Created with Sketch.
Education – PBS NewsHour
7 minutes | Oct 17, 2017
Why education reform keeps failing students
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, a conversation about education reform and some of its shortfalls. It is the subject of a new book by a familiar face, who joins Jeffrey Brown for tonight’s Making the Grade. JEFFREY BROWN: For close to two decades now, or even longer, depending on your perspective, education reform has been on the agenda of Democrats and Republicans alike, school leaders around the country and major philanthropists who have influenced the debate. It’s all led to big changes, new laws and programs, tougher requirements and additional funding, lots more testing, and occasional school closings and teacher layoffs. But what has it all brought? Our former education correspondent John Merrow chronicled these efforts for our program for many years. He now looks back and into the future with a critique and with prescriptions in his new book, “Addicted to Reform: A 12-Step Program to Rescue Public Education.” And, first, hello again, John. JOHN MERROW, Author, “Addicted to Reform: A 12-Step Program to Rescue Public Education”: Nice to see you, Jeff. JEFFREY BROWN: Nice to see you. Addicted to reform means what? JOHN MERROW: Well, reform are attempts at changing that really don’t change things. What I’m saying is, for many, many years now, we have been tackling small problems which are really symptoms, not the real issues. I can give you a quick example. JEFFREY BROWN: Go ahead. JOHN MERROW: The Obama administration focus was on raising graduation rates, to get it from 70 percent way up. Four things happened. One was good. People came in and tutored. They identified failing kids. They gave them help. And those kids did well. Three other things happened, all of which were bad. One was credit recovery, which is basically a computer scam. You sit in front of a computer for a week and you get a semester’s credit. And almost every school district in the country relied heavily on computer — on credit recovery to get kids to graduate. The second thing that happened, schools, officials would say, Jeff, I think you could do well if you got a GED. Why don’t — you don’t have to — just go get a GED. And so you or I, not doing well, would be helped out the door. We wouldn’t be dropouts. But the graduation rate would go up, because I’m gone, but the school wouldn’t see that I did the GED. The third bad thing, adults cheated. They gave kids answers. They had erasure parties, all to get kids over the bar. JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. JOHN MERROW: That’s a superficial reform, because the problem wasn’t graduation rate. The problem was much deeper. JEFFREY BROWN: I mentioned Republicans, Democrats alike, so many different players involved in this. And I was wondering, as I was looking at the book, is it even agreed upon what we’re after anymore? Do people kind of go back to first principles like that? Do we know what we’re trying to do? JOHN MERROW: No, we don’t have that conversation. We needed that conversation. And I thought Barack Obama would lead us down that road, but it didn’t happen. I mean, look, the fundamental purpose of school is to help grow adults. And if you look at the three words, help is — it’s a team effort. And grow, it’s a process. You can’t just take a test score and say we’re done. And then adults, that’s the key issue. What do we want adults to be — what do we want our kids to be capable of doing as adults? Fill in bubbles or engage in debate and so on and so forth? JEFFREY BROWN: So, take one big issue that you have covered a lot, testing, right? It does look as though there’s been some — even some of the people who have been pushing that over the years, the Gates Foundation, Arne Duncan, the former secretary, they’re perhaps stepping back a little bit, or feeling like perhaps it was overemphasized? JOHN MERROW: Yes. JEFFREY BROWN: What do you see there? JOHN MERROW: I think they have pulled back little bit, but nowhere near enough. We’re still basically the only country in the world that says let’s use test scores to judge teachers. Most countries test kids to see how the kids are doing. So, we have a kind of test and punish. What we should do is assess to improve. JEFFREY BROWN: You have got 12 prescriptions, which we can’t go through all of them. But what is the main idea? JOHN MERROW: It’s a paradigm shift. Right now, schools — we think of school, where the teacher is the worker and the kid, the student, is the product. I’m saying, no, no, no, students are the workers, and knowledge is the product, which means they will work on real projects, they will work — they will create knowledge. They will learn, figure out stuff that they don’t know, that the teacher may not even know the answer to. The second goes back to Aristotle. And I’m not an original thinker. I have stolen a lot from Maria Montessori and Aristotle and so on. JEFFREY BROWN: Well, stealing from Aristotle is allowed, right? (LAUGHTER) JOHN MERROW: But we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. So, what do our kids repeated do in school? Well, in an awful lot of poor schools, kids do test prep. But if kids are actually the workers, creating knowledge, that’s what they — and they repeatedly do that, they will be ready for life in a democracy. They will be ready to be workers, to participate, be good citizens. JEFFREY BROWN: But how practical is that? That sounds great, but how do you do it economically strapped schools? JOHN MERROW: I don’t think this will cost more money. I think a judicious use of technology will help. I think there are 100 schools doing this. We have 10,000 schools — 100,000 schools. So, we have a long way to go. But it’s not going to be easy. But there are 12 steps. You have to acknowledge that these reform efforts have been superficial. You have to say — look at each kid and say, how is this child smart? What can we do to bring out that kid’s strengths? We have to measure what matters. JEFFREY BROWN: Let me just ask you finally a more personal question, because you covered these things for so long. Right? So when you went back to look, are these things that — these