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STUDENT NEWS

Skipping School; Sandusky Sentenced

Aired October 10, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: This concern about an increase in students missing school. If you want the details, don`t skip out on today`s show. I`m Carl Azuz, this is CNN STUDENT NEWS.

No less than 30 years and no more than 60. That`s the prison sentence for Jerry Sandusky. He is the former football coach at Penn State University who was convicted in June of sexually abusing young boys. An investigation blamed Penn State officials for covering up the situation.

Sandusky`s lawyers say they plan to appeal his conviction. The night before he was sentenced, Sandusky maintained his innocence. He said, quote, "They can make me out as a monster ... but in my heart I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts."

One of Sandusky`s victim said that the prison "will never erase what he did to me." The judge in the case told the victims that they would be remembered for their courage.

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JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I`m Jonathan Mann with another political jargon buster. What are super PACs? Their campaign attack ads are all over U.S. TV right now. Conservative Super PACs that back Mitt Romney ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And under Obama, nearly 800,000 more women are unemployed.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The private sector is doing fine.

MANN: And liberal Super PACs that support President Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Mitt Romney will never convince us he`s on our side.

MANN: Technically known as "independent expenditure-only committees," they are new kind of political action committee, only without many of the same restrictions, thanks to a pair of federal court cases, Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money for or against political candidates. There is one key restriction, they are not allowed to work in conjunction with the candidate they support. But critics say, Super PACs open an election up to potential corruption.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R ), ARIZONA: And on both sides, we have this incredible amounts of money and I guarantee you, there will be a scandal, there is too much money washing around politics.

MANN: As of late September, nearly 900 Super PACs has spent more than $270 million on this year`s campaign. According to the campaign spending watchdog group, OpenSecrets.org, their millions could influence the elections. Super PACs.

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AZUZ: Another issue that can have an impact on this year`s elections, voter I.D. laws. Many of you have a photo I.D. that you might wear for school. In some states, voters are required to show I.D. in order to vote. Now, the rules are different from state to state. In some places, the I.D.s have to have photos on them, in other places they don`t. And this voter I.D. laws are controversial. Professor David Schultz explains why.

PROF. DAVID SCHULTZ: Voter fraud, voter I.D. - one of the big issues affecting the 2012 elections. 37 states have already enacted legislation or are considering enacting legislation requiring people to provide photo I.D. when they show up to vote in person in elections. Supporters of photo I.D. argue that it`s necessary to prevent fraud, opponents argue it`s voter intimidation, or that voter fraud is not s serious problem in the United States. How this debate start? It goes back to Florida, 2000. And in that race between George Bush and Al Gore out of 6 million votes cast, George Bush wins the election by 537 votes. Some claim that that outcome was effected by fraud or by voter intimidation.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today "Shoutout" goes out to Ms. Pappadackis social studies classes at Kerkhoven Junior/Senior High School in Kerkhoven, Minnesota.

Which of these awards include categories for medicine and physics?

Here we go, is it the Newberry Medal, Nobel Prize, Emmy Awards or Pulitzer Prize? You`ve got three seconds, go!

There are Nobel awards for medicine and physics and also for chemistry, literature, economics and peace. That`s your answer and that`s your shoutout.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ: The prizes are actually awarded in December, but the Nobel Committee is announcing this year`s winners in all six categories over the next week or so. It start on Monday with Nobel Prize for medicine. This year, the award is being shared by scientists from England and Japan for their work with human cells. What they discovered, is that mature specialized cells can be reprogrammed to develop a new completely different types of cells. Scientists think this could be a major breakthrough for medical treatments.

French and American scientists were announced yesterday as the 2012 winners of the Nobel Prize in physics They both study subatomic particles for their work with light and matter. What Dave discovered, could lead to huge leaps in computing technology.

This week from October 7th, through the 13th is fire prevention week. In order to recognize that, some government agencies are providing new statistics about home fires. Every year around 2300 Americans die in home fires. And more than 12000 others are injured. So how these fires get started? Cooking equipment is the number one cause. Between 2008 and 2010, 40 percent of home fires started with cooking equipment. Heating and air conditioning units are another big cause. That includes portable space heaters. Officials say, the best ways to be prepared are to make sure there are working smoke alarms in the house. And for families to come up with and actually practice a fire escape plan.

With you watching the show, there is a good chance you`re doing it in school. There are a lot of students who aren`t though. And we are not talking about those who are being home schooled. According to a new study, millions of Americans students miss nearly a month of school each year. For this next report, Athena Jones went to Baltimore to examine the problem and to find out how one school system is trying to fight it.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to try and teach you strategies to make a good decision.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Baltimore teen Jerrod Williams has come a long way: in seventh grade, he missed 33 days of school, and was in danger of dropping out.

JERROD WILLIAMS: It`d be days just stay home, play the game, eat, sleep and that`s about it - watch TV.

JONES: Williams struggled to get passing grades at a school, where he didn`t feel the teachers cared.

That`s where Karen Webber-Ndour came in. She handles attendance initiatives for the city`s school district.

KAREN WEBBER-NDOUR, STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES, BALTIMORE CITY SCHOOLS: I saw him on the first day of school, and one of the teachers who knew him said, this boy hasn`t been in school for days and days and days. And we approached him and said, this is going to be a very different school year for you. We expect to see you here.

In 8th grade Williams missed just five days of school. The following year, just two. At 17 he is now a sophomore in high school with perfect attendance, and his grades have improved, especially in math.

WILLIAMS: I got Bs and B pluses and one A.

JONES: A Johns Hopkins University study estimates 5 to 7.5 million K through 12 students are chronically absent each year. That means they miss one school day out of every ten. Maryland where the rate is 11 percent, is one of just six states checking the issue.

ROBERT BALFANZ, JOHN HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: It`s sort of a hidden problem, I`d say it`s like bacteria in a hospital, that it actually creates havoc, but we don`t know it, because we are not measuring it.

JONES: Repeated absences are most common in Kindergarten and in high school. And low income students are more likely to miss class, often due to transportation or health issues and sometimes because they have to work or take care of family members.

WEBBER-NDOUR: We have to go the extra mile. We are texting parents there. The school system itself is texting principals and saying, you know, there are a large number of students who are absent from your rolls. What`s going on?

Baltimore schools also use robo calls to alert parents about absences. Social workers talk to families when students are missing too many days of class, and students are now being rewarded for good attendance.

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AZUZ: Check out this video from the University of South Carolina`s football game last weekend. The Faile family was invited onto the field as the military family of the game. Sergeant 1st Class Scott Faile has been stationed in South Korea for the past year. He recorded this video telling his family how much he loved them, that he wished he could be there with them. What turns out, he was.

What a surprise! It was an awesome family reunion that they got to share with 86,000 of their closest friends.

And before we go, watching wildlife can be fascinating. It turns out it`s true even if you are wildlife. And these gorillas who look to be obsessed with the caterpillar that`s crawling around the bars. If you look closely on the right side of your screen, you can see it right there. Now, one of them has a close up view, and the other is like "What are you looking at? I want to check this out. Oh, it`s a caterpillar. And the first one is like, all right, you need to get back there, because I was here first." It`s hard to know exactly what the gorillas find so interesting, maybe they are trying to learn the caterpillars behavior, so they can ape it, all right, come on, stop shaking your heads, you know you love a good pun as much we do. I know I love that one. That`s all we had for now. For CNN STUDENT NEWS, I`m Carl Azuz. We are going to look forward to seeing you tomorrow with more news and possibly more puns too. Bye now.

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