Education

Ways to Connect

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."

When You're Not Quite Sure If Your Teacher Is Human

May 8, 2017

A couple of years ago, Ashok Goel was overwhelmed by the number of questions his students were asking in his course on artificial intelligence.

Goel teaches computer science at Georgia Tech, sometimes to large classes, where students can ask thousands of questions online in a discussion forum.

With a limited number of teaching assistants, or TAs, many of those questions weren't getting answered in time. So, Goel came up with a plan: make an artificial intelligence "teaching assistant" that could answer some of students' frequently asked questions.

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The rest of the country may be talking about health care this week, but you must be a die-hard education fan. NPR Ed has just the weekly news roundup you need. And, actually, we do have a health care note.

Health care bill would cut assistance to special education students

Kipp Jones / Flickr/CC

There’s mixed reaction on college campuses after Governor Nathan Deal’s signing of a bill allowing concealed weapons on some parts of public college and university campuses.

Elmo and Big Bird have lots of experience teaching children everything from the ABCs to autism. Soon, they could be bringing smiles — and education — to millions of refugee children forced from their homes in Syria, Iraq and other war-torn countries.

It was in a school in the South Bronx a few weeks ago that I first heard about the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. The TV show, released at the end of March and based on a best-selling young adult novel, depicts a teenager who kills herself. She experiences sexual assault, cyberbullying and inadequate responses from adults, and she leaves messages for the classmates and others whom she holds responsible for her suicide.

In a move that's being called "bold" and "out of the blue," Indiana's Purdue University is acquiring the for-profit Kaplan University. In announcing the deal last week, Purdue President Mitch Daniels said it was designed to open the university up to a vast new pool of students nationwide.

In the hills of southern New Hampshire, there's a stately old bell atop the Academy Building at Phillips Exeter.

With each toll, it signals passing periods between classes. The sound of the bell — much like the rest of the sprawling prep school's campus — evokes centuries of tradition. But next year, the school is trying something new.

It's all happening in an inconspicuous wood-framed building: Kirtland House. Right now, Kirtland House is a girls' dorm, but a sign on the first-floor bathroom hints at the future. It reads: "gender-inclusive restroom."

Racist hate speech on campus has become the de facto litmus test for free speech protections today. But racist hate speech may not be doing what progressive free speech defenders think it is doing.

Some of the nation's top researchers who've spent their careers studying early childhood education recently got together in Washington with one goal in mind: to cut through the fog of studies and the endless debates over the benefits of preschool.

They came away with one clear, strong message: Kids who attend public preschool programs are better prepared for kindergarten than kids who don't.

Immigration advocates claim that about half of the most lucrative startups in America were founded by immigrants. But it's complicated for a foreigner to start a company in America — there's no such thing as a startup visa.

That's why some entrepreneurs are "hacking the system" through a workaround that started as an experiment in Massachusetts and has expanded to five other states.

Mary Beth Burkes lives in Buchanan County, Va., a depressed coal-mining region where 1 in 4 families lives in poverty and where her autistic son gets extra help in the after-school program at his school.

Burkes says the program has been a godsend for her and other parents, because they know their children are in a safe place after school. "Their parents work," she says. "There is no day care in this area."

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Emily Jones / GPB News

On Skidaway Island today, you’ll find a state park, a marine science institute, and a private golf community. But 150 years ago, right after the Civil War, it was home to a monastery and a school for former slaves. An Armstrong State University professor and a team of student archaeologists are digging up the hidden history on the site of the former school.

 

This week and next is a national rite of passage for stressed-out overachievers everywhere. Nearly 3 million high school students at 22,000 high schools will be sitting down to take their Advanced Placement exams.

Created by the nonprofit College Board in the 1950s, AP is to other high school courses what Whole Foods is to other supermarkets: a mark of the aspirational, a promise of higher standards and, occasionally, a more expensive alternative.

As we head into the 100th day of the Trump presidency, NPR Ed has our regular weekly education roundup to keep you in the loop.

Attorneys General speak out on behalf of student borrowers

Twenty state attorneys general and the District of Columbia this week sent a letter criticizing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for revoking federal protections for student borrowers.

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At the TED Conference in Vancouver this week two TED Fellows talked about putting ideas to work to invigorate marginalized communities from within, while harnessing the collective power, creativity, and good will of residents who want to live in thriving, healthy and safe neighborhoods.

In 19th century Georgia, Princess Barbare Jorjadze grew up to be the country's first feminist. But until recently she's been best remembered for another accomplishment – her cookbook.

What makes a high-quality learning program effective not just for the child but the whole family? What else, besides a well-run early ed or pre-K program, is essential to help families break out of intergenerational poverty?

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Four thousand or so people are struggling with a difficult question right now. They recently found out that they are descendants of slaves who were sold to pay a debt owed by Georgetown University. Georgetown is trying to make amends.

Fox News has been under fire in the past year for sexual harassment. First Fox chair Roger Ailes, then the network's favorite pundit, Bill O'Reilly, were forced to leave after multiple women complained of unwanted advances—and the blocked advancement they experienced when they didn't put out.

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