(CNN Student News) -- March 5, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: You know what's more awesome than Fridays? I don't know either! But 10 minutes of commercial-free headlines comes pretty close. I'm Carl Azuz. This is CNN Student News.
AZUZ: First up, a day of protests around the country, all focused on the cost of getting a higher education. This started in California. The state has a huge budget deficit; $20 billion. One of the ways it's trying to fix that is by making some cuts, including a billion dollars from the state's university system. Schools need to make up that difference, so they're planning to raise tuition by 30 percent, and as you might imagine, this idea, not going over well.
HONORA KELLER, 5TH YEAR STUDENT, SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY: I've had a lot of struggles paying for school. I have three jobs and I'm a full-time student, and I work over full time with those three jobs added together. And I definitely feel the fee increases. They affect me directly.
AZUZ: She's not alone. People spoke out against state education cuts at colleges and universities around California yesterday. Many demonstrators argue that the cuts drive up tuition, limit classes and make it harder for people to get a higher education. Professors, they're upset about this, too. One said it's a situation that's been building for a while.
LILLIAN TAIZ, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA FACULTY ASSOCIATION, PROFESSOR, HISTORY, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIV. LOS ANGELES: The issue is really: Is the state going to continue to contribute to its system of public education? What's happening is a lot of the cost of educating the students in California is being shifted over to the students themselves. The amount of money that the state has invested in this system has declined dramatically over the years, and that's really the problem here. We have not continued to invest in public higher education that benefits all of us. Not just individuals, but all of us in this state.
AZUZ: Yesterday's "Day of Action" wasn't limited to California. Events were scheduled around the country. Some at state capitals; most on college campuses. Massachusetts -- which you see right here -- New York, Georgia, Colorado. These protests were nationwide because the increase in college costs is expected to be nationwide, as well. You know the recession is playing a big part in all of this, affecting education in a number of ways.
The "Day of Action" was focused on college. But on our blog and on Facebook, you've been talking to us about how the recession's had an impact on your education. This is some of what you're saying. From Dean: "I don't think they've had to lay off staff [at our school], but classes are getting bigger." Quintessia says the "superintendent had to cut $3.5 million from next year's budget, and some teachers won't be coming back." On our Facebook page, Katie commented that "we cut down our heat and our lights are at half-light." From Hans: "No teachers have been fired, but our athletic programs don't have as much money to get new equipment." And back on our blog, from Brenna: "Programs, teachers, bus routes, you name it and it can be cut. I hope we come out of this recession soon." We hope you'll share your thoughts about the recession and its impact on education. The place to do that: From A to Z, our blog at CNNStudentNews.com.
Is this Legit?
MATT CHERRY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? According to the U.S. government, Iraq is a parliamentary democracy. Legit! In a parliamentary democracy, the people elect the members of parliament, and then parliament selects the country's leader.
AZUZ: Iraqis are in the process of selecting that government right now. The country's parliamentary elections are officially scheduled for Sunday, but early voting started yesterday for people who can't get to the polls on Sunday. That includes army and security personnel. This is Iraq's second, full parliamentary election since 2003, when its former leader, Saddam Hussein, was kicked out of power.
Yesterday's voting was disrupted by a series of bombings that took place around the capital city of Baghdad. The attacks killed 12 people, left dozens of others wounded. Iraq has rolled out heavy security around this election. Officials had warned about the possibility of violence ahead of time. Of course, there's still a lot of U.S. troops in Iraq. And they're scheduled to be out of the country entirely by the end of 2011; that's a goal of President Obama. But in an exclusive interview with CNN's Arwa Damon, Iraq's prime minister says that deadline isn't written in stone.
NURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER: This depends on the future, on whether the established Iraqi army and police would be enough or not. So, this issue is depending on the developments of the circumstances, and regulated by the Strategic Framework Agreement between the United States and Iraq.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, BAGHDAD: So just to clarify, if the situation dictated it, you would be willing to have U.S. forces extend their stay in Iraq?
