In the United States yellow school buses are a common sight but in some countries the lack of transportation can make it hard to get to school. The CNN film "Girl Rising" deals with the challenges some girls face with getting an education. In this piece of the film, a young girl named Eulalia from a small mountain village in Peru tells her story.
FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT: 'Girl Rising': How to help? Give, share and rise up
Rutgers University's new athletic director is accused of similar conduct as Mike Rice. Officials are considering what to do next. John Berman has more on the story.
Anger raged in the streets of Chicago last night as hundreds of public school teachers and their supporters protested the school district's consolidation plan that will close 54 schools at the end of this school year. The head of the teachers' union calls it a safety issue, saying that children should go to school where they live, not in a different neighborhood.
Pamela Brown has more on the protest and the consolidation plan. “The demonstration was non-violent. But more than 100 protesters were escorted away by police,” Brown reports. “The Chicago public school system still has to hold three meetings for each school it plans to close before the Board of Education votes on the plan in late May.”
People all over the country continue to grieve for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. In the wake of the tragedy, many have asked how they can offer the slightest bit of help to those affected. The United Way of Western Connecticut has created an answer by setting up a fund to provide support services for those Newtown residents affected by the tragedy. This morning, “Early Start” reports that the Sandy Hook School Support Fund has so far raised $3 million. Will Rodgers is a selectman in Newtown, CT and Kim Morgan is the CEO of the United Way of Western Connecticut. They are leading the efforts to raise money for the fund and come to the studio to talk about it today.
Morgan says their original intent for starting the fund was to “be a guardian” and lead people to a legitimate place for donations. “Our intent is then to hand over the funds to the community and really have them decide.” Currently, it’s an “undesignated fund.” “We’re trying to be as broad as possible, in terms of contemplated uses,” Rodgers explains. “People are very quick to react, and we really want to take the time to think about this thoughtfully, and ensure that we’re matching the resources to the established need,” Morgan adds. “Some of the needs may be around mental health issues. We just don’t know at this point." But control and input from the local community will help to decide where the funds will ultimately go.
While the fund has so far raised $3 million dollars, Morgan explains that donations range from $10 to $100 thousand and have come from all over the world. “It is logistically very daunting,” Rodgers says. Donations include toys and food, and while he says they appreciate everything, they aren’t really interested in receiving perishables right now. “We’re trying to encourage people to contact the particular entity they’re donating to make sure that their donation that they have in mind is needed,” Rodgers adds. “Goods require human effort to move and distribute, and we are pretty swamped right now."
In light of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, people all over the country are concerned about the safety of our children at school. Many are asking whether schools should be more fortified to prevent such events in the future. Since the tragedy, there's even been a surge in demand for little-known products that can literally bullet-proof children. From backpack inserts to bullet-resistant toddler pants, parents are going to extremes to keep their kids from becoming statistics. CNN’s Miguel Marquez has that part of the story.
“It is a disturbing sign of the times,” Marquez says. Amendment II makes military grade, bullet resistant inserts for children’s backpacks. “COO Rich Brand says in the last week, sales have jumped 500 percent and they're still climbing,” Marquez reports. “Desperate parents seeking ways to protect their kids in the most extreme situations.”
Amendment II is not alone in the industry. “In Boston, Bullet Blocker promises ‘your peace of mind is our business,’” Marquez says. “In Austin, Texas, BulletProofMe.com says sales are up 50%. New customers: schools and daycare facilities.”
Newtown, Connecticut continues to mourn today. Four more funerals will be held as Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Vicki Soto, and slain students Daniel Barden, Caroline Previdi and Charlotte Bacon are laid to rest. Funerals for six-year-olds Jessica Rekos and James Mattioli were held yesterday, when all Newtown students except those from Sandy Hook returned to school. Sandy Hook kids will resume classes in a neighboring town after the winter break. CNN’s Sandra Endo tells us more.
