Education Desk

Katie Morrow became a teacher, among other things, because of wanderlust.

"I'm going to be a teacher because I can go anywhere in the world," she thought.

She's originally from a small town in Nebraska called O'Neill, population 3,700. "In the middle of nowhere, literally," she says.

So where did she end up teaching? Right back in O'Neill. She fell in love with a hometown boy and ended up at O'Neill's only public school. It's K-12, with 750 students.

Morrow teaches middle-school English; she's also a technology integration specialist.

Every year, thousands of fresh-faced teachers are handed the keys to a new classroom, given a pat on the back and told, "Good luck!"

Over the next five years, though, nearly half of those teachers will transfer to a new school or leave the profession altogether — only to be replaced with similarly fresh-faced teachers.

Saying Goodbye: Reflections Of A Music Teacher

Mar 28, 2015

This weekend, NPR Ed is featuring dispatches from teachers about the ups and downs of their work.

Early each December, the HR department of Orange City Schools in Pepper Pike, Ohio, places a checklist in our mailboxes. It asks about our employment plans for the next school year. Choices include sabbatical leave, acquiring advanced degrees, and the one everyone dreams of checking: I will be retiring at the end of the current school year.

Flamin' Hot Cheetos might conjure a lot of descriptors: spicy, crunchy, unnaturally fiery red. But it's a good bet that "healthy" didn't exactly spring to mind.

The president of the University of Oklahoma says two dozen students from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity have been disciplined for taking part in a racist chant about African-Americans and lynching that was videotaped and went viral earlier this month.

Will Rogers Institute

That headline is a quote from Will Rogers. It was on a poster I had hanging in my bedroom as a kid, and I took it with me when I went to college. It's been my favorite quote forever. And today, here's a column by  Fareed Zakaria that provides some stats for that. It's an interesting perspective. Check it out.

A stack of research suggests that all the classroom technology in the world can't compare to the power of a great teacher. And, since we haven't yet figured out how to clone our best teachers, a few schools around the country are trying something like it: Stretching them across multiple classrooms.

Sweet Briar College in Virginia will close its doors in May, after 114 years of teaching women at its scenic campus in western Virginia.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS

 A measure pending in the Illinois legislature would give parents the right to have their children skip the standardized test associated with the Common Core curriculum. The plan proposed by Democratic Representative Will Guzzardi, of Chicago would require schools to honor written requests from parents for their kids to skip the PARCC test. Currently, students themselves can refuse testing, if they're able and willing to ask, but Guzzardi says there’s no policy telling schools what to do with those kids.

One of our occasional conversations with thought leaders in education.

When it comes to kids and exercise, schools need to step up and focus more on quality as well as quantity. And, says Dr. Gregory D. Myer, they need to promote activities that develop motor skills, socialization and fun.

Illinois already ranked last in the nation in state support for public schools. Cuts announced this week will just make a bad situation worse. But some pending legislation could bring more money to Springfield public schools.

Illinois State Board of Education will have $97 million to distribute to school districts most affected by the unexpected 2.25 percent cut in the current fiscal year budget, expected to be adopted this week. But Mary Fergus, spokesperson for the board, couldn't say how those funds would be distributed. Instead, she offered this statement:

March Madness is college basketball's annual shining moment, and few schools have shone as bright or as long as the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels have been in 18 Final Fours and won the national championship five times, most recently in 2009.

flickr/John Walker

Wisconsin and Virginia have begun conversations about privatizing flagship public universities. Now, Illinois is about to have the discussion. Bloomington Republican State Senator Bill Brady has introduced a bill to privatize Illinois' public universities over six years.

Brady notes that the state also supports needy students at private institutions and it's possible the state would increase that kind of aid. Brady says operating costs on campuses might fall if state procurement rules and other mandates were to be lifted.

Several efforts in Washington are converging on the sensitive question of how best to safeguard the information software programs are gathering on students.

A proposed Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015 is circulating in draft form. It has bipartisan sponsorship from Democratic Rep. Jared S. Polis of Colorado and Republican Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana.

What happens when a teacher wants to assign an extra book for class, but the school can't afford a copy for every student?

For Dana Vanderford, an English teacher at L.W. Higgins High School in New Orleans, the book was Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. Buying enough copies for her class would have cost more than $800. Not an option.

"I get $80 a year to buy resources for my classroom," Vanderford says. "And I have 90 students per semester. So that $80 doesn't go very far."

Update at 2:25 p.m. ET. Investigation Suspended:

The police department in Charlottesville, Va., says it has suspended its investigation into allegations of a brutal gang rape at the University of Virginia in 2012.

The allegations came to national prominence after Rolling Stone published a cover story on the case.

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With Fewer New Teachers, Why Do Some Stick Around?

Mar 21, 2015

Earlier this month, we reported on an alarming drop in enrollment at teacher training programs in several large states. Considering the job's long hours, generally low pay and unpopular testing requirements, many teachers in our audience weren't surprised by the trend.

Prison is perhaps the last place anyone would expect to learn about investing and money management.

But at San Quentin Prison, Curtis Carroll's class is a hot item. The 36-year-old has gained a reputation for his stock-picking prowess. He's even earned the nickname "Wall Street."

Carroll and prison officials have teamed up to create a financial education class for inmates. He starts off the class with a motivational speech.

Fourth-Graders Get Rough Lesson In Politics

Mar 20, 2015
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Under Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget proposal, public universities are facing a 32 percent cut. Legislators took testimony Thursday on how those cuts would affect each school. 

Each school president testified that Rauner’s reductions would force them to cut courses, decrease scholarships, and layoff staff. Illinois State University say it might have to cut 400 jobs. Northern Illinois University could raise freshman tuition by 75 percent. 

Responding to an incident that has sparked street protests in Charlottesville, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has ordered a state investigation into the arrest of a black University of Virginia student. Martese Johnson, 20, was left with blood streaming down his face after being arrested by Alcoholic Beverage Control agents.

The case created an uproar after photos emerged showing Johnson, a member of U.Va.'s Honor Committee, lying on the sidewalk with uniformed ABC agents crouching over him. Portions of the concrete, as well as Johnson's head and shirt, are bloody.

When a 4-year-old comes home from pre-K proudly announcing that she spent her "choice time" playing on the computer, what's a parent to do?


As Illinois struggles with public school funding, state officials received some expert advice today:

You have a rare opportunity; don’t mess it up. 

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about the Common Core.

It's the venerable custom in tennis and golf for the crowd to be still and quiet when players hit their shots.

Now, since even ordinary baseball batters have some success hitting against 98 mph fastballs with 40,000 fans standing and screaming, do you really believe that great athletes like Novak Djokovic or Rory McIlroy couldn't serve or putt with a few thousand fans hollering? If they'd grown up playing tennis or golf that way, that is. When disorder is a sustaining part of the game, players, in effect, put it out of their minds. Hear no evil, see no evil.

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The NPR Ed Team is all about great teaching — so how could we attend the annual SXSW education conference and not ask folks to tell us about their favorite teachers?