Education

Ways to Connect

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Free food - that's a pretty compelling pitch, right? But giving away free food can at times be surprisingly difficult. Noel King from our Planet Money team recently visited a place that's having this very problem.

An artificially intelligent computer system built by Google has just beaten the world's best human, Lee Sedol of South Korea, at an ancient strategy game called Go. Go originated in Asia about 2,500 years ago and is considered many, many times more complex than chess, which fell to AI back in 1997.

Low Graduation Rates Among Black Athletes

Mar 16, 2016

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

At Southwest Baltimore Charter School, preparing lunch takes a few extra steps.

"We don't use the water from the building for cooking, not at all," say cafeteria worker LaShawn Thompson, shaking her head.

Her colleague, Christine Fraction, points to a large water bottle sitting on the counter of a stainless steel sink.

"We having greens or something like that, we having vegetables, we'll just turn it over into the pan and then put it on the stove," she says.

In Alabama, Teachers School Lawmakers

Mar 15, 2016

Alabama lawmakers face a legislative calendar this year with about 50 — yes 50 — education-related bills.

And many of the people drafting those laws haven't been inside a classroom since they were students themselves.

"People tend to think that they're experts in education because they were educated," says Kira Aaron, an English teacher at Vestavia Hills High School, just outside Birmingham. "And so, since they've sat in a classroom, they know what's going on, and how to best tell us what to do."

K-12 education hasn't exactly been front and center in this presidential election, but Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders made some news on the topic this week. Here's how he responded to a question about charter schools at a CNN televised Town Hall meeting:

"I believe in public education and I believe in public charter schools. I do not believe in privately controlled charter schools."

Today is Pi Day, a time to celebrate the never-ending number that helps us calculate the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter.

Few public high schools in the country have attracted as much shine as Pathways in Technology Early College High School — P-TECH — in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

A large classroom at the school is hung with blown-up color posters of President Obama, smiling with students on a visit to the school in 2013. That year, just two years after its founding, Obama mentioned the school by name in his State of the Union Address:

Before I became a reporter, I was a teacher. After 27 years on the education beat, I've met a few fantastic teachers and a few bad ones. So I've wondered, where would I have fit in? Was I a good teacher?

Recently I went back to the site of the school where I taught so many years ago, just outside Tucson, Ariz. Treehaven was both a day school and a boarding school for so-called "troubled kids."

Marietta College has earned a global reputation for its program in petroleum engineering, drawing students from as far away as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and China to this liberal arts school in southeast Ohio.

In the past, nearly every one of the program's graduates has scored a good job in the surging energy field. But not this year. As the price of oil has plummeted, companies are cutting back on production and expansion, and cutting into Marietta's placement rate.

The epidemic of opioid abuse that's swept the U.S. has left virtually no community unscathed, from big cities to tiny towns.

In fact, drug overdose is now the leading cause of injury death in this country: more than gun deaths; more than car crashes.

When I first read Originals I couldn't help but take notes. What I jotted down was essentially a to-do list for how I could be more creative, how I could think up and then communicate new ideas.

But the book — written by Adam Grant, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania — is not just a guide for adults.

Its pages are littered with interesting advice on how teachers and parents can encourage and cultivate their kids to be original, too.

A controversy over a secretly installed data monitoring system is simmering at university campuses across California.

Last summer, hackers broke into the computer network at the UCLA medical center. A few months later, the University of California system's president quietly ordered a new security system to monitor Internet traffic on all UC campuses.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

We all know that American college education isn't cheap. But it turns out that it's even less cheap if you look at the numbers more closely.

That's what the Wisconsin HOPE Lab did. The lab, part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducted four studies to figure out the true price of college.

To get a sense of student realities, researchers interviewed students on college campuses across the state of Wisconsin. But they also examined 6,604 colleges nationally and compared their costs with regional cost-of-living data from the government.

Employers want to hire the best and the brightest to get the job done.

So do terrorist groups.

In Africa, terrorist groups are actively recruiting well-educated boys and girls. The groups want recruits who can be leaders, who know how to give orders, who can boost the brand on social media.

One Kenyan teacher is fighting back — and his efforts have made him a candidate for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, which comes with a $1 million award.

By the time they're in elementary school, some kids prove to be more troublesome than others. They can't sit still or they're not socializing or they can't focus enough to complete tasks that the other kids are handling well. Sounds like ADHD. But it might be that they're just a little young for their grade.

A new study confirms what many Americans already knew deep in their hearts: We're not good at math.

Not only that, but when it comes to technology skills, we're dead last compared with other developed countries.

The PIAAC study — the Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies — looks at the skills adults need to do everyday tasks, whether it's at work or in their social lives.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Yes, You Can Still Teach Kids To Love Books

Mar 8, 2016

The Internet has not killed the book.

For film critic David Denby, this wasn't immediately obvious. He would watch young people hunched over their phones — on the subway, in coffee shops, walking down the street — and wonder: Are kids still learning to read books?

Denby, who is best known for his work in The New Yorker, went back to high school to find out. He describes his experience in Lit Up: One Reporter. Three Schools. Twenty-Four Books That Can Change Lives.

Has American education research mostly languished in an echo chamber for much of the last half century?

Harvard's Thomas Kane thinks so.

Why have the medical and pharmaceutical industries and Silicon Valley all created clear paths to turn top research into game-changing innovations, he asks, while education research mostly remains trapped in glossy journals?

Reuben Pierre-Louis was moments away from leaving the University of Connecticut. As one of only 600 or so black male students at a college of 20,000, he found himself lost in a sea of white faces.

"Wow, it's been a real struggle," Pierre-Louis says. "I'll be perfectly honest, it's been a real struggle. Everything was just like a blur, I didn't know anybody ... It's like being dropped in the middle of nowhere, I was like, 'OK I'm here, here I am. I don't know anybody."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Ready your pencils.

This morning, across America, the redesigned version of the SAT — the standardized entrance exam widely used in college admissions — is being administered for the first time.

(The correct answer to our headline, therefore, is A ... but under the redesigned test, there's no penalty for guessing, so no worries if you got it wrong.)

More Color In Kids' Lit: Your Best Picks

Mar 5, 2016

Last week, Morning Edition's David Greene asked 11-year-old Marley Dias about her quest to find more children's books about black girls.

Her campaign to collect #1000blackgirlbooks has been a big success: Marley now has more than 4,000 books in her library.

Our readers suggested many more titles to add to her list.

The billing office is one of the friendliest places on campus, says Aja Beckham, a junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. What wasn't friendly: her bill, and the big number on it.

Ever since her freshman year, she says, her biggest struggle in college has been figuring out how to pay for it.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

After one of her students grabbed her phone and took a photo of her racy selfie, teacher Leigh Anne Arthur resigned. The school district says she should have known better. But her students in Union, S.C., say Arthur was forced to resign — and they want her back.

In just a few short weeks, students in California will be taking high-stakes tests. But the tests won't just cover math, reading and science. Students will also be responding to survey statements like "I usually finish what I start," or "I can do anything if I try."

A group of big-city districts there is among the first to try to measure students' self-control, empathy and other social and emotional skills — and to hold schools accountable for the answers.

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