy charter school in Little Havana didn't take the test.

CantonRep.com: Silent support for 'Fish' at Carrollton BOE meeting
School officials told Austin Fisher he couldn't walk at graduation because the senior missed 16 days of school while taking care of his cancer-stricken mother. Protests by Fisher's supporters led to a meeting with Carrollton Schools Superintendent Palmer Fogler, and school officials reversed their decision.

SFexaminer.com: City looks to boost summertime learning
According to the National Summer Learning Association, summer vacation contributes to the test score gap between ninth-graders from richer and poorer families. As part of a California initiative, San Francisco plans to have summer learning activities for about 19,000 of the city's youth, with most of the students attending programs subsidized with public funding.

Education Week: Catastrophic Brain Injuries Hit All-Time High in H.S. Football
Until 2008, the number of students who became permanently disabled due to brain injuries from high school football never reached double digits. In 2011, 13 students had severe brain injuries attributed to playing the sport, more than any other year on record.

The new graduation rates
April 19th, 2012
06:15 AM ET

The new graduation rates

by John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - The District of Columbia's 2011 high school graduation rate is down 20 percentage points from 2010. Utah's rate dropped from 90% in 2010 to 75% in 2011 - 15 percentage points. And Georgia's 2011 rate dropped 13 points from the year before. These significant drops aren't because of performance. It's all in the math. States are changing the way they figure out graduation rates.

The new formula is a bit of simple division: The number of current graduates is divided by the number of them that sat in a ninth-grade classroom for the first time four years earlier. It’s called the “four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate,” and it requires states to keep track of every student who enters ninth grade and follow them wherever they end up - at graduation or elsewhere.

In 2005, governors from all 50 states signed on to use this new formula. Before then, states used different ways to measure graduation rates.

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Filed under: Graduation • High school • Policy
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