Anya Kamenetz

Anya Kamenetz is NPR's lead education blogger. She joined NPR in 2014, working as part of a new initiative to coordinate on-air and online coverage of learning.

Kamenetz is the author of several books about the future of education. Generation Debt (Riverhead, 2006), dealt with youth economics and politics; DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education (Chelsea Green, 2010), investigated innovations to address the crises in cost, access, and quality in higher education. Her forthcoming book, The Test (PublicAffairs, 2015), is about the past, present and future of testing in American schools.

Learning, Freedom and the Web (http://learningfreedomandtheweb.org/), The Edupunks' Guide (edupunksguide.org), and the Edupunks' Atlas (atlas.edupunksguide.org) are her free web projects about self-directed, web-enabled learning.

Previously, Kamenetz covered technology, innovation, sustainability and social entrepreneurship for five years as a staff writer for Fast Company magazine. She's contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Slate, and O, the Oprah Magazine.

Kamenetz was named a 2010 Game Changer in Education by the Huffington Post, received 2009 and 2010 National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, and was submitted for a Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing by the Village Voice in 2005, where she had a column called Generation Debt.

She appears in the documentaries Generation Next (2006), Default: A Student Loan Documentary (2011), both shown on PBS, and Ivory Tower, which premiered at Sundance in 2014 and will be shown on CNN.

Kamenetz grew up in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, in a family of writers and mystics, and graduated from Yale University in 2002. She lives in New York City.

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NPR Ed
7:03 am
Sat December 20, 2014

Twelve Weeks To A Six-Figure Job

A student at the coder boot camp at General Assembly in New York City learns more than "Hello, world."
Courtesy of General Assembly

Marlon Frausto is in pursuit of the new American dream. Just a few weeks ago he left his job, in Hispanic marketing for the legal industry, and moved to San Francisco.

Every day he wakes at 5:30 a.m., commutes 45 minutes by train, and studies until 9 or 10 at night. He's spending down his savings and says he's getting help from "my loving family."

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NPR Ed
6:03 am
Fri December 19, 2014

New Federal College Ratings Will Consider Aid, Total Cost, Employment

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 4:12 pm

Today the Education Department released long-awaited details on a plan to hold colleges accountable for their performance on several key indicators, and officials said they'll be seeking public comment on the proposals through February.

"As a nation, we have to make college more accessible and affordable and ensure that all students graduate with a quality education of real value," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.

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NPR Ed
11:03 am
Sun December 14, 2014

A For-Profit College Tries The Charter School Market

ITT Technical Institute's Early College Academy campus in Troy, MI.
Nicole Elam/ITT Technical Institute

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 10:14 am

Starting this past spring, parents in Indianapolis; Troy, Mich.; Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla.; and Houston, Texas, heard about a new option for their children's last two years of high school.

In each city, a charter school called Early Career Academy planned to offer students the chance to earn associate degrees, either in network systems administration or software development, alongside their high school diplomas. Students were offered laptops to work on and ebooks to use. All for free.

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NPR Ed
1:56 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Why The President Wants To Give Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars To Toddlers

Nikki Jones' preschool class at Porter Early Childhood Development Center in Tulsa, Okla.
John W. Poole NPR

Why does public school start at age 5?

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NPR Ed
2:49 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Why Math Might Be The Secret To School Success

There's a real lack of math learning in pre-K. In one study, in fact, just 58 seconds out of a full preschool day was spent on math activities.
Kaylhew Flikr Creative Commons

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 1:01 pm

Little children are big news this week, as the White House holds a summit on early childhood education on Wednesday. The president wants every 4-year-old to go to preschool, but the new Congress is unlikely to foot that bill.

Since last year, more than 30 states have expanded access to preschool. But there's still a lack of evidence about exactly what kinds of interventions are most effective in those crucial early years.

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NPR Ed
7:03 am
Sat December 6, 2014

Q&A: J Is For Jihad

Columbia University Press

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 7:21 am

Letter M (capital M and small m): (Mujahid): My brother is a Mujahid. Afghan Muslims are Mujahideen. I do Jihad together with them. Doing Jihad against infidels is our duty.

These words come from a textbook written to teach first-graders Pashto, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan. In the primer, eight of the 41 letters of the alphabet contain similar references, to guns, swords and defending the homeland against infidels.

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NPR Ed
7:03 am
Sun November 30, 2014

The History of Campus Sexual Assault

A University of Virginia student looks over postings on the door of Peabody Hall related to the Phi Kappa Psi gang rape allegations at the school in Charlottesville, Va., Monday, Nov. 24, 2014.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Sun November 30, 2014 11:34 am

"Male sex aggression on a university campus" was the title of one of the first studies published about a topic now very much in the news. Way back in 1957, sociologist Eugene Kanin posited a model where men used secrecy and stigma to pressure and exploit women.

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NPR Ed
4:36 am
Sat November 29, 2014

What Every School Can Learn From Preschools

Preschool students from Nikki Jones' class at Porter Early Childhood Development Center in Tulsa line up in the hallway on their way back from outside play.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Mon December 1, 2014 7:49 am

Listening. Sharing. Following directions. Making friends. Managing big emotions. Planning for the future.

