Education

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Since he began running for President, Donald Trump has been talking about a smaller federal role in education.

The confirmation hearings begin tomorrow for the person he's nominated to carry out his vision, Betsy DeVos. In her home state of Michigan, DeVos has been a powerful advocate of school choice and a larger private role in education. If confirmed, she'll take over a huge federal bureaucracy of some 4,400 employees and a $68 billion budget.

Sixty-three years after the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, many schools across the country either remain segregated or have re-segregated.

Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that when it comes to school segregation, separate is never truly equal.

This time last year, Stephanie Johnson was miserable.

She was in her third year teaching special education at a junior high school in Lindon, Utah, about 40 minutes south of Salt Lake City.

On the outside it looked like she was doing great. Her classes ran smoothly, students loved her, parents loved her, but like many special education teachers, inside she felt as though she was drowning.

She said she thought about leaving all the time: "I don't know how to describe it, it's just so much work. I just feel like I cannot do it."

Small classes. High standards. More money. These popular remedies for school ills aren't as effective as they're sometimes thought to be. That's the somewhat controversial conclusion of education researcher John Hattie.

Over his career, Hattie has scrutinized more than 1,000 "meta-analyses," looking at all types of interventions to improve learning. The studies he's examined cover a combined 250 million students around the world.

When President Obama took office in January 2009, the country was on edge, the economy in free-fall. The federal education law, known as No Child Left Behind, was also in need of an update after earning the ire of teachers, parents and politicians alike. In short, there was much to do.

In time, that update would come, but President Obama's education legacy begins, oddly enough, with his plan to bolster the faltering economy.

Race To The Top

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Once again this year, President Obama hailed the nation's high school graduation rate as it reached another record high — a whopping 83 percent.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday in a dispute that advocates describe as the most important case involving public school special education in three decades.

At issue is whether federal law requires public schools to provide more than the bare minimum in special services for children with disabilities. With millions of children qualifying for these services, the court's ruling could have a profound effect.

Georgia Southern and Armstrong State Universities will combine under the name Georgia Southern University. The state Board of Regents approved the consolidation Wednesday.

Armstrong students and alumni have been critical of the plan, pointing to Armstrong's history in Savannah and the distance between the schools.

What It Means To Teach 'Black Self-Love'

Jan 11, 2017
Aiyanna Sanders

A new course at Emory University entitled “The Power of Black Self-Love” teaches the history and culture of African-American lives. It explores the ideas behind self-confidence, social movements, and celebratory spaces fostered through social media. 

In the studio are class co-creators Dianne Stewart, Associate Professor of Religion & African American Studies at Emory, and Donna Troka, Assistant Professor at the Institute for the Liberal Arts there. We’re also be joined by student Gretel Nabeta, a junior at Emory.

On campuses today almost every educational interaction leaves digital traces. Assignments and feedback are given through online portals; debates and discussions happen via learning management systems as well as in classrooms, cafes and dorm rooms.

Those and other digital crumbs give technologists the opportunities to examine the processes, practices and goals of higher education in ways that were largely impossible a decade or so ago.

The confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, the billionaire philanthropist who is President-elect Donald Trump's choice for secretary of education, has been delayed for almost a week.

DeVos' hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, but late on Monday night, the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions announced it had been delayed until Jan. 17, next Tuesday.

He didn't have long. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. was confirmed by the Senate in March 2016 after President Obama's long-serving secretary, Arne Duncan, stepped down at the end of 2015. No matter the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, King knew that Obama would be out in a year and replaced by a president who, regardless of party, would almost certainly replace him.

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Jan 7, 2017

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Michelle Obama used her last official White House speech to deliver a passionate pep talk to the nation's young people, especially immigrants, Muslims and others who might feel slighted by the incoming Trump administration.

"Do not ever let anyone make you feel like you don't matter," the first lady said, "or like you don't have a place in our American story, because you do."

Counselors play a big role in helping students succeed: They help with scheduling, college applications and with issues like mental health.

Since 2015, first lady Michelle Obama has honored a school counselor of the year in a ceremony at the White House. Friday, the honor goes to Terri Tchorzynski of the Calhoun Area Career Center in Battle Creek, Mich., where she works with 11th- and 12th-graders drawn from 20 public high schools in Calhoun County.

It's Monday, 8 a.m., and these teens have already mucked stalls in the barn and fed the goats, alpacas and miniature cows. They've rounded up eggs in the henhouse, harvested cabbages and a few green-tinged tomatoes, and arranged them in tidy tiers to sell in the Agriculture Store. Now they're ready to put in a full day of classes.

"Free" is a word with a powerful appeal. And in the past year or so it has been tossed around a lot, followed by another word: "college."

Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton spent a lot of time talking about free tuition. And this week, the promise has been taken up by one of the largest public university systems in the country: New York state's.

There are more than 80,000 educational apps in Apple's app store. It seems like a great way to encourage brain development and make your little one the smartest baby genius. But just sticking a tablet in your kid's hands might not be as helpful.

Sure, use the app. But it's not a babysitter — you've got to help them use it, too.

It's been 150 years since Fisk University opened in Nashville to educate freed slaves after the Civil War. The school's later students would become prominent black leaders of the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights movement.

But the small school is still grappling with a dilemma that's been there since the start: how to become financially sustainable.

Fisk is perhaps most widely known for its music, but that legacy is intertwined with money.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has unveiled a proposal to offer free tuition for lower-income New Yorkers attending state-run colleges, an idea embraced by last year's Democratic presidential contenders.

The plan announced Tuesday – called the Excelsior Scholarship – would grant full-rides to students from families earning less than $125,000 a year, as long as they attend one of the state's public two- or four-year colleges.

The 24 juniors and seniors in the astronomy class at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Va., sink into plush red theater seats. They're in a big half-circle around what looks like a giant telescope with a globe on the end. Their teacher, Lee Ann Hennig, stands at a wooden control panel that has enough buttons and dials to launch a rocket.

Every year for the past few years, I've dusted off my crystal ball and offered a few predictions for the new year. Back on Nov. 9 though, I threw out the ones I had been working on and started over. The election of Donald Trump altered the landscape for K-12 and higher education and created greater political uncertainty in the debate over how to improve schools. Here's my revised, updated list of predictions for 2017.

I was standing by the airport exit, debating whether to get a snack, when a young man with a round face approached me.

I focused hard to decipher his words. In a thick accent, he asked me to help him find his suitcase.

As we walked to baggage claim, I learned his name: Edward Murinzi. This was his very first plane trip. A refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, he'd just arrived to begin his American life.

We all experience stress at work, no matter the job. But for teachers, the work seems to be getting harder and the stress harder to shake.

A new report out this month pulls together some stark numbers on this:

Time to get together the transcripts and the test scores and put the final touches on those personal essays. It's college application season, again.

To a lot of students, the process seems wrapped in a shroud of mystery. What exactly happens when you send your application out into the unknown only to ... wait?

Well, here's a glimpse behind the curtain at one school.

Talking publicly about women's menstruation has long been a taboo. But in 2016 the world made big strides getting over the squeamishness. There was the Chinese swimmer at the Rio Olympics who had no qualms explaining that she was on her period after she finished a race grimacing in pain.

In San Francisco, companies will pay six-figure salaries to entry-level tech workers from all over the world. So this might come as a surprise: A public university there is laying off some of its own IT staff and sending their jobs to a contractor with headquarters in India.

Until recently, Hank Nguyen's daughter wanted to follow in his footsteps and work in tech. Last spring, she was accepted into the University of California system.

"She was inclined to take computer science and engineering," Nguyen says.

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