Education Desk

What's the best way to engage and prepare students? For 10 teachers across the world that's the million-dollar question — literally.

This Sunday, the Varkey Foundation will award $1 million to one remarkable teacher as part of its first Global Teacher Prize. Founded in 2010, the Varkey Foundation is a Dubai-based organization that trains and funds teachers internationally.

The Basin School District in rural south-central Idaho has something most districts in the state don't: preschool. But now that's at risk because of federal funding cuts.

It's not alone: Sparsely populated school districts and counties covered in federal forest lands will have less money this year — $250 million less — because Congress allowed the Secure Rural Schools Act to expire.

Since Idaho doesn't have public preschool, schools that want to offer it have to find creative ways to pay for the program — state money isn't an option.

Ditching The Common Core Brings A Big Test For Indiana

Mar 12, 2015

Every eldest child knows all too well: Going first can be tough.

There's no one to help you pick the good teachers at school or give you advice on how to tell Mom and Dad about that fender bender.

Right now, Indiana is the firstborn, feeling its way through some thorny — and consequential — education decisions with little precedent to lean on.

Some great teachers change the life of a student, maybe several. Anna Julia Cooper changed America.

Cooper was one of the first black women in the country to earn a Ph.D. Before that, she headed the first public high school for black students in the District of Columbia — Washington Colored High School. It later became known as the M Street School and was eventually renamed for poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Dunbar was a citadel of learning in segregated Washington, a center for rigorous study and no-holds-barred achievement. Its graduates over the years include:

For many years, if a public school district wanted to serve students apples or milk from local farmers, it could face all kinds of hurdles. Schools were locked into strict contracts with distributors, few of whom saw any reason to start bringing in local products. Those contracts also often precluded schools from working directly with local farmers.

This story was written for the series, "Being 12: The Year Everything Changes," from member station WNYC.

If adolescence has a poster child, it's a teenager. In a car. Smoking, drinking, and driving badly while also, somehow, having sex in the back seat.

But changes in the brain that lead to the famously bad choices of adolescence don't start at 16 or 17 years old. They start around 11 or 12 and the beginning of puberty.

Two men who were in a video of Sigma Alpha Epsilon members singing a racist chant have apologized for their actions, with one of the now-former fraternity brothers saying he had learned "a devastating lesson."

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Updated at 8:28 p.m. ET

One of the students seen in a video in which fraternity members at the University of Oklahoma chant a racist song has apologized for his actions, as have the parents of another student seen in the video.

Parker Rice, one of the students, apologized in a statement published by the Dallas Morning News. He called his actions "wrong and reckless."

While surfing the Web one day, Janine Harper came across a project where a photographer had taken pictures of her daughter dressed up as famous women, including Coco Chanel and Amelia Earhart. Harper showed the project to her husband, photographer Marc Bushelle, and together they thought it would be wonderful to adapt it for their 5-year-old daughter, Lily. Their goal was to create a fun learning method for Lily so that she could start to "see herself in the story" of black history.

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Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In this country, all children are supposed to have a shot at success — a chance to jump "from rags to riches" in one generation.

Even if riches remain out of reach, then the belief has been that every hard-working American should be able to go from poverty to the middle class.

On Tuesday, a book and a separate study are being released — both turning up evidence that the one-generation leap is getting harder to accomplish in an economy so tied to education, technological know-how and networking.

It's not quite as glamorous as the way our colleagues at NPR Music do it, but this week, the NPR Ed team will be heading down to Austin, Texas for the South By Southwest Edu conference.

What makes a great teacher great? That's the question at the heart of 50 Great Teachers, from the NPR Ed Team.

Sarah Hagan has a passion for math, and the pi-shaped pendant to prove it.

The 25-year-old teaches at Drumright High School in Drumright, Okla. The faded oil town is easy to miss. Fewer than 3,000 people live there, and the highway humps right around it.

Paying for college gets more expensive every year.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Americans owe more than a trillion dollars in outstanding student loan payments.

The result can be a lot of pressure for college grads. The four seniors participating in our Howard Project — Ariel Alford, Taylor Davis, Leighton Watson and Kevin Peterman — talk to us about finances.

