Anya Kamenetz | KUER 90.1

Anya Kamenetz

Anya Kamenetz is NPR's lead education blogger. She joined NPR in 2014, working as part of a new initiative to coordinate on-air and online coverage of learning.

Kamenetz is the author of several books. Her latest is The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life (PublicAffairs, 2018).

Her previous books were Generation Debt; DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, and The Test.

Kamenetz covered technology, innovation, sustainability, and social entrepreneurship for five years as a staff writer for Fast Company magazine. She's contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Slate, and O, the Oprah Magazine, and appeared in documentaries shown on PBS and CNN.

Kamenetz was named a 2010 Game Changer in Education by the Huffington Post, received 2009, 2010, and 2015 National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for innovation in 2017 along with the rest of the NPR Ed team.

Kamenetz grew up in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, in a family of writers and mystics, and graduated from Yale University in 2002. She lives in New York City.

Dorothy, of Spring Hill, Fla., has a 15-year-old son with spina bifida and developmental delays, and her 13-year-old daughter is, she says, "mildly autistic." Neither was happy at public school.

"My son was in a lockdown classroom with gang members. It was a bad situation. I was afraid he was going to get hurt," Dorothy says. "My daughter was getting bullied because she spoke out of turn or would get upset easily. Twenty kids in a classroom was a lot for her."

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been a passionate proponent of expanding school choice, including private school vouchers and charter schools, and she has the clear backing of President Trump. But does the research justify her enthusiasm?

Experts say one single, overarching issue bedevils their efforts to study the impact of school choice programs. That is: It's hard to disentangle the performance of a school from the selection of its students.

It's graduation season. That means commencement addresses lead off our weekly education news roundup. Last week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos faced boos at Bethune-Cookman University. This week, President Trump received a warmer welcome when he addressed cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

The day Ayden came home from school with bruises, his mother started looking for a new school.

Ayden's a bright 9-year-old with a blond crew cut, glasses and an eager smile showing new teeth coming in. He also has autism, ADHD and a seizure disorder. (We're not using his last name to protect his privacy.) He loves karate, chapter books and very soft blankets: "I love the fuzziness, I just cocoon myself into my own burrito."

"He's so smart but lacks so much socially," says his mother, Lynn.

Hello and welcome to another edition of NPR Ed's weekly national education news roundup!

DeVos heckled at Bethune-Cookman University

Read this article if you're having a rough day. This is a rare story about positive social change.

Fifty thousand signatures on protest petitions. Calls on the president of the university to resign. People on Twitter saying they're mailing back their degrees.

The rest of the country may be talking about health care this week, but you must be a die-hard education fan. NPR Ed has just the weekly news roundup you need. And, actually, we do have a health care note.

Health care bill would cut assistance to special education students

It was in a school in the South Bronx a few weeks ago that I first heard about the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. The TV show, released at the end of March and based on a best-selling young adult novel, depicts a teenager who kills herself. She experiences sexual assault, cyberbullying and inadequate responses from adults, and she leaves messages for the classmates and others whom she holds responsible for her suicide.

In a move that's being called "bold" and "out of the blue," Indiana's Purdue University is acquiring the for-profit Kaplan University. In announcing the deal last week, Purdue President Mitch Daniels said it was designed to open the university up to a vast new pool of students nationwide.

This week and next is a national rite of passage for stressed-out overachievers everywhere. Nearly 3 million high school students at 22,000 high schools will be sitting down to take their Advanced Placement exams.

Created by the nonprofit College Board in the 1950s, AP is to other high school courses what Whole Foods is to other supermarkets: a mark of the aspirational, a promise of higher standards and, occasionally, a more expensive alternative.

As we head into the 100th day of the Trump presidency, NPR Ed has our regular weekly education roundup to keep you in the loop.

Attorneys General speak out on behalf of student borrowers

Twenty state attorneys general and the District of Columbia this week sent a letter criticizing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for revoking federal protections for student borrowers.

With student debt at a staggering $1.3 trillion, many families are facing a huge financial dilemma: Their final springtime decisions about college enrollment and acceptance. The NPR Ed team teamed up with Weekend Edition to answer some listener questions about debt and degrees.

Waiting on the numbers

Marcy, from Union City, N.J. has twin girls going off to college in September.

Greetings and welcome to NPR Ed's weekly roundup of education news from Washington and around the country.

