Education Desk

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At 7:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, you'll find Mark Gaither standing on Gough Street in southeast Baltimore. He's outside Wolfe Street Academy, the neighborhood elementary school where he's the principal.

Gaither has a huge umbrella in case it rains, and thick gloves for when it snows. He's here each morning to greet students and families as they come to school — which should make for at least 225 "good mornings."

Illinois Issues: The Racial Achievement Gap

Nov 12, 2015
School desks
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Why does it persist, even at well-funded suburban schools?

Tim Wolfe is not the first college administrator to come under fire for responding poorly to campus racism. And Wolfe, until this week the head of the University of Missouri System, isn't likely to be the last.

College presidents who have themselves been in crisis have learned there's a right way — and a wrong way — to respond.

When Rosa Coj Bocel was in sixth grade, her parents told her she had to drop out of school so she could help take care of her four brothers. Rosa didn't put up a fight.

"What else can be said? No woman was studying at the middle school level," she told Goats and Soda in an interview translated from Spanish. "So I took it as if it were normal."

But it's what happened in the years after that put Bocel on an extraordinary path — a story that's told in an 11-minute documentary called Rosa — These Storms.

A University of Missouri professor who is seen in a video requesting "muscle" to kick out a journalist from the scene of a protest has given up her journalism appointment.

Melissa Click, an assistant professor in the department of communication, resigned her "courtesy appointment" with the prestigious School of Journalism. The appointment allowed her to review student theses.

Here in Pall Mall, Tenn., you can walk up on the front porch of the Forbus General Store, est. 1892, and still hear Alvin C. York's rich Tennessee accent.

Every day, the older neighbors gather on the store's front porch.

"My grandfather used to cut Sgt. Alvin York's hair," Richard West recalls. "He would pay a quarter. He was a big man, redheaded."

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Our Ideas series is exploring how innovation happens in education.

Almost all college students have a cellphone. They use them an average of eight to 10 hours a day and check them an average of every 15 to 20 minutes while they're awake.

Heavier smartphone use has been linked to lower-quality sleep and lower GPAs — oh, are you getting a text right now?

I'll wait.

Anyway, as I was saying, one professor at the University of Colorado Boulder has come up with a solution to smartphone distraction in one of his astronomy classes.

When two rights that this country holds as fundamental come into conflict, it makes for complex drama.

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Yale University is in turmoil after a series of emails about culturally insensitive Halloween costumes. Some students there are protesting what they say is a hostile environment for students of color. Aaron Z. Lewis, a senior at Yale, speaks with NPR's Audie Cornish.

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Updated 7:50 p.m. ET

Over the weekend, players of color on the University of Missouri football team announced they would not participate in any football-related activities until university system president Tim Wolfe resigned, saying Wolfe had failed to address racist incidents on campus. As many have noted, the players' strike could have cost the university's football program millions of dollars.

This morning, Wolfe resigned.

Our Tools of the Trade series examines iconic objects of the education world.

The 24 juniors and seniors in the astronomy class at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Va., sink into plush red theater seats. They're in a big half-circle around what looks like a giant telescope with a globe on the end. Their teacher, Lee Ann Hennig, stands at a wooden control panel which, appropriately, has enough buttons and dials to launch a rocket.

Updated 6:10 p.m. ET

Amid continued pressure, the University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe and the chancellor of the Columbia campus, R. Bowen Loftin, both tendered their resignations on Monday.

Wolfe announced his resignation this morning and by late afternoon, Loftin had followed suit, saying he would leave his post as chancellor at the end of this year.

"I take full responsibility for this frustration, and I take full responsibility for the inaction that has occurred," Wolfe said.

Last Thanksgiving, NYU junior Micah Finkelman sat down to dinner with her white, liberal, Ohio family the same week a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Finkelman's parents had watched the dramatic news coverage of clashes between police, protesters, and looters and wondered what to make of the images. Their daughter struggled to explain why the Black Lives Matter movement should matter to them. But now, she's spent a semester in a classroom gathering the evidence to make her case.

A group of University of Missouri faculty plan to walk out of their classrooms for the next two days to "stand in solidarity with the Mizzou student activists who are advocating for racial justice on our campus."

The news comes a day after some football players said they would not play another game until university system President Tim Wolfe steps down.

In 2008, a surge of young voters transformed the political landscape. They were critical in making underdog candidate Barack Obama the Democratic nominee and, eventually, the president. They also helped propel Obama to a second term and gave candidates a crash course in communicating in the digital age. As we get closer to the 2016 election, are candidates successfully reaching young people?

There is a letter that school districts really don't like sending home to parents of special education students. Each state has a different version, but they all begin with something like this:

"Dear Parent, as of the date of this letter your child's teacher is not considered 'highly qualified.' " And then: "This doesn't mean your child's teacher is not capable or effective. It means they haven't met the state standards for teaching in their subject."

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More and more colleges and universities are allowing students to choose their own gender pronouns, meaning instead of just "he" and "she," the options now include pronouns like "ze," which are intended to be gender neutral.

Harvard is one of the universities that made the change official this year. Now, undergraduate students have a variety of pronouns to choose from when they register.

University of Missouri football players have pledged to go on strike until university President Tim Wolfe resigns. They're joining several other student groups criticizing the way he has handled a string of racially charged incidents. Koran Addo, a reporter for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, explains the situation.

Who doesn't love a class clown? That perfectly timed joke about the ancient Greek poet looking nothing like Homer Simpson is fun for everyone. Unless you're the teacher ... trying to teach a lesson about the Odyssey.

As a teacher, the class clown is often your nemesis. I know this from experience: I taught ninth grade last school year.

They derail lessons, steal the spotlight and, to make matters worse, sometimes they're actually funny. It's not easy enforcing class rules when you're laughing.

Many American parents face a tug of war over trying to save enough for retirement and saving for college.

Some, like Lisa Carey, a 44-year-old high school history teacher in Tampa, Fla., and her husband, Peter, a minister, haven't yet started saving for their three kids' college education. (Carey joined NPR's Your Money and Your Life Facebook group. If you're on Facebook, you can join the group, too.)

Ryan Michalesko

VICE News has published an investigation of American universities with ties to the military, police, and intelligence communities. Southern Illinois University in Carbondale ranked number 23, due to the number of alums who work in “top secret” jobs. The amount of funding SIU receives from national security and defense agencies was another factor.

They're hard.

At least, that was the rep on new tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards that millions of U.S. kids took last spring. Now you can be the judge.

There are now a slew of actual math and English Language Arts questions online — searchable — from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — better know as PARCC. You can also see some student responses and guidance on how they were scored.

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