Youth & Education

Stories about education focused on the Pacific Northwest and the nation. 

Parker Miles Blohm / knkx

Sheila Edwards Lange, the current president of Seattle Central College, stares out her fourth-floor office window at a changing city. From this building on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, she can see the Space Needle, Key Arena, Puget Sound and some mountains off in the distance.

But she can also see cranes – symbols of a booming city and all the change that brings with it.

Trigger warnings, the heads-up that college professors give to students to let them know disturbing content is coming, have gotten a lot of attention as the school year has unfolded. When a University of Chicago dean wrote a letter to incoming freshmen this fall rejecting the idea of those warnings, it sparked a nationwide debate on the use of advisories in the classroom.

45 CFR Chapter XIII RIN 0970-AC63.

That's the official name of the newly-revised government standards for running a Head Start program.

If the name doesn't grab you, this should: The Department of Health and Human Services says it's the first "comprehensive" revision of Head Start rules since they first published them in 1975. And the changes are, in a word, big.

Oh, middle school. The land of pantsing. Mean girls who won't let you sit with them in the cafeteria. And, these days, cryptic taunts posted on social media, where parents and teachers can't always see them.

According to a new report from a state task force, the ratio of students to school nurses has more than doubled in the past five years in Oregon.

You're at a cafeteria, you've got your lunch ... and then you just don't know where to sit. You don't want to sit alone, but you also don't know who would be friendly and let you sit with them. Sixteen-year-old Natalie Hampton has been there. She's an 11th grader from Sherman Oaks, Calif., and the creator of a new app called Sit With Us.

Hampton spoke about the app with All Things Considered Host Audie Cornish. A transcript of their conversation follows, edited for clarity.

The good news: There's an uptick in the hiring of new teachers since the pink-slip frenzy in the wake of the Great Recession.

The bad news: The new hiring hasn't made up for the teacher shortfall. Attrition is high, and enrollment in teacher preparation programs has fallen some 35 percent over the past five years — a decrease of nearly 240,000 teachers in all.

Parts of most every state in America face troubling teacher shortages: the most frequent shortage areas are math, science, bilingual education and special education.

College presidents from High Point, N. C., to Laie, Hawaii, are sitting up a little straighter, because the 2017 U.S. News & World Report rankings are out today. Published every year since 1983, they've become perhaps the most famous and influential college rankings. But they're no longer the only game in town.

They read a book quietly under their desks, pester the teacher for extra credit, or, perhaps, they simply check out and act up.

Every classroom has a few overachievers who perform above their grade level and don't feel challenged by the status quo. A new report suggests they are surprisingly common — in some cases, nearly half of all students in a given grade.

It's a pivotal moment in any young person's life — that point at which you turn from the home you've known all your life, breathe in deeply and leap into the vast unknown of the world beyond.

It's a moment that young adult authors know well, and not just because they write for these young readers. They've experienced it themselves, and they've come out the other side, pen in hand.

University of Puget Sound

Freshman move-in day at Tacoma’s University of Puget Sound looks like you might expect.

Parents study maps under old, shady trees on this 128-year-old campus. Students wear their new keys on lanyards around their necks as they carry bags, pillows and blankets across bright green lawns toward their new dorms. There are hugs, greetings, introductions and a little crying, stifled and otherwise.

The ongoing fight over school funding in Washington state is heading back to court. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday before the Washington Supreme Court.

This story is part of a series from NPR Ed exploring the challenges U.S. schools face meeting students' mental health needs.

Every year, thousands of children are suspended from preschool.

Take a second to let that sink in.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 6,743 children who were enrolled in district-provided pre-K in 2013-14 received one or more out-of-school suspensions.

Part of our NPR Ed series on mental health in schools.

Every Monday morning at Harvie Elementary School, in Henrico County, Va., Brett Welch stands outside her office door as kids file in.

"The first thing I'm looking for are the faces," says Welch, a school counselor. She's searching for hints of fear, pain or anger.

"Maybe there was a domestic incident at the house that weekend," says Welch. "That's reality for a lot of our kids."

For nearly a half-century, the professional educators organization Phi Delta Kappa has released a poll this time of year to capture the public's attitudes toward public education.

This year, by far the most lopsided finding in the survey was about a controversial reform policy: school closures. By 84 percent to 14 percent, Americans said that even when a public school has been failing for several years, the best response is to keep the school open and try to improve it rather than shut it down.

Today, the U.S. Department of Education unveiled new rules, explaining to states and districts how they can prove they're spreading resources fairly between poor and less-poor schools.

