On Your Bottom Line

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May 4th, 2012
01:47 PM ET

Yes, jobs are being created. No, not enough of them

By Christine Romans

It’s a presidential race framed as a contest between the haves and have-nots. It’s a contest between a president who until eight years ago had student loans, and a challenger who has lived a life of abundance. And a test of which candidate you think will bring jobs and opportunity back to this country.

The latest monthly jobs report gave material for each candidate’s message. Yes, jobs are being created. No, not enough of them.

So the message battle is this: Forward versus Broken Promises.


Filed under: State of Your Job • Web Extra • Your Bottom Line
April 27th, 2012
03:59 PM ET

Best & worst from America's classrooms

From Christine Romans

The most important job in America is a good teacher at the head of a classroom. The very future of our country – its innovation, its military, its ability to compete against a rising China – depends on the kind of skills we are giving our kids.

By the same logic, the most dangerous job is the ineffective educator. Wasting time going through the motions just doesn’t cut it in today’s world. (Minnesota is the only state where college-bound high school grads met at least 3 out of 4 ACT benchmarks for college readiness.)

Find out how your state fares in college readiness

Even worse, though, is someone in the classroom who is actually hurting a child’s education.

This week I reported on the extremes.

First – the good. I interviewed the 2012 National Teacher of the Year on CNN's Starting Point. Rebecca Mieliwocki is a seventh grade teacher in California who uses lessons from her business background to run her classroom. She’s into accountability and results – metrics from the private sector she applies in school every day.

Many have noted that Rebecca’s path to the class room began in the public sector.

“I didn't start out as a teacher.” she told me. “I kind of came into teaching from the business world, and in that community, results matter. You have to be on your game. You have to get your job done. And you have to be good at what you do, and that's how you rise to the top. And I took that idea, that ... unusual business model into the classroom, and it's about getting results with kids.”

Specifically, how does she do this?

“I make sure that kids are front and center in their own learning, that they're taking ownership of what it is that they want to know, and then, I help explain to them what it is that they need to know. We'll do things like we do a lot of small group activities. They'll partner together.”

She pushes group projects that will have meaning in the real world, but are also fun for kids.

“One of the assignments I had my kids start the year with was they all designed an app for a Smartphone that an incoming middle schooler can use to help navigate school life and whether it could be an academic app that could help with homework or study tools, whether it would be a bully locater, whether it could be cafeteria lunch rating system, those kinds of things.

They have to design the app and do the little thumbnail write up and the graphic. Those are real world skills. They might go to work as a computer programmer or some sort of designer, graphic designer. That might be a job they could have, and so, I design projects that give them an outlet for work that they may do when they grow up.”

Brava. Mrs. Mieliwocki.

But then there’s this.

Cherry Hill, New Jersey. A suspicious dad wires 10-year old special-education student and is heartbroken to hear adults in that classroom laughing at, ignoring, and even mocking his son.

To listen to those seven hours of tapes is to hear a child bullied by school employees that taxpayers pay to help him.

The father told me this week that listening to those tapes were the worst minutes of his life.

Parents and teachers of kids with special needs know the drill. Sensory processing can be difficult for some kids. (Loud sounds, bright lights, change in routine can be devastating for a child.) Some have a hard time making transitions and need positive reinforcement about what is coming next. Difficulty communicating is a hallmark of Autism Spectrum Disorder as well. The wide range in behavioral differences in children is what professionals are trained to understand in the classroom.

The women whose voices you hear on this tape seem oblivious to these simple facts. They sound actually cruel to this child. If you haven’t heard of this case, you must watch Saturday 9:30 am ET for Mary Snow’s in-depth report on the boy and his father. The district tells us an aide has been fired and a teacher reassigned. As the week unfolds, a 23-year veteran teacher in that classroom is now fighting back, and denying she heard anything inappropriate and says she was not in the classroom for the first hour of the tapes. She is accusing the father of being “disingenuous.” The father says the tapes speak for themselves.

On the show you can hear advice from an attorney who represents families fighting their school districts to get the care they deserve for special needs kids in public schools.

These stories this week reinforce my belief that like real estate and politics, all education is local. Please tell me what you are seeing where you live. What separates the effective schools from the rest? What’s the best tactic you’ve ever seen in teaching? And for teachers – what is your biggest frustration?

Watch us on Your Bottom Line Saturday 9:30 am Eastern, and let’s keep the conversation going here.

Have a great weekend!


Filed under: Educating America • Web Extra
April 22nd, 2012
09:55 AM ET

Gloria Steinem's best advice

The women's rights activist & author tells Christine Romans the best advice she ever got: behave as if everything matters.

Filed under: Best Advice • Web Extra • Your Bottom Line
April 16th, 2012
09:55 AM ET

Gilt founders' best advice: Maintain relationships

The co-founders of online retailer Gilt Groupe tell Christine Romans that the best advice they ever got was to keep work relationships friendly.

Filed under: Best Advice • Web Extra • Your Bottom Line
April 15th, 2012
11:55 AM ET

How Gilt Groupe stays competitive

The online retailer's founders tell Christine Romans and Alina Cho how they stay relevant as more competitors come online.

Filed under: Web Extra • Your Bottom Line
April 8th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

Stedman Graham on relationship with Oprah

Stedman Graham tells Christine Romans that his relationship with Oprah Winfrey doesn't dictate his identity.

Filed under: Web Extra • Your Bottom Line
April 7th, 2012
09:50 AM ET

Stedman Graham on creating an identity & Oprah

Stedman Graham discusses his relationship with Oprah Winfrey and his new book 'Identity: Your Passport to Success.'

Filed under: Web Extra • Your Bottom Line
April 7th, 2012
09:50 AM ET

Van Jones on #OWS, Obama & the Tea Party

The former green jobs adviser to the Obama White House discusses the middle class, Occupy Wall Street, President Obama and his new book, 'Rebuild the Dream.'

Filed under: Web Extra • Your Bottom Line
February 13th, 2012
04:06 PM ET

Booker: Pre-Kindergarten critical for development

CNN caught up with Newark's Mayor Cory Booker to discuss the importance of college and Pre-K program. Booker was the keynote speaker for an event hosted by LEDA (Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse Amercia).

Filed under: Educating America • Web Extra
December 23rd, 2011
02:31 PM ET

Makeover for CNN producer's desk

One CNN producer set herself a New Year's resolution to clean her desk. She got help from professional organizer Jaclyn Gross, who also gave tips on cleaning up and what to know before hiring a professional organizer.

Jaclyn's tips for hiring a professional organizer:

  • Check if organizer is a member of National Association of Professional Organizer and follow its Code of Ethics
  • Make sure the organizer is insured
  • Request that work is confidential
  • Talk to organizer before you hire to make sure you are compatible
  • Look for someone who is non-judgmental
  • Ensure the organizer is able to handle your situation and comes prepared with all the necessary supplies
  • Go over payment amount and terms before work starts

Filed under: Web Extra
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