are things you were feeling at the time? Did you — did it kind of bubble up for you to look at, you know, I want to now take a big-picture look at all the problems I have seen? JOHN MERROW: I think it bubbled up toward the end of, you know, the 41 years, most of which were with you guys. JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. JOHN MERROW: I don’t think I — I was committed to hearing everybody, and giving everybody — even if I had had strong feelings, the “NewsHour” would never have let me put them on the air. But I don’t think I really had them until I started toward the end thinking about all the marvelous people who have worked so hard to try to change things, and then seeing things had not really hadn’t changed. Why was that? And then I started analyzing, well, maybe we’re just going at superficial problems, you know, raising test scores. That shouldn’t be the end of schooling. JEFFREY BROWN: Right. JOHN MERROW: You know, people talk about the achievement gap. Well, first, we should say, wait a minute, there’s an expectations gap. There is also an opportunity gap. If you close those two gaps, the outcomes will take care of themselves. JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the new book is “Addicted to Reform.” John Merrow, thanks very much. JOHN MERROW: Thank you very much, Jeff. The post Why education reform keeps failing students appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
10 minutes | Oct 14, 2017
More older Americans than ever are struggling with student debt
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio This is part of an ongoing series of reports called ‘Chasing the Dream,’ which reports on poverty and opportunity in America. By Megan Thompson and Mori Rothman MEGAN THOMPSON: Nancy Kukay works at a community college in Maryland, coordinating technical education programs. She’s worked in education most of her career and loves her job. But at 65-years-old, she had imagined retiring by now. NANCY KUKAY: I can’t afford to retire. I could never make the payments. MEGAN THOMPSON: Payments for student loans she took out for her son Andrew about a decade ago. She pays around $500 a month on the nearly $75,000 she owes on loans she took out, and others she co-signed with her son. By her math, she’ll probably be paying on her loans alone for another 11 years. NANCY KUKAY: Even if I started drawing on my retirement and Social Security together, I still wouldn’t have enough monthly to make those payments. It’s certainly not where I hoped to be at this stage in life. MEGAN THOMPSON: The number of Americans age 60 and older with student loan debt quadrupled between 2005 and 2015 to nearly 3 million. And the average amount they owe has nearly doubled from 12-thousand dollars to almost 24-thousand. PERSIS YU: There’s a number of factors that contribute to why the number of older borrowers is increasing. MEGAN THOMPSON: Attorney Persis Yu directs the Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project at the National Consumer Law Center in Boston. PERSIS YU: Student loans are structured to be paid over a very long period of time. They have no statute of limitations, which means that they follow you. They can follow you till you die, literally. And so there are a lot of borrowers who are out there who still have their own student loan debts from the ’70s, from the ’80s. ANNETTE PELAEZ: I think originally it was, like, 27,000 dollars… MEGAN THOMPSON: 64-year-old Annette Pelaez of Boston is still paying about 300 dollars a month for the loan she took out 20 years ago to pursue graduate degrees in American Studies, a loan she expects to be paying for another 10 years. She worked for nonprofits serving children and the elderly, but her income never reached the level she had hoped. ANNETTE PELAEZ: I’m making now what I made in the ’80s. I’m making about $42,000 a year. MEGAN THOMPSON: So when you went back to grad school, you assumed you’d be making a lot more money than that? ANNETTE PELAEZ: Oh, yes. Absolutely. I mean if I was making that money with a bachelor’s degree in the ’80s, I assumed that, you know, with a Master’s I’d do a little bit better. PERSIS YU: Folks with student loan debt typically save less than folks without student loan debt. And then, once they’re in retirement, if they are repaying loans, certainly that is a liability that they wouldn’t otherwise have to pay for when they’re on a fixed and limited income. MEGAN THOMPSON: Because of her debt and the high cost of living in Boston, Pelaez says, she has little retirement savings. She recently retired but can’t afford to keep living in Boston – so she moved New Mexico, where it’s cheaper to live. But even still, her expected 1,000 dollar a month social security check won’t cover her expenses. ANNETTE PELAEZ: Rent will be $620 plus utilities, and then there is the school loan, and there goes the $1,000. So I will be doing some part-time work. MEGAN THOMPSON: How do you feel about that? I mean, is this what you pictured retirement being? ANNETTE PELAEZ: Well, you know, at this point, I’m not so terribly concerned, because I’m still young enough to do so. What concerns me is that when I’m in my 70s or 80s, hopefully, if I get there, I may not be able to do that. MEGAN THOMPSON: Like Pelaez, 27 percent of older Americans with student loans borrowed for their own education. But most, more than 70 percent, borrowed for their children’s or grandchildren’s education. People like Nancy Kukay. Kukay, who’s divorced, took out about $46,000 in her name and co-signed for around $34,000 more with her son Andrew, who graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2008. NANCY KUKAY: I entered into that, now as I, in hindsight, without nearly enough information. And didn’t know what I didn’t know about– financial aid. It’s vastly different from when I went to school. I didn’t have to borrow to go to school. MEGAN THOMPSON: Kukay obtained about half of the 46-thousand dollars she borrowed for her son’s education through a federal loan program called “Parent Plus.” The number of Parent Plus borrowers has grown by 60 percent since 2005 to three-and-half million Americans. The National Consumer Law Center says some families can borrow more than they can afford under parent plus because the program lets them borrow as much as a college says they need without verifying their income. PERSIS YU: At no point is the school or the federal government seeing if the family can afford to repay this loan. MEGAN THOMPSON: Is anyone along the way saying, ‘Hey, if you take out this amount of money, this is what it’s gonna mean for you.’ Is anybody kind of giving a warning to families? PERSIS YU: So, you know, there is some very minimal counseling that is required– when folks take out federal loans. The other component is a lot of these families don’t have a lot of other options. Because education is expensive. So a lot of families feel trapped, and they feel like they have to take out this, because they want to provide for their kids. And they want their kids to have a better future. MEGAN THOMPSON: And that’s exactly what Nancy Kukay wanted for her son. Kukay says she wasn’t too worried about his ability to pay off his loans once he graduated. NANCY KUKAY: I kept telling him, and I thought this would be true, is, “This degree will give you a career that you can pay that off. Turns out not to be the case. He graduated in 2008 in the depths of the Great Recession. And jobs were hard to come by. MEGAN THOMPSON: After graduating with a degree in sports management, Andrew has worked steadily — even taking on second jobs at night and on the weekends. But his earnings haven’t been enough to keep up with the 4-and 5 hundred dollar payments on the roughly 45-thousand dollars he took out, so Nancy’s been paying the loans she co-signed. I spoke to Andrew over Google Hangout. ANDREW KUKAY: I did not think that you would be this hard to pay student loans. I definitely went in to school thinking I’ll get a decent paying job. MEGAN THOMPSON: Andrew recently landed a higher-paying job and wants to help pay the loans his mom co-signed. ANDREW KUKAY: I don’t want her to be suffering for any longer than she has to just for doing the nice thing and cosigning on a loan. Would I do it all over again? No. I would not do it again. I would stick around and stay home for a couple of years. And go to a community college. Near my house. MEGAN THOMPSON: In the meantime, Nancy says, the loan payments are weighing her down. NANCY KUKAY: It governs everything I do, every decision I make. It all revolves around making sure that I have that money to make that payment every single month. MEGAN THOMPSON: Nancy has consolidated, and has gotten slightly lower interest rates, on some of the loans. But she expects she’ll need to work part-time after she retires. And she’s also considering moving to Montana, where the cost of living is cheaper. NANCY KUKAY: My life isn’t going to be the way that I’d hoped that it would be. It just simply isn’t going to be. MEGAN THOMPSON: There’s also this catch with federal loans, and older borrowers who can’t pay them off. The U.S. treasury can garnish their Social Security benefits. In fact, between 2002 and 2015, the number of Americans having social security disability and retirements garnished because of unpaid loans increased almost 500 percent to 173-thousand. MANUEL ROBERTS: Who do I go and get this money back from? MEGAN THOMPSON: It happened to 55-year-old Manuel Roberts of Brooklyn, New York. He paid off most all of the 13,000 dollars he borrowed to attend the University of Southern California in the 1980’s. But after losing a job, he defaulted on the last three thousand dollars and then sustained a severe head injury in 2002. MANUEL ROBERTS: Then I was injured- street violence. I was a victim of a violent crime. I was in a coma for two weeks or so. MEGAN THOMPSON: Roberts received Social Security disability checks for 1,300 dollars every month. But the government began deducting 200 dollars from every check for the defaulted loan. MANUEL ROBERTS: I was already in a bad situation. It’s plain to see they just made it worse. MEGAN THOMPSON: The Social Security deductions pushed Roberts to the verge of the federal poverty line. It turns out, there’s a program for people disabled like Roberts to get their loans eliminated. But many people don’t know about it. MEGAN THOMPSON: So no one ever said, ‘Hey, we notice you’re getting disability income. You might be also eligible for a disability discharge. This could stop.’ MANUEL ROBERTS: No, that never- that was never brought to me by anybody. MEGAN THOMPSON: Roberts’ attorney helped him get the disability discharge…and is also helping him and six people with similar stories sue the heads of the federal Department of Education, Treasury, and the Social Security Administration- alleging that they don’t do enough to let people know about the Disability Discharge program. The federal Department of Education declined an on-camera interview with PBS NewsHour Weekend and did not respond to written questions. The Social Security administration and Treasury Department also did not comment. MEGAN THOMPSON: US senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Sherrod Brown of Ohio are sponsoring legislation to eliminate the practice of garnishing social security benefits for unpaid loans… but the bill’s gone nowhere so far. Nancy Kukay’s Social Security checks are not at risk, because she keeps kept up with her monthly student loan payments. For other parents trying to figure out how to pay for college now, she has this advice. NANCY KUKAY: I would strongly encourage them to become educated in the– in every aspect of financial aid. Talk to the college financial aid people. I didn’t do
10 minutes | Oct 3, 2017
At an innovative high school, students get support battling their addictions while they learn
