June 25th, 2012
03:10 PM ET

Are school vouchers the solution?

CNN education contributor Dr. Steve Perry explains why he supports Mitt Romney's plan for a voucher-like system. From Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien.

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Filed under: Perry's Principles • video • Voices
My View: Grading art in a standardized-test world
June 25th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

My View: Grading art in a standardized-test world

Courtesy Dunbar LylesBy Katie Lyles, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Katie Lyles has been teaching art in Jefferson County, Colorado, for seven years. In addition to her classroom duties, Katie has been part of her school’s cabinet, the Jefferson County Strategic Compensation Steering Committee, and the Leadership Academy for the Colorado Education Association. She was also a member of TURN and a delegate representative for JCEA.  Katie is part of the steering committee for the Center for Teaching Quality’s New Millennium Initiative.

It takes a thick skin to be an elementary art teacher. And it’s not because of the clothes ruined by paint, the challenge of finding storage space for over 500 sculpture projects, or the glitter that sneaks into the most unlikely places.

No, what requires a thick skin is continually battling public perception that art—especially at the elementary level—is an “easy break in the day” for students. When I tell people that I’m an art teacher, I’m often greeted with a patronizing response that goes something like this: “Awwww! It must be fun to color all day!” That’s usually followed up with a stimulating question such as, “Do you have any students who eat glue?”

Truth be told, I do have fun coloring all day…while teaching color theory, elements of landscape, how to create visual interest through patterns, and the difference between a portrait and a still-life—and this is just with my second graders (who, by the way, have never attempted to eat the glue!).

Sadly, most people’s perceptions about art education come from their personal experience as students. Art classes look a lot different from a seven-year-old’s perspective than from a teacher’s perspective.

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Filed under: Art • Curriculum • Elementary school • Practice • Teachers • Voices
June 22nd, 2012
05:50 PM ET

Educators: Kids aren't the only ones bullied

By Hannah Weinberger, Special to CNN

(CNN) - People around the world were shocked and horrified by a viral video that showed Karen Klein, a 68-year-old public school bus monitor, desperately trying to ignore malicious verbal jabs by a group of middle schoolers on her own bus.

For most, it was extreme. For many educators and school staff members, it's no surprise.  School workers said it’s a regular aspect of their daily lives.

“I’ve had erasers thrown at me, among other things, but these are things that teachers go through,” said Rosalind Wiseman, author of the bestseller “Queen Bees and Wannabes.”

“When these types of things come up, there’s all of this attention. But most teachers have at least had one student call them a bad name under their breath."

While bullying among students has dominated conversations in school, homes and in the media, kids bullying adults at school is a topic rarely discussed. What some call misbehavior, pranks or insubordination can be bullying, too, educators said. Kids can act threateningly and create a hostile environment inside the limitations of the law, said educator and author  David M. Hall, who often leads anti-bullying workshops - and school workers might never report it.


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Filed under: Bullying
June 22nd, 2012
06:20 AM ET

Analysis: 40 years after Title IX, 904% more women play high school sports

By Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) – The year was 1972.  “M*A*S*H,” “Sanfordand Son” and “Kung Fu” were reasons to stay home and watch TV.  Roberta Flack had the number one song on the radio with “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”  Don McLean drove his Chevy to the levee and sang goodbye to Miss “American Pie.”

The women’s liberation movement was in full swing, but in schools there were huge educational discrepancies between the genders, both in the kinds of classes they took and in the kinds of extracurricular activities they took part in.

That year, there were only 30,000 girls in the U.S. participating in high school sports.

Today there are more than 3 million.

Listen to CNN's Edgar Treiguts' interview Ann Meyers Drysdale, a former UCLA basketball star and Olympian, and executive of men's and women's professional basketball teams in Phoenix.

Changes came about in large part because of a law known as Title IX.

When President Richard Nixon signed the bill into law on June 23, 1972, it was intended to level the playing field between girls and boys in the educational opportunities that were presented to them.  Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 states:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

The law set out to prevent sex discrimination and harassment in any education activity or program, whether public or private.  It covers a wide range of areas, including fairness in college admissions and financial aid, freedom to take any vocational courses (so boys can take what was once called “home ec” and girls can take wood shop) and providing education for pregnant students.

