Education

These four teenagers spent their summer with WLRN News. They each reported personal stories focused on a place: a park, a torn-down apartment building, school, etc.
Wilson Sayre

"To get out and explore more things," is how Rochnel Jean-Baptiste described her desire to eventually leave Miami after she finishes school. Jean-Baptiste was one of four teenagers who participated in WLRN's 2016 Youth Radio program.

It's the most teenage of desires -- to explore more things -- isn't it?

Cathleen Carter / WUSF

Looking back, Ronnie Wyche said it’s easy to spot the red flags: Recruiters dodged his questions, rushed him through enrollment paperwork and brushed aside concerns about being about to keep up in an engineering program after more than 30 years without taking a math class.

 

This story is part of our NPR Ed series on mental health in schools.

In the waning days of summer vacation, Sydney and Laney are enjoying their final moments of freedom flipping over a high bar at a playground close by their house in Spartanburg, S.C.

"You've got to pull your hips into the bar," says their mom, Selena, motioning to the girls, "you've got to kick up like that!"

"I tried to kick!" Laney says indignantly. "I did this – you told me not to stick out!"

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.

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.

In northwest Pennsylvania, along the edge of Lake Erie, you'll find the city of Erie.

There, the superintendent of the more than 12,000-student district has forwarded a plan that's causing a stir — calling for leaders to consider shutting down all of the district's high schools and sending students to the wealthier, whiter, suburban districts.

Why?

Superintendent Jay Badams says it's a "matter of fairness."

A sign on the front door said only that the school would be closed for a day after Labor Day weekend. Through closed blinds, visitors could glimpse desks still laden with paperwork in offices where the lights had been left on.

All morning, a steady stream of students pulled up out front of the Hialeah campus to see if the news was true: ITT Tech, one of the largest chains of for-profit colleges in the country, with more than 40,000 students spread across 130 campuses nationwide, was closed for good.

The fall semester has just begun on most college campuses, but tens of thousands of students in 38 states were told today that, instead, their college is closing its doors.

The Wizard / Flickr Creative Commons

As the first few weeks of school get underway, student supply lists in South Florida are sparking conversations, and in some cases, criticisms.

There are the usual requests: pencils, composition notebooks and bookbags. But as school budgets continue to shrink, teachers are also asking parents to supplement basic classroom items like copy paper, permanent markers and disinfectant wipes.

Natavia Davis saw some of these complaints play out on her Facebook feed with parents who have children in South Florida public schools.

Can a student pass the third grade without taking a state mandated standardized test? A Florida judge says yes.

A state judge is weighing a decision that could shake Florida's education-accountability system following a marathon hearing Monday in Tallahassee.

  Anya Contreras’ ninth grade algebra class started first thing in the morning, right around 7:30. “I’m not a math person, and I’m not a morning person either,” Contreras says, so she had a little routine to get through class. When she heard the teacher’s voice getting muffled, “I knew he was facing toward the board,” Contreras says. So she would close her eyes, let her head rest against the wall…and get a few seconds of precious sleep.

A Tallahassee judge is going to hold another hearing on the lawsuit challenging the state law that prevents some school children from being promoted to the fourth grade.

Verónica Zaragovia

A charter school in Immokalee, roughly 35 miles east of Fort Myers, wants to help migrant farm worker families overcome language barriers by using 21st century technology.

How?

The Immokalee Community School, run by the Redlands Christian Migrant Association, is bringing children and their migrant parents into the classroom.

For a moment, let's pretend.

That everything you know about America's public education system — the bitter politics and arcane funding policies, the rules and countless reasons our schools work (or don't) the way they do — is suddenly negotiable.

Pretend the obstacles to change have melted like butter on hot blacktop.

Now ask yourself: What could — and should — we do differently?

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