Education Desk

Beyond Sin City's casino strip, what happens in Vegas also includes an education system in crisis. Its schools are severely overcrowded, as we reported Wednesday on Morning Edition. And Nevada and Vegas' schools are ranked at or near the bottom nationally.

Las Vegas is back, baby. After getting slammed by the Great Recession, the city today is seeing rising home sales, solid job growth and a record number of visitors in 2014.stru

It was after the bars had closed and well into the pre-dawn hours of an August morning in 1966 when San Francisco cops were in Gene Compton's cafeteria again. They were arresting drag queens, trans women and gay hustlers who had been sitting for hours, eating and gossiping and coming down from their highs with the help of 60-cent cups of coffee.

Geography, history, civics.

At Manchester Academic Charter School in Pittsburgh, Dennis Henderson teaches all of these, and a few things more.

"You don't want to sound ghetto when you talk to people," says eighth-grader Malajah Smith, quoting Henderson. "Because people would think, 'Oh, you're one of those black, ghetto kids.' "

"He tells us how to stand up straight and how you shake people's hands," adds student Sharae Blair.

At first glance, the warehouse in San Francisco's SOMA neighborhood could be the headquarters of any well-funded startup: exposed concrete, natural light, lots of Macbooks. Then you spot the 12- and 13-year-olds doing yoga in a glass-walled conference room.

It's a tech company, but it's also a private, for-profit middle school: a unique, hybrid venture called AltSchool.

Many Native Americans who attended a recent powwow in Missoula, Mont., remember what it was like to be punished for speaking a tribal language. For about a century, starting in the 1870s, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs ran boarding schools for Native American children, removing them from their families and homes and separating them from their language and culture so they would "assimilate."

Carrie Iron Shirt's father was one of those children. "My dad, being in the boarding school, they were taught not to talk their language," she says.

Grade-Skippers: Where Are They Now?

May 2, 2015

Entering kindergarten early or skipping a grade later on can be great for a lot of reasons. A bored but highly gifted student will be challenged appropriately, may graduate early and could reach other milestones in life faster.

But on the flip side, jumping ahead also means being the youngest in your class. Many people worry it could create problems socially and emotionally.

Stella Cole

 

    

The complexities of Baltimore seem largely out of the reach of the media outlets that descend, as usual, only when certain neighborhoods burn.

Birthday parties and backyard barbecues – rituals of daily life and love – seem to never make the headlines. Yet images of overturned cars claim the top spot on the evening news every time.

In West Baltimore, at Pennsylvania and North avenues, media featured a drug store on fire.

No matter how high you climb in life, you never forget your favorite teacher.

This week, President Obama awarded Shanna Peeples, a high school English teacher from Amarillo, Texas, the title of the 2015 National Teacher of the Year.

We've been exploring great teaching as well, with our 50 Great Teachers Project. We even shared the stories of our own favorite teachers.

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

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Sen. Andy Manar speaks in front of student
Senate Democrats

There he was, then-Gov. Jim Edgar, appearing before a joint session of the General Assembly, imploring members of the GOP-led House and Senate to raise the state income tax, lower property taxes and level out the disparities between rich and poor school systems in Illinois.

It was 1996, and Edgar was coming off a re-election where he trounced Democratic Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch by attacking her plan to fix the state’s school-funding inequities.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear what do you see?

I see a blue horse, a purple cat, and a new program — unveiled today by President Obama — with one goal in mind:

To put good books in the hands of low-income kids.

More specifically, $250 million worth of e-books available to young, low-income readers — free. The effort will work through a new app, being developed by the New York Public Library, that has the buy-in of all the major publishers.

On the first day of school, perhaps the only person more discussed than the "new kid" is the "new kid who skipped a grade."

Words like "gifted," "brilliant" and "genius" get thrown around to describe these students. Education researchers generally refer to them as "accelerated." It's a catch-all term to describe students who have either entered kindergarten early, grade-skipped or taken single subjects above grade level.