A high-quality preschool program helps children develop in all these ways. But, a new report argues, such matters of the heart shouldn't be left behind just as students are learning to tie their shoes.

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NPR Ed
3:08 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Why Working With Young Children Is (Still) A Dead-End Job

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 2:54 pm

Right now, at preschool programs around the country, teachers are tapping infinite reserves of patience to keep the peace among children at various stages of development and need. They're also providing meals, wiping noses and delivering a curriculum in math and reading that will get the kids ready for school.

And there are hugs. Lots of hugs.

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NPR Ed
7:03 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Testing: How Much Is Too Much?

LA Johnson NPR

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 12:23 pm

"In some places, tests — and preparation for them — are dominating the calendar and culture of schools and causing undue stress for students and educators."

The quote comes not from an angry parent or firebrand school leader but from Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Of course, he's the guy currently in charge of a big chunk of those tests: the No Child Left Behind requirement of annual standardized testing in grades 3-8, plus once during grades 10-12.

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NPR Ed
6:03 am
Fri November 14, 2014

A Botched Study Raises Bigger Questions

John Ayers, executive director of the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University, will resign at the end of November.
Paula Burch-Celentano Tulane University

New Orleans, where nine of 10 children attend charter schools, has perhaps the most scrutinized public school system in the country.

And since Hurricane Katrina, a major source of information about the city's schools has been the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives, a research group connected with Tulane University. The institute has been widely cited by political leaders and in the news media, including our reporting.

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NPR Ed
9:38 am
Fri November 7, 2014

For-Profit Colleges Sue The Federal Government Over Student Loan Rules

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 10:10 am

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.

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NPR Ed
7:03 am
Sat October 4, 2014

Q&A: Plumbing The Mysteries Of The Teenage Brain

Professor Laurence Steinberg, of Temple University, says adolescence should be conceived of as lasting from puberty to the early 20s.
Axel Griesch Fotografie Tel. 004 Laurence Steinberg

Originally published on Sat October 4, 2014 8:46 pm

Do you remember the summer when you first fell in love? The songs that were playing on the radio, butterflies in the stomach, the excitement of a stolen kiss? The tendency of our brains to especially hold onto memories from the teenage years is called the "reminiscence bump."

It's one of the many distinctive characteristics of the adolescent brain that psychologist Laurence Steinberg lays out in his new book, Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence.

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NPR Ed
4:15 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

When Teachers, Not Students, Do The Cheating

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Mon September 29, 2014 5:30 pm

Opening arguments began today in the trial of 12 Atlanta educators charged in an alleged cheating conspiracy that came to light in 2009.

Prosecutors claim there was widespread cheating on state tests throughout the city's public schools, affecting thousands of students.

The case has brought national attention to the issue, raising questions about whether the pressures to improve scores have driven a few educators to fudge the numbers, but also about broader consequences.

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NPR Ed
8:18 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Three R's For The Digital Age: Rockets, Robots And Remote Control

I and Robot ... a primal encounter at World Maker Faire.
LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 1:53 pm

Huan Zhang is captain of the all-girl robotics team at Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows, Queens. She and her teammate Vanessa Lin are firing up their robot for me. It looks a little bit like a milk crate on the go.

"It's going to take a couple minutes to set it up," Lin says. While we're waiting, Zhang tells me their rookie team made it to regional competition in Pennsylvania with this very robot, which, on cue, starts rolling around picking up plastic blocks with metal arms.

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NPR Ed
7:03 am
Thu August 7, 2014

Tests That Look Like Video Games

A screenshot from the Posterlet game: choosing negative or positive feedback.
AAA Lab, Stanford University

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 10:21 am

This week, NPR Ed is focusing on questions about why people play and how play relates to learning.

Imagine you're playing a computer game that asks you to design a poster for the school fair. You're fiddling with fonts, changing background colors and deciding what activity to feature: Will a basketball toss appeal to more people than a pie bake-off?

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NPR Ed
3:09 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Teacher Tenure Lawsuits Spread From California To New York

Campbell Brown of the Partnership for Educational Justice, with plaintiffs in their New York teacher tenure lawsuit.
Gwynne Hogan WNYC

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 6:40 pm

Why are so many low-income and minority kids getting second-class educations in the U.S.?

That question is at the center of the heated debate about teacher tenure. In New York today, a group of parents and advocates, led by former CNN and NBC anchor Campbell Brown, filed a suit challenging state laws that govern when teachers can be given tenure and how they can be fired once they have it.

As WNYC reported, Brown announced the suit on the steps of City Hall:

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NPR Ed
2:38 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Charter Schools, Money And Test Scores

Putting charter school research under a microscope.
Flickr

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 6:30 pm

The University of Arkansas today released what it calls a "first ever" study exploring the relationship between charter school funding and student achievement.

