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President Obama Wants Kids to Stay in School Until They are 18-Years Old

President obamaIf you are thinking of dropping out of high school before you turn 18, you had better act fast because President Obama is trying to change the rules. In his recent State of the Union address, Obama called for all 50 states to not allow students to drop out of high school before they are 18-years old.

Although this is the first time that the national government is directly involving itself in this issue, many states have been struggling with it for a while now. For example, several states, including Alaska, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, and Rhode Island, all tried to pass legislation that would increase the age at which students could drop out of high school to 18-years old. However, Rhode Island was the only state that actually approved the legislative efforts and passed the law. For the other states, the dropout age remains firmly set at 16-years old.

“Efforts to raise the age usually come up against the argument that requiring students to stay in school when they no longer want to be there is disruptive to other students and not fair to the teacher,” said a senior policy analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, Sunny Deye. “Home-school groups often oppose raising the compulsory attendance age, and especially now, in this budget crunch, there are major concerns about the fiscal impact.”

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The First Students Graduate from Oprah Winfrey’s School in South Africa

Image via Oprah's Facebook page

Oprah Winfrey's School for Girls

Five years ago, Oprah Winfrey opened a school in South Africa for underprivileged girls. On January 14, 2011, the first class of girls graduated from the school and Oprah was there to watch them and offer the graduation speech.

During her graduation speech, Oprah told the girls that they were now “free to soar.” She also offered praise and recognition for the teachers, family members, social workers, and everyone else who has helped make this dream a reality for the girls. For many young people in South Africa, poverty and personal traumas make it impossible for them to become educated. Some of these personal traumas include violence, the death of one or even both parents, molestation, and grief, according to Oprah.

Originally, 75 girls were part of this class of graduating girls. Of those 75, all but three walked across the stage and are now planning to attend universities in the USA and South Africa.

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High School Principal Loses Job After Practicing Hypnosis on Students

Watch with ChainOnce again, another high school principal is coming under scrutiny and facing charges for something he did to his students. This time the man in question, George Kenney, isn’t facing charges for sexual relations with students, which is one of the more common reasons that principals and teachers face charges. Instead, he was practicing therapeutic hypnosis on his students.

Kenney used to hypnotize his students in order to help them do better in academics and athletics. His superiors told him to quit the practice, but Kenney did not stop and an internal investigation discovered that he had hypnotized up to 75 people on school grounds; some of the students received up to 40 sessions from the principal. As a result, he was reassigned to an administrative job and will resign from that job at the end of the school year.

“He was well regarded by many and I’m sure will be missed by many,” said Scott Ferguson, a spokesman for the Sarasota County School District.

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Texas High School Removes Restroom Doors, Invades Students’ Privacy?

urnial It’s a somewhat common form of punishment for high school students: taking their door off it’s hinges. However, you usually think of this happening in the student’s bedroom at home, not on their high school’s restrooms. Yet, this is exactly what has happened at McKinney North High School in Texas. The school says it removed the doors to “keep kids safe,” but many think the real motivation for removing the doors was to prevent students from having sex in the restrooms.

“We’ve had a dialog about removing the doors from the restrooms for a couple of years,” said Cody Cunningham, a spokesman for the McKinney Independent School District. “The students felt like the reason we were removing them was because of some inappropriate sexual behavior in the restrooms, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

The fact that the removal of the doors coincided with a time when officials were reprimanding students for inappropriate displays of affection in the hallways gives the students’ argument more strength. The school district claims that these two events are not related, but it still seems suspicious to me.

“We have schools in the rest of our district that don’t have doors on the restrooms so this isn’t the first one,” said Cunningham.

Even if McKinney North High School isn’t the first high school to remove the restroom doors, parents and students are still upset. Many are saying that this is an invasion of the students’ privacy. The school says that because there is not a direct line of sight from the hallways into the restrooms, it is not an offense.

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A Private School in Washington, D.C. Appeals to Conservative Students & Their Families

the heights private school for boysImagine starting your school day off in a blazer, standing up in class with your classmates, and saying the Hail Mary. After praying, you can finally take off your jacket, and then it’s time for some light reading from a 14th-century English romance book, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It sounds a little strange to me, but for the boys who attend the Heights School in Washington, D.C., this is a completely normal day.

The Heights School is a conservative private school for boys in grades 3-12 in the nation’s capital that is affiliated with Opus Dei, a sect of the Catholic Church. It was founded in 1969 and has quickly become very popular among conservative Catholics, like politician Rick Santorum, who sent two of his sons to the school.

“I’ve got just one job as a dad,” said Pat Kilner, a father of nine who has sent his four sons to the Heights School. “And that’s to get these kids, who are gifts to me, to heaven, so they can be in the eternal presence of the Lord. And none of my kids has left the church.”

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Did This Principal Make a Racist Comment or Simply State the Facts?

germantown pricipal

Dr. Ted Hornell

In a nation where we are extremely concerned with being politically correct, it blows my mind that a principal at a high school in Tennessee would be as crass to say that a specific ethnic group of students was “less smart” than its peers. Unfortunately, that is exactly what Ted Horrell, the principal of Germantown High School, said earlier this month about the black students at his school.

