June 20th, 2012
04:57 PM ET

Empty desks send message to candidates

by Anna-Lysa Gayle, CNN

Washington (CNN) – On Tuesday, the College Board placed hundreds of desks across the National Mall. The 857 desks represent the number of students who drop out of school each hour of every school year.

“We hear so much about the crisis of education in America, but when you see it visually-it really makes people pause,” stressed the Vice President of Communications for the College Board, Peter Kauffmann.

The desks are part of the College Board’s ‘Don’t Forget Ed’ campaign.

“What ‘Don’t forget Ed’ is trying to do is to elevate the issue of education in the presidential campaign season,” said Kauffmann.

Jamie Williams is a college adviser at Clemson University who was on a visit to the Mall with his two sons when he saw the massive display of desks.

“Seeing this reminds me that there are students who don’t go to college or even finish high school—and this goes on in this county,” said Williams. “We have a long way to go to reduce the number of desks we see next year.”

Read: By the numbers: High school dropouts

Filed under: High school • Politics • Practice • video
June 20th, 2012
02:20 PM ET

'Share my lesson' aims to connect educators

by Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) On Tuesday, the American Federation of Teachers and TES Connect announced the launch of a free, resource sharing network for teachers.

Called “Share My Lesson,” the site aims to become the largest online community for teacher collaboration.

“Teachers are expected to do so much, often with very little support, and they are thirsty for the tools they need to improve instruction. The AFT decided to accept the challenge and make its biggest investment ever in a tool to improve the teaching profession,” AFT president Randi Weingarten said in a statement.

When asked about the $10 million price tag for the initiative, TSL Education CEO Louise Rogers told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, “The money we’re putting in is about driving both the technology and insuring that the content is absolutely what the teachers need every single day to make their lessons the best they can be.” TSL Education is the parent company of TES Connect.

“We’ve teamed up to try to make this an American product for American teachers so they can share with each other online resources…and to make sure that they can be prepared for the Common Core, this new academic standard for the 21st century,” Weingarten told Soledad O’Brien on Starting Point.

The “Share My Lesson” platform has been likened to a “digital filing cabinet” where teachers can share lesson plans, save the ones they like, and peer-review each other’s content.

“It’s about teachers teaching each other to be very, very good at what they do, and they get that by interacting with each other,” Rogers told CNN. “The teachers themselves are teaching and learning from each other.”

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Filed under: Curriculum • Practice • Resources • Starting Point • Teachers • Technology • video
By the numbers: High school dropouts
June 20th, 2012
10:35 AM ET

By the numbers: High school dropouts

By Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) The numbers, the costs, the effects are astounding.

According to the College Board, 857 students drop out of high school every hour of every school day.

But that’s only one statistic.  Here are some other numbers that drive home the impact of the high school dropout problem in the U.S.

Dropout rates

About 1 in 4 high school students does not graduate from high school with his or her class.

Nearly 4 in 10 minority students do not graduate with their class.


Among adults over 25 without a high school diploma in 2011: 14.1% unemployment rate

With a high school diploma: 9.4% unemployment rate


Median earnings for full time workers age 25 and older who did not have a high school diploma in 2008: $24,300

With a high school diploma: $33, 800


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Filed under: High school • Issues • Policy • Practice
School's out for summer...but why?
June 20th, 2012
06:15 AM ET

School's out for summer...but why?

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) The reasons why America’s students enjoy around two months off every summer probably aren’t based on some archaic, farm-based education schedule, as many people believe.

They’re more likely the result of what was happening in American cities.

Flash back to the mid-1800s.  Students in rural communities were needed to help with farm work, to be sure – but not in the summertime.  Spring was the planting season, and fall was the harvesting one; summer might’ve been a great time to study, as it wouldn’t have been interrupted by work involving crops.

But in U.S. cities, where students were taught throughout the calendar year, some of the education experts and doctors of the day believed too much schooling placed a stress on kids.  And there were several factors that made summertime the ideal time for a break.

For one thing, it was hot.  We can just turn down the thermostat today, but imagine sitting in an unventilated, urban schoolhouse without air conditioning or indoor plumbing as the thermometer pushed 100.  Not a comfortable environment for learning.

For another, wealthier families – and some school administrators – took vacations in the summer.  And teachers often used the warmer months as training time.

So organizers of what came to influence our modern school year thought it best to strike summer from the academic calendar and to allow everyone, urban and rural, some time out of class.

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Filed under: Carl Azuz • Early childhood education • History • Issues