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NPR Ed
6:03 am
Tue July 8, 2014

The Collapse Of Corinthian Colleges

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 9:39 am

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NPR Ed
9:03 am
Wed July 2, 2014

The Return Of The One-Room Schoolhouse

The West Street Schoolhouse in Southington, Ct., was built around 1760. It was heated with a potbellied wood stove.
National Register of Historic Places

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 12:52 pm

Even if your grandpa didn't walk uphill to school both ways, or have to break the ice on the bucket before fetching a drink with the dipper, you probably have iconic images in your mind of the one-room schoolhouse. It's a storied piece of America's past dating back to the Colonial era.

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NPR Ed
6:23 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Asking Kids With Special Needs To Clear The Same Bar

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 1:48 pm

Jackson Ellis will soon head to fourth grade. Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, he's been receiving publicly funded services since he was 15 months old. Jackson's mother, Rebecca Ellis, a single parent, has made education advocacy her career. She's fighting to make sure her son gets the help he needs at his Mandeville, Louisiana public school. That's always been an uphill battle. But, since the state adopted the Common Core State Standards, Ellis says, it's become even harder.

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NPR Ed
10:00 am
Fri June 27, 2014

Chasing The Elusive 'Quality' In Online Education

You can learn jazz appreciation from a computer. But you'll never learn how to be cool like Miles Davis.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 12:46 pm

Jeff Hellmer is an accomplished jazz pianist who has taught music at the University of Texas at Austin for 27 years. He thinks of himself as more than a teacher, though: "What I would like to do with my teaching is be an ambassador for jazz."

This past spring, in what's become an increasingly common move, he brought his ambassadorship to a wider audience. He turned his popular introductory course, Jazz Appreciation, into a free 10-week online course.

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Education
3:06 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

As College Tuition Soars, What Puts That Price Tag In Motion?

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 5:42 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We wanted to figure out why college costs have been rising so much, and Anya Kamenetz with the NPR Ed team joins me now to break down the numbers.

Anya, why don't we take the example of a working-class student at a four-year public university getting no help from mom and dad? What do the numbers look like?

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Education
3:59 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Mass Collection Of Student Data Raises Privacy Concerns

Originally published on Mon May 26, 2014 4:43 pm

States are centralizing record-keeping and tracking student progress, while online educational software sheds light on how students learn. But many worry about how this information could be misused.

NPR Ed
5:03 am
Mon May 19, 2014

What We Learned From The Best Commencement Speeches Ever

Conan O'Brien's 2011 commencement address at Dartmouth College was one of those speeches that was so good it drew news coverage.
Jason R. Henske AP

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 7:32 am

Something funny has happened to the familiar commencement address in the past 10 years. That something is YouTube. Steve Jobs' 2005 address at Stanford, to take just one example, has been viewed upwards of 20 million times.

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NPR Ed
5:03 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Why Education Is The Most Important Revolution Of Our Time

Everything I needed to know about learning, I learned in preschool?
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 11:37 am

Learning is something people, like other animals, do whenever our eyes are open. Education, though, is uniquely human, and right now it's at an unusual point of flux.

By some accounts, education is a $7 trillion global industry ripe for disruption. Others see it as almost a sacred pursuit — a means of nurturing developing minds while preserving tradition. Around the world, education means equal rights and opportunity. People risk their lives for it every day.

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The Two-Way
3:06 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

State Spots In Preschool Declining, Report Finds

Student-teacher ratio is one component of high-quality preschool.
Barnaby Wasson Flickr

Public preschool enrollment fell slightly last year, according to a report released today by researchers at Rutgers University.

About 9,000 fewer children attended public pre-K programs in 2013 than in 2012, the report from the university's National Institute for Early Education Research says. It's the first time since researchers began examining this issue in 2002 that the numbers have fallen.

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The Two-Way
5:03 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Poll: Prestigious Colleges Won't Make You Happier In Life Or Work

Harvard's Hasty Pudding Theatricals. According to a recent Gallup poll, only 2 percent of college graduates with $20,000 to $40,000 in undergraduate loans said they were "thriving."
TPapi Flickr

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 8:38 am

There's plenty of anxiety in the U.S. over getting into a top college. But a new Gallup poll suggests that, later in life, it doesn't matter nearly as much as we think. In fact, when you ask college graduates whether they're "engaged" with their work or "thriving" in all aspects of their lives, their responses don't vary one bit whether they went to a prestigious college or not.

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Education
10:01 am
Wed April 30, 2014

What Are Education Tests For, Anyway?

The all-too-familiar No. 2 pencil.
Josh Davis Flickr

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 3:30 pm

Pay attention to this piece. There's going to be a test at the end.

Did that trigger scary memories of the 10th grade? Or are you just curious how you'll measure up?

If the answer is "C: Either of the above," keep reading.

Tests have existed throughout the history of education. Today they're being used more than ever before — but not necessarily as designed.

Different types of tests are best for different purposes. Some help students learn better. Some are there to sort individuals. Others help us understand how a whole population is doing.

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All Tech Considered
10:58 am
Mon April 28, 2014

What Parents Need To Know About Big Data And Student Privacy

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 10:53 am

My first brush with professional journalism — and with violations of student privacy — came when I was a sophomore at Yale. It was 1999, and George W. Bush, a Yale alumnus, was running for president.

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