September 25th, 2012
11:30 AM ET

School under fire after male employee paddles teen girl

(CNN) - A school near Fort Worth, Texas, is facing questions about its corporal punishment procedures after a student came home with a bottom that "looked almost as if it had been burned and blistered."

Springtown High School sophomore Taylor Santos requested corporal punishment because she didn't want to return to in-school suspension, a punishment she said she received when a classmate cheated off her, CNN affiliate WFAA reported. Her mother agreed because it was Taylor's preference, but expected her daughter to be hit by a woman: A district policy says corporal punishment should only be administered by people the same sex as the student. Although a woman was in the room, a man hit her, leaving red marks and welts that lasted for days, Taylor and her mother said.

Texas is one of 19 states where it's legal for school employees to hit students. During the 2005-06 school year, 223,190 students around the United States were punished physically, according to The Center for Effective Discipline.

The superintendent suggested they change the policy to remove the sex requirement, but Taylor's family says she's proof it's needed. Now, the school district has changed the policy to require parents to request in writing corporal punishment and the sex of the person administering it.

What do you think? Should schools be able to administer corporal punishment? What requirements should be in place for it to occur?

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Filed under: Behavior • Issues • video
My View: Myths on American schooling
September 25th, 2012
04:30 AM ET

My View: Myths on American schooling

Courtesy Michigan State UniversityBy William H. Schmidt, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: William H. Schmidt is a university distinguished professor at Michigan State University. He serves as co director of the Education Policy Center, co-director of the U.S. China Center for Research and holds faculty appointments in statistics and education. He has co-written eight books, including “Why Schools Matter,” “Teacher Education Matters” and his latest book, “Inequality for All.” 

Myths have a powerful ability to shape our understanding of the world, sometimes for the worse. There are three myths about schooling in America that have distorted how we view education and compromised our efforts to improve it. Dispelling these myths is the critical first step to ensuring that children learn the content, skills, problem-solving and reasoning abilities essential for today’s world.

Myth No. 1: Everyone has an equal chance to succeed in school.

Americans see our country as the land of opportunity, where with hard work anyone can succeed in life. Education has always been one of the key parts of this idea, providing a “level playing field” so students from every walk of life can go to school, work hard and make something of themselves.

I absolutely agree that education should serve this role, and I wish that today’s system managed to live up to this fundamental responsibility. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. The sad truth is that schooling in America is like a game of chance where the opportunities are arbitrarily determined by where a student lives, the school they are assigned to, the teacher they have or the textbook they’re given.

If you’ve been following debates about education, you’re probably aware that there are big inequities in how much money schools get, how good the teachers are and the kinds of skills children have when they first arrive at school. What doesn’t get very much attention is what I call equality of opportunity to learn, which is just another way of saying that every student should have the chance to learn challenging content.

It’s a simple idea with profound consequences. Whatever the resources, the quality of teachers, or the talent of students, if children are never exposed to strong mathematics (for example), how can they be expected to learn it? If they learn about a topic years after their peers, how are they ever supposed to catch up? Well, the fact is they don’t. Two children could go to the same school and are in the same grade, are both enrolled in a class called “Algebra I” and even have the same textbook, but one could be learning algebra and the other could be learning basic arithmetic.


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Filed under: education • Issues • Policy • Practice • Voices
September 25th, 2012
03:37 AM ET

Unlikely teachers find purpose in the classroom

By Julie Hays, CNN

(CNN) - After playing college football, working as a financial aid adviser and earning a master's degree, 25-year-old Andrew Fuller is back in high school.

Fuller is a new teacher at Tri-Cities High School in East Point, Georgia. He made the move from Oregon to Georgia to join Teach for America, a non-profit organization that recruits non-traditional teachers to improve education for children in low-income communities.

Fuller's passion for education stems from his own experience growing up. He was in a special education program from kindergarten to his senior year, and he felt stigmatized and overlooked.

"I never knew why. I never knew my disability," Fuller says. "I never had an IEP, which is an individualized education program. I never had any of those things."

"Just being in the classroom and just knowing that I'd been given up on sometimes, that I'm not receiving the work, it was heartbreaking," he says.

A gifted athlete, Fuller was accepted to the University of Oregon on a football scholarship. He later transferred and finished his college career playing for the Portland State Vikings.

Read the full story from Impact Your World
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Filed under: video • Voices
September 24th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

New York schools offer 'morning after' pill to students

(CNN) - Since January 2011, more than 1,100 New York City students from 14 schools have gotten "morning after" and other birth control pills - from school.

The pilot program, called Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Health, provides the birth control measures at schools where students are known to have a higher rate of pregnancy and less access to healthcare. In New York City, nearly half of teens have had sexual intercourse, CNN's Alina Cho reports, and seven out of 10 pregnant girls drop out.

"We are committed to trying new approaches ... to improve a situation that can have negative consequences that last a lifetime," New York's health department said in a statement.

The program, which now operates in 13 schools, is facing some criticism.

Students don't need permission from parents to get the pills, unless parents opt-out of the program through letters mailed and sent home with students. Some question whether parents have seen the letters and are aware of the program. All New York City schools already distribute free condoms.

What do you think? Should schools make the "morning after" pill and other birth control measures available to students?

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Filed under: High school • Issues • video
September 24th, 2012
01:00 PM ET

Dads ‘march’ to schools

by Josh Levs, CNN

(CNN) - Across the country, fathers are taking part in public events aimed at sending a critical message: Dads’ involvement in education is crucial for school children.

In New York, it’s become a state-wide celebration, appropriately entitled “Dads take your child to school.”

In parts of the country, the events are inspired by the “Million Father March.”

Numerous studies show that kids with involved fathers have all sorts of academic advantages, including better linguistics skills, an improved ability to handle stress, and some other “hidden benefits.”