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to our America Addicted series. Drug use has been down among teenagers, but mortality is rising. And that is leading many to seek out new options for their children. The “NewsHour”‘s Pamela Kirkland went to look at how one so-called recovery school in Indianapolis is giving new hope to students battling addiction. It’s part of our weekly Making the Grade look at education. FRANCIE WILCOX, Student, Hope Academy: I went from using downers, mixing alcohol and Xanax. NICK SHIRKEY, Student, Hope Academy: Oxys. Percs. FRANCIE WILCOX: Then I would use uppers like cocaine. NICK SHIRKEY: Some meth and some heroin. FRANCIE WILCOX: I would just use anything I could possibly use. NICK SHIRKEY: Life just went on that downhill spiral, and I let it take me there. PAMELA KIRKLAND: Francie Wilcox and Nick Shirkey are two of about 30 students who attend Hope Academy in Indianapolis. All of them have struggled with substance abuse. WOMAN: Thank you for taking part in today’s circle and your willingness to support the community. PAMELA KIRKLAND: Twice a week, their day starts here, in a circle modeled after the teachings of Alcoholics Anonymous. Students lay out their goals. STUDENT: What can life be like when I’m clean? PAMELA KIRKLAND: Their regrets STUDENT: Felt bad for all the things that I have done to people. PAMELA KIRKLAND: And their sobriety dates. STUDENT: My clean date is July 17. PAMELA KIRKLAND: Hope Academy is one of nearly 40 recovery schools in the U.S. When it comes to kicking a drug habit, experts say simply being young is a major hurdle. Only half of U.S. treatment centers even accept teenagers. That’s why recovery schools like these are becoming increasingly popular. RACHELLE GARDNER, Chief Operating Officer, Hope Academy: I get a call probably once a week from somebody saying, hey, I saw your school, we really want to start a school, how did you start that, can you help us? PAMELA KIRKLAND: In 2006, Rachelle Gardner started Hope Academy to help students who have fallen behind because of addiction. RACHELLE GARDNER: Our young are pretty normal kids. They got the same issues. They just so happen to have this disease along with it. And we look at it as a disease, instead of just a behavioral problem. PAMELA KIRKLAND: Hope is a public charter school, meaning it’s tuition-free, and must take any student who qualifies. The school is attached to an inpatient treatment facility, and traditional subjects like math, English, and history are offered in small classroom settings, alongside a constant emphasis on recovery. WOMAN: Think about how drugs really did start affecting your life. PAMELA KIRKLAND: Students are randomly drug-tested, and attend 12-step meetings. They also meet one a week with Brad Trolson. BRAD TROLSON, Recovery Coach, Hope Academy: It’s an easy thing to forget that we have control. PAMELA KIRKLAND: He’s the school’s recovery coach and also in recovery himself. We first met Trolson in June while he was meeting with 17 year-old Francie, who had just relapsed days before at a weekend party. FRANCIE WILCOX: You just start to get into recovery, and you like literally just sit there and think, like, who am I? What do I even like? If I am not getting high or I’m not with people that I hang out and get high with, like, you just don’t know what to with yourself. BRAD TROLSON: Our society, our culture is really — it teaches our kids that drug use and alcohol use is really a deeply ingrained part of being a kid. And a lot of our students have fallen prey to that idea, and to such an extent that they really don’t know what the teenage is if it doesn’t include drugs and alcohol. PAMELA KIRKLAND: Francie says she’s struggled with self-harm and an eating disorder for years. She began drinking in sixth grade because she wanted to feel grown up. FRANCIE WILCOX: It didn’t progress super fast. It just kind of — I would drink on the weekend, but, eventually, it did start to go into smoking, and pills, and other kind of things. PAMELA KIRKLAND: Before coming to Hope, Francie entered three separate residential treatment programs. FRANCIE WILCOX: Addiction literally starts to control your entire life. MARY ANNE WILCOX, Francie Mother: It was at the point where we would say, I think we’re going to have to get used to the idea that we might be burying our daughter. PAMELA KIRKLAND: Francie’s mom, Mary Anne Wilcox, says she and her husband felt scared and helpless. From their home in Savannah, Georgia, they made a difficult decision. MARY ANN WILCOX: My husband suggested maybe we look into this school in Indianapolis, and we could live here for a couple of years, until she gets through high school, and then go back to Georgia, because there was nothing anywhere in the southeastern corner really for us to do to get her services. PAMELA KIRKLAND: That’s all too common, says Andy Finch of Vanderbilt University. He’s one of the nation’s leading experts on recovery schools. ANDY FINCH, Vanderbilt University: Many places just don’t have many adolescent options available, and a lot of times, the options that exist might be too costly for a family to afford. PAMELA KIRKLAND: Finch recently authored a report on the effectiveness of recovery schools vs. traditional high schools for teenagers who have struggled with drug addiction. He found that nearly 60 percent of students in recovery high schools reported not having relapsed in the sixth months that followed treatment. That compares to just 30 percent of students in regular high schools. ANDY FINCH: Teenagers who are struggling with addiction are having to face a lot of peer pressure. They struggle sometimes if they’re trying to stop using to find friends who aren’t using, to find adults that know how to handle that and what to do with it. And, often, the place where they’re either finding drugs or finding friends who are using drugs is in their school. PAMELA KIRKLAND: Finch also says that many adults in treatment admit to first using drugs while in high school, meaning this age is crucial to combating lifelong addiction. NICK SHIRKEY: High school is hard in general, but it’s even harder when you have like this extra weight or extra pressure on your shoulders. PAMELA KIRKLAND: Nick Shirkey spent much of his early childhood in the foster care system, where he says he was abused and neglected. His drug use started at age 12. NICK SHIRKEY: At birth, I weighed 1 pound, 6 ounces. I was born addicted to methamphetamines. Parents were real bad addicts. They didn’t care. They just wanted their next high. PAMELA KIRKLAND: Nick tried a treatment facility, but relapsed earlier this year. This is his second attempt at Hope Academy. BRAD TROLSON: Most of our students, they’re not just substance