Education

Photo by Rev. Bombasticos via Flickr Creative Commons

In 1999, the Columbine massacre dramatically shifted how American schools approach student discipline. Zero-tolerance policies became the norm. Rates of suspensions have doubled, with minority-students seeing the most dramatic rise.

Studies show that only 5% of those suspended are for weapons or drugs. It’s behavior that gets the vast majority of these kids sent home. But a high school in Walla Walla, WA realized that home is not giving these kids what they need.

photo by Tulane Public Relations via Flickr

By some estimates, U.S. college debt has hit a staggering one trillion dollars.  And New Hampshire students are first in the nation when it comes to the average debt burden. Some blame colleges and universities for hiking tuition. Others blame states for steep funding cuts.  Meanwhile, many say our entire higher education system needs a serious financial overhaul.

 

Guests:

(photo: Sheryl Rich-Kern)

Rivier College in Nashua may be getting a makeover.

Pigeonpie via Flickr Creative Commons

Student loan debt as a campaign issue: this week, President Obama visited college students in Colorado, North Carolina and Iowa and made urgent appeals to keep interest rates low for current and future college students.  The house will vote Friday (4/27/12) on legislation that could keep the interest rate on government-subsidized undergraduate student loans from doubling in July.

Last year when Andrew Ng, a computer science professor at Stanford University, put his machine-learning class online and opened enrollment to the world, more than 100,000 students signed up.

"I think all of us were surprised," he says.

Ng had posted lectures online before, but this class was different.

"This was actually a class where you can participate as a student and get homework and assessments," he said.

Politicians and pundits frequently proclaim that they know what drives innovation and economic development. Despite their assurances, the chicken-and-egg question of whether quality education creates thriving economies or flourishing economies create good schools has been cycling around for years. For clues, Jordan Weissman, Associate Editor at the Atlantic, looked not to India’s booming IT industry or China’s cadre of engineers, but to Germany, circa 1386, when a papal schism opened up new opportunities for innovation.

Since mid-February, the University of Pittsburgh has received more than 50 bomb threats, and while they've all been false alarms, they have succeeded in disrupting campus life. Tighter security measures are now in place, but the threats continue, and students are wondering how they'll be able to make up class work and prepare for final exams.

As Portugal tries to dig out of its financial mess, it's confronted with a sobering fact: Fewer than 30 percent of adult Portuguese have graduated from high school. Not college. High school.

And in a country that's been hit so hard by the economic crisis, even those with an education are struggling.

Ana Dias and Ruth Cardozo, both 27, are lifelong friends who now work together at a shoe store in Lisbon, the Portuguese capital. Cardozo dropped out of high school 10 years ago to take this job.

The American Presidency remains the most powerful office in the world…and one that any American-born child can aspire to. One of our listeners recently shared an interesting item on our Facebook page…an essay her daughter wrote for her third grade class at the Rumford School in Concord, New Hampshire. The subject: “If I were president, I would...”

We're pretty sure that Emma's answer betrays a realpolitik far beyond her nine years of age.

 

Hundreds of thousands of veterans have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, eager to get an education under the new post-Sept. 11 GI Bill.

Many vets looking for a school find they are inundated by sales pitches from institutions hungry for their government benefits. Now, lawmakers are looking for ways to protect vets without narrowing their education choices.

The Obama administration is calling for major changes in Head Start, the 46-year-old early childhood education program that helped launch President Johnson's War on Poverty.

President Obama says too many children today aren't learning, and too many education programs are mismanaged.

"We're not just going to put money into programs that don't work," the president announced late last year. "We will take money and put it into programs that do."

(Photo by Runs with Scissors via Flickr Creative Commons)

The average college graduate today will walk away tens of thousands in debt, fewer job opportunities and lower relative wages than previous generations.  While some students increase their post-college chances by majoring in trending fields like science and engineering – others follow less practical paths in the study of  philosophy, religion…and cartooning.  Yup, cartooning.  

Fast Company’s annual list of the world’s 50 Most Innovative Companies included many of the usual suspects: Apple, Facebook and Google all made the list.

The Upper Valley Business & Education Partnership makes connections between schools and their wider communities. Tyler Mansfield and Jim Madden met through the Partnership’s “Everybody Wins!” reading mentoring program.

JIM: I’ve always loved to read so it was really just sort of a natural fit to share my love of reading with the students. I guess we both discovered we kind of liked mysteries.

Most people agree that good teachers help students succeed.
But how do good teachers learn to be effective?

One D.C.-based, private nonprofit is asking just that. They want colleges to participate in a study that ranks teacher preparation programs.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/redjar/113560003/in/photostream/" target="blank">redjar</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

Officials at Dartmouth College say they’re taking new steps to deal with hazing on campus, especially in fraternities. That issue turned into a campus-wide controversy earlier this year, after Dartmouth senior Andrew Lohse published a piece in the student newspaper describing what he called “dehumanizing” hazing rituals in his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

 

The New Hampshire Senate passed a bill sponsored by school choice advocates that would create a tax credit for businesses that donate to scholarship organizations.