“I unintentionally offended a number of students on this campus,” Horrell wrote in a letter to the parents and students of his school. “I apologize to all the students and parents who were offended.”

The high school recently received its state report card. This report card showed the students standardized test scores broken down according to the students’ races and incomes. Last week, the school held an assembly to discuss measures that could be taken to close the gap between the different groups of students, and it was during this assembly that Horrell misspoke and said what many considered to be a racist comment.

“[My daughter] felt he presented this information to basically reflect the African American students were all the reason the scores were down,” said Deborah Cannon, a parent whose child attends the high school.

Horrell says that he did make note of the fact that certain ethnic groups of students had performed better on the test than others during the assembly; however, he says he “certainly didn’t say that white students are smarter than black students.”

Nationwide, there is an achievement gap between different ethnic groups. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 9 percent of white students were performing at their grade level’s expectations in fourth-grade math, compared to only 1 percent of black students and 2 percent of Hispanic students.

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Michele Bachmann Delivers Caucus-Day Speech to Iowa High School Students

Bachmann Official Headshot Michele Bachmann has been known for doing some strange things. However, one thing she just did is quite different from her usual antics…and from what the other candidates are doing in order to promote themselves. She delivered her first live caucus-day speech to a group of 800 students at West Des Moines’ Valley High School in Iowa.

Instead of talking about her usual subjects – including her dream of repealing the health care reform law – Bachmann discussed the important role that students can have in the election process and ways they can become leaders and innovators in the future.

“What the next generation needs is innovation,” Bachmann said. “They need opportunities.”

Of course, Bachmann did have to promote herself as a presidential candidate a little bit, but I think she did so in a good way. She promoted her tax plan and told students that it would make it easier to help them find jobs in the future by lowering the cost of conducting business in the USA. She also talked about her own youth, growing up the daughter of a single mother in Iowa. This would help students relate to her and was a good move on her part, in my opinion.

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French Diet Guru Promotes Grade Inflation Based on Students’ BMIs

Author of the Dukan Diet

Dr. Pierre Dukan

Pierre Dukan is a diet guru from France who created The Dukan Diet, which many celebrities swear by. However, he is now moving on from his traditional audience – adults who want to lose weight by eating a diet that is very heavy in meat – to a new audience: high school students.

In his new book, which will be published on Thursday, January 5, 2012, Dukan makes a recommendation to the future president of France to institute a program that will encourage students to maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI), which can be determined by comparing a person’s height and weight.  This seems like a good idea; students should learn about healthy lifestyle choices in order to become healthy adults. However, Dukan recommends giving the students higher grades if they have an acceptable BMI.

Wait a second, is he really suggesting grade inflation for students who are in shape? Evidently, the answer is yes.

“There is nothing wrong with educating children about nutrition,” Dukan said. “this will not change anything for those who do not need to lose weight. For the others, it will motivate them.” He claims that his new education plan is “a good way to sensitize teenagers to the need for a balanced diet.”

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19 Arizona High School Students Will Graduate College Before Finishing High School

Graduation paraphernaliaWhen I was in high school, I took a few AP classes in order to earn some college credit. Some of my friends took a few college classes at the local community college. When we graduated high school, we had already earned enough credit to be considered second-semester college freshmen, and we thought we were ahead of the curve. Turns out, when compared to 19 high school students in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, we were way behind.

This year, 19 seniors at Lake Havasu High School will graduate high school will also earning their associate’s degrees. These students all took a test during their sophomore year of high school which allowed them to take dual enrollment classes during their junior and senior years of high school.

“We’ve all had to adapt to teaching ourselves how to study because things have come so easy to us before; so now our teachers expect us to help teach ourselves,” said Savanna Bailey, a senior at the school. “I’ve had a couple of anxiety attacks, but it’s all worth it whenever you really do learn more. You have to bring every single thick textbook home with you and you look, obviously like the nerdiest one in the school carrying all of your books.”

Looking nerdy seems like a small price to pay for two-years worth of free college credit, if you ask me. So how do these students make it through the insane amounts of homework and stress they must encounter while studying for both high school and college classes?

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College Board Releases 2011 AP Honor Roll

college board logo with acornDo you remember back in elementary school when the school would give out annual awards for various accomplishments? There was the Reading Honor Roll, the Attendance Honor Roll, the Science Honor Roll, and so many more. I had long ago forgotten about honor rolls, but I guess they are back in the spotlight.

In 2010, The College Board began releasing an annual list of schools that made it’s AP Honor Roll. In order to make this honor roll, schools must increase their students access to Advanced Placement courses and coursework. However, there is more required of schools who want to make this honor roll. In addition, they must also simultaneously maintain or increase the percentage of their students who earn at least a “3” on the exams. Schools who do this are “successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are likely to benefit most for AP course work,” according to the College Board.

This year, 367 school districts made the list. The schools came from 45 different states in the USA and six provinces in Canada. Pennsylvania had the most districts who qualified for the list (34). New York and Massachusetts tied for second place with 30 districts each.

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