WCBE

Education

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

When it comes to brain development, time in the classroom may be less important than time on the playground.

When Kids Start Playing To Win

Aug 5, 2014

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

It's a playful word that's developed something of a bad reputation: "competition." The fear among some parents is that, once children start playing to win, at around 5 years old, losing isn't just hard. It's devastating.

The price of a college education is soaring in America; so is the amount of student loan debt. President Obama has proposed regulations that would cap student loan payments at 10 percent of a graduate's income, and according to the latest Labor Department data, about a third of recent college graduates are either underemployed or jobless.

Technology – and particularly smartphones – could reshape safety efforts on college campuses. At least that's the hope of some developers.

Several new apps offer quick ways for college students facing unsafe or uncomfortable situations to reach out to their peers, connect with resources on campus and in their communities, or notify law enforcement.

These apps for the most part target sexual assault and rape, amid growing national concern about the prevalence of incidents and criticism of the ways colleges and universities are handling them.

Adrienne Keene is a post-doctoral researcher at Brown University, the author of the popular blog "Native Appropriations" and a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Learning To Read May Take Longer Than We Thought

Jul 26, 2014

Most of what we know — or think we know — about how kids learn comes from classroom practice and behavioral psychology. Now, neuroscientists are adding to and qualifying that store of knowledge by studying the brain itself. The latest example: new research in the journal Developmental Science suggests a famous phenomenon known as the "fourth-grade shift" isn't so clear-cut.

It's hot out. The usual midday thunderstorm has just passed, and the few kids hanging out on bleachers around the pool at Miami's Ransom Everglades School finally get the go-ahead to jump in and cool off.

Eight-year-old Gary Kendrick and the others are all here for swim lessons.

"They told us to hold on to the wall and kick our feet and, like, move our arms," Kendrick says. "When I had to swim to one of the counselors, I was really swimming. I ain't even know I was moving."

At age 7, Gideon Gidori knew exactly what he wanted to be: a rocket ship pilot.

The only thing was, he was living in a tiny Tanzanian village where his school only went through grade six and books about space (or, for that matter, any books) were scarce.

But that didn't stop him. Now 15, Gidori is determined to become Tanzania's very first astronaut.

Twenty-year-old Taneka Armstrong wants to land a high-tech job, but her day starts at Taco Bell.

Armstrong stands behind a steel counter, making Burrito Supremes and ringing up customers. She counts pennies and quarters. She also gets orders from her bosses, who she says can be pretty condescending.

"They're just like, 'Oh, did you know that already?' Or, 'Can you do this?' " she says. "Yes, I've been doing it, for almost a year now."

Sen. Marco Rubio, a potential 2016 GOP presidential contender, is concerned about issues of access to affordable education, availability of job training and prospects for economic mobility. While shunning the "income inequality" language of the left, he insists that those problems need to be viewed through the lens of limited government.

Teaching 4-Year-Olds To Feel Better

Jul 14, 2014

You're 4 years old, building a block tower. Another kid runs up and knocks it down. What do you do? A) Tell her that's against the rules. B) Go tell a teacher. C) Hit her. D) Start to cry. E) What did you say again?

Free College For All: Dream, Promise Or Fantasy?

Jun 19, 2014

"Free" is a word with a powerful appeal. And right now it's being tossed around a lot, followed by another word: "college."

A new nonprofit, Redeeming America's Promise, announced this week that it will seek federal support to make public colleges tuition-free. That effort is inspired by "Hope" and "Promise" programs like the one in Kalamazoo, Mich., which pays up to 100 percent of college tuition at state colleges and universities for graduates of the city's public high schools.

The practice of secluding or restraining children when they get agitated has long been a controversial practice in public schools. Now, new data show that it's more common than previously understood, happening at least 267,000 times in a recent school year.

NPR worked with reporters from the investigative journalism group ProPublica, who compiled data from the U.S. Department of Education to come up with one of the clearest looks at the practice of seclusion and restraint.

There's a steady stream of hype surrounding the pluses and pitfalls of classroom tablet computers. But for a growing number of special education students tablets and their apps are proving transformative. The tablets aren't merely novel and fun. With guidance from creative teachers, they are helping to deepen engagement, communication, and creativity.

The average cost of one college year across all degree-granting intuitions in the U.S. was more than $19,000 in 2012, and we don't need to tell you what direction the price is heading. Which means lots of students are now borrowing heavily to make college work. President Obama threw some of them a lifeline earlier this week, with revisions to the government's Pay As You Earn program.

