Education Desk

It's controlled after-school anarchy at the Christian-Carter household. Seven-year-old Chloe has rolled herself up in an exercise mat in the living room of the family's lovely Oakland, Calif., home.

"Look I'm a burrito," Chloe shouts.

Her 4-year-old sister, Jackie, swoops in for a bite — and a hard push.

"Ow!" Chloe shouts. "Mom! Jackie pushed me!"

It's Sally Teixeira's job to make sandwiches at a busy deli counter in Cambridge, Mass.

Six years ago, when she was in her mid-20s, she graduated from a job program for medical administrative assistants, with the idea she'd be making at least $20 an hour by now. But, "I can't get in anywhere" she says. "It's frustrating."

Instead, she earns $11 an hour at the deli, and has $10,000 in student loan debt, from attending the now defunct Corinthian College Everest Institute. Boston has tons of hospitals, but none of them have hired her to do what she's trained to do.

I've had this phrase running through my head since we started updating our Commencement Speeches database a few weeks ago: "If you're too big for a small job, you're too small for a big job."

Who said that? It was Katie Couric at American University last year.

Who knew that a commencement address could get stuck in your head? Well, the best of these speeches have a lot in common with a great pop song. They are simple, emotional, and pack a universal message into just a few words.

The 66th floor of Panama City's Trump Tower is a fine spot to experience Panama's booming economy. Beyond the building's windows, hundreds of skyscrapers stretch the length of the capital's skyline. Inside, a hand of blackjack will set you back $200, but all-you-can-drink champagne costs just $10.

On average, economic growth in Panama has topped 8 percent in the last five years, making the country the envy of its struggling Latin American neighbors.

First rule of Brinton Elementary School run club: Keep those legs moving. Second rule of run club: Have fun.

For 13-year-old Kaprice Faraci and her sister, Kassidy, inspiration to keep moving struck one after school afternoon in the third grade. Video games and TV bored the twins. They were outside when they spotted a small pack of children chugging down their street.

Campus Smoking Ban Goes Into Effect

Jun 30, 2015

College and Universities will begin to implement a smoke free ban on Illinois campuses on July 1st.

Colleges and Universities will begin to implement a smoke free ban on Illinois campuses on July 1st.

The American Lung Association has been working with Illinois college officials to pass the Smoke Free Campus Act. The legislation was signed last year.

People age 19 to 25 have the highest rate of tobacco use for current users.

The Lung Association says there is no safe level to exposure and that smoking is a health hazard.

Jonathan Kozol looks back on the events he wrote about 50 years ago, in Death at an Early Age.

In this short film by LA Johnson, he reads from Page 188:

This month we reported the findings from our nationwide investigation into the forces driving the nation's rising high school graduation rate. We found some solid educational approaches — and some questionable quick fixes.

Looking to escape the staggering costs of a university education in the United States? You are not alone. And German education officials say a growing number of Americans are heading to the land of beer and bratwurst to get one.

At last count, there were 4,300 Americans studying at German universities, with more than half pursuing degrees, says Ulrich Grothus, deputy secretary general of the German Academic Exchange Service.

The total outstanding balance of federal student loans: $1.3 trillion.

The California Assembly has joined the state Senate in voting to approve a controversial bill requiring all children attending school to be vaccinated against measles and other common, preventable illnesses — effectively eliminating so-called "personal belief exemptions" that allowed parents to opt out.

Courtesy of Funding Illinois Future


Governor Bruce Rauner has approved the portion of the state budget earmarked for public schools. His move yesterday ensures schools will be able to open on time.

The legislation even increases funding for education by more than $200 million dollars over the previous year. But the new money has strings attached.

Two minutes into Present Tense, a short film made by three high school students in a fishing village in the East African island of Zanzibar, a set of subtitles lay out their mission:

In Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Brimley is the kind of small town where the students of the month in the elementary school get full-page write-ups in the local newspaper.

There's an Indian reservation just up the road, a couple bars, a gas station, a motel and that's about it.

Brimley Elementary serves two groups that often struggle academically. Of the 300 students, more than half are Native American. Many come from low-income families.

For two decades, Texas has treated truancy as a criminal offense. That means most cases were prosecuted in adult courts where children, along with their parents, faced jail and fines of up to $1,500 for missing school — usually 10 or more unexcused absences.

