Education

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This week in race: Sports (dog) whistles, protection for Dreamers, a special book—and some hunky calendar men. Really.

Now that the turkey endorphins have worn off, the leftovers are a distant memory, and the Obamas prepare for their last Christmas in the White House, we thought we'd put some of the things that happened over the holiday weekend (and this week) on a platter and offer them to you. No thank you notes required.

Race and Immigration:

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Twenty-two states still allow corporal punishment in school: 15 expressly permit it while another seven do not prohibit it. That's according to a recent letter written by U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. to the nation's governors and state school chiefs.

Not sure what, exactly, corporal punishment is? Here's a quick primer.

It often involves a paddle. Always, pain. That's the point.

When young adults set out to pick a college back in 2010 and 2011, they were making a decision of a lifetime amid big financial obstacles: soaring tuition and the great recession.

And as they progressed through their college careers, a debate over the value of college grew louder.

A long held mantra – that the best investment is a good education – is increasingly being called into question. Some politicians, high-profile entrepreneurs and even educators, have become publicly skeptical of the worth of a degree that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to obtain.

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Part 3 of our series "Unlocking Dyslexia."

A mother who spent years coaching and encouraging her dyslexic son recalls his childhood with one pervasive feeling: "It was really scary."

One father told me his home life was ruined. Trying to do homework with his struggling daughter, he says, felt like "a nightmare every night." Optimism and determination would inevitably descend into tears and anxiety. The culprit: dyslexia.

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

Yesterday, Georgia governor Nathan Deal suspended all five members of the Dooly County school board following concerns about the district's accreditation. High school graduation rates in Georgia remain below the national average, but data released last month by the U.S.

At an off-campus coffee shop Monday, Ohio State University senior Mohamed Farah catches up on his homework.

"I didn't get a lot of work done today just because there's a lot going on," he says. "I tried to stay away from the news, but I kept going back to it."

Farah first learned of an attack on campus when security sent a text to the entire university: "Active shooter on campus: Run Hide Fight."

Part of our ongoing series exploring how the U.S. can educate the nearly 5 million students who are learning English.

Brains, brains, brains. One thing we've learned at NPR Ed is that people are fascinated by brain research. And yet it can be hard to point to places where our education system is really making use of the latest neuroscience findings.

Part 2 of our series "Unlocking Dyslexia."

Our ancient ancestors were able to speak long before they were able to read or write. That history is etched in our brains.

The human brain naturally picks up spoken language. Not so for reading.

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A student organization called Turning Point USA has created the Professor Watchlist, a collection of people in academia who the group says “advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.” We talk with two Georgia professors who made the list: George Yancy of Emory University and Matthew Boedy of the University of North Georgia.  Plus, we get an overview on the history of watchlists from Corey Walker, the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Winston-Salem State Unive

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Part 1 of our series "Unlocking Dyslexia."

"It's frustrating that you can't read the simplest word in the world."

Thomas Lester grabs a book and opens to a random page. He points to a word: galloping.

"Goll—. G—. Gaa—. Gaa—. G—. " He keeps trying. It is as if the rest ­­of the word is in him somewhere, but he can't sound it out.

"I don't ... I quit." He tosses the book and it skids along the table.

Voters in California officially ended the era of English-only instruction in public schools and lifted restrictions on bilingual education that had been in place for 18 years. Proposition 58 passed by a 73-27 percent margin. What happens next though, could get complicated.

Classrooms won't change this school year because the measure doesn't kick in until July 2017. Until then, state and school district officials need to figure out three big things:

1. How many schools will actually begin to offer bilingual or dual language instruction?

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When it comes to sentence structure, Rocky, a sea lion, was a stickler.

"It really mattered to her, what's going to be the direct and indirect object," says Kathy Streeter, an animal trainer.

For Sierra, it isn't the grammar that interests her. It's the vocalizations. This California sea lion loves experimenting with her vocal range, and she hates being interrupted.

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Lots of high schools let students develop specialties in foreign languages, the sciences or the arts. A high school in Phoenix lets students focus on a more unusual subject - policing. From member station KJZZ, Naomi Gingold reports.

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President-elect Donald Trump has picked billionaire Betsy DeVos, a Michigan Republican activist and philanthropist who is a strong supporter of school choice but has limited experience with public education, as his secretary of education.

DeVos, 58, is a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and helped push a failed 2000 ballot proposal to amend the Michigan state Constitution to create a voucher system for students to attend nonpublic schools.

You know the drill: Trace your hand, then add the details. Two feet, a beak, a single eyeball. Color it in, and voila! Hand becomes turkey.

You know the rest too: The Pilgrims fled England and landed on Plymouth Rock. The native people there, the Wampanoag, taught them to farm the land. In 1621, they sat down together for a thanksgiving feast, and we've been celebrating it ever since.

It's a lesson many remember from childhood, but the story has some problems.

The University of Notre Dame must vacate two seasons' worth of football victories because of academic misconduct by a student athletic trainer, the NCAA announced Tuesday.

The affected seasons are 2012-13 and 2013-14. The university has also been slapped with a $5,000 fine, a year of probation and public censure. The former student trainer must cut ties with Notre Dame's academic program for two years, and if she's hired in an athletic role at an NCAA member school during that time, she must appear before an NCAA panel.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal had a plan to fix failing schools across Georgia. The Opportunity School District would have intervened in chronically inadequate schools and either work to remedy their problems or replace them. Many critics felt the plan gave too much power to the state, and took away too much local control. The amendment was rejected by voters on November 8. So what happens next? We invite Atlanta Journal-Constitution Education Reporter Maureen Downey to discuss what will likely happen to those struggling schools without a plan in place.

jbouie / Foter

Voters in Georgia shot down a proposal by Governor Nathan Deal on Election Day. Deal's plan for the state to take over "chronically failing schools" was first introduced in last year's legislative session.

The Opportunity School District was designed to let the state intervene where there is historically low student performance. What happens to those failing schools now that the public has decided against Deal's plan?

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Education Reporter Maureen Downey is back with us to talk about options for educators and students. 

LA Johnson / NPR

The United States has the lowest college completion rate in the developed world. It's not easy to fix, but what if schools knew early which students might drop out? A new report from the New America Foundation says at least 40 percent of schools try to gauge student performance by comparing past students to current ones. It's called predictive analytics, but how well does it work?

There's a lot of attention right now on improving attendance in schools — making sure kids don't miss too many days. But what about the littlest students — those 3 and 4 years old? New research shows that if kids miss a lot of preschool, they're way more likely to have problems in kindergarten or later on.

A $25 million settlement agreement has been reached in the civil fraud lawsuits against President-elect Donald Trump and Trump University, according to New York's state attorney general.

The young women in this story have labels. Three labels: Single, mother, college student. They're raising a child and getting an education — three of the 2.6 million unmarried parents attending U.S. colleges and universities.

Getting a degree is hard enough for anyone, but these students face extra challenges. And when it comes to helping out with their needs, Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa., is considered one of the best in the country.

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Is preschool worth it? Policymakers, parents, researchers and us, at NPR Ed, have spent a lot of time thinking about this question.

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