Why NYC Is Afraid Of Free Lunch For All

Jun 9, 2014

More than 30 million kids a year participate in the National School Lunch Program, getting free or reduced-price meals at school. Hunger experts believe many more qualify but don't use it because a.) their families haven't filled out the necessary paperwork or b.) they don't want to be seen as poor.

Join the Band.

Next week we're going to spend a little time with a public school band that rocks, swings, and breaks new musical ground.

A Diverse #SummerReading List For Kids

Jun 9, 2014

In children's books, it can be easier to find talking pandas than characters of color.

Tough Week For The Common Core

Jun 9, 2014

A few months ago, when I told friends and media colleagues that I was interested in the Common Core State Standards, the most common response was "What's that?"

Now, it seems, everyone has an opinion about the Core.

And right now, opinions about the K-12 learning goals for math and English that have spread nearly nationwide are trending toward the heated.

While the school year is winding down, education policy sure isn't. This past week brought a bunch of front-page news on the Common Core.

The Birds And The Bees ... And iPads

Jun 5, 2014

"The talk." The facts of life. The birds and the bees. Whatever you call it, do you remember when and how you first learned about human sexuality? For me, it was a series of conversations in school and with my parents that began in third grade with the classic picture book Where Did I Come From?.

A Master's In Media...From Conde Nast?

Jun 5, 2014

Conde Nast, the magazine publishing company known for The New Yorker, Wired and Vogue, is getting into the US higher education market.

As our public media colleagues at Marketplace reported, the company is partnering with a venture capital firm and some as-yet-unnamed universities to launch a set of co-branded certificate courses, and eventually a master's degree.

Why is a media company getting into the higher education business? And why now?

Wearing a red Union Bank polo shirt, high school senior Jerry Liu politely helps a peer with a bank deposit. With a waiting area and even a decorative plant on the table, this could be any bank branch — but right outside this island of adulthood are the hallways of Lincoln High School in Los Angeles.

This is one of three student-run Union Bank branches in California. They're all located in low-income, immigrant-heavy neighborhoods. You can only bank here if you're a student, teacher or parent, but these are real accounts handling real money.

The Common Core Curriculum Void

Jun 3, 2014

Right now, America's schools are in a sprint. Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards. That means new learning benchmarks for the vast majority of the nation's young students — millions of kids from kindergarten through high school. And, for many of them, the Core Standards will feel tougher than what they're used to. Because they are tougher.

The federal law that governs special education lays out the goals pretty clearly: Students are entitled to an appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.

But some parents of children with autism feel their local public schools aren't meeting their kids' needs. And with autism diagnoses rising, new schools are emerging specifically for autistic children.

Some parents see these specialized schools as a godsend. For others, they raise a new set of questions.

ACLU Sues California For 'Equal Learning Time'

May 29, 2014

The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that high poverty schools in California are denying students the learning time they need to succeed. The problem is so great and so pervasive, the lawsuit claims, that it violates the state constitution.

Is This Any Way To Pick A College?

May 28, 2014

There are more than 7,000 colleges in the U.S., and 21.8 million students enrolled in them. That's potentially 21.8 million opinions about what makes a school "the best."

The penalty for a bad choice can be huge. The cost of a degree continues to soar, graduation rates vary widely from college to college, and a growing body of evidence suggests that picking a supposedly "top" school doesn't necessarily pay off later in life.

A noble institution? A good show? A tedious quarter-hour of lame jokes told under the hot sun? The American commencement address can be all of these things.

We skipped and slogged through 50 of the most popular commencement speeches on YouTube - looking for inspiration, wisdom, amusement, corny jokes and clichés - to bring you this mashup of highlights and lowlights.

The Common Core FAQ

May 28, 2014

The Common Core State Standards have vaulted into the national consciousness lately thanks to some high-profile dissenters, like Louis C.K. ("Kids teachers parents are vocally suffering.") and Stephen Colbert ("Common Core testing is preparing students for what they'll face as adults — pointless stress and confusion.")

It's a frequent complaint in education journalism: Reporters should spend less time at school board meetings and get into a classroom to find out what's really going on.

For reporters, though, that's a challenge and a risk, because lots of good journalists don't know what to look for in a busy classroom. How do you know if what you're seeing is "good" or not? After all, reporters aren't professional educators. And they're often under deadline.

Pages