users. They come with a lot of trauma. They come with a lot of mental and emotional issues that, once they get clean and sober, now those things really start to surface. PAMELA KIRKLAND: In many ways, 18-year-old Ian Lewis represents Hope Academy at its best. He started using drugs in middle school, moving from marijuana and alcohol to prescription opiates and cocaine. After two years, Ian graduated in June as co-valedictorian. He is now a freshman studying biology at Indiana-Purdue University in Indianapolis. IAN LEWIS, Graduate, Hope Academy: If you would’ve asked me two years ago, I probably would’ve told you I didn’t think I was going to college. But I turned it around after I got into this recovery process. PAMELA KIRKLAND: But Ian says Hope Academy can only do so much. IAN LEWIS: It’s not going to save you if you don’t want to be saved. Some of these kids out here, they don’t want to stop using. And that’s when Hope isn’t really effective, because they aren’t using it. FRANCIE WILCOX: Sometimes, you just forget. You think, well, maybe I can drink, or maybe I can smoke, or maybe, if I go to this party, I can use like a little bit of coke, if it’s, like, recreationally. PAMELA KIRKLAND: When we visited Francie again in August, she had relapsed for the second time in three months. FRANCIE WILCOX: It just reminds you that I don’t drink and use like other people do. Like, I have no limits. I have no boundaries. I just — whatever I can do, I do, and that’s just not a right way of thinking. PAMELA KIRKLAND: But a relapse doesn’t mean the end at Hope. RACHELLE GARDNER: We can’t be a no-tolerance school. We have to be accepting, because relapse is part of the disease, regardless of how old you are. PAMELA KIRKLAND: Francie has been assigned more focused recovery classes, where students complete their course work one-on-one with their teachers. Her mom, Mary Anne Wilcox, says she remains hopeful, but she admits these last few months haven’t been easy. MARY ANNE WILCOX: I mean, it feels devastating. You know, it’s just — you want so much for the whole thing to be over. But it’s just — it reminds you that it’s not. It’s forever. And it’s something that we will be dealing with forever and she will be dealing with forever. PAMELA KIRKLAND: As for Francie, she says, despite her setbacks, she can’t imagine life without this school. Do you worry what might happen if Hope doesn’t work for you? FRANCIE WILCOX: Yes. I worry a lot. If I had to be in a regular high school, I don’t think I would even be alive. PAMELA KIRKLAND: There’s been little research into the long-term outcomes for those who attend recovery schools, but, for the students here, they still have hope. From Indianapolis, I’m Pamela Kirkland for the PBS NewsHour. JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s powerful. Tune in tomorrow night: Could pain be treated without addictive drugs? Our America Addicted series continues with the latest scientific discoveries on pain and how best to treat it. And online, our newest PBS NewsHour/Marist new poll finds a majority of Americans feel the president has not done enough to combat the opioid crisis. You can find our analysis and the full results at PBS.org/NewsHour. The post At an innovative high school, students get support battling their addictions while they learn appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
8 minutes | Sep 26, 2017
Vermont’s rules on vaccines for school met with parents’ support and pushback
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio JUDY WOODRUFF: For some parents in the U.S., it’s a question in the fall: Should they vaccinate their children to send them to school? The American Academy of Pediatrics believes so and says that a measles outbreak that started at Disneyland a few years ago shows how fast childhood diseases can resurface if not enough children are protected. California and several states have since tightened their immunization requirements. But some parents are still pushing back. PBS special correspondent Lisa Stark of our partner Education Week reports from Vermont about the vaccine fight there. It’s part of our weekly series Making the Grade. LISA STARK: Seven-year-old Merin Blake is a second grader at Champlain Elementary in Burlington, Vermont, a school her parents picked for her back in kindergarten, not because of class size or test scores, but based on how many students had all their vaccines. MIA HOCKETT, Merin’s Mom: When I took a look at the immunization rates for schools in Burlington, and also, though, at the kind of private schools in the area, I was really aghast about how low they were. And that made me really, really anxious. LISA STARK: Mom Mia Hockett was anxious because Merin was in the midst of treatment for childhood leukemia, diagnosed just before her 4th birthday. The intensive chemotherapy compromised her immune system, making her vulnerable to diseases. School nurse Nancy Pruitt worked to keep Merin safe. NANCY PRUITT, Certified School Nurse, Champlain Elementary: In her classroom, we made sure that the kids were vaccinated. We don’t have the — we can’t always do that, but we made sure that she had a classroom with kids that had been vaccinated. LISA STARK: Vaccinated against preventable illnesses, such as mumps, measles, whooping cough, chicken pox, and polio, which would have been especially dangerous for Merin. MIA HOCKETT: I know that kind of a lot of people think that we don’t really have these diseases, so we don’t need to be afraid of them. But in that situation, when we’re kind of thinking about, you know, our child… LISA STARK: Hockett isn’t just a mom. She’s also a doctor. And she wanted a school with vaccination rates of at least 90 to 95 percent, which public health officials say is required to protect those who are vulnerable or can’t be vaccinated. Christine Finley runs the immunization program for the state of Vermont. CHRISTINE FINLEY, Vermont Department of Health: When children are in school, they’re in a setting where they are interacting broadly with one another. If you don’t have a large percentage of the children vaccinated, then, basically, your shield isn’t going to work, because you have got places where a disease can begin to