American Morning

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March 11th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Kansas City board OKs plan to close half of district's schools

The Kansas City, Missouri, school board voted Wednesday to close 28 of the district's 61 schools.

The Kansas City, Missouri, school board voted Wednesday to close 28 of the district's 61 schools.

(CNN) - Superintendent John Covington called for the closing or consolidation of almost half of the schools in the Kansas City, Missouri, school district, and a school board voted Wednesday to approve the downsizing.

Covington calls it the "right-size" plan," but many residents say it's plain wrong.

A packed room of people watched the board make its historic move after weeks of debate and years of declining enrollment. Some parents voiced their anger, while some students cried.

"I have an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old that will be going to school with 12th graders. I find that very inappropriate. I don't feel my children will be safe," Deneicia Williams told CNN affiliate KSHB-TV.

"I feel like I have nothing, I have no high school legacy. I feel like I have nothing, nothing to go back to," said Prince Jones, a senior, who will be part of the final graduating class at Westport High School.

Covington proposed the "Right-Size" plan arguing that the financial future of the entire school district was at stake. The plan shutters 28 of Kansas City's 61 public schools, cuts 700 jobs and saves $50 million to help reduce a burgeoning deficit. FULL STORY


Filed under: Education cuts • U.S.
March 9th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

Saving Carlos: The face of California's crisis

Editor’s Note: Yesterday on American Morning, we introduced you to Carlos. He's 8, uninsured, and struggling with ADHD and severe anxiety. Now, deep budget cuts in California could put his future in jeopardy. Is it fair to put a price on something like that? Today, CNN's Thelma Gutierrez takes a look at the debate for original series we're calling "Saving Carlos."

Carlos’ therapist says taxpayers will pay the price for Carlos either now while he's is in treatment or later on if he doesn't get help.

Carlos’ therapist says taxpayers will pay the price for Carlos either now while he's is in treatment or later on if he doesn't get help.

By Thelma Gutierrez, CNN

(CNN) – Carlos lives in south Los Angeles. His mother is a homemaker. His father is a street vendor.

Carlos says he wants us to understand his world. Although he is only a 2nd-grader, what struck me most over the month we spent with him is that already he says he wants a new life.

Carlos suffers from ADHD and severe anxiety, made worse by problems at home.

“I draw a picture about my family because they were fighting,” says Carlos. “Sometime when they fight, it's because when my dad drinks.”

Carlos' father didn't want to be on camera, but acknowledged he has had a hard time lately and financial pressures have only made things worse at home.

Carlos' mother, Leticia, wants to keep the family together, but knows they need help. Their son was failing in school and becoming disruptive at home.

The face of California's crisis Video

When Leticia went looking for help, what she found were clinics grossly overburdened. In Los Angeles County alone, $216 million was slashed from its mental health department. Now county clinics are only taking kids who are suicidal or physically violent, not kids like Carlos, whose condition might not be as urgent, but is still just as serious.

FULL POST


Filed under: Education cuts • Saving Carlos
March 8th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

Saving Carlos: Budget cuts leave 2nd-grader behind

Editor’s Note: Carlos is a little boy who suffers from ADHD and severe anxiety. His family doesn't have insurance and relies on the public mental health system. But now a broke state may be taking out a mortgage on his future. CNN's Thelma Gutierrez has his story for the American Morning original series we're calling "Saving Carlos." Tomorrow, we find out how just how much Carlos' therapy costs taxpayers and whether he'll be able to keep on going.

8-year-old Carlos is at the mercy of California lawmakers who control the state's budget and, in some way, his future.

8-year-old Carlos is at the mercy of California lawmakers who control the state's budget and, in some way, his future.

By Thelma Gutierrez, CNN

(CNN) – South Los Angeles is a community of working class families, hit hard by the economy. This is where I met Carlos more than a month ago.

He is a young boy who is at the mercy of California lawmakers. They control the state's budget and, in some way, his future.

Carlos needs help. He's only in the 2nd grade already and he’s falling through the cracks.

Carlos lives with his sister and parents. They're unemployed, uninsured and barely scraping by. Among Carlos' many challenges in life, he also suffers from severe anxiety and ADHD.

He meets regularly with Elena Fernandez, director of behavioral health, at St. John's Community Clinic in South Los Angeles. She's trying to unlock the causes of his angst.

Kids slipping through cracks Video

Elena uses art therapy to help Carlos express things that are going in his life. Carlos' mother says she believes it is critical for people to understand how important these services are to children like her son.

During therapy, Carlos draws a picture of his “family fights.”

“This is my mom, this is my dad. Sometimes he fights with me,” he says. “…sometimes I cry.”

Carlos tells Elena his dad used to drink and that led to fighting between his mom and dad. He says at home, there was no escape. That was six months ago. Carlos' life was in shambles.

FULL POST


Filed under: Education cuts • Health • Saving Carlos
March 4th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Inside a crowded classroom

(CNN) – Dozens of nationwide protests are planned today in defense of education. Demonstrators in more than thirty states are taking to the streets, tired of budget cuts that are bloating classrooms and burdening teachers.

Our Casey Wian visited with one first grade teacher in California who's trying hard to cope with shrinking budgets and increased class sizes in light of threatened lay-offs.

Read more: Students to protest funding cuts

Sound off: What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with education cuts? Are the cuts affecting you? What alternatives do you suggest? Post your comments below.


Filed under: Education cuts
March 4th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Students protest education cuts

UCLA students and supporters protest as the UC Board of Regents votes to approve a 32 percent tuition hike next year on November 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.

UCLA students and supporters protest as the UC Board of Regents votes to approve a 32 percent tuition hike next year on November 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.

(CNN) – Mass student protests last fall prompted by tuition hikes are expected to return to California on Thursday, and in other states as well.

Students and their supporters are planning teach-ins, walk-outs, and protests around the state in the face of growing tuition hikes, budget cuts and layoffs.

The main organizer's Web site is calling March 4th a "day of action." One entry reads:

"We call on all students, workers, teachers, parents, and their organizations and communities across the country to massively mobilize for a Strike and Day of Action in Defense of Public Education on March 4, 2010. Education cuts are attacks against all of us, particularly in working-class communities and communities of color."

Program Note: Thursday on CNN's "American Morning," our Casey Wian sees first-hand how one California first grade teacher is coping with shrinking budgets and increased class sizes in light of threatened lay-offs.

Sound off: What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with education cuts? Are the cuts affecting you? What alternatives do you suggest? Post your comments below.


Filed under: Education cuts
February 25th, 2010
08:00 AM ET

RI district fires entire high school staff

In one tiny, poverty-stricken city in the nation's smallest state, a big battle is erupting at the local high school.

The school board in Central Falls, Rhode Island has voted to fire every teacher. It's part of a new federal push for education reform that requires each state to identify its worst performing schools and take specific action to fix them.

But is wiping out an entire staff the most sensible approach? We were joined on Thursday's American Morning by Deborah Gist, education commissioner for the state of Rhode Island.

Read more: All teachers fired at Rhode Island school


Filed under: Education cuts
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