Supreme Court hears a voucher-related case

The crisis in Syria has displaced about 1.4 million children and teenagers from their homes. An estimated 900,000 of them are not in school.

Historically, in conflict zones, education has taken a backseat to immediate needs like food, shelter and medical care. But more recently, there has been a movement in the international aid community to provide better "education in emergencies."

Greetings and welcome to our weekly roundup of education news from Washington and around the country:

DeVos hires

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made her first official staff announcement this week, with 10 names.

Among them: Josh Venable, will serve as DeVos' chief of staff. He worked on the presidential campaign of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and is an advocate of both school choice and the Common Core.

New York state has passed legislation that would create the largest experiment in the country to offer free tuition at two- and four-year colleges. The Excelsior Scholarship, approved over the weekend as part of the state budget, would cover full-time students in the State University of New York system, which totals 64 campuses and 1.3 million students.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, appeared with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and state education leaders in an event hailing the new program, which would begin this fall and is estimated to cost $163 million per year.

How important is it to have a role model?

A new working paper puts some numbers to that question.

Having just one black teacher in third, fourth or fifth grade reduced low-income black boys' probability of dropping out of high school by 39 percent, the study found.

And by high school, African-American students, both boys and girls, who had one African-American teacher had much stronger expectations of going to college. Keep in mind, this effect was observed seven to ten years after the experience of having just one black teacher.

As we head toward Tax Day, we've got student debt and state education plans on our minds in another edition of the NPR Ed Team's weekly roundup.

Imagine if one notice from the federal government could cause you to question your major life decisions.

More than half a million people may have found themselves in that situation after a new legal filing by the Education Department.

Under a program known as Public Service Loan Forgiveness, some student loan borrowers were supposed to be able to have the balance of their student loans forgiven after ten years of both on-time payments and eligible work in the public sector. Meaning, a qualifying nonprofit, federal, local, state, or tribal government.

A new legal filing by the Education Department last week calls into question the future of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which allowed student loan borrowers to have their loans forgiven after 10 years of work in the public sector.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Recent college graduates who borrow are leaving school with an average of $34,000 in student loans. That's up from $20,000 just 10 years ago, according to a new analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Welcome to another weekly roundup from the NPR Ed Team, where we lasso the latest news on student aid, school choice, and more.

Trump University settlement finalized

Thousands of students are set to get money back now that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel has finalized the $25 million fraud settlement against Trump University.

Seventeen-year-old Indrani Das just won the top high school science prize in the country. Das, who lives in Oradell, N.J., took home $250,000 from the former Intel Science Talent Search, now the Regeneron Science Talent Search, for her study of brain injuries and neuron damage. In her spare time, she's already working with patients as a certified EMT.

No rest for the weary in our weekly roundup of national education news.

Supreme Court rules on special education case

"I'm thrilled," said Amanda Morin, a parent and advocate with the website Understood.org, after the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in a case that could affect 6.5 million special education students. "Now I can actually go into a school system and say 'The Supreme Court has said, based on my child's abilities, he is legally entitled to make progress.' "

We are in the midst of a quiet revolution in school discipline.

In the past five years, 27 states have revised their laws with the intention of reducing suspensions and expulsions. And, more than 50 of America's largest school districts have also reformed their discipline policies — changes which collectively affect more than 6.35 million students.

School districts must give students with disabilities the chance to make meaningful, "appropriately ambitious" progress, the Supreme Court said Wednesday in an 8-0 ruling.

The decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District could have far-reaching implications for the 6.5 million students with disabilities in the United States.

This blog post has some pretty useful information. So print it out; get out your highlighter and take off the cap.

Ready? Now throw it away, because highlighters don't really help people learn.

We all want for our kids to have optimal learning experiences and, for ourselves, to stay competitive with lifelong learning. But how well do you think you understand what good learning looks like?

Fake news has been, well, in the news a lot lately. It seems no claim is too absurd to be aired.

For example, NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal has just become the fourth NBA star to make public remarks that he believes the Earth is flat, not round.

National K-12 and higher ed news came fast and furious this week. Here are our highlights to help you keep on top.

The president's "skinny budget" has cuts for education

The biggest story of our week happened early Thursday morning when President Trump released his budget outline, historically known as a "skinny budget" because it has few details.

The U.S. Department of Education came in for a $9 billion, or 13.5 percent, cut.

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