Youth & Education

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

Hear that change jingling in my pocket? Good. I have two little questions for you.

  1. I have a quarter, a dime and a nickel. How much money DO I have?

  2. I have three coins. How much money COULD I have?

The first question is a basic arithmetic problem with one and only one right answer. You might find it on a multiple-choice test.

Whether or not you're a citizen in New York state, you have a right to attend a public high school and earn a diploma until you're 21. That was Pawsansoe Bree's plan after she left a refugee camp in Thailand when she was almost 19.

"Stronger Together" is not the name of the latest social-media fitness app. It's a grant proposed in President Obama's new budget, reviving an idea that hasn't gotten much policy attention in decades: diversity in public schools. If the request is approved, $120 million will go to school districts for programs intended to make their schools more diverse.

When Taevin Lewis first arrived at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis — a long plane ride from her native Tennessee — she was a little lost.

"I didn't know where to go," remembers the sophomore biology major. "I didn't know where a lot of the offices were."

And it wasn't just the campus map. She didn't know some of the basics of college life: How to sign up for classes, how to sign up for a campus job, how to maintain a checkbook.

One cold Monday this month, all the students of Park Ridge High School stayed home: wearing their PJs, munching on pretzels and Oreos, hanging out on the couch.

It wasn't a snow day or measles epidemic. It was the school's first Virtual Day, where in-person classes were replaced with written lessons and real-time video chats delivered online.

The idea arose because the school, just north of New York City in Park Ridge, N.J., issued every student a Mac laptop last year, says Tina Bacolas, the school's head of instructional technology.

Tens of thousands of Tennessee students steadied their clammy, test-day hands over a keyboard several days ago. And, for many, nothing happened.

It was the state's first time giving standardized exams on computers, but the rollout couldn't have gone much worse.

In lots of places, the testing platform slowed to a crawl or appeared to shut down entirely. Within hours, Tennessee scrapped online testing for the year.

The move comes after schools spent millions of dollars to buy additional PCs and to improve their wi-fi networks.

Many middle and high school science teachers are getting climate change wrong.

That's according to the results of a new, national teacher survey backed by the National Center for Science Education and published in the journal Science.

Before we get to those results, a quick, climate science refresher is in order.

NPR science correspondent Christopher Joyce says the world's major scientific organizations are now clear on global warming:

When Susan Cain wrote Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking in 2012, it was a big success. The book made the cover of Time magazine, spent weeks on the New York Times best-sellers list and was the subject of one of the most-watched TED Talks, with more than 13 million views.

Todd Rose dropped out of high school with D- grades. At 21, he was trying to support a wife and two sons on welfare and minimum wage jobs.

Today he teaches educational neuroscience at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He's also the co-founder of The Center for Individual Opportunity, a new organization devoted to "the science of the individual and its implications for education, the workforce, and society."

In other words, Todd Rose is not your average guy. But neither are you.

President Obama wants kids to learn to code. So much so, he's pledged billions of dollars to teach them.

"Now we have to make sure all our kids are equipped for the jobs of the future – which means not just being able to work with computers, but developing the analytical and coding skills to power our innovation economy," he said in his radio address on Jan. 30.

Talking to some Hong Kong residents, you might think their territory was under siege. Their press is censoring itself. Its judiciary is required to be "patriotic." Even their mother tongue, Cantonese, is under assault, some believe, from Mandarin speakers to the north.

Now add academic freedom to that list, as pro-democracy and pro-Beijing camps have rushed to take sides in an ongoing battle over leadership of the territory's oldest institution of higher learning, the University of Hong Kong.

Before he arrived in Omaha as a doctoral student in computer science, Jason Jie Xiong says, "I didn't even know there was a state called Nebraska."

Jie Xiong, 29, who hails from a small city outside Shanghai, had landed a full scholarship at the University of Nebraska to teach and do research. He says he only knew "more famous states like California and New York."

He admits he found the program initially "by randomly checking information," but he's quick to add that he's happy there.

Erika Christakis' new book, The Importance of Being Little, is an impassioned plea for educators and parents to put down the worksheets and flash cards, ditch the tired craft projects (yes, you, Thanksgiving Handprint Turkey) and exotic vocabulary lessons, and double-down on one, simple word:

Play.

Americans have about $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. And there's yet another survey out that shows students in this country are confused about their loans, in the dark when it comes to knowing what they've borrowed, uncertain about how to pay them back.

"Squat! Squat! Squat! Higher! Faster!"

In the basement of the Duane Physics and Astrophysics building at the University of Colorado Boulder, a science demonstration is going on, but it looks more like a vaudeville act.

