June 11th, 2012
03:14 PM ET

ACHIEVEability: Breaking the cycle of poverty

One program attempts to break the cycle of poverty for poor and homeless Philadelphians by offering them housing and a path to education.

From Your Bottom Line with Christine Romans. Join us every Saturday at 9:30 a.m. ET on CNN.

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Filed under: College • Economy • On air • Practice • video • Your Bottom Line
What's wrong with America's schools?  iReport wants to hear from you!
June 11th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

What's wrong with America's schools? iReport wants to hear from you!

America’s higher education system is ranked as one of the world’s best, but there are great disparities in the country’s K-12 public school system. Performance rates at schools differ across the country and even in the same state. Two students in the same town may receive a totally different education based on the school they attend.

From a lack of funding and teacher shortages to alarmingly high drop-out rates, America is facing an unprecedented crisis in education. Based on your experiences, we’d like to hear what’s wrong with schools today. What could have been better about your own education? What areas could your school could improve? Or, if you had a great experience, tell us what your school system did right.

What should the next commander-in-chief do about the problems?

Turn on your video camera and let us know what’s wrong with schools today based on your own experiences. The most passionate and well-thought-out responses could be featured on CNN, and even in a one-on-one debate!

Send us your iReport!
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Filed under: iReport • Policy • Practice
June 11th, 2012
11:20 AM ET

Commencement speaker tells grads they’re ‘not special’

by James Dinan, CNN

(CNN) - Most commencement speeches aren’t very memorable. The commencement ceremonies I’ve attended, both as a graduate and as a guest, featured speeches that sounded like the speaker just phoned it in and could have cured insomnia. All of the speeches talked about reaching for the stars and keeping your feet on the ground – it’s as if Casey Kasem wrote every commencement speech ever recited.

This takes us to David McCullough, Jr., an English teacher at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts. McCullough’s recent commencement speech to Wellesley’s Class of 2012 could be pared down to one sentence: You’re not special.

McCullough, son of the famed historian, told the graduates that they’ve been pampered all their lives by parents, teachers and others, but now they need to slip up and make mistakes as they try to make it as adults. You can catch part of McCullough’s speech in the above video.

Despite the bluntness of McCullough’s remarks, many critics are heaping praise at the speech, saying it is a wake-up call for a generation some say is self-centered and over-protected.

What do you think of McCullough’s speech? Was he mean-spirited, or was he just telling the truth?

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Filed under: Graduation • On air • Practice • video
My View: Get students to think beyond the numbers
June 11th, 2012
06:15 AM ET

My View: Get students to think beyond the numbers

Courtesy Teachers College Columbia UniversityBy Anand Marri, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Anand R. Marri is an associate professor of social studies and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He led a team of faculty and students at the college who created a free 24-lesson high school curriculum about the federal budget, national debt and budget deficit

Young adults are graduating from high school and college into an economy that appears to have lost its footing. They are typically finding fewer jobs of any kind, let alone of the sort for which they have prepared. Even worse, today’s flat economic growth will have a profound effect on the careers and personal prosperity of these new graduates for decades, just as it will on the size of the national debt and the nation’s fiscal challenges.

As they listen to the fiercely partisan debates that have created gridlock in Washington, young citizens must surely wonder whether it is possible to recapture the vitality of the economy and its potential for growth while also remaining faithful to America’s tradition of collective responsibility toward those who are more vulnerable. There never will be hard-and-fast answers to how to negotiate between these competing priorities, nor should there be. We are a democracy, and, beginning with the Constitution, we have derived strength from our ability to work through the choices that present themselves in each era, under each new set of circumstances. That is the tough work of citizenship.

However, most young Americans today do not understand the budget process.

As a result, they cannot analyze public policy options. Nor can they responsibly engage in influencing policy decisions in ways that reflect an informed point of view – or even those that consistently represent their own best interests. High school educators should focus hard on questions that go to the heart of democratic citizenship – but right now, such topics, at best, come in for scarce consideration in high school economics courses. Federal budget issues remain almost entirely absent from the broader social studies curriculum, which speaks volumes about our failure to engage young people in some of the most pressing moral and civic issues of our times.

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Filed under: Curriculum • Issues • Voices