Education

Ways to Connect

To protest, or not to protest? This week on Ask Code Switch, we're digging into a question from Shawn, an African-American high school student in South Florida, who wonders how best to take a stand against injustice:

Hello Code Switch Crew,

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A high-level investigation into chronic absenteeism in Washington, D.C., high schools has found that students across the city graduated despite missing more than 30 days of school in a single course, in violation of district policy.

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Hello! Money is on our minds in this mid-January edition of the Weekly Roundup.

Student loan default is a "crisis," report says

By setting an enrollment target for special education, the Texas Education Agency violated federal law that ensures a free, appropriate public education to all students with disabilities. That's what the U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday, after a 15-month investigation.

"The federal government must take bold action to address inequitable funding in our nation's public schools."

So begins a list of recommendations released Thursday by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent, bipartisan agency created by Congress in 1957 to investigate civil rights complaints. Thursday's report comes after a lengthy investigation into how America's schools are funded and why so many that serve poor and minority students aren't getting the resources they say they need.

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A Louisiana teacher questioned whether the superintendent should receive a raise. Then, she was ushered out of a school board meeting and handcuffed.

Four former fraternity members were sentenced to jail time Monday in the 2013 hazing death of Chun Deng, a freshman at Baruch College in Manhattan.

Deng went to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania to finish pledging Pi Delta Psi, an Asian-American cultural fraternity. During the process, he was blindfolded, forced to wear a backpack weighted down with sand and then repeatedly tackled. He was knocked unconscious and later died at a hospital.

If you're like most Americans, you don't have a 529 college savings plan.

If you're like most Americans, you don't even know what it is.

All the more reason to keep reading.

That's because, with the new tax law, Republicans have made important changes to 529 plans that will affect millions of taxpayers, not just the ones saving for college. Before that news, though, a quick primer.

It's a new year and a new edition of our weekly education news roundup. welcome back!

DeVos plans to make it harder for defrauded students to get their money back

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Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep with a chance to expand your vocabulary. Wayne State University is promoting expressive words that could be used more. For example, there's couth.

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OK, I've heard of uncouth, but...

Max Aaron may have been the 2011 men's junior figure-skating champion, 2013 U.S. national champion and 2015 Skate America champion. And sure, he's a top contender for a spot on the U.S. team in next month's Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

But all his grandfather wants to know is when he's going to machan a leibedik—Yiddish for "make a living."

Before he can do that, though, Aaron and many other elite athletes face a big hurdle: Finding time, between all that training — hours in the gym or pool or on the ice — to earn a college degree.

Forty-three of the largest public universities in the U.S. do not track student suicides, according to recent findings from The Associated Press, despite efforts to improve mental health on campus.

Gaspar Vila Mayans elementary school, in a low-income area in Puerto Rico's capital of San Juan, was one of the lucky ones.

Most of the building escaped damage, and the school was able to reopen just two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit in late September.

Once it was back up and running, the school quickly became a lifeline for the community, providing meals, activities and a sense of normalcy to families and their children.

Now, it's facing the possibility of closure for an entirely different reason – there aren't enough students to fill up its classrooms.

Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

Trying to change Obama-era rules, the Trump administration is one step closer to making it more difficult for students to have loan debt wiped clean in cases involving fraud by universities.

After another round of holidays, it's safe to assume, a lot of children have been diving into media more than usual. They may have received new electronic toys and gadgets or downloaded new apps and games. Managing all that bleeping and buzzing activity causes anxiety in many parents. Here's a roundup of some of the latest research, combined with some of our previous reporting, to help guide your decision-making around family screen use.

1. Globally, tech brings young people opportunity as well as risk

Rated PG: Profoundly Gifted

Jan 2, 2018

Stories about geniuses seem to fascinate us. From “Rain Man” and “Temple Grandin” to “House” and “S-town,” people with extraordinarily high intelligence make for great characters.

But what is life really like if you’re profoundly gifted, with an IQ of at least 160? And what’s it like living among the rest of us?

In the first installment of our series of audience-requested discussions, we examine what it means to be profoundly gifted.

GUESTS

On the NPR Ed Team, I am what you might call the grizzled veteran. I've seen education trends come and go and come again. And go again.

You get the idea.

In years past, around December, my teammates would often pause by my desk and ask: "What do you think we'll be covering next year?"

I've always found this a fun thought exercise, and, at some point, my editor suggested I jot down my answers and share them beyond our cubicles. And so, here are a few predictions for 2018.

The 10 Most Popular 'Fresh Air' Interviews Of 2017

Dec 29, 2017

In 2017, Fresh Air marked 30 years as a nationally syndicated, daily radio program by doing what it does best: more in-depth interviews.

The NPR series, "Take A Number," is exploring problems around the world — and the people who are trying to solve them — each through the lens of a single number.

Thirty-six percent.

That was the high school graduation rate for youth in foster care in Seattle and King County, Washington, in 2010.

It's not every year that a new Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, becomes a household name, satirized on Saturday Night Live, never mind being the most unpopular member of a historically unpopular cabinet. But we live in interesting times and the nations' schools and colleges are no exception.

We cover education stories every day. But our most popular education news of the year came the day that Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the U.S. secretary of education; our story that day was read nearly 1 million times. DeVos is a school choice activist and billionaire Republican donor who was nominated by President Trump and approved by the Senate, despite the fierce objections of Senate Democrats, teachers unions and others.

Before you head out to celebrate the holidays and welcome the new year, here is our last weekly roundup of 2017.

Education under the new tax bill

Graduate students can breathe easier after learning that tuition waivers will remain tax-free, according to the final version of the House-Senate tax bill that passed Thursday.

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It's been quite a year for for-profit education. "Continued collapse," is how Bryan Alexander, an educational futurist, describes it.

Here's a quick look back:

Finals week brought a rude surprise to students and staff at the McNally Smith College of Music in Minnesota, as the school announced it was closing abruptly — and that it wouldn't be able to meet its last payroll. Some students graduated Saturday; others are frantically looking for options.

It's inevitable. Each year, teachers dip into their own pockets to buy things like notebooks, tissues and pencils for their students.

This inevitability is even enshrined in the tax code, which gives educators a $250 deduction for their trouble. Late last week, in hammering out their big tax overhaul, Republicans decided to preserve that deduction. So we thought we would ask teachers how much of their own money they spend each year.

The answer: more than $250.

The plots of dystopian novels can be amazing. A group of teens in Holland, Mich., tells me about some of their favorites:

In Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Love is considered a disease. Characters get a vaccine for it. In Marissa Meyer's Renegades, the collapse of society has left only a small group of humans with extraordinary abilities. They work to establish justice and peace in their new world.

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