Education

Ways to Connect

Grant Blankenship / GPB

 

 

They say you can’t go home again. So maybe you should take a good long look before you leave?

That’s what seniors from Northside High School in Warner Robins did recently when they took a field trip to their old elementary and middle schools.

At Westside Elementary, students lined the halls to see the graduates. When Northside students walked in wearing their blue caps and gowns, students and teachers erupted.  At the head of the line is Alexis Monroy. This was her school.

John Amis / AP Photo

The first charter school in the United States opened up 25 years ago this fall. Since then, the idea of school choice has taken off. Charter schools can give students in struggling public schools more options, but only if those students apply to charter schools and get accepted. We’ll hear about how lotteries could address this in a feature from GPB’s Grant Blankenship.

Late Sunday and early Monday, Texas legislators advanced a version of the divisive "bathroom bill" regulating transgender students' restroom access and passed a law that would allow publicly funded adoption agencies to refuse to work with would-be parents based on religious objections.

The "bathroom bill" proposal, which would affect public schools, was introduced as an amendment to a bill about emergency procedures at schools. It passed the House on Sunday but still needs approval from the state Senate, which is expected to support it.

Dorothy, of Spring Hill, Fla., has a 15-year-old son with spina bifida and developmental delays, and her 13-year-old daughter is, she says, "mildly autistic." Neither was happy at public school.

"My son was in a lockdown classroom with gang members. It was a bad situation. I was afraid he was going to get hurt," Dorothy says. "My daughter was getting bullied because she spoke out of turn or would get upset easily. Twenty kids in a classroom was a lot for her."

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been a passionate proponent of expanding school choice, including private school vouchers and charter schools, and she has the clear backing of President Trump. But does the research justify her enthusiasm?

Experts say one single, overarching issue bedevils their efforts to study the impact of school choice programs. That is: It's hard to disentangle the performance of a school from the selection of its students.

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It's graduation season. That means commencement addresses lead off our weekly education news roundup. Last week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos faced boos at Bethune-Cookman University. This week, President Trump received a warmer welcome when he addressed cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Milwaukee has the nation's longest-running publicly funded voucher program.

For 27 years it has targeted African-American kids from low-income families, children who otherwise could not afford the tuition at a private or religious school.

The day Ayden came home from school with bruises, his mother started looking for a new school.

Ayden's a bright 9-year-old with a blond crew cut, glasses and an eager smile showing new teeth coming in. He also has autism, ADHD and a seizure disorder. (We're not using his last name to protect his privacy.) He loves karate, chapter books and very soft blankets: "I love the fuzziness, I just cocoon myself into my own burrito."

"He's so smart but lacks so much socially," says his mother, Lynn.

Some schoolkids might be happy if their school were knocked down.

Not in Nairobi.

On May 15, a group of primary school students sat at desks in the center of a main road to block traffic. Along with their parents, they were protesting the demolition of their school, the Kenyatta Golf Course Academy, over the weekend.

The Trump administration has made school choice, vouchers in particular, a cornerstone of its education agenda. This has generated lots of interest in how school voucher programs across the country work and whom they benefit.

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An American university in Hungary is fighting for survival. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wants to shut it down, even though European Union officials are warning him not to. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports.

No one likes to take tests. Sitting down to take a standardized test on a beautiful Saturday morning would not, almost certainly, be categorized as a fun weekend activity. Yet, it's a requirement many of us face at one point in life. So we sharpen our No. 2 pencils and get to work.

On Adriene McNally's 49th birthday in January, she heard a knock on the door of her modest row-home in Northeast Philadelphia.

She was being served.

"They actually paid someone to come out and serve me papers on a Saturday afternoon," she says.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Hello and welcome to another edition of NPR Ed's weekly national education news roundup!

DeVos heckled at Bethune-Cookman University

There's been an unprecedented spike in white supremacist activity on campuses across the U.S. since the election and college students and administrators are struggling to figure out how to respond.

Posters at the University of Texas at Arlington last month implored students to "report any and all illegal aliens. America is a white nation." Also last month, at the University of Pennsylvania flyers blared "Imagine a Muslim-free America."

Friday News Roundup - Domestic

May 12, 2017

With guest host John Donvan.

The controversial firing of FBI Director James Comey dominated the news this week. Guest host John Donvan and a panel of journalists discuss that and other happenings around the U.S., including the Texas governor’s ban on sanctuary cities and how Shaquille O’Neal might do as a sheriff.

Guests

Susan Davis, congressional correspondent, NPR

David Leonhardt, op-ed columnist, The New York Times; former editor, The Upshot, a New York Times website covering politics and policy

Wendy Robinson wants to make one thing very clear.

As the long-serving superintendent of Fort Wayne public schools, Indiana's largest district, she is not afraid of competition from private schools.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

FBI Director James Comey is out. But the investigations into Russian meddling continue.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Read this article if you're having a rough day. This is a rare story about positive social change.

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was booed and heckled in Florida today while she gave the commencement address at a historically black university.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET

Betsy DeVos spoke through waves of boos and shouted protests during her commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University on Wednesday, delivering a celebratory address with what seemed at times to be grim-faced resolve.

On a back street in Osaka, the sound of schoolchildren floats out of Tsukamoto Kindergarten. A cuckoo clock and a stand of bamboo sit in front of the school building's orange facade — and Astro Boy, a cartoon figure, looks down from a window.

From its exterior, there's no visible sign that the school is at the center of a scandal on which the leader of Japan has staked his political future.

The school's owner is accused of using his relationship with Japan's first family to secure a plot of land for a new, right-wing primary school at a massive discount.

Fifty thousand signatures on protest petitions. Calls on the president of the university to resign. People on Twitter saying they're mailing back their degrees.

When Ted Komada started teaching 14 years ago, he says he didn't know how to manage a classroom and was struggling to connect with students.

He noticed a couple of days after school that a group of kids would get together to play chess. "I said, 'I know how to play chess. Let me go show these kids how to do it.'"

So he went across the hall and did nothing, he says, but lose game after game. "And that's when I remember being like, 'Oh, there's knowing how the pieces move, and there's playing chess.'"

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His death was initially ruled an accident. But a grand jury that looked into the case of Timothy Piazza, a Penn State University student who died after a night of excessive drinking in February, is now calling it "the direct result of encouraged reckless conduct."

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