spread within a school. LISA STARK: Finley says, by 2014, vaccine rates had dropped to alarming levels, at some public schools, as many as 20 percent of students without all the required shots, and at a dozen private school, 50 percent not fully vaccinated. Vermont, like every state, requires vaccines to attend school, but, like all states, allows exemptions. In every state, children can get waivers for medical reasons. Forty-seven states permit families to skip vaccines for religious beliefs; 18 also allow for personal or philosophical exemptions. Some states are moving to tighten their laws, chief among them California, which, in 2015, did away with all waivers, except for medical exemptions. Kindergarten vaccination rates have jumped to the highest levels in more than 15 years, nearly 96 percent. DANIEL SALMON, Johns Hopkins University: The problem is, in many states, it’s easier to get an exemption than it is to vaccinate your child. LISA STARK: Easier, says Daniel Salmon with the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University, because parents simply sign a waiver request, much less effort than getting children vaccinated. WOMAN: So, this one is for you, and this one is for the school. DANIEL SALMON: While, nationally, most people vaccinate their children, and that’s clearly the norm, we’re starting to see communities where more and more parents are refusing vaccines. LISA STARK: Low vaccine rates in some communities are blamed for three large measles outbreaks in the past four years, one in Ohio, one that began in Disneyland and spread to seven states, and another this year in Minnesota. Are your children vaccinated? ARIEL BREWER LOUIS, Vermont Parent: No, they are not. LISA STARK: Ariel Brewer Louis is a Vermont mom of three. We caught up with her during an event for those who question the safety and efficacy of vaccines. She told her story on board a bus that’s traveling the nation to promote an anti-vaccine documentary and record vaccine testimonials. ARIEL BREWER LOUIS: I have three girls. LISA STARK: Brewer Louis recalled that decades ago her brother may have had a serious reaction to a vaccine, according to their mother. ARIEL BREWER LOUIS: It must have planted a seed, because when my first was born, I just said no. I just opted out. LISA STARK: Parents say they forgo some or all vaccines for their children for a variety of reasons. They’re worried about the number of doses, the crowded vaccine schedule, and past claims of a link to autism, which have been discredited. Jennifer Stella runs the Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice. Are you anti-vaccine? JENNIFER STELLA, Co-Director, Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice: I think I have been called anti-vaccine a lot, haven’t I? You know, I’m pro-choice. I think that everybody should have a choice. LISA STARK: Stella says her two children reacted badly after receiving several immunizations. Her son cried incessantly, stopped nursing and seized in her arms, and her daughter had head-to-toe rashes. JENNIFER STELLA: I don’t think that vaccines are safe enough for my children. LISA STARK: Pediatrician Jill Rinehart says vaccines are extremely safe and effective. DR. JILL RINEHART, Pediatrician: I mean, there’s not much that I do every day for children that saves lives. Immunizations are something that I do every day that I know makes a huge difference. LISA STARK: Rinehart and other doctors helped push the state to tighten Vermont’s vaccine laws. So did Hockett, with Mia in tow. In 2015, lawmakers eliminated the state’s philosophical exemption. Parents can still opt out for religious or medical reasons. Partly because of the change in law, Brewer Louis is homeschooling her 8-year-old. But she is relying on the religious exemption to send another daughter to preschool. What is your religious objections to vaccines? ARIEL BREWER LOUIS: I don’t have a religious objection to vaccines, but that’s my only option. And the way I see it, I have done my research, and there’s no way I am going to vaccinate my children to send them to school. LISA STARK: What do you say to people who say to you, I should have the right not to vaccinate my child? MIA HOCKETT: I absolutely agree with that, but none of this legislation actually forces someone to get immunized. What is says is that, if you’re opting out of your right and responsibility to vaccine, then you also have to bear the burden of opting out of the benefits of organized education. LISA STARK: Here in Vermont, parents have at most six months from the start of school to either make sure their child has all the required vaccinations or to claim an exemption. If they don’t, that child is no longer welcome at school. School nurse Pruitt says no student has been excluded from her school yet, but some have come close. She believes the new law has had an impact. NANCY PRUITT: So we had a 2.3 percent increase on our student body being fully vaccinated. LISA STARK: And do you think that’s because of the change in the law? NANCY PRUITT: I do. LISA STARK: As for Hockett, she’s focused on a return to normalcy. Merin is considered cured of leukemia, and, in August, was deemed healthy enough to resume her vaccines. So, this school year, Merin’s parents hope she can count on her own immunity, not just others, to stay healthy. For the PBS NewsHour and Education Week, I’m Lisa Stark in Burlington, Vermont. The post Vermont’s rules on vaccines for school met with parents’ support and pushback appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
6 minutes | Sep 19, 2017
How ‘personalized learning’ can put college in reach for nontraditional students
