Education

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Since its inception nearly a decade ago in Silicon Valley, Rocketship has been among the most nationally applauded charter networks, hailed as an innovative model of blended learning.

Founder John Danner, who made a fortune in Internet advertising, originally envisioned enrolling 1 million students by 2020, relying on the strength of three pillars — "personalized learning" with software, excellent teachers and parent involvement — to raise the achievement of underserved students.

The nation's colleges and universities have been on pins and needles waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether race can be a factor in their admissions policies.

And so today's 4-3 ruling upholding the affirmative-action program at the University of Texas at Austin brought a sigh of relief to much of the higher education world.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In a 4-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the University of Texas' affirmative action program.

"The race-conscious admissions program in use at the time of petitioner's application is lawful under the Equal Protection Clause," the court held.

"My goal for this special session is to keep the schools open," said Sam Brownback, Republican governor of Kansas, talking about a high-stakes gathering today in Topeka.

He called lawmakers back from their vacations for a special session after the state's Supreme Court doubled-down on its demand that they make school funding more equitable across districts or risk a calamitous funding freeze.

"We cannot allow our children to be caught in a constitutional struggle between branches of government," Brownback said. But that's exactly what's happened.

The Problem With Teaching Preschool Teachers

Jun 22, 2016

The U.S. spends a lot of money on preschool — billions of dollars each year. When invested wisely, research suggests the costs are justified by significant returns to society, including savings from crimes not committed, welfare dollars not distributed, and taxes on higher earnings.

But a new report suggests many preschool programs aren't as good as they could (or should) be — because their teachers arrived on the job poorly trained.

This summer, millions of excited 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds will be getting ready for their first real year of school. But some of them may be in for a wake-up call when that first bell rings.

If you have young kids in school, or talk with teachers of young children, you've likely heard the refrain — that something's changed in the early grades. Schools seem to be expecting more of their youngest students academically, while giving them less time to spend in self-directed and creative play.

'Hamilton': A Story Of US

Jun 20, 2016

Hamilton's reach spreads beyond Broadway. Since the musical opened in 2015, it's won almost every possible theatre award, including 11 Tonys and the Pulitzer Prize. Its cast recording has gone platinum and hit No. 1 on the rap chart. A large part of Hamilton's appeal is that it takes the story of America's Founding Fathers and recasts it in contemporary terms — the score is an amalgam of hip-hop, R&B and pop, and the cast is multiracial.

Something's wrong in America's classrooms.

According to new data from the Education Department, black students — from kindergarten through high school — are 3.8 times more likely to be suspended than white students.

Now the really bad news.

This trend begins in preschool, where black children are already 3.6 times more likely to be suspended than white students.

A lot of what's going on today in Marna Wolak's fifth-grade math class is pretty familiar. She's got her students gathered on the rug for a number talk, something she does often, trying to get them thinking about fractions.

But a lot of it is unfamiliar, too. The topic is new — dividing whole numbers by fractions. Also, today there are five more adults in the room, including two other teachers from Sanchez Elementary School here in San Francisco.

The documents released in the lawsuit against Trump University paint an unflattering picture. And as NPR has reported, the political repercussions could be hugely damaging for the Trump campaign.

Commentary: My Dad The Hero

Jun 17, 2016
Bee Nguyen

Happy early Father's Day to all the dads out there.  If you haven't decided what to get your father, consider a trip down memory lane. Bee Nguyen of Atlanta has taken the time to reflect on how her relationship with her dad has changed.  She shares this dedication to a man has lived in two different worlds -- one as a middle-class dad in America, the other as a poor child in Vietnam. 

My dad lives for his jobs.

Twenty years ago, Aimée Eubanks Davis taught in a middle school that served low-income kids in New Orleans.

She didn't define success in terms of test scores. Instead, she focused on the future, wanting her students to graduate from college and find a good job.

Eubanks Davis remembers when some of her earliest students first began that process, sending out resumes and preparing for job interviews.

"Oh, my goodness," she remembers thinking. "This is the moment you want to see: your former students living their dreams."

This could be the beginning of the end for the organization that accredited the now bankrupt for-profit Corinthian Colleges.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Education took a step toward shutting down the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools by recommending it not be renewed as an accrediting body later this summer. Founded in 1912, ACICS is one of the country's oldest and largest college accreditors.

You can take a college course on just about anything nowadays. There's a class on Kanye West lyrics. And one about the American vacation.

But some teachers think that crucial basic skills are being overlooked in the process. Things like showing up on time for class, meeting deadlines, dressing appropriately, working well in teams.

