September 30th, 2008
07:58 PM ET

Tossing the Title of Top Student?

I wasn't my high school's valedictorian. But I wasn't too far off either, and my class rank mattered to me, especially my senior year. I don't think there's anything wrong with comparing your academic standing to your classmates' and using it as motivation. That's why my initial reaction to the story in Wednesday's program was that it would be a bad idea.

But two things from the story struck me. The first was a comment from last year's valedictorian, who said that if the school continues to award class rankings, the title just amounts to making a speech. The other was the idea that students might focus only on the ranking, taking easier classes to boost their GPA.

I guess what it comes down to is the importance of the actual title, and what your motivation is for achieving it.

Jordan Bienstock, CNN Student News Writer

Filed under: Feedback • News Coverage
September 29th, 2008
09:53 PM ET

A Dangerous Game

Part of the reason I never touched illegal drugs:  I was afraid of what my parents would do to me.  The other reason was because I was afraid of what the drugs would do to me.  I knew a couple people who had severe side effects of illegal drug use:  One could barely speak after an overdose, and the other saw shadows wherever he looked.  That was more than enough to keep me clean.

But today's report about teens abusing prescription drugs - the kind a doctor legally prescribes - was pretty surprising.  Aren't there safer ways people can have fun, or to escape from what's bothering them?  And the report, which featured a father who believed he lost his son due to prescription drug abuse, really drove home the point that just because a doctor prescribes certain drugs doesn't mean they're safe for other people to take.

In fact, many prescription drugs aren't safe to combine.  It wasn't too long ago that I had the sad assignment of reporting on Heath Ledger.  Did his death or Tuesday's report have an impact on you?

Carl Azuz, Anchor

Filed under: Uncategorized
September 28th, 2008
07:03 PM ET

Debate Time

One of the things I enjoyed about Friday night's debate between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama was the balance of it in terms of time.  Jim Lehrer, the moderator, mentioned once or twice that the two candidates were even on time, meaning that they'd had about the same chances to make their points.  If any of you have studied the media, you might've heard the phrase "equal time," which applies to giving each major candidate an even chance to state his case.  I thought Friday's debate was a good example of that policy in action.

Carl Azuz, Anchor

Filed under: News Coverage
September 24th, 2008
10:32 PM ET

Mondays Off!

When heard about the Minnesota district that is switching to a four-day school week, I thought it sounded AWESOME... until I found out the students were getting Mondays off.  Fridays would've been SO much sweeter!  On the other hand, if my boss told me I could have Mondays off, I'd take it...

Anyway, after hearing details on the report, it seemed like a win for everybody.  The school day is an hour longer, granted.  But who wouldn't be willing to stay an extra hour every day so that you could have three-day weekends?  And if that could save the district a hundred-thousand bucks... it seems the only downside could be extra weekend homework.

Carl Azuz, Anchor

Filed under: News Coverage
September 23rd, 2008
09:23 PM ET

If Your Classes are Separated by Gender...

...we'd really like you to chime in on this one.  I was a public school student from start to finish, and I never had a class without girls - which was fine with me.  But Wednesday's report about a Virginia middle school that had separated guys from girls made me wonder how that would work out for students.  Do you think it makes learning easier overall?

And what about you folks who have co-ed classes - would you want to separate by gender, or do you think everything is better as-is?

Carl Azuz, Anchor

Filed under: Uncategorized
September 22nd, 2008
09:53 PM ET

Out of Gas

It's like a bad dream:  You're driving for miles, watching the needle hover precariously over "E," and passing dozens of gas stations that have their prices blocked out because they have no gas left.

I lived it last night.  I was thinking of how you don't really notice gas stations until you need one - and how you notice every gas station when you need one and they're all empty.  A single store in my neighborhood had gas to sell; it also had a long line and a $25 limit on what you could buy.  But it got me into work today.

A lot of drivers in the Southeast are sharing the same stories.  And you can see from this article and on Tuesday's show how the shortage is affecting people.

Carl Azuz, Anchor

Filed under: Uncategorized
September 18th, 2008
09:59 PM ET

Dallas Grading Changes

I know a lot of you won't agree with me here, but I really don't think the grading changes taking place in Dallas schools are good ones.  Think about this:  When you know you have a test coming up that you need to study for, you study for it.  You do your best to learn the material and get it right the first time. 

But if you know you can retake the test if you flunk it, what's the point of studying in the first place?  You'd find out what was on the test, study for certain answers, then get them right the second time through.  How in the world is that fair to the students who do what they're supposed to do and pass the first time?

You won't be able to retake your tests in college.  And what about work?  Consider my job:  If I fail to get a story right the first time you see it, I don't get a second chance.  It would make me and our show look bad, and there'd be nothing I could do about it.

Now I'm not saying you should be perfect and ace every test you take.  But if you flunk one or two, you usually have the chance to do better on the next tests.  Being able to retake a test you failed might improve your overall grade, but it won't prepare you for the challenges you'll face once you're out of school.

Anyone disagree?

Carl Azuz, Anchor

Filed under: Feedback • News Coverage
September 18th, 2008
07:17 PM ET

How's Your Main Street?

I am the curriculum writer for CNN Student News. I've been following the news this week, and it seems to me that a lot of people who know a whole lot more than I do about the economy are getting skittish with the way it's working out. I hear a lot of people on both sides talking about how the candidates will handle this economic situation, and I'm not sure what to think. But on the other hand, I'm living a pretty decent middle class life, I took my kid to the baseball game last night (my team won) and my wife and I are planning our holidays and vacations. So, while Wall Street is anxious, my Main Street is doing OK for now. What I want to know, economy or otherwise, what's on your mind, down in your Main Street?

John Martin, CNN Student News Curriculum Writer

Filed under: Feedback
September 16th, 2008
07:23 PM ET

Stopping Dropouts

There've been a LOT of education stories on our show lately: students getting paid to study, parents getting paid to get involved in students' education, and Wednesday's coverage of a California high school with an incredibly high dropout rate.  The first two of these stories are controversial; the last is downright disturbing.

You've heard people tell you before why dropping out is a bad idea, so you don't need to hear it from me.  But we'd like to know what you think could be done to stop teenagers from giving up on school.  What would you tell people who want to drop out?  What would you do to encourage them to keep showing up to class?

Carl Azuz, Anchor

Filed under: Feedback • News Coverage
September 16th, 2008
05:49 PM ET

Constitution Day

This one's for the educators out there.   We received lots of emails asking what CNN Student News will be doing for Constitution Day.  Care to share with your colleagues what you're doing for Constitution Day?  Here's the perfect place to leave tips on how to teach about the Constitution!

Donna Krache, Executive Producer

Filed under: Uncategorized
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