Education

Ways to Connect

Milwaukee has the nation's longest-running publicly funded voucher program.

For 27 years it has targeted African-American kids from low-income families, children who otherwise could not afford the tuition at a private or religious school.

The day Ayden came home from school with bruises, his mother started looking for a new school.

Ayden's a bright 9-year-old with a blond crew cut, glasses and an eager smile showing new teeth coming in. He also has autism, ADHD and a seizure disorder. (We're not using his last name to protect his privacy.) He loves karate, chapter books and very soft blankets: "I love the fuzziness, I just cocoon myself into my own burrito."

"He's so smart but lacks so much socially," says his mother, Lynn.

Some schoolkids might be happy if their school were knocked down.

Not in Nairobi.

On May 15, a group of primary school students sat at desks in the center of a main road to block traffic. Along with their parents, they were protesting the demolition of their school, the Kenyatta Golf Course Academy, over the weekend.

The Trump administration has made school choice, vouchers in particular, a cornerstone of its education agenda. This has generated lots of interest in how school voucher programs across the country work and whom they benefit.

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An American university in Hungary is fighting for survival. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wants to shut it down, even though European Union officials are warning him not to. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports.

No one likes to take tests. Sitting down to take a standardized test on a beautiful Saturday morning would not, almost certainly, be categorized as a fun weekend activity. Yet, it's a requirement many of us face at one point in life. So we sharpen our No. 2 pencils and get to work.

On Adriene McNally's 49th birthday in January, she heard a knock on the door of her modest row-home in Northeast Philadelphia.

She was being served.

"They actually paid someone to come out and serve me papers on a Saturday afternoon," she says.

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Hello and welcome to another edition of NPR Ed's weekly national education news roundup!

DeVos heckled at Bethune-Cookman University

There's been an unprecedented spike in white supremacist activity on campuses across the U.S. since the election and college students and administrators are struggling to figure out how to respond.

Posters at the University of Texas at Arlington last month implored students to "report any and all illegal aliens. America is a white nation." Also last month, at the University of Pennsylvania flyers blared "Imagine a Muslim-free America."

Friday News Roundup - Domestic

May 12, 2017

With guest host John Donvan.

The controversial firing of FBI Director James Comey dominated the news this week. Guest host John Donvan and a panel of journalists discuss that and other happenings around the U.S., including the Texas governor’s ban on sanctuary cities and how Shaquille O’Neal might do as a sheriff.

Guests

Susan Davis, congressional correspondent, NPR

David Leonhardt, op-ed columnist, The New York Times; former editor, The Upshot, a New York Times website covering politics and policy

Wendy Robinson wants to make one thing very clear.

As the long-serving superintendent of Fort Wayne public schools, Indiana's largest district, she is not afraid of competition from private schools.

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FBI Director James Comey is out. But the investigations into Russian meddling continue.

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Read this article if you're having a rough day. This is a rare story about positive social change.

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was booed and heckled in Florida today while she gave the commencement address at a historically black university.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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.

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