One by one, students balance precariously on a rotating platform. Then they are handed what looks like a spinning bicycle wheel, holding it by two handles that stick out from either side of what would be the hub of the wheel. When you flip the wheel over, like a pizza, your body starts rotating in the opposite direction.

Acting U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. wants states and districts to focus on streamlined, higher-quality tests in a broader effort to win back some classroom time.

And here's the kicker: The feds will actually pay for (some of) the transition.

 

There are more than 35,000 public school students who are homeless in Washington state. That’s according to the state Office of Public Instruction.

More than 35,000 public school students in Washington were homeless last school year, according to new figures released Tuesday.

About 3.3 percent of Washington students are homeless.

More than two-thirds of those kids are in families that are doubled up with other families. The number of kids living in hotels and in shelters continues to rise, as well.

The state counted more than 1,600 kids living completely without shelter, up from 1,036 in 2011.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

 

From the Methow Valley to Seattle and everywhere in between, school districts will be going directly to voters on February 9 to ask them to say “yes” to higher taxes so that schools can keep paying for teachers' salaries, supplies and so that new buildings can be constructed to ease overcrowding.

 

Recent government sanctions against predatory for-profit colleges that preyed on veterans by using inflated job promises have opened the window on the wider challenges of helping veterans transition from service to higher education.

What's 12 divided by 302, 532?

It comes out to 0.00003967 or 0.003967 percent. That's the percentage of students in the entire world who took the test and earned a perfect score on the infamously difficult college-level Advanced Placement calculus exam last year.

Cedrick Argueta, the son of a Salvadoran maintenance worker and a Filipina nurse, was in that tiny fraction of perfection, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Participation in the academic program many credit with spurring a turnaround at Seattle's long-troubled Rainier Beach High School continues to increase.

This spring, more students will be taking the year-end exams attached to the rigorous college prep curriculum — the International Baccalaurate, or "I.B." — that Rainier Beach first began offering in 2013. More students are also pursuing the I.B. Diploma, a credential many colleges recognize.

For Some Schools, Learning Doesn't Stop On Snow Days

Jan 26, 2016

For kids up and down the East Coast, the snow that piled up over the weekend translates into a day or two without school. But in other parts of the country, snow days are taking on a new meaning.

Students in Delphi, Ind., are expected to log onto their classes from home when schools are closed for snow.

The seniors in Brian Tonsoni's economics class at Delphi Community High School are no strangers to technology — everybody has an Internet-connected laptop or smartphone in front of them in class as they work on business plans.

The Washington House has pledged to take action next year to end the reliance on local levies to fund schools. The vote Monday also directs the 2017 legislature to fully fund competitive salaries and benefits for teachers and staff.

Picture your favorite college professor. Here are some adjectives that might come to mind: Wise. Funny. Caring. Prompt. Passionate. Organized. Tough but fair.

Now, are you thinking of a man or a woman?

A new study argues that student evaluations are systematically biased against women — so much so, in fact, that they're better mirrors of gender bias than of what they are supposed to be measuring: teaching quality.

The Los Angeles Unified School District welcomed a new superintendent who represents a first for the nation's second-largest school district on Jan.11.

Michelle King is the first African-American woman chosen for the job, heading more than 900 schools in the district. She is also an insider — she has worked in the system for three decades — unlike the string of outsiders who held the job before her.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Nate Bowling is running out of space on his awards shelf.

In 2014, the social studies teacher at Lincoln High School in Tacoma won a Milken Award — the "Oscar of Teaching," as one publication put it. Last fall, Bowling became Washington state's Teacher of the Year. Just last week, Bowling was named a finalist for National Teacher of the Year.

President Obama has increased college aid by over $50 billion since coming into office. And he's trying to do more.

Acting Education Secretary John King announced two new proposals today that would expand the Pell Grant program, the biggest pot of federal money for students with financial need:

  • Year-round Pell. Currently, students are only eligible for two semesters of Pell grants in a school year. Today's proposal would allow students to get extra money to cover a third session of, say, summer courses.

Things to know about Stephen Ritz, one of NPR's 50 Great Teachers:

He and his students made bow ties out of Scrabble tiles.

His Bronx classroom, a refurbished school library, has more plants than desks.

He calls the room his National Health, Wellness and Learning Center. It's got tower gardens, gleaming cabinets and counters, an industrial sink and a new, mobile cooking station.

"In this class, we go from seed to tower to table to plate in 20 feet," Ritz says.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A panel of state lawmakers weighed their options for keeping charter schools open long term in Washington during a meeting in Olympia on Tuesday.

Senate Education Committee members are considering two different bills with two different approaches to restoring and retooling the charter school law the state Supreme Court invalidated last year.

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