AZUZ: Health care: President Obama says it's time to vote on his newest proposal. But he's facing some challenges from both parties. He met with House Democrats yesterday to make sure that they're on board. In the Senate, he's pushing a controversial process called reconciliation, which would prevent Republicans from trying to block the bill through a filibuster. Dana Bash looks at what could come next.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, what happens now? Well, President Obama says he wants a simple up-or-down vote for his health care plan. For Democrats here in Congress, getting that done is anything but simple. Let me lay out what the Democrats' plans are by starting right here in the House.
The idea is for House Democrats to pass the same bill already approved by the Senate in late December. But House Democrats don't like some of what's in that Senate bill, so they won't do that without making some changes, a separate package.
Those changes are what Democrats are planning to push through without Republican votes, using that process known as reconciliation. Reconciliation means Democrats only need a simple majority, 51 votes, in the Senate.
Democrats say the first and most important step in making all of that work is getting that package of changes just right, especially to muster enough votes here in the House.
Another obstacle Democrats are grappling with is trust. Democrats in the House don't want to be left twisting in the wind. Some of them simply don't trust that their brethren over here in the Senate will actually follow through and pass the package of changes.
Another hurdle -- and it is a big one -- is whether Democrats themselves have enough agreement, especially in the House, to find the votes for all this.
And it's an election year. Democrats are already nervous about getting re-elected, and Republicans are stoking that by warning the health care bill will bring them down.
So you see, both politically and procedurally, this so-called simple up-or-down vote is really very complicated. As one Democratic source put it to me, the president's new pressure helps, but it doesn't guarantee health care will happen.
MICHELLE WRIGHT, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mrs. Shelton's problems and issues class at Moline High School in Moline, Illinois! When was Women's History Month established? If you think you know it, shout it out! Was it: A) 1991, B) 1987, C) 1980 or D) 1976? You've got three seconds -- GO! In 1987, Congress established March as Women's History Month. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: In his Women's History Month proclamation, President Obama called on all Americans to "honor the history, accomplishments and contributions of American women." That's what we'll be doing all month long on CNN Student News. Today, we're spotlighting a foundation that aims to help young women grow into confident leaders by teaching them how to skateboard. Robin Meade fills in the details.
ROBIN MEADE, HLN ANCHOR, MORNING EXPRESS WITH ROBIN MEADE: These girls are not only having fun...
FLEUR LARSEN, SKATE LIKE A GIRL: You can do this. You can totally do this. Great effort. So good!
MEADE: They're building self-esteem, as well.
LARSEN: To see someone who is maybe nervous or scared to do something, and they do it anyway because they believe in it, that's what's inspiring to me.
MEADE: Fleur Larsen and Holly Maeder Sheehan founded Skate Like A Girl 10 years ago. The Seattle-based non-profit encourages female skateboarding by offering instructional clinics and camps.
HOLLY MAEDER SHEEHAN, SKATE LIKE A GIRL: The easiest way to do that is to lift your heel.
We wanted to provide an opportunity for girls to challenge themselves physically. To be allowed to fall down, to get dirty, to get hurt, to have a positive outlet for their extra energy.
MEADE: And to do it all within an environment that's supportive.
KRISTIN EBELING, SKATE LIKE A GIRL: There are a lot of stereotypes out there, and so skating with guys, you're susceptible to those. But skating with girls, they don't care. You are kinda all part of one big family.
NANCY CHANG, SKATE LIKE A GIRL: Skate Like a Girl is more than skateboarding. It's just the vehicle that empowers girls and women to believe in their full potential.
BAILEY HARRIS, SKATE LIKE A GIRL: I can show those boys, well, you can't do this, but I can!
Before We Go
AZUZ: One thing you need to know about the sport of polo: It's played on horseback. One thing you need to know about camel polo: Yep! The Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club, located in the Middle East, sometimes saddles up native animals for an international event. And man, these things can move. You'll notice there are two people on every camel. A driver explained that the animals are temperamental and bad listeners. So, one drives while the other plays polo. One guy's strategy: Hold on, don't fall.
AZUZ: Because wherever there is danger, there is drama-dery. Some of y'all are going to have to look that one up. CNN Student News will never "desert" you. We'll be back on Monday, so have a great weekend!