May 31st, 2012
06:14 PM ET

Michigan high school athlete with Down syndrome now able to keep playing

By Michael Martinez and Kelly Andersen

The Michigan High School Athletic Association on Thursday approved a waiver provision that gives a student athlete with Down syndrome a chance to continue participating in sports despite being 19 years old.

Under the new provision, Eric Dompierre, who will be a senior in the fall, could be approved to play as early as August if the Ishpeming School District formally seeks a waiver for him, said John Johnson, spokesman for the athletic association.

Eric's father, Dean Dompierre, told CNN that he hopes other states will follow Michigan's lead in offering an exception to sports age limits for students with disabilities.

"I feel relieved," Dean Dompierre told CNN in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. "It's been two and a half years. We've been petitioning and working with the association."

He said he's looking forward to "just watching Eric run down onto the field in the first football game this fall. If he can contribute to the team, even better. The same goes for basketball season."

"The hardest part has been the stress of not knowing whether or not it's going to be Eric's last season," he added.

He said he is "almost positive" that his son will be granted a waiver in August.

Eric Dompierre's underdog quest to keep playing sports in Michigan's Upper Peninsula garnered widespread attention because he has shown flashes of athletic prowess despite his Down syndrome, such as when he hit a three-point shot in the basketball playoffs to help his team maintain a comfortable lead.

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Filed under: Extracurricular • Policy
May 31st, 2012
03:16 PM ET

Sal Khan: Revolutionizing web education

Khan Academy founder Sal Kahn previews his All Things Digital appearance and talks about the success of his site.

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Filed under: At Home • Practice • Resources • Technology • video
May 31st, 2012
12:10 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today: Cheating runs rampant
Daniel Denvir says than emphasis on high stakes testing at the federal and state levels has led to rampant cheating among U.S. school districts. His article also says that subjects outside of reading and math have been hurt as well, including science, physical education and the arts.

Education Week: NCATE Accredits First 'Nontraditional' Program
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education has accredited iTeachU.S., which can now recommend teachers for licensure in the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Tennessee. The online provider is the first non-higher-education-based teacher preparation program accredited by NCATE.

Washington Post:College dropouts have debt but no degree
The percentage of college dropouts who have students loans has risen over the past decade. Public policy has pushed more students towards college, and some education experts say that more needs to be done to help students reach graduation. Student Voices of Military-Connected Children Inspire Guidance from Secretary Duncan
After meeting with children of members of the U.S. military, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote a letter asking school districts to consider the needs of military children. The students told Secretary Duncan of the hardships they face when transitioning to new schools and difficulties in connecting deployed family members with school activities. Vaccine adds to cost of college
Vaccination against meningitis is now mandatory for most students at Texas colleges. At around $140 per shot, the vaccine against the rare but potentially fatal infection could cost as much as one or two textbooks.

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Filed under: Curriculum • Economy • Policy • Practice • Technology • Testing • Today's Reading List
Summer 'brain drain' worse for poor kids
Studies show that children lose some of their skills over the summer if their brains are not stimulated.
May 31st, 2012
06:07 AM ET

Summer 'brain drain' worse for poor kids

By Jim Roope, CNN
(CNN) - Some call it ‘the summer slide.’ Some call it ‘the summer brain drain.’ But whatever you call it, summer learning loss is a real phenomenon that has plagued students since summer vacations began.

Fourth-grade teacher Marian Valdez says that much of what kids learned in the 3rd grade they seem to forget over the summer.

Listen in as Jim Roope talks to teachers and students about summer:

“We spend the first couple of months, especially in math, reviewing, going back over the facts, time tests, those kinds of things,” said Valdez, who teaches at Washington Elementary in Los Angeles.

The first known report about summer learning loss came in a 1906 New York Times article by William White. He tested students in math before and after the summer and a found loss of skills. So for more than a hundred years, we’ve been trying to stop the summer knowledge leak.

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Filed under: At Home • Behavior • Curriculum • Podcast
Texas school district to track kids with chips
A Texas school district will distribute ID cards enabled with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips to its students.
May 30th, 2012
04:02 PM ET

Texas school district to track kids with chips

Does tracking school children with computer chips make them more safe - or more vulnerable?

A San Antonio school district has sided with the former, though not without some debate. The end result is that Northside Independent School District will begin the 2012 school year by distributing ID cards enabled with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips throughout three schools and to 6,290 of its students.

The main idea here is to be able to determine where any given student is at any time during the school day. That's the main idea. The other part of this is that it could help the school district net hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of additional dollars. But more on that in a moment.

The chips will be able to detect when a student boards a school bus and where in the school they are located, though it won't work outside of school grounds.

"Parents expect that we always know where their children are, and this technology will help us do that," said district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez. "This way we can see if a student is at the nurse's office or elsewhere on campus." The San Antonio Express-News reports that Gonzalez also said the only people who can access the tracking data will be school administrators.

The ACLU, though, has previously voiced strong objections to chipping students, pointing out that these "insecure" card readers have been copied "with a handheld device the size of a standard cell phone that was built using spare parts costing $20." Equipped with one, they argue, it would be simple for someone to track a student. The group says an even larger concern is that chips could also be copied, allowing would-be kidnappers to take a child off campus while the duplicate chip continues to tell RFID readers that the child is safely at school."

