Education Desk

Remember the MOOC?

Just a few years ago, the Massive Open Online Course was expected to reinvent higher education. Millions of people were signing up to watch Web-based, video lectures from the world's great universities. Some were completing real assignments, earning certificates and forming virtual study groups — all for free.

Surely the traditional college degree would instantly collapse.

Boys like Facebook, girls like Instagram. Wealthier kids Snapchat. Lower income kids Facebook. And somehow Google+ is still relevant.

So says the Pew Research Center's latest study, "Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015," in which we officially learn that teenagers spend as much time online as adults think they do:

  • 92 percent of teens report going online daily.
  • 24 percent say they go online "almost constantly."

It seems like a simple goal: All kids should go to primary school.

People began talking about it in the 1960s. And they kept talking about it. "Everyone thought it was pretty doable; it wasn't too big of a deal," recalls Aaron Benavot, director of UNESCO's Education for All Global Monitoring Report.

But for lots of reasons — cutbacks on government spending, no schoolhouse within an easy commute — it just wasn't happening. So in 2000, 164 nations got together and pledged "Education For All" by 2015.

For the series Tools of the Trade we've been thinking a lot about the iconic tools that some of us remember using — if only for a short time — in our early schooling.

Valerie Inniss took out $11,500 in student loans this year to pay for the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

None of it was for tuition.

The 21-year-old is on a four-year, full-tuition scholarship, won on the strength of her high school test scores. And she qualifies for the maximum federal Pell Grant — $5,730 — for low-income students.

Here's how popular craft brewed beer is these days: On average, a new brewery opens its doors every single day in the the U.S.

Clementine Lindley says she had a great college experience, but if she had it to do over again, she probably wouldn't pick an expensive private school.

"I could actually buy a small home in Helena, Mont., with the amount of debt that I graduated with," she says.

Fresh out of school, Lindley says there were times when she had to decide whether to pay rent, buy food or make her student loan payments.

"There was a time where I defaulted on my student loans enough that I never was sent to collections, but just long enough to, honestly, ruin my credit."

Mexican-American toddlers born in the U.S. do not develop nearly as fast as white toddlers when it comes to language and pre-literacy skills. That's the main finding of a new study by the Institute of Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley.

For the past year now, many Americans have been hearing and reading about the 68,000 unaccompanied minors who have crossed illegally into the U.S. Nearly all of these minors come from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras, and since their arrival, immigration officials have released most of them to their parents or relatives who already live in this country.

A number of these children and teenagers are in deportation proceedings, but while they wait, they have been allowed to attend public schools. In Louisiana, schools have enrolled nearly 2,000 of them.

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, much has been rebuilt in New Orleans — including the public schools. But the current education system is radically different from the one that people who grew up in New Orleans remember. Virtually all students in the city now attend charter schools. Many of their teachers are both new to New Orleans and new to teaching.

A report released Sunday about a Rolling Stone magazine story detailing an alleged rape at the University of Virginia is one more chapter in a long, troubling story for the campus.

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

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Across Sierra Leone, students are preparing to return to school April 14, after nine months off because of the Ebola epidemic. But one group has been banned from returning, according to a new decree by the minister of education: "visibly pregnant" girls.

Minister of Education Minkailu Bah announced the ban last week, explaining that "innocent girls" could be negatively affected by their pregnant peers. The ban would prevent seniors from taking the exams needed to graduate and attend college.

It's a Saturday morning, and school marching bands are playing for a crowd. But they're not in a Mardi Gras parade. They're in the Superdome, where 120 schools are set up at long tables, putting their best faces forward and trying to recruit families.

One gives on-the-spot instrument lessons, another is showing off it's step team.

Back in 2011, Newt Gingrich was running for president, and he proposed a radical idea to help schools cut costs: Fire the janitors and pay students to do the cleaning.

Needless to say, the idea to turn students into moonlighting janitors had about as much support as Gingrich's presidential campaign.

