May 29th, 2012
12:05 PM ET

Dreams built inside boy's cardboard arcade

By Sonya Hamasaki, CNN

(CNN) LOS ANGELES – Nine-year-old Caine Monroy climbs a stepladder and stands on his tiptoes, grabbing a teddy bear off a wall filled with toys. In one hand, he clutches a roll of yellow raffle tickets. In the other, a wad of one-dollar bills. He’s surrounded by a cavernous gaming arcade he built himself - using old cardboard boxes, scissors and packing tape. He spins around, and faces a large crowd of customers – actual paying customers – who have lined up down the block for a chance to play his games.

In any other world, this might be a child’s game of “pretend" - a magical arcade where the “paying customers” are actually friends who came over to play.

But in Caine’s world, this isn’t a figment of the imagination. This is real.

This is Caine’s Arcade.

“This is so cool!” Caine told us when we visited his store in East Los Angeles. The world started to learn about his arcade when a short film about his venture hit the Internet and went viral about a month ago.

Today, business is booming.

Caine flips through a spiral notepad where customers leave messages. So far, he’s received visitors from Seattle, New Jersey, Canada and even as far away as Australia. “Totally awesome, dude!” one message reads.

He still can’t believe it.

It all started last summer, when Caine started building the arcade at his father’s store. Using cardboard shipping boxes which were cast aside for recycling, he built his own version of his favorite games - classics, like Skee Ball, Soccer and the Claw machine.

From scratch, he fashioned a “claw” using an S-hook tied to yarn, and carefully rolled up pieces of masking tape to make soccer balls.

Caine’s Arcade was built inside his dad’s shop, Smart Parts Aftermarket, in an industrial corner of the city. Foot traffic is sparse and young adventurers are typically few and far between. But day after day, week after week, Caine sat outside his arcade, hoping for just one person to take notice and give his Claw machine a shot.

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Filed under: Extracurricular • video
Five minute primer: Advanced Placement test scores
May 29th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Five minute primer: Advanced Placement test scores

By Jordan Bienstock, CNN

(CNN) – It began on May 7 with Chemistry and Environmental Science, and ended on May 18 with Human Geography and Spanish Literature. During the two weeks in between, millions of U.S. students pored over questions and essays on more than 30 Advanced Placement exams.

Now, all they can do is wait.

Advanced Placement, or AP, courses provide high school students the opportunity to earn college credit. They’re overseen by the College Board, the same organization that administers the SAT college admission test.

The battery of exams takes place in early May, but students won’t find out how they did until July, when scores are revealed.

Even then, students won’t know which questions they got correct or what individual mistakes they may have made on essays. All they receive is a number, 1 through 5, with a 3 or higher being a passing score. FULL POST

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Filed under: College • Five minute primer • Practice • Testing
May 29th, 2012
05:55 AM ET

Utah high school graduating class has 2 students

Austin Lewis and Trevor Timm have been friends since they were little kids, and this month, they graduated from Partoun, Utah's West Desert High School together - just the two of them. The school has one teacher-administrator and 10 students in grades seven through 12, CNN affiliate KSL reported.

"You learn a lot of life lessons," valedictorian Lewis said." Like a lot of times during lunch hour, we'd go get stuck in the mud. It's fun having the principal come pull us out with his tractor after school."

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Filed under: Graduation
May 28th, 2012
04:35 PM ET

Texas high school honors student jailed for missing class

Diane Tran, a student at Willis High School in Texas, works part-time at a wedding venue, and full-time at a dry cleaner to help provide for her family. A judge warned her in April to stop missing class, but she missed again, CNN affiliate KHOU reported, and a judge put her in jail for truancy.

"A little stay in jail for one night is not a death sentence," Judge Lanny Moriarty said.

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Filed under: High school • Issues
May 28th, 2012
12:35 PM ET

Should P. Diddy's son return $54,000 college scholarship?

Justin Combs worked hard in high school to improve his football game and earn a 3.75 GPA . He recently received a $54,000 merit-based scholarship to UCLA, where he'll play football.

In April, Forbes named Justin Combs' dad,  Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, the wealthiest artist in hip-hop. Some say the family should return Justin's scholarship, arguing that Combs should pay for his son's education and taxpayer money should go to students with greater financial need. Other say Justin Combs earned the scholarship through his grades and athletic ability, and deserves to keep it.

What do you think? Should the Combs family keep, return or donate the money? Should students with wealthy parents have access to merit-based scholarships and financial aid?

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Filed under: College • Economy • Financial aid • Issues • Perry's Principles • Sports
How do students define 'character'?
May 28th, 2012
09:05 AM ET

How do students define 'character'?

By CNN Schools of Thought Editors

(CNN) - As we focus on our heroes this Memorial Day, we thought it would be interesting to find out what students think about the concept of “character.”

So, CNN Student News anchor Carl Azuz went to our audience of middle and high school students and asked how they define “character.”

Here’s a sampling of what the students had to say on the CNN Student News blog:

Maggie: Character is whatever defines you – how you act, your personality, everything that you do has a lasting effect on your character. However, you have to be careful and make sure you have a good and positive character so you build a good reputation among others as you grow older.

Sara: When I hear the word character, I think of people and the way they act, behave, do etc. Character is a word that basically portrays who we are, not only on the outside, but on the inside, too.