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, we conclude our special education series Rethinking College. Tonight, how one university offers customized learning to fit the busy lives of nontraditional students. Hari Sreenivasan has our report, part of our weekly segment Making the Grade. HARI SREENIVASAN: Terence Burley lives on the Navajo reservation in Northern Arizona, a place where college often seems beyond the horizon. TERENCE BURLEY, Personalized Learning Student, Northern Arizona University: I wanted to go to college, and it didn’t work out. HARI SREENIVASAN: Only 7 percent of residents on the reservation get college degrees. TERENCE BURLEY: It was a money issue. My parents weren’t really making a lot of money. HARI SREENIVASAN: Now a 42-year-old father, Terence is pursuing his bachelor’s degree, hoping to advance his career in computer technology. TERENCE BURLEY: I want to make myself more marketable. HARI SREENIVASAN: Burley is using federal grants to pay tuition at Northern Arizona University, a campus that is 160 miles away. He’s enrolled in an unusual online program called personalized learning. Rita Cheng is the president of Northern Arizona University. RITA CHENG, President, Northern Arizona University: Personalized learning is a perfect approach to students who may have competency they have gained from their work experience. It is a demonstration of mastery. HARI SREENIVASAN: The program allows Terence to quickly move through college courses because it’s based on a subscription, like Netflix. Students pay one flat fee every six months, and take as many courses as they have time for. RITA CHENG: If they can master something very quickly, they can speed through segments of the curriculum. HARI SREENIVASAN: Terence is studying information technology, and as a software administrator, he’s been able to use what he’s learned on the job to advance. TERENCE BURLEY: The courses reemphasizes what you know already. I’m tested for my competency. If I pass my test, I’m able to pass my courses. HARI SREENIVASAN: He must still take the core curriculum required of all on-campus university students. Cori Gordon is the coordinator for NAU’s personalized learning program. CORI GORDON, Personalized Learning Coordinator, Northern Arizona University: Everything is online, and it was all curated by a professor. We will use online textbooks. We use videos. We use case studies. We use simulations, interactive software. What’s different about us, though, is that the students really have the keys. So, everything is available when the student starts, and they determine when they’re ready to move on to the next concept. They determine when they’re ready to take the test. HARI SREENIVASAN: But there are challenges with Terence Burley’s remote learning. He lives in his mother’s house, which currently has no electricity or Internet. TERENCE BURLEY: I use my cell phone to get connected. And on a good day, I usually get two bars. HARI SREENIVASAN: When his laptop runs out of power, Burley recharges it by plugging into his truck. And his day is long. TERENCE BURLEY: Usually, I wake up at 4:00 in the morning, be on the road by 4:30 a.m. I get home. By 6:00 p.m., I start my class again from 8:00 p.m. up to 10:00 p.m. RITA CHENG: There are so many working adults. This allows students to go at their own pace, balance their family, work and stay on the job, demonstrate what they have learned in their career, and complete the degree. HARI SREENIVASAN: Northern Arizona University was the first public college to receive accreditation and federal aid for four-year degree students who can move through courses by proving competencies. But the program is still very small. So far, only 172 students have graduated. Selina Larson is one of them. Selina graduated on the same day as her 22-year-old daughter, Raven. Larson decided on personalized learning after her daughter began classes at NAU’s Flagstaff campus. SELINA LARSON, Graduate, Northern Arizona University: I said, you know what, I’m going back to school, and I’m going to finish before you. HARI SREENIVASAN: Larson did graduate before Raven, by five hours. RAVEN LARSON, Graduate, Northern Arizona University: Here’s my hero graduating from college. SELINA LARSON: Five hours before you. HARI SREENIVASAN: Larson did all the course work for a liberal arts bachelor’s degree at their family home in Phoenix. It took her three years. SELINA LARSON: I did appreciate having my own timeline. I think that gives you a lot of control, but you have to be very motivated. HARI SREENIVASAN: The university points to anecdotal success stories, but there’s been little research to show if this new way of learning benefits students. And, for Larson, the process wasn’t always easy. There were technical glitches. SELINA LARSON: There could be a struggle with software, where something just went wrong. It doesn’t open. And you can’t get in, and their I.T. can’t help you. So you’re going around in circles sometimes. There’s no office to go to, to talk to somebody. HARI SREENIVASAN: President Cheng acknowledges early problems with the software, but says technology has been improving. RITA CHENG: Every year, we’re getting better with the technology. And NAU has always been known to adapt to the latest in technology, and we will continue. HARI SREENIVASAN: President Cheng herself was a nontraditional student, relying on the U.S. post office and correspondence courses for much of her college work. RITA CHENG: I spent seven years and five universities getting a bachelor’s degree. Affordability and access were always important to me. HARI SREENIVASAN: For Selina Larson, the bachelor’s degree has given her new confidence. SELINA LARSON: We’re just this huge, prideful family right now. She was super, super proud. I don’t know that it changed how she saw me, but I know that she has, like, this huge sense of pride that I have in her, now she has in me. HARI SREENIVASAN: And while Terence Burley estimates he still has two years to go, he believes a bachelor’s degree is finally within reach. TERENCE BURLEY: I will just take it course by course, and, eventually, I will get there. HARI SREENIVASAN: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Hari Sreenivasan. The post How ‘personalized learning’ can put college in reach for nontraditional students appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
7 minutes | Sep 12, 2017
Job training and community college put coal miners on a new path