New York City's public school system is vast, with more than a million students spread across thousands of schools. And like the city itself, it's remarkably diverse — about 15 percent Asian, just under 30 percent black, about 40 percent Latino, and about 15 percent white, with all sorts of finer shadings of ethnicity, nationality and language in that mix.

Part of our ongoing series of conversations with thinkers and activists on education issues

Filmmaker and radio producer Erin Davis' new short documentary shares its name with an adventure playground in North Wales called The Land. As Davis puts it, the film explores the "nature of play, risk and hazard" — issues I explored last summer in a story on the decline and fall of wild play.

To survive, we humans need to be able to do a handful of things: breathe, of course. And drink and eat. Those are obvious.

We're going to focus now on a less obvious — but no less vital — human function: learning. Because new research out today in the journal Science sheds light on the very building blocks of learning.

MICHEL MARTIN EXAMINES THE NEW ORLEANS SCHOOL SYSTEM ON APRIL 21

Copyright 2015 WABE-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wabe.org/.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

UIS.EDU

Despite concerns over state funding, there is reason for optimism at the University of Illinois Springfield.  In the first part of our interview, Chancellor Susan Koch told us about planning that is underway for a likely reduction in funding.

But there's also a bright side at UIS.   The campus has all time high enrollment and many other positive changes are coming.  A new nursing program will launch this fall and ground will soon be broken on a Student Union.   

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

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Eleven of 12 former public school employees in Atlanta were found guilty of racketeering in what is thought to be the biggest cheating scandal in American education, NPR member station WABE reports.

One defendant, teacher Dessa Curb, was acquitted of all charges, according to WSB-TV's Richard Elliot.

No school wants to be on this list.

It was just released by the Department of Education. On it are the names of 556 colleges and universities that failed the department's "financial responsibility test."

Undersecretary of Education Ted Mitchell says that each school's finances are now being placed under a microscope because the government "had serious concerns about the financial integrity of the institution or its administrative capacity."

Mara Thacker holding comic books
L. Brian Stauffer / University of Illinois news bureau

In 2012, a librarian at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign approached Mara Thacker, South-Asian studies librarian, with a question. David Ward had been building the collection of comic books and graphic novels and asked for recommendations to expand the collection into foreign comics. Already a fan of Indian popular culture, Thacker suggested comics from India and its neighbors.

Now A Necessity

Apr 1, 2015

School Districts Throughout Illinois Are Creating Foundations To Fill In Budget Gaps

Every spring, the students at Mount Carmel High School in Wabash County put on a musical. They’ve done The Music Man, Oklahoma!, The Wizard of Oz, Beauty and the Beast — and  every show has sold out. 

For Kim Mandrell, music director at MCHS, selling out was both good news and bad news. The school’s auditorium was built in 1963, and its wooden seats were crumbling. 

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch says if a proposed 31% state budget cut to higher education occurs, it would hamper the school's ability to carry out its mission. 

"It would be severely damaging," Koch said.  She added she is hopeful the eventual budget won't hit UIS so hard.  But she also expects less state support in the coming year.

"The reality is at this point we don't know where things will end up."

Latonya Suggs says she borrowed thousands of dollars in student loans to attend the for-profit Corinthian Colleges but has nothing to show for it. Most employers don't recognize her criminal justice degree.

"I am completely lost and in debt," Suggs says. And now she's doing something about it: She's refusing to pay back those loans.

Suggs and 106 other borrowers now saddled with Corinthian loan debt say their refusal to repay the loans is a form of political protest. And Tuesday, the U.S. government gave them an audience.

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

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Every year, students at UIS get together to give presentations and performances related to technology, the arts, and research. It's called the Stars Symposium. This year, the event is on Thursday and Friday on the Springfield campus. We were joined by students Irina Mason, Kylie Gilmore & Michael Lotspeich to talk about it: 

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