Bryce: I define character as being a role model to others who want to be successful in life.  I think anyone who does not want to be successful in life still needs a character to show them how to live life better.

Santiago: Character can be defined in different ways, there is no right or wrong. Having character means to have courage and be willing to do the right thing at the right time. Character is not only "moral excellence and firmness" because excellence is an illusion. People with character always do their best and never give up. They have no limits and will not stop supporting what they think is right without a fight.

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Filed under: Voices
Team Obama expands education offense against Romney
May 25th, 2012
04:08 PM ET

Team Obama expands education offense against Romney

by Ashley Killough, CNN

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's re-election campaign continued to hound Mitt Romney Friday over his position that smaller class sizes may not be a key component for quality education.

Democratic Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, where Romney stopped the day prior to talk with teachers at a charter school, leveled heavy charges at the candidate, saying his policies were "out of touch," "misguided" and "backwards."

"He certainly left an impression here in the city that he has no idea what he's talking about when it comes to education," Nutter said on a conference call with reporters Friday organized by the campaign.

The mayor also described Romney's meeting in Philly as a "drive-by visit" due to its short length.

When Romney stopped at a local school Thursday, he pointed to studies that countered common thought that smaller class sizes contributed to increased learning for students.

He cited a 2007 analysis by the McKinsey Global Institute that argues "evidence suggests that, except at the very early grades, class size reduction does not have much impact on student outcomes," based on the 112 studies the group examined for the report.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Policy • Politics
Opinion: Confronting challenges of American education, 'civil rights issue' of our time
In a speech Wednesday, Mitt Romney proposed dramatically expanding school choice for low-income and disabled children.
May 25th, 2012
02:44 PM ET

Opinion: Confronting challenges of American education, 'civil rights issue' of our time

Editor's note: Pedro Noguera is a professor at New York University and director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. He is editor of "Unfinished Business: Closing the Achievement Gap in Our Nation's Schools" and author of "The Trouble With Black Boys ... And Other Reflections on Race, Equity and the Future of Public Education."

By Pedro Noguera, Special to CNN

(CNN) – For the past 25 years I have been working as an educator, researcher and policy advocate.

I am also the parent of four children who have attended public schools.

In each of these roles I have tried to improve public education and advance the educational rights of children, particularly those who have historically been poorly served.

Given my background, I was pleasantly surprised by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's recent assertion that education was "the civil rights issue of our time".

Romney is only the most recent politician to connect changes in education to civil rights. Similar remarks have been made by President Obama as well.

Typically, the politicians who make such declarations link it to a call for reform.

Romney has chosen to connect his declaration to the issue of choice and vouchers.

The question is: Why does Romney believe that simply by promoting school choice the problems that plague public education in America will go away?

Read the full story from the In America blog
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Filed under: 2012 Election • In America • School choice • Voices
My View: Kids have free speech right to be racists outside school
Some students sent out racist tweets about Washington Capitals player Joel Ward after he scored a winning goal against the Boston Bruins.
May 25th, 2012
06:15 AM ET

My View: Kids have free speech right to be racists outside school

Courtesy Michelle ReidBy John S. Wilson, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: John S. Wilson is a contributing writer for The Loop 21, Mediaite and Black Enterprise. He frequently writes about health and education policies and politics. You may reach him on Twitter: @johnwilson.

(CNN) - Last month, a few high school students sent out racist tweets about Washington Capitals player Joel Ward after he scored a winning goal against the Boston Bruins in overtime. Responding later in an interview, Ward, who is black, said, “People are going to say what they want to say," and he shrugged off those comments. But the students' high schools sure didn't.

Almost immediately after reports of the tweets, the schools began looking into ways of punishing the students for their actions outside the classroom. The schools absolutely should express their discontent with the offensive tweets. But should they punish the students? Do they even have the ability to do so? Not likely.

One official, Jonathan Pope of the Gloucester School Committee in Massachusetts, admitted as much in an interview with "We don't know whether we actually have any legal standing to implement any kinds of penalties for that kind of behavior done outside school on a private communication system."

Pope and other school officials may want to look toward the Supreme Court on this point. The 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines ruling held that students' speech was subject to punishment if it "materially and substantially" affected an institution's educational mission. These few tweets couldn't possibly pass that bar and thus qualify for the schools' disciplinary action.

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Filed under: Behavior • Legal issues • Policy • Voices
May 24th, 2012
04:10 PM ET

Today's Reading List

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

Arizona Daily Star: Students who didn't pass AIMS can't walk in Tucson Unified graduations
Roughly 100 Tucson seniors will not be allowed to walk in graduation ceremonies after they failed part of a state-mandated test. Some parents argue that the students didn't receive enough preparation for the test or the time to remedy the situation.

The Atlantic: Do Cell Phones Belong in the Classroom?
In many American high schools, teachers and students are at odds over cell phone use. While some teachers consider the devices distractions, others say educators should learn to incorporate cell phones into their lesson plans. Robert Earl argues that whatever philosophy is applied, students have to learn to love learning. The Homework Trap
Clinical psychologist Dr. Kenneth Goldberg has a list of suggestions about how parents should approach the issue of homework with their kids.

Connected Principals: Lessons Learned
A veteran teacher shares 13 lessons learned during a 13-year career in the classroom.

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Filed under: Curriculum • Policy • Practice • Technology • Testing • Today's Reading List
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