Education Desk

Higher education, preschool funding, the Common Core and the future of No Child Left Behind are just a few of the education policies that will be in play under the new Republican-controlled Congress. How will these things change? We called Sen. Lamar Alexander to ask.

For this series, we've been thinking a lot about some of the iconic objects that some of us remember using — if only for a short period of time — in our early schooling. Slide rules, the recorder, protractors and Bunsen burners.

But when the abacus came up, we were a bit stumped.

"Does anyone still use this thing?" we wondered. "And how the heck does it work?"

When we began our 50 Great Teachers series, we set out to find great teachers and tell their stories. But we'll also be exploring over the coming year questions about what it means for a teacher to be great, and how he or she gets that way.

To get us started, we gathered an expert round table of educators who've also done a lot of thinking about teaching. Combined, these teachers are drawing on over 150 years of classroom experience:

A trade group representing more than 1,400 for-profit colleges has filed a lawsuit against the federal government over regulations aimed at curbing industry abuses.

Listen and learn, the saying goes.

But are students and teachers these days fully listening to each other?

What, exactly, is good listening, and why does it matter when it comes to learning? Is "close listening" a doorway to understanding that too many of us are keeping only half-open?

Some 2,000 Harvard undergraduates, as well as some faculty, were photographed in lecture halls at the school last spring as part of a university study into student attendance. Harmless enough, right? Well, those photographs were taken without those students' knowledge or permission. And that has some people upset.

When The Bell Rings, This Teacher Flies

Nov 6, 2014

Our Secret Lives of Teachers series continues as we head into the sky with a social studies teacher with a passion for flying.

Above the hum of the propeller, Joshua Weinstein calls my attention to the Boonton Reservoir, which provides water for Jersey City. We're flying about 2,000 feet above the tree-lined streets of northern Jersey, the Manhattan skyline visible through the haze in the distance.

Several years ago, South Carolina had a problem: a shortage of skilled workers and no good way to train young people for the workforce. So at a time when apprenticeship programs were in decline in the U.S., the state started a program called Apprenticeship Carolina.

"We were really, really squarely well-positioned at the bottom," says Brad Neese, the program's director.

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Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Flushing International High School is like a teenage version of the United Nations. Walk down the hallway and you can meet students from Colombia, China, Ecuador, Bangladesh and South Korea.

"Our students come from about 40 different countries, speak 20 different languages," says Lara Evangelista, the school's principal.

With schools around the country scrambling to educate the more than 57,000 unaccompanied child migrants who've crossed the border this year, I came to see what lessons International Schools like this one can offer.

Trying to figure out why Philadelphia's public schools have been teetering on insolvency the past few years is no easy task.

But let's start with some basic facts. The district, the eighth largest in the nation, is entirely dependent on three sources of money: Almost half of its $2.8 billion budget comes from the city. A little over a third comes from the state. Most of the rest comes from the federal government.

If you walk past Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter robe, ride the elevator up four floors, above the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz and a family of four visiting from Cincinnati, Ohio, you'll find yourself in a long hallway that vaguely resembles a hospital walkway.

The fourth floor of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is an assortment of offices and storage rooms.

Debbie Schaefer-Jacobs ushers me through a heavy brown door. She's the curator for the museum's education collection, and this is one of those days that people like her relish.

A jury has rejected a defense argument that beatings of Florida A&M University band members were a band tradition. The panel found a former member of marching band guilty of felony hazing and manslaughter in one such beating.

Dante Martin is now looking at a possible sentence of up to 22 years in prison for his role in the death of Robert Champion. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 9.

Called "The Example" by band colleagues, Champion was an accomplished clarinetist, drum major and leader of the "Marching 100."

Sexual Assault: The Nationwide Campus Crisis Hits Home In Illinois

Nov 1, 2014

Veronica Portillo Heap became an advocate for sexual assault survivors as a sophomore at the University of Chicago. She got an email from a group of students organizing The UChicago Clothesline Project, which offers survivors a chance to tell their stories on T-shirts in an annual art installation. Portillo Heap was not a survivor herself, but she thought getting involved as an organizer with The Clothesline Project would be worth her time.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Anne Sullivan was a great teacher. Famously, she was the "Miracle Worker," who taught a blind and deaf girl named Helen Keller to understand sign language and, eventually, to read and write.