Read the full story on

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Filed under: Policy • Technology
Sweet 'spell' of success
Sukanya Roy of South Abington Township, Pennsylvania reacts after winning the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee competition June 2, 2011 in National Harbor, Maryland.
May 30th, 2012
12:02 PM ET

Sweet 'spell' of success

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) It’s not always easy to watch: young people given increasingly difficult words to spell, standing uncomfortably under lights and cameras, their faces strained or frozen under pressure, their parents watching helplessly from their seats in the audience… They’re all components of the tournament that crowns America’s best speller.

If you look back at the National Spelling Bee’s winning words of the 1930s and 40s, you’ll see quite a few you can handle: fracas, knack, torsion, initials, psychiatry. In more recent years, with many more students competing with far more intensity, most of us need a dictionary – not just for the spellings, but for the definitions of the words themselves.

When was the last time you used Ursprache, appoggiatura, Laodicean or cymotrichous in a sentence? (When was the last time you even saw them anywhere?)

Words like these will be either the stumbling blocks or victory laps for the 278 spellers in this year’s Scripps bee. They’re from all over the map, representing ages from 6 to 15. And while they may not be able to drive, buy lottery tickets, vote, or get a beer after the event, they’re all better spellers than we are.

In fact, most of these students are scholars in other areas. Take 6-year-old Lori Anne Madison. She’s been in spelling bees since age 3, but she’s also won awards in mythology and math events. Arvind Mahankali, who’s 12 and came in third place last year, has received an honors award from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth. And 14-year-old Nabeel Rahman came in first place in the middle school National Geographic Bee.

Of course, spelling on its own is hard enough. Everywhere you look, there are misspellings – even the very word looks like it has too many consonants. Whenever Germanic, Old Norse, Latin, French, and Old English got together, two things were inevitable: confusion and compromise.

And those are evident across our lexicon. Remember the “i before e” rule? It had a plethora of exceptions, so spelling tipsters added “or when sounded like ‘ay’, as in neighbor and weigh.” But that isn’t enough to go on because words like height and efficient pop up and throw us further off the tracks. So a better, overall summary might be “i before e, except after c…or whenever.”

As anyone who’s ever written anything in English can tell you, there are a lot of exceptions to our rules of spelling, not to mention differences in British and American spellings (see colour, humour, etc.). The bad news is that sometimes, you just have to memorize words on a case-by-case basis.

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Filed under: At Home • Carl Azuz • Elementary school • Practice • Reading • Spelling
May 30th, 2012
10:40 AM ET

Girl, 6, is youngest competitor in National Spelling Bee history

By Faith Karimi, CNN

(CNN) - When Lori Anne Madison, 6, takes the stage Wednesday, she will be stepping into history as the youngest person to compete in the National Spelling Bee.

The second-grader joins 277 other contestants, marking a milestone as the youngest competitor in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, according to the event's record books dating to 1993.

Since 1993, there have been four spellers who were 8 years old, said Mike Hickerson, the bee's communications manager.

Lori Anne beat out 21 kids in the regional bee in Prince William County in Virginia, earning a spot in the national bee.

Obama administration gives 8 states waivers on No Child Left Behind
"States must show they are protecting children in order to get flexibility. These states met that bar," Arne Duncan said.
May 30th, 2012
10:17 AM ET

Obama administration gives 8 states waivers on No Child Left Behind

By Greg Seaby, CNN

Washington (CNN) - The U.S. Department of Education granted eight additional states waivers Tuesday from strict requirements of the No Child Left Behind law.

The White House announced a deal last year that allows states relief from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or No Child Left Behind (NCLB), if certain standards are met.

The federal flexibility will be allowed "in exchange for state-developed plans to prepare all students for college and career, focus aid on the neediest students, and support effective teaching and leadership, " according to the U.S. Department of Education.

With the addition of eight news states, the Obama administration has approved 19 states so far, while 17 states and the District of Columbia are under review.

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the latest waivers for Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island at an event in Hartford, Connecticut.

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Filed under: NCLB • Policy
My View: Vouchers will tear down the 'Berlin Wall' of education
May 30th, 2012
06:30 AM ET

My View: Vouchers will tear down the 'Berlin Wall' of education

Courtesy Friedman FoundationBy Robert Enlow, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Robert Enlow is President and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the legacy foundation of Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman and his wife, Rose.

(CNN) Twenty five years ago, President Reagan gave a speech in West Berlin where he exhorted Mr. Gorbachev to "tear down this wall." Two years later, the barbed wire and wall that was a symbol of oppression came crashing down, ending decades of tyranny and leading to one of the greatest expansions of freedom and liberty in the 20th Century.

America has its own Berlin Wall. It is called K-12 education.

As schools let out for summer vacation, far too many parents, particularly low-income parents, are trapped behind the wall of their zip code or family income. They have no real freedom to send their child to a school that works best for them, and far too often they are forced to attend woefully underperforming schools or schools that just don't meet their child's individual learning needs.

This cannot go on.

Instead, we must tear down the Berlin Wall that holds back parents from being able to pick the school that best fits their child's unique learning style.

Thankfully, in the last two years, education reform and school choice have become front and center in America. As Mitt Romney said last week, we must put an end to the millions of children in our nation who receive a "third world education." And President Obama said, "Michelle and I are here only because we were given a chance at an education. I will not settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance."

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Filed under: School choice • Voices
May 29th, 2012
04:10 PM ET

School tries to fire teacher for 3 years

CNN's Tom Foreman investigates a teacher who can't be fired despite accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior.

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Filed under: Policy • Teachers
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