Education

Ways to Connect

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During Betsy DeVos' bitter confirmation hearing last month for education secretary, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet pointed to Denver as a potential national model of a big city school district that's found an innovative, balanced approach to school choice.

Growing up on Long Island, Zachary Linderer was obsessed with science.

He grew up a Jehovah's Witness, and like many others in the faith, he was homeschooled his whole life. By the time he got to high school, Linderer knew that he wanted to go to college for something in the sciences: physics, oceanography, something in that realm. But he realized at a young age that wasn't going to be a possibility.

There's a bulletin board at the front of the band room at Spring Lake Park High covered in portraits of the composers who wrote this year's music selection.

The bulletin board isn't new — it's there every year. What's new are the faces: Instead of primarily white men, there are faces of women and composers of color.

This is intentional. The band directors at Spring Lake Park, outside of St. Paul, Minn., have pledged to include at least one piece by a female composer and one by a composer of color in each concert, for each of the school's bands.

Matt Barnett / Flickr

A new education bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Kevin Tanner would allow the state to provide systems of support and assistance for low-performing schools in Georgia.

The action in the U.S. school system is overwhelmingly local. But the federal government, and the courts, have an important hand in many issues that touch classrooms — from civil rights to international programs of study. We looked at the records of some of President Trump's key appointees to see how they might affect education in the years to come.

Jeff Sessions, attorney general (confirmed)

Before Martin Shkreli's event at Harvard could even get started Wednesday night, it was set briefly on ice. The controversial former pharmaceutical executive had to wait as university police officers evacuated the building where he was speaking, after someone falsely pulled the fire alarm.

Things didn't go much smoother from there.

5 Ways Teachers Are Fighting Fake News

Feb 16, 2017

As the national attention to fake news and the debate over what to do about it continue, one place many are looking for solutions is in the classroom.

There's an experiment underway at a few top universities around the world to make some master's degrees out there more affordable.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, says the class of 2018 can get a master's degree in supply chain management with tens of thousands in savings. The university's normal price runs upwards of $67,000 for the current academic year.

Beyond Sex Ed: How To Talk To Teens About Love

Feb 14, 2017

Love — or infatuation, at least — is part of school, whether we want it to be or not. It's often school that gives us our first crush, our first dance-induced cold sweat, and that first bitter taste of heartbreak.

And so, on this Valentine's Day we ask: Should educators and parents be talking about love more with the teens and pre-teens in their lives? Could they do more to help students navigate some of the more bewildering emotions of adolescence?

Saying it won't risk having to leave any students at the border because of new U.S. policies, a public school district in Windsor, Ontario, has canceled upcoming school trips south of the border. Some trips had been slated for this month; a visit to Washington, D.C., was canceled over safety concerns owing to a protest that's planned around the same time, officials say.

It can be difficult to socialize and make friends for many children with autism. Often that's because reading body language and others' emotions doesn't always come easily.

Many of us seem to learn these social skills naturally, but maybe there's also a way to teach them.

The Psychology Lab at Indiana State University is trying to tap into that idea with improvisational theater.

Yes, improv.

Early one morning, the week before Betsy DeVos' confirmation as education secretary, 23-year-old Allison Kruk was dropping her boyfriend off at the Philadelphia airport when she decided to swing by the office of her U.S. senator and give him a piece of her mind.

Yale University announced Saturday that it will change the name of one of its esteemed residential colleges, Calhoun College, named after ardent supporter of slavery and prominent 19th century alumnus, John C. Calhoun.

The vote by the Ivy League's trustees comes after years of debate and it overturns last April's decision to keep the name. That decision had fueled campus protests from student activists.

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About a third of Tennessee students who graduated from high school in 2015 did so without earning the necessary credits. That revelation came late last month in a report by the state's education department — a report meant to explore why so many Tennessee students are having trouble in college. For the first time, state officials led an audit to see whether graduates were fulfilling the state's graduation requirements. One in three was not.

Jason Vorhees / The Macon Telegraph

Jordan Harrell is a great speller. But there was a time when this year's Bibb County School District spelling champ was never guaranteed to ever spell. Or even speak.

Tuesday was a busy day for education policy.

Betsy DeVos, you may have heard, was confirmed as secretary of education with an unprecedented tiebreaker vote.

The Wings On The Bus Go ... Wait, What?

Feb 8, 2017

School traffic never bothers Max Schneider.

In the airplane he takes to class every day, his commute is pretty easy.

It's nearly 7:30 a.m. when a small, five-passenger Piper Saratoga plane takes off from the mainland in Port Clinton, Ohio. Pilot Bob Ganley is on his way to pick up students heading to school.

His first stop is Middle Bass Island, about a mile away from the school. Instead of a bus stop, Max's father is dropping him off at the Middle Bass airport to meet the plane.

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There's no way to avoid it. As the cost of college grows, research shows that so does the number of hungry and homeless students at colleges and universities across the country.

Still, many say the problem is invisible to the public.

"It's invisible even to me and I'm looking," says Wick Sloan. He came to Bunker Hill Community College in Boston more than a decade ago to teach English full time. He says it felt like he quickly became a part-time social worker, too.

The confirmation today of Betsy DeVos as the 11th U.S. secretary of education brought angry denunciations and firm pledges of support — no surprise for a Cabinet nominee who had become a lightning rod for Americans' views about their public schools.

Here's our roundup, with excerpts from reactions around the country:

First, DeVos herself tweeted shortly after her confirmation:

And this tweet from Vice President Pence, who cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate:

President Trump tweeted his congratulations:

The teachers unions

This February is Black History Month, a time when the nation honors the contributions of African Americans. On Second Thought host Celeste Headlee says she doesn't really like Black History Month, but not for the reasons you might expect. 

Today the Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as President Trump's education secretary, 51-50.

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Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Senate Democrats held an all-night session Monday night into Tuesday morning in a last-ditch effort to try to stop President Trump's nominee for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, from being confirmed.

Among those who took to the floor was Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who said it was "difficult to imagine a worse choice to head the Department of Education."

The scientific community has been roiled by the Trump travel ban.

Like tens of thousands of residents of the seven Muslim-majority countries, scientists have been stranded — cut off from their labs, worried they won't be able to attend upcoming conferences. And even though the ban has been temporarily reversed by a court order, they are uncertain about what the future holds — and the implications for their work.

Consider the case of Ph.D. candidate Hanan Isweiri. She left her lab at Colorado State University to fly home to Libya after the death of her father.

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