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Filed under: At Home • Character education • Practice • video
My View: Longer school days can work
September 24th, 2012
04:07 AM ET

My View: Longer school days can work

Courtesy Colin Stokes/Citizen SchoolsBy Eric Schwarz, Special to CNN.

Editor’s Note: Eric Schwarz is the co-founder and CEO of Citizen Schools, a nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities across the country. The organization has been recognized as a national example by the White House and the U.S. Department of Education. Schwarz is the author of “Realizing the American Dream: Historical Scorecard, Current Challenges, Future Opportunities,” a widely cited essay examining social change efforts, and co-editor of The Case for Twenty-First Century Learning.

In 1995, in a concept paper for a new nonprofit organization, I wrote that, “…we need to stop bashing schools and stop expecting school teachers to perform miracles.” We know that most teachers across the country are putting in long hours, many of which are off-the-clock, working hard to provide students with a great education.

Sadly, for too many of their students, it’s not enough.

The achievement gap between low-income students and their higher-income peers is almost twice what it was when I grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s. About one in four American students, with much higher rates among minority and low-income youth, do not graduate from high school. In the face of persistent achievement and opportunity gaps, the traditional school day is failing our most vulnerable children.

As a result, schools and school districts across the country are looking to add more quality learning time to the school day in an effort to help those students who are falling behind. According to Mike Sabin, former principal of the EdwardsMiddle School in Boston where more learning time helped the school close the achievement gap, “When you’re letting your kids go at 1:30 in the afternoon and they’re not achieving yet, it’s fairly obvious that using the afternoon is something you have to do.”

Too often, however, in the debate over longer school days, the conversation turns to the logistics of how teachers will staff the extra hours. School districts and teachers unions have gone to battle over the details of how many hours teachers will be required to work and how they will be compensated. The good news is that the burden of a longer school day does not have to fall solely on the backs of traditional teachers.


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Filed under: Issues • Policy • Voices
September 23rd, 2012
10:42 PM ET

NYC settles with teacher who claimed students harassed her

From Sonia Kennebeck, for CNN

New York (CNN) - A former teacher at a Brooklyn high school who claimed she was sexually harassed and verbally assaulted by her students has agreed to a $450,000 settlement from the city of New York, her attorney and school officials told CNN.

As part of the settlement, Theresa Reel, 52, resigned from the School for Legal Studies in Brooklyn in exchange for having poor ratings on her employment record cleared, her attorney said.

The settlement was reached ahead of a trial that was scheduled to begin earlier this month.

"I think we had a very strong case," said attorney Joshua Parkhurst, "but this way my client can go on with her life."

Reel told CNN she was subjected to continuous verbal assaults and sexual harassment by students, who she claimed touched her breasts and wrote insults against her on a desk, shortly after she began working at the school in 2005.

The educator said she reported the students' behavior to the school multiple times, but the principal's response was worse than inadequate.

"I was told I wanted to make the school look bad, I was called a troublemaker," she said. "That was the worst for me: that my employer reacted this way. I felt so worthless."

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Filed under: Issues • Practice • Teachers
September 23rd, 2012
12:32 PM ET

Top college courses, for free?

By Daphne Koller, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Daphne Koller is Rajeev Motwani Professor in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University and co-founder and co-CEO of Coursera. She is the recipient of awards including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Koller spoke at the TED Global conference in June in Edinburgh. TED is a nonprofit dedicated to "Ideas worth spreading" which it makes available through talks posted on its website.

(CNN) - Almost exactly a year ago, Stanford University took a bold step. It opened up an online version of three of its most popular Computer Science classes to everyone around the world, for free.

Within weeks, close to 100,000 students or more were enrolled in each of these courses. Cumulatively, tens of thousands of students completed these courses and received a statement of accomplishment from the instructor. This was a real course experience. It started on a given day, and the students would watch videos weekly and do homework assignments. These were real homework assignments for a real grade, with a real deadline.

One of those classes was taught by my co-founder, Andrew Ng. In his on-campus Stanford class, he reaches 400 students a year. It would have taken him 250 years to reach the number of students he reached through that one online course.

The Stanford endeavor showed what is possible. It showed that it is possible to produce a high quality learning experience from some of the top instructors in the world at a very low cost.

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Filed under: College • Practice • TEDTalk • video • Voices
September 22nd, 2012
08:35 AM ET

Six steps to school bus safety

Nearly 45 million kids ride the bus daily during the school year. Annually, dozens of bus accidents put kids in danger. A group of elementary school students learns important steps to school bus safety that can save lives. (From HLN Weekend Express)

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Filed under: Practice • School bus safety • video
The college students you don't know
September 21st, 2012
01:10 PM ET

The college students you don't know

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) - Mother, early 30s, financially independent, loves shopping online:  The description may not match your idea of the typical college student.

But is working to reshape the stereotype with some new data about today’s seekers of higher education.

For instance, over 6 million of today’s college students - about 30% - will go online for at least one of their courses, according to the report.  And they'll stay online to do their shopping; college students spent $16 billion over the internet in 2011.

It’s easy to understand how the recession drove many adults back to college campuses.  But the idea that 25% of today’s college students are over age 30 might come as a surprise.  So might the estimate that half of them are financially independent, whereas many of us remember calling home for pizza money.

A study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education estimated that only a third of new jobs created between 2008 and 2018 will require a bachelor's or higher degree.  Today’s enrollment reflects that. states that over 50% of today’s students are working toward a certification that takes less time to achieve, such as studying a trade or earning an associate’s degree.

And 27% will be balancing their studies with parenting.

The report notes that a total of 19.7 million people will enroll in college this year.  That works out to more than 6% of the U.S. population.

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Filed under: After High School • Carl Azuz • College • Graduation
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