Education

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A bill pending in the legislature aims to make private school accessible for more Oklahomans, but opponents say the plan robs public education of much needed funding. Reporter Emily Wendler has this story.

Positive Tomorrows is a small, very selective private school in Oklahoma City.

It’s only for homeless children.

The principal, Susan Agel, says her students require extra attention because they experience trauma on a daily basis. It’s extra care, she says, that they’d never get in a larger public school.  

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The committee tasked with creating Oklahoma's new academic standards following the repeal of Common Core met for the second time on Monday.

As KOSU's Emily Wendler reports, they are trying to learn as much as they can from other's trials and tribulations before embarking on their own journey.

The academic standards steering committee—in charge of creating Oklahoma's new educational requirements for kindergarten through 12th grade—got guidance from three experts who have excelled in creating math and English programs in their own states.

At the end of Angela Kohtala's leadership skills course, her high school students have to plan and carry out a community service project. Maybe it's fixing up their school courtyard, or tutoring younger students in an afterschool program.

Afterwards, they create a PowerPoint with pictures of the project. This isn't just a nice way to develop presentation skills — it's mandatory to prove that they really weeded that garden or sat with those kids in the first place.

You see, Kohtala's students are spread across the state of Florida, while she herself lives in Maine.

After a long stretch as the law of the land, annual standardized tests are being put to, well, the test.

This week, the Senate education committee held a hearing on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law and, specifically, on testing. The committee's chairman, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has released a draft bill offering a lot more leeway to states in designing their own assessment systems.

It's shaping up to be an interesting year for the Common Core, barely five years after 45 governors embraced it. A few states have already repealed the new math and reading standards. Others are pushing ahead with new tests, curriculum and teaching methods aligned to the Core.

And in some states, its future hangs in the balance. North Carolina is one of them.

It was one of the first states that quietly adopted the Common Core, and it moved quickly to put the standards in place.

In a speech Monday at an elementary school in Washington, D.C., Education Secretary Arne Duncan laid out the president's position on the nation's largest federal education law, even as debate unfolds over the law's re-authorization.

President Obama is in Tennessee previewing some of the big issues he'll talk about in his State of the Union address later this month. Friday, he'll speak in Knoxville, focusing on education and an idea that is gathering steam in some states: making community college tuition-free.

In the emerging debate over this idea, there are skeptics and there are true believers.

When the children's television show Sesame Street first hit the air in 1969, many were deeply skeptical that you could use TV to introduce very young children to the basics of reading and math. But the experiment proved to be a remarkable success; Sesame Street has reached several generations of toddlers with its combination of educational content and pure entertainment. And now, Sesame Workshop is using new technology to reach the next generation.

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