Part of the hype comes from how uncommon it is.

Researchers estimate no more than 2 percent of students fall into these categories.

Editor's note: Code Switch reporter Shereen Marisol Meraji spent Wednesday with a West Baltimore principal charged with a huge task: helping her middle and high school students, who are overwhelmingly poor and black, make sense of what's happening in Baltimore right now.

Did you hear that?

It's the sound of hundreds of thousands of public school students in Florida breathing sighs of relief.

The state's largest school district, Miami-Dade County, just cut the number of district-created, end-of-course exams it will require from roughly 300 to 10. And even those 10 will be field-tested only, on just a sampling of students.

Much of our recent reporting, especially from New Orleans, has focused on young people who are neither in school nor working. There are an estimated 5 1/2 million of them, ages 16 to 24, in the United States.

The long-running story of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges has entered what looks like a final phase. As our colleagues at SCPR wrote:

"Corinthian Colleges will shut down all of its remaining 28 ground campuses, displacing about 16,000 students, less than two weeks after the U.S. Department of Education announced it was fining the for-profit institution $30 million for misrepresentation."

As long as there have been schools and classes, there have been students who don't show up. And educators scratching their heads over what to do about it.

In most states, missing a lot of school means a trip to the principal's office. In Texas, parents and students are more likely to end up in front of a judge.

"Welcome to Iowa State University. May I take your paper, please?"

A bill circulating in the Iowa state Senate would rate professors' performance based on student evaluations. Just student evaluations.

Low-rated professors would be automatically fired — no tenure, no appeals.

I should begin with a word of warning: This story contains several F-words -- and by that, I mean facts, figures and school funding formulas. These have been known to befuddle the very state officials in charge of understanding this stuff. For example, here’s Curt Bradshaw, a third-year member of the Illinois State Board of Education (commonly referred to as ISBE), thinking out loud at the last board meeting: 

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Getting Organized

About Bruce Feiler's TED Talk

Parents help their kids manage their lives. But according to Bruce Feiler, it can work the other way around. It just takes a little insight drawn from Japanese computer programming principles.

About Bruce Feiler

Open up the newspaper or turn on the news these days, and you'll find plenty of talk about race and racism. But it's a different story in many classrooms.

Some teachers don't consider race germane to their math or English syllabus. Others strive for colorblindness in the classroom, wanting to believe we live in a post-racial society. Unfortunately, says H. Richard Milner, we don't.

Have you ever had an "aha" moment? Suddenly, it becomes clear you have to make a change in your life, and you actually go ahead and do it.

Safeena Husain, 43, has had three "aha" moments. She ran away from home in India to an ashram. She let her fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages to plot a new career in the U.S. And she found her true calling after a soul-shaking encounter in a Himalayan village.

How many different flavors of jam do you need to be happy?

In 2000, a famous experiment showed that when people were presented with a supermarket sampler of 24 exotic fruit flavors, they were more attracted to the display. But, when the sample included only six flavors, they were 10 times more likely to actually buy.

Think, for just a moment, about the last job you applied for.

If you didn't get the job (apologies), did you get an interview? If not, did you feel some hidden forces, beyond your control, working against you?

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

Diana Agrest believes architecture is so much more than a marriage of form and function. For more than four decades, she's been trying to get her students to believe that too.

In the 1920s, Aurora Orozco crossed over from Mexico to Texas — a child of African descent who spoke not a word of English. She was an uneasy transplant.

Many years later, in an essay published in 1999, she recalled attitudes towards students who were caught speaking Spanish in school: "My teacher, Mrs. White, would make me stay after class. With a red rubber band, she would hit my poor hands until they nearly bled."

What if you had to start your school system over almost from scratch? What if most of the buildings were unusable, and most of the teachers had left or been fired? Is that a nightmare, or your dream come true?

In New Orleans, that was the reality after the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina. That set off a chain reaction that transformed the city's schools forever, first by a state takeover and then by the most extensive charter school system in the country.

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