Yet Title IX is most associated with sports because of its impact on high school and college sports for young women.  Under the law, “The athletic interests and abilities of male and female students must be equally and effectively accommodated.”

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Filed under: Extracurricular • Issues • Policy • video • Women's issues
Which places spent most per student on education?
While Washington, D.C., tops per-student spending at $18,667, Utah is at the bottom with $6,064.
June 21st, 2012
06:15 PM ET

Which places spent most per student on education?

By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

(CNN) - Public school systems spent an average of $10,615 per student in the 2010 fiscal year, an increase of 1.1% from the previous year, according to  Public Education Finances: 2010, a U.S. Census Bureau report released today.

Washington, D.C., schools topped per-pupil spending at $18,667; Utah was lowest, at $6,064. Public schools systems spent $602.6 billion in 2010, a 0.4% decrease since 2009 - the first time the spending level has gone down since the Census Bureau began to keep track.

Although the amount spent per student has steadily crept up in recent decades, it can vary widely based on cost of living and operating. Of the 50 largest school systems, New York City School District spent the most per student in 2010 at $19,597.

Make no mistake: Spending a lot of money doesn't mean a kid is getting a good education, and spending less doesn't mean it's bad. Per-pupil spending comes up often because it's among the few easy-to-compare measurements  that crosses school, district and state lines, said Matthew Chingos, a researcher with Brookings Institution's Brown Center on Education Policy.

“Per-pupil funding is a pretty terrible measure of quality of education,” Chingos said. “In some case, it matters, but sometimes it’s hard to find evidence it matters.”


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Filed under: Economy • School funding
June 21st, 2012
05:58 PM ET

What would you do with a mean kid?

What would you do if you learned your kid was a bully?

In Greece, New York, parents of middle school students who taunted a 68-year-old bus monitor saw it happen on a video that went viral; it captured students hurling insults, threats of physical and sexual assault at Karen Klein. One comment she couldn't ignore referenced Klein’s son, who committed suicide a decade ago.

Middle schoolers bully bus monitor, 68, with stream of profanity, jeers

Police and the school district where the incident took place are publicly grappling with how best to discipline the students involved. Meanwhile, the CNN community has weighed in on Facebook and on CNN.com about what they would do if their own kids were the culprits in such an intense case of cruelty.

Some commenters on CNN.com felt students’ threats rose to the level of harassment and police action should be taken. Some comments are edited for clarity.

One kid actually said that if he would stick a KNIFE in her, it would be like cutting through butter. That is a THREAT. It went beyond teasing to actually touching her, threatening her with bodily injury through a weapon and sexual assault. They should all be charged as adults. Their parents should be responsible. They are raising animals. And the parents should be forced to take parenting classes and boot camp.

 The harassment and threats should be punished legally.  In addition, that big chunk of community service is warranted but I would add that there is a "supervisory clause" and that a parent must be present and participate in all of the hours with their little darlings.  Since it is the end of the school year, they should be banned from riding the bus for the first month of school in the fall.  Failure to attend/get to school in that time frame means more service hours for mom/dad/miscreant.  I am all for a parental boot camp.

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Filed under: Character education • Issues • Parents
June 21st, 2012
04:45 PM ET

Middle schoolers bully bus monitor with profanity, jeers

Anderson Cooper interviews bus monitor Karen Klein about the verbal abuse she endured on tonight's AC360, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET

By Faith Karimi, CNN

(CNN) - A profanity-laced video of middle school students in upstate New York verbally abusing a bus monitor is sparking an outpouring of support as strangers worldwide rally to her side.

Students taunted Karen Klein, 68, with a stream of profanity, insults, jeers and physical ridicule. Some boys demand to know her address, saying they want to come to her house to perform sexual acts and steal from her. Another said, "you're so fat."

One comment from a boy aboard the bus was especially painful. He told her that she does not have family because "they all killed themselves because they didn't want to be near you." Klein's oldest son took his own life 10 years ago, according to CNN affiliate WHAM.