Today's release is a re-write of rules that were first unveiled last spring and that caused quite a stir, creating a political unicorn: a fight in which Republicans and teachers unions found themselves on the same side.

Part One in an NPR Ed series on mental health in schools.

You might call it a silent epidemic.

Up to one in five kids living in the U.S. shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year.

So in a school classroom of 25 students, five of them may be struggling with the same issues many adults deal with: depression, anxiety, substance abuse.

Like many schools, Gibson Elementary in St. Louis had big problems with attendance — many students were missing nearly a month of school a year.

So Melody Gunn, who was the principal at Gibson last year, set out to visit homes and figure out why kids weren't showing up. Her biggest discovery? They didn't have clean uniforms to wear to school.

Many families, she found, didn't have washing machines in the home, and kids were embarrassed to show up to school in dirty clothes. The result was that often, they didn't come.

Recent studies and government reports continue to highlight what many American's know by their wallets: Rising income differences, debt and stagnant real wages are among the biggest problems besetting the nation.

That economic inequality is reflected in America's schools, right? Absolutely.

Hope for Gorilla/Flickr

Back to school is a time of transitions for families. But for students in Seattle Public Schools, this fall marks a major change for those trying to get their kids out the door each morning. This school year, the start times will finally align with kids’ circadian rhythms. 

The grass is greener ... if you're a student in Detroit, looking across your school district's boundary with the neighboring Grosse Pointe public schools.

Nearly half of Detroit's students live in poverty; that means a family of four lives on roughly $24,000 a year — or less.

In Grosse Pointe, a narrow stretch of real estate nestled between Detroit and Lake St. Clair, just 7 percent of students live at or below the poverty line.

To recap, that's 49 percent vs. 7 percent. Neighbors.

As a new school year gets underway, the Common Core remains a partisan flashpoint, while Americans overall have serious concerns about the direction of our public education system. That's according to two new polls.

In a major victory for teachers unions in California, the state Supreme Court has upheld teacher tenure laws. By a 4-3 vote, a divided court decided not to hear Vergara vs. California, a case challenging state tenure laws.

In 1998 Oklahoma became one of only two states to offer universal preschool, and it's been one of the most closely watched experiments in the country.

Today, the vast majority of these programs are in public schools. The rest are run by child-care centers or Head Start, the federally funded early-childhood education program.

First in a three-part series.

When things heat up, they expand. And when that thing is the axle shaft to your drive train, you're going to have to make adjustments, or else.

Michael Guarraia kneels down next to a metal part that just popped off the rear axle. "OK guys, listen up," he tells his team. "The drive train broke again and we need to find a sustainable solution. This can't happen during the race."

The team members nod and furrow their brows. Some scratch their heads.

Native American students make up only 1.1 percent of the nation's high school population. And in college, the number is even smaller. More than any other ethnic or racial group, they're the least likely to have access to college prep or advanced placement courses. Many get little or no college counseling at all. In 1998, College Horizons, a small nonprofit based in New Mexico, set out to change that through five-day summer workshops on admissions, financial aid and the unique challenges they'll face on campus.

Want To Address Teachers' Biases? First, Talk About Race

Aug 12, 2016

As Ayana Coles gazes at the 20 teachers gathered in her classroom, she knows the conversation could get uncomfortable. And she's prepared.

"We are going to experience discomfort — well, we may or may not experience it — but if we have it that's OK," says Coles, a third-grade teacher at Eagle Creek Elementary School in Indianapolis.

Coles is black, one of just four teachers of color among Eagle Creek Elementary's 37 staff. Throughout last year she gathered co-workers in her classroom for after-school discussions about race.

A group of recent studies on technology in education, across a wide range of real-world settings, have come up far short of a ringing endorsement.

The studies include research on K-12 schools and higher ed, both blended learning and online, and show results ranging from mixed to negative. A deeper look into these reports gives a sense that, even as computers become ubiquitous in classrooms, there's a lot we still don't know — or at least that we're not doing to make them effective tools for learning.

First, a quick overview of the studies and their results:

How should schools best prepare kids to live and work in the second half of the 21st century?

In previous eras, the job of school was simple: Teach them math and reading skills. Have them learn some basic facts about the world.

Today the challenge is a lot different. Most people all over the world, even in the poorest countries, have much easier access to a calculator, a dictionary and great swaths of knowledge in their pockets.

Welcome to our sand box.

For months now, the NPR Ed Team has been playing with what we like to call "long listen" ideas — worthy stories that we can't tell in three or four minutes.

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