Education Desk

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani education activist and youngest-ever Nobel Peace laureate, celebrated her 18th birthday today by inaugurating a secondary school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, near Syria's border.

Why do you do what you do? What is the engine that keeps you up late at night or gets you going in the morning? Where is your happy place? What stands between you and your ultimate dream?

Heavy questions. One researcher believes that writing down the answers can be decisive for students.

A federal report out today reinforces the notion that when it comes to state standards, proficiency is still in the eye of the beholder.

A top-scoring student on Arizona's reading test may fall far below average in states with more rigorous exams, like Massachusetts or Wisconsin.

The highly-touted 25-year-old program that boasts it's more selective than Harvard comes under criticism from its own alums in a new book edited by T. Jameson Brewer.

Getting a high school diploma is as good for health as quitting smoking.

That's the finding from a study released Wednesday by researchers at the University of Colorado, New York University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

They found that if every adult high school dropout in the 2010 population had a GED or a regular diploma, 145,243 deaths could be averted.

Standardized tests tied to the Common Core are under fire in lots of places for lots of reasons. But who makes them and how they're scored is a mystery.

For a peek behind the curtain, I traveled to the home of the nation's largest test-scoring facility: San Antonio.

The facility is one of Pearson's — the British-owned company that dominates the testing industry in the U.S. and is one of the largest publishing houses behind these mysterious standardized tests.

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

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This week, lawmakers in the House and Senate are working to rewrite No Child Left Behind. That's George W. Bush's signature education law that was passed in 2001. NPR's Juana Summers covers Congress and joins us with the latest. Hey, Juana.

In a small town perched on a steep mountain in northern Israel, Ali Shalalha has managed a remarkable achievement.

Fifteen years ago, only 12 percent of seniors at Beit Jann Comprehensive School passed the exams that are the prerequisite for higher education in Israel. Last year, and the year before, every single senior passed.

Beit Jann ranks second now in the high school graduation exams, known as bagrut, for all of Israel. This year, Shalalha — the school's principal — is hoping for first.

Editor's Note: We've reported on the crushing burden of student debt in the U.S., and the challenges of finding financial aid, but one area we haven't followed much is the growing number of students seeking alternatives outside the U.S.

Meet 9-year-old Q Daily, who recently finished third grade at the Brooklyn New School in New York City. Q, who was born a girl, just spent his first full school year as a boy.

And to him, that's liberating. Really, he explains, it's everything: "It feels like — instead of a dead flower — a growing flower."

It might be a feeling his peers don't totally understand, but it seems like they really don't care, either.

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 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.

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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.

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