Opinion: Confronting challenges of American education,'civil rights issue' of our time
In a speech Wednesday, Mitt Romney proposed dramatically expanding school choice for low-income and disabled children.
May 24th, 2012
11:36 PM ET

Opinion: Confronting challenges of American education,'civil rights issue' of our time

Editor's note: Pedro Noguera is a professor at New York University and director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. He is editor of "Unfinished Business: Closing the Achievement Gap in Our Nation's Schools" and author of "The Trouble With Black Boys ... And Other Reflections on Race, Equity and the Future of Public Education."

By Pedro Noguera, Special to CNN

(CNN) - For the past 25 years I have been working as an educator, researcher and policy advocate. 

I am also the parent of four children who have attended public schools. 

In each of these roles I have tried to improve public education and advance the educational rights of children, particularly those who have historically been poorly served.
Given my background, I was pleasantly surprised by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's recent assertion that education was "the civil rights issue of our time".   

Romney is only the most recent politician to connect changes in education to civil rights. Similar remarks have been made by President Obama as well.

Typically, the politicians who make such declarations link it to a call for reform.

Romney has chosen to connect his declaration to the issue of choice and vouchers. 
The question is: Why does Romney believe that simply by promoting school choice the problems that plague public education in America will go away?

Perhaps Romney is not aware that choice and voucher systems have actually been around for a while, and in the cities that have adopted these policies, the challenges confronting American education have not gone away.  FULL POST

Jim Thorpe's legacy: A Native American's Olympic dream
Mary Killman competes for the United States in the Solo Tech final at the 2011 World Championships held in Shanghai.
May 24th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

Jim Thorpe's legacy: A Native American's Olympic dream

By Paul Gittings, for CNN

(CNN) - A century after her childhood inspiration Jim Thorpe won two gold medals at the Stockholm Olympics, synchronized swimmer Mary Killman will be competing in her first Games in London this year.

Like the legendary athlete, Killman comes from a part Native American background in Oklahoma, and is a registered member of Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN).

Thorpe, who grew up in the Sac and Fox Nation, was spoken of in hushed tones by her elders.

"I'm very proud of my background," Killman told CNN. Her tribe are proud of her as well, regularly highlighting her achievements in their publications.

Read the full story

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Filed under: History • Native Americans • Sports • Who we are
Opinion: Minorities are not looking for 'payback'
The U.S. population is becoming less white, according to new census data.
May 24th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

Opinion: Minorities are not looking for 'payback'

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN.com contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist.

By Ruben Navarrette Jr. , CNN Contributor

San Diego (CNN) - You've probably read those articles about how, in the United States, minorities are becoming the majority. That's a polite way of describing what is really going on. Namely, that the U.S. population is becoming more Latino and less white. More than any other group, it is Latinos who are driving demographic changes.

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that, of all the babies born in the United States in 2011, more than half were members of minority groups. Latinos, Asians, African-Americans and other minorities accounted for 50.4% of births last year, marking the first time in U.S. history this has happened.

Immigration is a driving force. So is the fact that Latinos have higher birthrates because they tend to be younger and starting families. According to the report, Latinos have a median age of 27; with whites, it's 42.

When I read these kinds of stories, I wince. Some people assume that making lawmakers, media and corporations aware of population trends will persuade them to see the value in diversity and cause them to reach out to nonwhite populations. In my experience, it doesn't have that effect at all. People tend to do what they want to do the way they've always done it.

But what you can set your watch by is the backlash to these stories. It's rooted in fear, but also in human nature. No one likes being told they're being displaced or pushed aside, or that they're not going to be as relevant as time goes on.

Read Ruben Navarrette Jr.'s full column