Socrates ... now there was a great teacher. More than 2,000 years after he gave his last pop quiz, we still know him for the teaching style named after him, the Socratic method. And through the writings of his most famous pupil, Plato.

Illinois new report cards on public schools become available online today. But parents hoping to find a simple snapshot of how their kids' school measures up might be in for a surprise.

Thanks to a federal waiver received in April, Illinois schools are no longer judged by whether students have achieved "adequate yearly progress" -- the standard set by No Child Left Behind.

This time last year, students in Los Angeles were squealing with delight as boxes of new iPads rolled into their schools. It was the first phase of what was touted as the largest technology expansion in the country.

The program has run into a host of problems since then, leading to this month's resignation of its biggest advocate, Superintendent John Deasy.

Which leaves the question: Does this mark the end of the effort?

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In part two of our look at the ancient Greek philosopher, we ask students at a California school about the Socratic teaching method and the questions it inspires.

MacMurray College in Jacksonville is getting rid of ten academic programs due to low enrollment. 

The Board of Trustees approved the phase out of the programs, which include Elementary Education, English and History.

A statement from the school says the changes affect about 15 students.  Those currently enrolled in the programs will have opportunities to complete their degrees and no new students will be admitted.  The college says no layoffs are involved.

When you think of a report card, you think of a basic form that provides average test scores and little more. But the new online report cards for each Illinois public school offer more granular data, such as teacher retention and principal turnover rates, the percentage of high school freshmen deemed "on track" for graduation, and even survey results for how safe students feel at school.

Tim Lloyd/St. Louis Public Radio

This story is the third part of A Teachable Moment, a three-part series that profiles how issues raised by events in Ferguson are being discussed in classrooms across the St. Louis region.

In Riverview Gardens High School’s library, students have formed small groups. For many of the kids here, peaceful demonstrations and at times violent clashes between police and protesters weren’t just on TV; they were down the street, around the corner or in their backyards.

Today, NPR Ed kicks off a yearlong series: 50 Great Teachers.

We're starting this celebration of teaching with Socrates, the superstar teacher of the ancient world. He was sentenced to death more than 2,400 years ago for "impiety" and "corrupting" the minds of the youth of Athens.

But Socrates' ideas helped form the foundation of Western philosophy and the scientific method of inquiry. And his question-and-dialogue-based teaching style lives on in many classrooms as the Socratic method.

This story is a consolidated version of a three-part series by St. Louis Public Radio that profiles how issues of race and class sparked by Ferguson are being discussed in St. Louis-area schools.

It was early September and Vincent Flewellen had just wrapped up his day teaching at Ladue Middle School, in an affluent suburb about 13 miles south of where protests erupted in Ferguson.

A Helping Hand To High Achievers

Oct 28, 2014

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to see more low-income high achievers graduate from college. Tuesday, his charitable group, Bloomberg Philanthropies, announced that it has partnered with several colleges and nonprofits to "expand college access and completion" for these promising students.

Three years after Florida A&M student Robert Champion died after a beating on a bus, a member of the university's marching band is on trial for manslaughter. Prosecutors say it was hazing. The defense says it was a tradition more akin to an athletic accomplishment — and one Champion joined in willingly.

Tim Lloyd/St. Louis Public Radio

This story is the second part of A Teachable Moment, a three-part series that profiles how issues raised by events in Ferguson are being discussed in classrooms across the St. Louis region. 

From pulpits to protests, a wide cross section of St. Louis’ religious leaders has been deeply involved with demonstrations following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9. And for some teachers at religious schools in St. Louis, talking with students about the protests in Ferguson and Brown’s death is about more than education -- it’s a matter of faith.

The Many, Many Secret Lives Of Teachers

Oct 28, 2014

Since we launched our project last week, we've heard from hundreds of you on Twitter, in email and on Facebook. And the responses are still coming in.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

It was early September and Vincent Flewellen had just wrapped up his day teaching at Ladue Middle School.

“It was a pretty day,” Flewellen remembered. “I had a great day here at Ladue Middle School. I was really in a good mood.”

But Flewellen knew he could be in for a heavy night.

Less than four weeks had passed since Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown. And Flewellen, who is African American, was on his way to an event at Saint Louis University designed to help teachers unpack complicated issues of race and class.

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