Children returning to classes Tuesday carried with them the painful reminder of the tragedy at Sandy Hook. “At schools, teachers and students spent time to reflect,” Endo says. “For students at Sandy Hook Elementary, the next time they'll return to class will be in the new year. Newtown's superintendent says teachers and students need more time to deal with the trauma and get used to a new space in a neighboring town.”
Many parents believe, however, that returning to the routine of school is essential to overcoming the tragedy for everyone. “You want to be brave and get back into things as normal as possible,” mother-of-three Melanie Drohan says. “We realize that we have to go on, but it’s…hard to think about what happened.”
Schools in Newtown, Connecticut will reopen today for the first time since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which is an active crime scene and remains closed. Classes there are still suspended, but classes will resume two hours later than usual in the rest of the district. "For the students and their families, it's a return to a healthy and helpful routine," Zoraida Sambolin says. CNN’s Sandra Endo has the story on Newtown students returning to school.
“Grief and shock may replace subjects like reading and math when kids return to class in Newtown,” Endo says, “but facing fear may be the first step to overcome this tragedy.” All schools in Newtown were closed Monday as teachers and administrators trained with national expert on kids and bereavement to prepare for the students' return.
The solution many parents agreed with is getting kids back to school for some sense of normalcy. For Sandy Hook’s kids, that will eventually be by attending classes at Chaulk Hill School in neighboring Monroe. Furniture and supplies were moved there so “when the children come in whenever the school has started,” Steve Varek says, “they walk into a classroom that looks as close as possible as their classroom that they left.”
Christine Romans on claims from President Obama and Mitt Romney on expansion of the Pell Grant program.
Christine Romans delves into the issue of college tuition and student debt this morning, an issue at the forefront of the election for young Americans. She speaks with Jackie Giovaniello, who graduated from Brown University this year and decided not to head straight to medical school. Jackie instead took a research job at Sloan-Kettering Hospital to help pay off her student loans, which adds up to $100,000. "It's nice to have a paying job, full-time, where I can pay back part of my student loans before going to med school and possibly adding on a lot more," Jackie says.
Jackie is burdened with this enormous debt because she didn’t qualify for many grants. Her middle class family is considered too wealthy under the current standards, yet not wealthy enough to afford the tuition of over $50,000 per year for Brown. "When you're in the middle class, you are a normal suburban family. But you just don't make an outrageous amount of money so you can't pay for these outrageous prices for tuition, you know," says Giovaniello. She’s one of many young people with the same predicament; the reason student loan debt hit $1 trillion last year and became a key issue in the election.
Romans explains President Obama’s present actions and second term proposals to alleviate the burden as well as Mitt Romney’s plans to help students. While the candidates have widely differing solutions, the students see one problem. They feel left out in the cold.
"A lot of people who don't have students in college or don't have kids my age just think that, oh, you're either wealthy enough to go to college or you get financial aid from the government. It's that simple,” Giovaniello says. “But it's not that simple.”
More than a dozen New York high schools are currently raising eyebrows and concern from parents for offering morning-after pulls and other birth control drugs to students. Parents may be unaware if their teens are taking the drugs, which are all part of a program called CATCH which was formed to prevent teen pregnancies. CNN's Alina Cho joins “Early Start” this morning with details on the risky initiative and how parents are responding to it.
Alino Cho reports that the schools participating in the pilot program, which has been quietly active since January of 2011, “have been picked because the students there were known to have a higher risk of getting pregnant and a lower access to healthcare.”
She cites that over 1,100 students in 14 high schools have been given the so called morning-after pill, or Plan B. “The most surprising part of all of this… is that many parents may be clueless about it. The students do not need the permission from their parents to get the pill,” and are allowed to get it unless parents sign a letter opting out of the program, says Cho.
While we’re told that the letters were sent home and mailed, “the Department of Health says that no more than two percent of parents at each school sent them back,” Cho says. Cho and Sambolin offer that kids may prevent parents from ever getting the letter. “You don’t bring it home and you intercept the mail,” Sambolin says.
"Early Start with John Berman and Christine Romans" airs weekdays from 5-6am ET on CNN. Check in regularly for news, show updates and a little bit of fun.