Education

Ways to Connect

This story was reported by Latino USA in collaboration with All Tech Considered. The audio version of this story aired earlier on Latino USA; it is embedded below.

Micaela Honorato is looking from the sidelines as boys from her after-school program take turns racing their hand-made hovercraft on a dirt field in a city park.

Companies use lots and lots of data, including your daily Web surfing, to help them sell you stuff. They follow you across the Internet with annoying ads, and the data they collect is now essential for their business.

So why aren't the best minds in higher education doing more to tap all that information to improve teaching and learning?

Now, some of them are. Schools such as Valencia College in Orlando, Fla., are wading into the data streams of what's being called "predictive and learning analytics."

A lesson in leadership illustrated by images of men only. A fill-in-the-blanks test whose "correct" answer is a stereotype: "I am a Filipino. I am a domestic helper in Hong Kong." A discussion of global warming that highlights potential "positive effects" of climate change, such as "Places that are too cold for farming today could become farmland."

These are some examples from textbooks around the world included in a newly released study about the role of textbooks by the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report.

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"This is not one of those situations where it's just smoke. There is in fact fire," said Alabama's new state superintendent of education, Michael Sentance.

The fire: Sentance revealed earlier this month that high schools there have "misstated student records ... resulting in diplomas that were not honestly earned." At a recent meeting of the state school board, he also admitted that Alabama's education department had not provided enough oversight.

DeVonte Kirkland is in his second to last year of school at Center Point High in Jefferson County, just outside of Birmingham, Ala. When he graduates next year he wants to head to Alabama State University.

DeVonte also wants a car, so he's taking some serious time to learn how to work on them. Every day, he rides a school bus 25 minutes, each direction, for an auto tech class at Gardendale High, another school on the south side of the district.

Colin Ozeki, 17, doesn't like to sugarcoat how autism spectrum disorder has affected his interactions with others, his emotions and his own self-confidence. He sees it as an issue to confront, something about himself to work on and improve in order to fully participate in life around him.

He appreciates the adage, "It's a difference, not a disability." But he disagrees with it when it comes to himself.

Ending a boycott that was sparked by the suspension of 10 players over an alleged sexual assault, the University of Minnesota's football team says they'll play in the Dec. 27 Holiday Bowl. The team relented after meeting with school administrators Friday.

In addition to promising to play in the game in San Diego later this month, the team sought to clarify its position.

Part of our series, 5 Million Voices.

I grew up speaking Spanish, and I didn't start learning English until I was in preschool. When it came to books, I struggled — like many ELL students — to connect with characters that didn't look like me or speak my language.

To this day I have yet to pick up a copy of Anne of Green Gables.

Of all of the departments universities cultivate, career services could be the most important.

Could vaccinating cattle get more girls into high school?

That's the intriguing prospect suggested by a new study of Kenyan cattle herding families in the journal Science Advances. But even more significant than the actual results of the study is the fact the researchers would even think to investigate whether there's a link between cattle vaccination rates and girls' high school attendance.

For more than 50 years, Head Start has provided free early childhood education and other services to low-income families. But new national research, out Wednesday, shows great variation from state to state in how well the program works.

The study comes from the National Institute for Early Education Research, and it examined Head Start programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

Hindus and Muslims who have migrated to the United States in recent years are especially well-educated, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center. On average, Hindus in the U.S. have nearly 16 years of schooling, significantly more than Jews, the next most highly-educated U.S. religious group. Muslim Americans have nearly 14 years of schooling, which is well above the U.S. average.

If you got 13 percent back on your investments every year, you'd be pretty happy, right? Remember, the S&P 500, historically, has averaged about 7 percent when adjusted for inflation.

What if the investment is in children, and the return on investment not only makes economic sense but results in richer, fuller, healthier lives for the entire family?

On a typical weekday evening, 14-year-old Clara Jené spreads out her homework across the dining table in her family's apartment in a leafy northern suburb of Madrid. She gets about three hours of homework a night — and more than twice that on weekends.

