Education Desk

Less than two years after being named Alabama's Teacher of the Year, Ann Marie Corgill resigned her post this week, citing her frustration with bureaucracy. After Corgill was moved from teaching second grade to fifth, she was told she wasn't qualified to teach fifth-graders.

In January, Corgill was named one of four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year award. She is a 21-year teaching veteran whose story — and candid resignation letter — has made waves in the education community and beyond.

This week's viral videos of a Columbia, S.C., deputy's push-the-chair-over-and-drag-the-student arrest of a 16-year-old high school girl in her classroom has refocused attention on the expanding role of police in schools, "zero tolerance" discipline policies and the disproportionate punishment of minorities.

The world of children's lit has always traded in grisly topics — children's literature scholar Jerry Griswold deems "scariness" one of the five elemental themes of the genre.

Earlier this week, several dozen chefs from around the country gathered to hear words of wisdom from Tom Colicchio.

"Have fun with it," Colicchio, a celebrity chef and award-winning restaurateur, told them, adding, "Let your passion come through."

But this wasn't the next batch of hopefuls on Top Chef, the feisty cooking show on which he stars. We were in a Capitol Hill restaurant, and this was a new generation of lobbyists.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Schools that serve a large number of low-income children qualify for federal grants, called Title 1. Many schools use that money to provide extra reading and math teachers, to help needy kids catch up with their more privileged peers. But the state of Illinois is increasingly tapping into those funds to pay down the Teachers Retirement System’s pension liability. 

The school system losing the most money in this scheme is Springfield’s District 186. So I asked Larry McVey, coordinator of Springfield’s Title 1 programs, to explain how this happened.

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Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

When West Baltimore's Renaissance Academy High School hired four African-American mentors earlier this year, student Jalone Carroll wanted nothing to do with them. He figured they would come "mess everything up, and then dip," or disappear.

"We didn't know how to take that type, you feel me," says Carroll. "Somebody that cares, somebody that really wants to see us succeed."

Awe ouens, zikhiphani daar?

That's South African slang for "Hey guys, what's up?"

We recently had a chance to find out what's up with the teens of South Africa.

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

For the first time in 25 years, America's fourth- and eighth-graders are doing worse in math, at least according to The National Assessment of Educational Progress.

NAEP, also known as the Nation's Report Card, tests students in both grades every two years on math and reading ability. This year, math scores reversed a long, upward trend with both grades testing lower than they did in 2013.

Leaders in business, education and politics love to talk up how important Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education is for America's future.

Innovations! Jobs! Progress! are all at stake, they often argue.

Just last week, President Obama hosted scores of mostly young people for an evening of stargazing and fun space talk at the second-ever White House Astronomy Night.

Poor mothers often spend way too much time hunched over a washboard. What if they could use those hours to curl up with their kids and read a book instead? A group of friends at Oxford University plans to find out by developing a combination childhood education and laundry services center, a concept they've dubbed a "Libromat."

George Watts Montessori Magnet sits just north of downtown Durham, N.C., along the eastern edge of Duke University. Its sprawling, red-brick campus is nearly a century old and surrounded by gorgeously restored family homes that once housed Duke fraternities, before the university sold them off.

Updated 2:32 p.m. ET

Authorities are investigating a classroom incident between a white sheriff's deputy and a black high school student in Columbia, S.C., in which video shows the deputy, a school resource officer, flipping the female student's desk backward and dragging her to the ground.

Education Group Says It Has Budget Impasse Antidote

Oct 27, 2015
(flickr/Daniel X. O'Neil)

There’s no end in sight to the political gridlock in Springfield.

But one group says it has an education plan it’s convinced both Republicans and Democrats could support.

That plan is a new twist on an old idea: corporations paying money into a special fund.

They’d get tax breaks. And parents would get cash to use for the school of their choice.

Cross your fingers.

Congress is trying to do something it was supposed to do back in 2007: agree on a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It's not controversial to say the law is in desperate need of an update.

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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Nimmu is 15 years old. She comes from a rural village in northern India, and she's been married since she was 10.

This year she's trying to change her fate.

In Nimmu's village, when you're married young, you don't move in with your husband right away. You stay with your own parents until around your 15th birthday. That's when they send you to your in-laws.

From what Nimmu has seen, you basically lose your freedom at that point. The in-laws assign whatever chores they see fit. And you're expected to follow their orders without question or complaint.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Federal law does not prohibit undocumented students from enrolling in college, but it does something nearly as effective, banning them from receiving government aid. In recent years, though, some undocumented students have stumbled upon a little-known, nonprofit online university that doesn't charge tuition and doesn't care about students' legal status.

High school graduation rates are on the rise across the country, except for one segment of the population: They've dropped dramatically for people in prison or jail who need to get their GED diplomas.

Since a new version of the General Education Development test came out last year, the pass rate for inmates has plummeted. Formerly, it was a multiple-choice test taken with a pencil. Not any longer: The test has joined the computer age, abandoning handwritten essays and instead requiring computer skills some inmates simply don't have.

One in 10 teachers will quit by the end of their first year — and getting through October and November is especially tough. Having someone to support you along the way can help.

Turns out there's a toolkit to help — as we wrote about this week. Thousands chimed in on Facebook and Twitter, and in the comments section. Here are some takeaways from the discussion.

The "disillusionment phase" goes by another name:

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Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

American students take a reported 112 standardized tests between pre-kindergarten and 12th grade. Yesterday, President Obama said that's too many.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

It was a story that brought the NPR interpreter to tears.

As part of our series on 15-year-old girls around the world, reporter Jason Beaubien and producer Rebecca Davis were looking for a 15-year-old Syrian refugee. The group World Vision helped lead them to Fatmeh, who lives with her family in a makeshift shelter on a farmer's land in Lebanon. Fatmeh wanted to tell her story: She used to live in a nice house, have a computer, loved going to school.

Deborah Ball realized years ago she had a problem.

It was around 1980. She'd been working as an elementary school teacher in East Lansing, Michigan for about five years. But she felt like she just wasn't getting any better at it.

"I felt like I was really thoughtful," she says. "I tried to make stuff make sense to them. I used examples and tried to connect them to their lives, but they would forget things as fast as I taught them. On Friday they could do it, on Monday they would have forgotten."

Today, President Obama and the Department of Education released a Testing Action Plan, calling on states to cut back on "unnecessary testing" that consumes "too much instructional time" and creates "undue stress for educators and students."

Girls just wanna get ahead. But society won't always let them.

In different parts of the world, girls might not be able to go to school, hold a political position — or even be born.

How much do you know about the state of the world's girls? Take this quiz, which highlights the latest stats from the World Bank, the U.N. and more, to find out.

When it comes to anti-bullying campaigns, Kortney Peagram has seen many: Wear this bracelet if you're not a bully, respond to something mean with something nice. They come and go like fads, she says:

"These awareness campaigns, if it's cheesy, they won't use it."

Peagram is a psychologist who works with more than 30 schools in Illinois to help teachers and students deal with bullying and confrontational behavior — in other words, what most kids would call drama.

Much of it is now online, where mercurial, youthful emotions fly at double-speed.

When I was 15, I hated math.

I still remember the day my 7th grade teacher called me up to the front of the entire class to solve an equation. She drew a huge triangle on the blackboard and wrote an "X" on the left side and "Y" on its base. She then looked at me sternly and said, "Miss Mistry, I want you to find X for me and you better make this quick."

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