The bullying continues unabated for about 10 minutes in the video, reducing Klein to tears as a giggling student jabs her arm with a book. Recorded by a student Monday with a cell phone camera, the brazen example of bullying went viral and spurred international outrage.

The incident occurred in Greece, New York, near Rochester. Klein is a bus monitor for the Greece Central School District and the harassers hail from the Greece Athena Middle School, media reports said.

Read the full story

Tell us in the comments: We hear often about kids bullying kids, but have you witnessed or experienced kids bullying an adult at school, on the playground, on the bus or on field trips?

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Filed under: Bullying • Issues
June 21st, 2012
12:45 PM ET

Creating an environment of change: Inside teacher training with Ron Clark

By Keiona Johnson, CNN

“Here’s the issue we have with education in our country. Educators go to college for four years, get a degree and they sit in a classroom and teach for 30 years. Rarely do they ever get out and see what’s going on in other peoples classrooms and so, we're just creating this cycle where we're not having anything new. There’s no growth, no development. So what we do at the academy is we let people come and see excellence… If you don’t see excellence, you don’t know how to get there.”  – Ron Clark

(CNN) - Recently, CNN got an exclusive look into Ron Clark Academy’s world-renowned educator training program in Atlanta.  On that day, nearly 120 teachers traveled from near and far to experience what one educator described as a “spiritual awakening.”

Created in 2007, the academy is a school and dedicated educator training facility that has welcomed nearly 15,000 educators from around the world.  The one and two day sessions are filled with excitement – from bungee jumping in the morning to dancing and sliding in the afternoon. There’s also lots of walking on desks, beating of the drums, poetry and rapping!  Participation is often required for those in attendance, as they learn how to incorporate music into the classroom, implement games to help promote student engagement and other creative learning techniques that steer them away from “teaching to the test.”

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Filed under: Practice • Teachers • video
Millions of kids miss out on summer learning
Whole Body Math Games are demonstrated at the National Summer Learning Association's 2010 Summer Changes Everything national conference.
June 21st, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Millions of kids miss out on summer learning

Courtesy National Summer Learning AssociationBy Gary Huggins, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Thursday is Summer Learning Day. Gary Huggins is CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, a national nonprofit organization based in Baltimore that connects and equips schools, providers, communities and families to deliver high-quality summer learning opportunities to our nation’s youth to help close the achievement gap and support healthy development.

There’s a flaw in our summer equation.

Summer break is a treasured American tradition that arose from the need for children to work on farms during the warm-weather months. But while summer is a special time of year, it’s turning into a missed opportunity, at a huge cost.

It seems that for many, summer vacation has now come to equal not just a break from school, but a break from any kind of learning. Summer means freedom for schoolchildren to do absolutely nothing, for three long months.

There is nothing wrong with taking breaks. Everyone needs them. Time off from the regular school routine and curriculum allows students and teachers to recharge their batteries and do things differently.

But we collectively pay a steep bill for our prolonged break from learning. Research shows students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of the summer than they do at the beginning. Most students lose two months’ worth of math skills each summer, and low-income children lose another two to three months in reading, putting them chronically behind their better-off peers. That’s an incredible waste of the resources we pour into the school year.

Here’s the real flaw in the equation. Our attitude toward summer tells young people that summer is for fun and not learning. Therefore, what we’re really telling them is that learning is the opposite of fun.

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Filed under: Curriculum • Policy • Practice • Summer learning • Voices
June 21st, 2012
06:00 AM ET

High school students develop app to fight bullying

Students at a Connecticut high school developed an app they hope will curb bullying, CNN affiliate WTIC reported. Users can use the app to report bullying they've experienced, even as a witness. The information is anonymous, but goes to administrators, who can look for common threads and patterns in what's reported. The app was designed by students at Metropolitan Business Academy in New Haven, Connecticut, who said they saw it as a way for kids to help other kids.

Share in the comments: Do you think an anonymous app is a good way to report bullying? Would you want your kids or their school administrators to use it?

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Filed under: Bullying • Issues • Technology
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