"Often we're sitting down to dinner, and I have to tell her to put away the books," says Clara's father, Camilo Jené, a 51-year-old architect. "It's cutting into our family time."

Keep in mind that Spaniards sit down to dinner around 10 p.m. Clara often resumes her homework after that, staying up as late as 1 a.m.

"Today I'm 50 years old and when I heard your story on the radio I did the unexpected, I cried."

That's Scott Walker of Portland, Ore., writing to us about our series last week on dyslexia. "I know that must sound ridiculous but, after 50 years of fighting my fight there was someone else that really understood."

Grant Blankenship / GPB

How ready are Georgia's kids for college and work? According to numbers released by the Georgia Department of Education, they are not quite as ready as they were last year.

The Department of Education looks at a number of measurements, everything from standardized test scores, how well kids perform in advanced academic tracks as well as in vocational programs, even school attendance to put together their College and Career Ready Performance Index.

President-elect Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that school choice is "the new civil rights issue of our time." But to many Americans, talk of school choice isn't liberating; it's just plain confusing.

Exhibit A: Vouchers.

Politicians love to use this buzzword in perpetual second reference, assuming vouchers are like Superman: Everyone knows where they came from and what they can do. They're wrong. And, as Trump has tapped an outspoken champion of vouchers, Betsy DeVos, to be his next education secretary, it's time for a quick origin story.

The unofficial motto of a public charter school co-founded by Betsy DeVos — President-elect Trump's choice to lead the Department of Education — could be "No Pilot Left Behind."

Nearby a small maintenance hangar that's part of the West Michigan Aviation Academy, one of the school's two Cessna 172 airplanes chugs down the tarmac of Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The school is based on the airport's grounds, just outside Grand Rapids.

When he first moved to Miami, Waltter Teruel says, working as a recruiter for ITT Technical Institute was a welcome change from his life in New York where he had been selling antiques and life insurance.

As a recruiter, Teruel says, ITT Tech took care of the pitch to potential students for you. Recruiters used scripts set out in detailed PowerPoint presentations and got long lists of prospective students to call. But soon the welcome change faded. "Most of these students, they were looking for a job," not more school, says Teruel.

Every December, Miami's annual Art Basel fair draws artists, dealers and buyers from around the world. This year, dozens of artists could be found not in galleries or at cocktail parties, but painting at an elementary school.

Spanish painter Marina Capdevila was one of more than 30 artists working at Eneida Hartner Elementary School in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood.

We live in a world of screens. And in this digital age — with so many devices and distraction — it's one of the things parents worry about most: How much time should their kids spend staring at their phones and computers? What's the right balance between privacy and self-discovery?

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At Emory University, the Law School conducts classes you expect — contracts, torts — but it also offers one you might not: Drama. The professor behind it — and before it — is Janet Metzger.  We talked with her and law student Prasad Hurra about the class as part of our series, “Lessons from Left Field."

Emory University

A Georgia lawmaker plans to introduce legislation to discipline universities that declare "sanctuary" status for undocumented immigrants.

Student parent.

Ever heard that term? It's used for a student who is also a parent, and there are nearly 5 million of them in colleges around the country. That's over a quarter of the undergraduate population, and that number has gone up by around a million since 2011.

It can be really, really expensive to be a student parent, especially if you need to pay for child care while you're in class.

Part 4 of our series, "Unlocking Dyslexia."

Megan Lordos, a middle school teacher, says she was not allowed to use the word "dyslexia."

She's not alone. Parents and teachers across the country have raised concerns about some schools hesitating, or completely refusing, to say the word.

As the most common learning disability in the U.S., dyslexia affects somewhere between 5 and 17 percent of the population. That means millions of school children around the country struggle with it.

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We're reporting this week on the most common reading disability. Ask just about anyone what dyslexia is, you'll almost certainly hear something like this.

So you're trying to find some information about the schools in your community. Did students perform well on tests? How many students in a school are from low-income families? What's the demographic breakdown? Most folks would start to look for this by searching the web. But, depending on the state you live in, finding that information can be a real challenge.

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