Many public school educators oppose the measure saying that it would sap schools of already scarce resources, but opponents in the senate tried to block the bill by calling into question its constitutionality.

Photo by Sam Warren via Wordpress

In rural towns, getting to school isn't always as easy as the walks I used to take in suburban Long Island. Small towns rely heavily on parents to give kids rides, and on kids taking lengthy bus rides...not exactly the healthiest option at a time when childhood obesity rates are climbing exponentially.

Spanking in school may seem like a relic of the past, but every day hundreds of students — from preschoolers to high school seniors — are still being paddled by teachers and principals.

In parts of America, getting spanked at school with a wooden or fiberglass board is just part of being a misbehaving student.

"I been getting them since about first grade," says Lucas Mixon, now a junior at Holmes County High School in Bonifay, Fla. "It's just regular. They tell you to put your hands up on the desk and how many swats you're going to get."

Brainlesssteel via Flickr CC

 

The House Finance committee is taking a hard look at a bill that would eliminate the Chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire. University trustees say that as written, the bill will cost the universities more money.

Milton Republican Robbie Parson’s bill has the backing of House leadership, and has already been approved in a preliminary vote on the house floor.

Photo by Pierre Vignau, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Making it to the NBA or any pro sports league is an expensive, potentially dangerous undertaking with extremely tough odds.  For homeschooled kids, the likelihood of a career in sports is especially tough. For years, many states barred kids from outside the public school system from playing on their athletic teams. Now, 25 states allow homeschooled students onto varsity teams, signaling a change in attitudes -  along with more room for debate on whether and how to integrate them.

There's little dispute among educators that kids are not reading as well as they should be, but there's endless debate over what to do about it. Now, a growing number of states are taking a hard-line approach through mandatory retentions — meaning third-graders who can't read at grade level will automatically get held back.

To those pushing the idea, it's equal doses of tough and love: You are not doing kids any favors, they say, by waiving them on to fourth grade if they aren't up to snuff on their reading.

Los Angeles is easing its stance on truancy. For the past decade, a tough city ordinance slapped huge fines on students for even one instance of skipping school or being late, but the Los Angeles City Council is changing that law to focus on helping students get to class because it turns out those harsh fines were backfiring.

Two years ago, Nabil Romero, a young Angeleno with a thin black mustache, was running late to his first period at a public high school on LA's Westside.

Yawa Agbenowossi came to the United States from Togo, in West Africa, as a young child. She discovered the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester when she was in middle school. 

YAWA: Well, before I found the club, I just never took anything into consideration. I was never worried about the future. I found the club by a friend introducing it to me actually. She said that “you can come to the Boys and Girls Club” and soon enough I was coming there every day. They couldn’t keep me away from the club. That’s when I started to change.

Today, we sit down with New Hampshire’s Education Commissioner Virginia Barry.  We’ll talk with her about recent questions concerning the Federal No Child Left Behind law, and whether New Hampshire should seek a waiver.  Also, we'll examine recent bills in the Legislature aimed at increasing parental control over instruction and a possible education funding amendment.  

Guest

The U.S. Supreme Court said Tuesday that it will revisit the divisive issue of affirmative action in higher education. The court agreed to hear arguments next fall in a case that challenges the affirmative action program at the University of Texas. By re-entering the fray after more than 30 years of settled law on the issue, the newly energized conservative court majority has signaled that it may be willing to unsettle much of that law.

Community School

Feb 18, 2012
Cheryl Senter, NHPR

The “local foods” movement is a growing trend. In South Tamworth, The Community School has embraced it – serving an open lunch for the community every week at no set charge, made of locally-produced foods. They call the program “Farmers’s Table.”

In his state-of-the-state speech, Governor Lynch made it clear that he’d like to see a change to the Constitution,  setting out how New Hampshire pays for public schools. Similar efforts have failed before, sometimes over the meaning of a single word or phrase.   We’ll look at this latest attempt, the arguments around it, and whether this year is the year an amendment is approved. 

Guests

The North Country’s Senator John Gallus, a Republican from Berlin, was among the 17 senators voting Wednesday in favor of a constitutional school funding amendment.

There were seven “no” votes.

As reported by NHPR’s Josh Rogers:

(Please) Stand for the Pledge of Allegiance

Feb 14, 2012
Flickr Creative Commons/Just Some Dust

A bill requiring New Hampshire students to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance passed a house committee today.

"Standing is a sign of national patriotism," says Republican Representative Lawrence Kappler.

Current law permits students to remain seated, as long as they are silent and respectful. The constitutionality of the bill is in question, however. Representative Gary Richardson believes that requiring someone to stand is clearly an issue of free speech. 

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