We all lie sometimes. But if you're in the public eye, the lie can take on a life of its own.

NBC's Brian Williams became the victim of his own story last month, exaggerating the danger he faced while reporting in Iraq in 2003. It lead to an on-air mea culpa and a temporary suspension from the anchor desk.

Earlier this week we reported on the decline in teachers entering the profession.

And the responses from social media poured in.

From Facebook

From Twitter

From Instagram

All this week we've been talking about the importance of applying for financial aid, the difficulty of doing so and what can be done to make it simpler.

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Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

 Illinois' longtime House speaker is forming a bipartisan task force to examine a way to fix the state's  school funding formula.  

Michael J. Madigan's office announced Thursday the panel would include lawmakers from various regions of the state. It's scheduled to meet for the first time next Wednesday in Springfield.  

The last major school funding formula overhaul took place in 1997. While there's wide agreement the current formula doesn't effectively distribute state dollars to students across the state, how it should be changed remains under debate.  

Meet Jenni Hofschulte, the 35-year-old mom who's one of the parents leading the charge against testing in Milwaukee.

"I have two children in Milwaukee Public Schools," Hofschulte says over coffee at a cafe near her home. "The oldest one is in eighth grade." She's interrupted by her fidgety 4-year-old son, Lachlan.

Hofschulte quiets him down, furrows her brow and begins again.

Hofschulte says that when she found out her son would have to take a diagnostic test next year that's required of all Wisconsin kindergartners, all kinds of red flags went up.

Why Is Milwaukee So Bad For Black People?

Mar 5, 2015

A new report from UCLA finds that K-12 schools in Wisconsin suspend black high school students at a higher rate than anywhere else in the country and has the second-highest disparity in suspension rates between white and black students.

Let's face it, Booker T. Washington has a serious image problem. He was perhaps the most influential black man in America during the late 1800s, but is often remembered today as being subservient, a sellout even.

Yes, he pursued racial equality with discretion. His famous "Atlanta Compromise" speech of 1895 cautioned blacks against extremism and encouraged them to prove their worth by becoming productive members of society.

npr.org

A prominent civil rights activist and academic has canceled a speech at the University of Illinois because of the school's decision to rescind a job offer to a Native American studies professor.  

Cornel West said Wednesday that he will not speak at the Urbana-Champaign campus because of the dispute between the university and Steven Salaita. West was scheduled to deliver a lecture in April.  

He called the university's decision to rescind the job offer ``a moral scandal.''  
 A university spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  

In parts of Berlin, racial segregation in schools is far from official policy, but it is often a reality. In the fast-gentrifying district of Neukölln, young, mainly white professionals usually move away as soon as their kids reach school-age.

But small, parent-led initiatives are working to change this trend and ensure their local schools better reflect the neighborhood.

There are about 800 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and hundreds of them have music programs. There are jazz bands, choirs, orchestras and marching bands. But for a couple of years, teachers and student musicians have faced a big problem: broken strings, worn-out horns and out-of-tune pianos — a backlog of aging instruments that the district is scrambling to repair and replace.

Instruments like the violin in senior Melissa Valenzuela's hands.

Read part one of our reporting on the FAFSA, "Shrink The FAFSA? Good Luck With That"

It's deadline time for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Better known as the FAFSA.

The daunting application — with its 108 questions — stands between many college hopefuls and much-needed financial aid.

Look closely.

Buried deep in President Obama's 2016 budget (Page 41) is a proposal to cut up to 30 questions from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

The Obama administration has already done a lot to make the FAFSA easier — if not shorter. Online technology now allows students to skip questions that don't apply to them.

This is the canary in the coal mine.

Several big states have seen alarming drops in enrollment at teacher training programs. The numbers are grim among some of the nation's largest producers of new teachers: In California, enrollment is down 53 percent over the past five years. It's down sharply in New York and Texas as well.

In North Carolina, enrollment is down nearly 20 percent in three years.

A lot of parents start worrying about paying for college education soon after their child is born. After that, there's the stressful process of applying to colleges, and then, for those lucky enough to get admitted into a good college, there's college debt.

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