Why would she teach preschool when she could make a heck of a lot more money teaching kindergarten? It's a question I've heard over and over again reporting on education. In some places, we pay early childhood teachers less than fast-food workers, less than tree trimmers. As a country, we've acknowledged the importance of early learning and yet, when you look at what we pay those educators, it doesn't add up.

@latinacademycharterschool

Last month, the founder of the Atlanta Latin Academy Charter School was arrested after he was outed for embezzling school funds. Christopher Clemons spent over $600,000 of the school's money on cars, nightclubs, and real estate. The school has since closed under the weight of financial strain.

We talk with Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Molly Bloom about the scandal and what it means for charter school oversight in the future. 

wikipedia.org

More local education scandals came to light last week, this time at the collegiate level. Kennesaw State University president Daniel Papp resigned suddenly after reports revealed he accepted over $500,000 in retirement benefits while he was still employed. A second audit shows that a conflict of interest in the food services department may have also cost the university hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Janel Davis joins us to talk more about the problems at Kennesaw State University. 

When Caitlin Cheney was living at a campground in Washington state with her mother and younger sister, she would do her homework by the light of the portable toilets, sitting on the concrete.

She maintained nearly straight A's even though she had to hitchhike to school, making it there an average of three days a week. "I really liked doing homework," says Cheney, 22, who is now an undergraduate zoology student at Washington State University. "It kept my mind off reality a little bit."

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'I Won't Feel Safe On My College Campus'

Jun 11, 2016

Copyright 2017 Youth Radio. To see more, visit Youth Radio.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's the afternoon lull at Bongo Java East, and five students from KIPP Academy are tripping over each other behind the counter of this hip Nashville coffee joint, trying to show off what they've learned. They're grinding espresso beans. They're packing the grounds. They're steaming milk.

"Let's see how this goes," 10th-grader Ayanna Holder says as she knocks a steel pot of scalding milk on the counter to keep foam from forming. She takes a freshly pulled espresso and begins pouring the latte, aiming for a quintessential leaf design on top.

It doesn't quite go as planned.

It's one of the oldest issues in school improvement: Getting kids to show up. If students miss 10 percent of the school year — that's just two days a month --research shows they are way more likely to fall behind — even drop out.

Today, the U.S. Education Department is releasing a report on the first national data set on chronic absence — defined as missing 15 or more days of school a year. The numbers come from the 2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Collection survey — an on-the-ground look from 95,000 schools.

What does helping a 3-year-old control her temper tantrums have to do with reducing global poverty? Quite a lot, says Dana McCoy.

Nine-thousand feet up in the Colombian Andes, in the province of Boyacá, a little orange schoolhouse sits on a hillside dotted with flowers.

Thirty-three students, ages 4 through 11, walk as much as an hour to get here from their families' farms. The students greet reporters in English — "Welcome! Welcome!" — and Spanish, with a song and a series of performances.

In one, an 8-year-old in a green school uniform and a colorful feather mask recites a folk tale about a terrible, tobacco-smoking monster called a Mohan.

When the U.S. government released its tally of sexual violence cases on college campuses under review in 2014, Stanford wasn't on the list. But in the new list that's out this month, Stanford has the most cases, with five.

The notorious assault that's been making headlines is not among the cases under federal review.

I'm hanging out with my 4-year-old daughter in the early evening, trying to keep her entertained and pull dinner together, when my phone buzzes.

Normally I'd feel guilty for checking it immediately, and distracted even if I didn't. But this time it's not a Twitter mention or an email from my editor. It's a timely suggestion from an app called Muse.

Here's what it says: "Try playing 'Simon Says' with L, using directional words like: behind, around, between. (ex. 'Simon Says stand between the chairs.')"

It's a rare and remarkable view into America's public schools and the challenges that continue some 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education:

The Civil Rights Data Collection survey.

Since 1968, the federal government has been sending it to the nation's schools to gauge educational access and enforce civil rights law.

Today, the U.S. Education Department released its 2013-2014 CRDC results, covering more than 95,000 schools and 50 million students.

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Students at Georgia Tech were part of a recent social experiment, but they just didn't realize it at the time. Computing Professor Ashok Goel teaches an artificial intelligence class every semester. Last semester, he did something different by adding another teacher’s assistant to his online course. Only this T.A. was A.I., operated by artificial intelligence.

At Tech Square Labs in midtown Atlanta, you'll find glass walls and high ceilings. It follows the typical design trends of today's "hip" innovation centers and co-working office spaces. It's also where 14 low-income African-American students are learning Java as part of the Code Start program.

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