Texas lawmakers now say this policy went too far. So last week, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed a law that no longer treats truancy as a Class C misdemeanor.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Math teacher Sherry Read's classroom is a total mess. The students are gone for the summer, and light fixtures dangle from the ceiling. The floor has a layer of dust. Down the hallway, workers make a racket while they renovate the school, which dates back to the 1890s. They're working in what has become an archaeological site.

US CPSC/flickr

A bill awaiting Governor Bruce Rauner’s signature would require Illinois schools to install carbon monoxide detectors.

One Monday morning last fall, some students and teachers at North Mac Middle School in Girard weren’t feeling well. The health teacher, Alan Love, who also happens to be a registered nurse, told superintendent Marica Cullen the school might have a gas leak.

It's election season at Canaan Elementary's second grade, in Patchogue, N.Y., and tensions are running high. Today is speech day, and right now it's Chris Palaez's turn.

The 8-year-old is the joker of the class. With a thick mohawk and a mischievous glimmer in his dark eyes, he seems like the kind of kid who would be unfazed by public speaking.

But he's nervous.

For the next few days, two large billboards in New York's Times Square are being given over to art created by the city's public school students. The project highlights students' work that's part of a new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

"Art is my favorite subject. It lets me see new things," artist and fifth-grader Sharon Yang told a crowd Wednesday, according to member station WNYC.

Teenagers aren't exactly known for their responsible decision making.

But some young people are especially prone to making rash, risky decisions about sex, drugs and alcohol. Individual differences in the brain's working memory — which allows people to draw on and use information to make decisions — could help explain why some adolescents are especially impulsive when it comes to sex, according to a study published Wednesday in Child Development.

For decades, Arthur Levine, the former president of Teachers College, Columbia University, has tried to imagine a new kind of institution for training teachers. He envisions a combination West Point and Bell Labs, where researchers could study alongside future educators, learning what works and what's effective in the classroom. That idea is now set to become a reality.

On a rainy Saturday morning in June, 17-year-old Sarah Choudhury showed up bright and early at her SAT testing center in the town of Lagrangeville in upstate New York. This was her last chance to raise her score before applying for early admission to highly competitive premed programs in the fall.

As she was taking the test, she says, "chaos" struck. There was a discrepancy between the time allotted in the student test booklet for one of the sections, 25 minutes, and the proctor's instructions, just 20 minutes.

A fourth-floor balcony gave way during a party in northern California late last night, killing at least six exchange students in a building close to the University of California, Berkeley. Seven other people were injured, some of them seriously.

Peanut butter and jelly. Abbott and Costello. New Orleans and marching bands.

Some things are inseparable.

The city best known for hot jazz is a wellspring of talented musicians. Where do they all come from? Oftentimes it's great teachers — like Sam Venable, the band director at Langston Hughes Academy, a middle school on Trafalgar Street.

Hear the story of great teaching at the top of the page. You can also hear this clip of Venable playing at his grandmother's 90th birthday:

WILL

The American Association of University Professors voted today to censure the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the state’s flagship university. Censure is a means of informing the academic community worldwide that the administration of an institution “has not adhered to generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure.”

At around midday Monday at High Tech High School in North Bergen, N.J., about 40 students are crammed into a small classroom, anxiously waiting for Kendrick Lamar to walk into the room.

In his State of the Union address in January, President Obama had some sure-fire applause lines: "More of our kids are graduating than ever before" and "Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high."

Which raised some interesting questions: "Is that really true?" and "Why?" and "How do we know?" and "So what?"

A seed was planted that grew into our project this week examining that number. Our reporting shows many of the individual stories behind a single statistic: 81 percent, the current U.S. graduation rate.

We have an update on a story we reported yesterday.

The NPR Ed Team's investigation into high school graduation rates found that many states and school districts are using questionable, quick fixes to improve their grad rates.

At the top of that list was Chicago.

We English-speakers take a perverse pride in the orneriness of our spelling, which is one reason why the spelling bee has been a popular entertainment since the 19th century. It's fun watching schoolchildren getting difficult words right. It can be even more entertaining to watch literate adults getting them wrong.

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