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio JOHN YANG: Now we return to our Rethinking College series. This week, we take a look at efforts to help unemployed coal miners earn community college degrees and get on-the-job training. Hari Sreenivasan has our report, part of our weekly segment Making the Grade. HARI SREENIVASAN: In the heart of Appalachia, generations of coal miners have lived through good times and bad. CHRIS FARLEY, Former Coal Miner: We will have some early tomatoes. Then we will have… BERTHA FARLEY, Grandmother of Chris Farley: Middle. CHRIS FARLEY: Middle tomatoes. Then we will have late tomatoes. BERTHA FARLEY: Late tomatoes to can. HARI SREENIVASAN: When coal miner Chris Farley was laid off two years ago, he began growing food on his grandmother’s West Virginia lot to feed his family. BERTHA FARLEY: I’m telling him, you have got to grow what you eat. You have got to survive. In this area, most of all, you have to eat. CHRIS FARLEY: I got laid off, and there was no jobs around here to be found. They went from jobs everywhere to nothing. And I was actually at the point of going from door to door with my neighbors, seeing if they need grass mowed or weeds cut, or just any odd jobs to try to pay the power bills and anything, whatever it took to provide for my family. HARI SREENIVASAN: Between 1980 and 2015, the number of coal jobs fell by 60 percent, due to automation and competition from natural gas. But even before the decline, Bertha Farley had lived through many coal industry downturns. BERTHA FARLEY: My daddy got laid off, and I had five brothers, and they all had to leave here. No work. HARI SREENIVASAN: Still, her son Floyd and grandson Chris both became miners. CHRIS FARLEY: My dad, when he got old enough, he went into the coal mines, so I followed his footsteps, and went into the coal mines. HARI SREENIVASAN: It wasn’t a choice Floyd Farley wanted for his son. FLOYD FARLEY, Former Coal Miner: I wanted him to go to West Virginia University. I tried to explain to him, I said, you don’t have to be like you’re old man. You won’t have to be out here, breathing this dust. You can sit in an office somewhere. I said, it sure beats the heck out of coal mining. HARI SREENIVASAN: But, in 2002, when Chris Farley graduated from high school, working at the coal mine meant top wages. CHRIS FARLEY: I made over $50,000 a year as soon as I started out, straight out of high school, with no college, nothing. HARI SREENIVASAN: Some believe the high wages created an unhealthy dependence on coal jobs. BRANDON DENNISON, CEO, Coalfield Development Corporation: You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, which is the mistake that West Virginia made with the coal industry. HARI SREENIVASAN: Brandon Dennison grew up in Appalachia, but left to study social entrepreneurship. After earning his master’s, he returned to retrain displaced workers. BRANDON DENNISON: The moral arguments, I’m not interested in on coal, but it’s like investing your money. You never put it all in one investment account. You spread it out, you diversify. HARI SREENIVASAN: In 2010, Dennison formed a nonprofit called the Coalfield Development Corporation. With financial support from the Appalachian regional commission, the nonprofit launched new businesses that Dennison believes will generate sustainable jobs, everything from furniture making and solar installation, to home building and agriculture. BRANDON DENNISON: What we need is a diversified economy, with lots of different businesses and lots of different opportunities for all different types of people. HARI SREENIVASAN: Coalfield crew members are paid $11 an hour and given 33 work hours per week, an amount that doesn’t come close to their former coal job wages. They must also attend three hours of life skill classes, and six hours of community college. Money to pay crew members comes from sales, contracts, and private and public funders. BRANDON DENNISON: We are not just creating a job for these folks, many of whom still need a lot of job training, but we’re also enrolling them in the local community college. And then we’re providing three hours a week of personal development to figure out how business works and to be successful. HARI SREENIVASAN: Chris Farley is now an honors student working toward his associates degree in applied science and agriculture. CHRIS FARLEY: I can still pay my bills. I’m getting an education that I would never thought I would get. I never thought I would be in school. I never thought — never dreamed I would have a 4.0 GPA. BRANDON DENNISON: The bottom line is, if you look at states with low numbers of higher education attainment, like we have, there are not a lot of jobs. And if you look at states and communities with high numbers of people with degrees of higher education, you see a lot more jobs. HARI SREENIVASAN: One project, called Refresh Appalachia, brings former coal miners like Chris Farley back to a mining site. BRANDON DENNISON: We have all of these mine land sites that we have got to do something with, right? These are massive former mountaintop removal sites that are sitting there kind of not being used productively. HARI SREENIVASAN: On this mountaintop in Mingo County. Dennison’s workers are transforming a former mine into a farm that serves local markets. CHRIS FARLEY: We’re planting all this, different types of berries, and pawpaw trees, and we’re going to have a big orchard, different types of stuff to sell, goji berries, blackberries, raspberries, elderberries. HARI SREENIVASAN: James Russell is the farm’s crew chief. JAMES RUSSELL, Crew Chief, Coalfield Development Corps: We have lots of interest with restaurants for our meat and eggs, and our berries also. We have goats, pigs, and chickens, and they give back to the land. And the pigs tear it up. It’s just a good combination of fertilizer when you mix the three together. After a couple of years of working the soil, you can grow anything you want. HARI SREENIVASAN: Crew member Jared Blalock worked for six years in the mine industry. JARED BLALOCK, Former Coal Miner: Running a dozer on the coal pile, taking care of the stacker belt, shoveling, greasing, just your everyday labor. HARI SREENIVASAN: Now he’s refurbishing old buildings for a Coalfield Development project called Restore Appalachia. As part of his employment, Blalock is working toward his associate’s degree in management. He says he’d go back to the mines if a job was available, but worries about the instability of the industry. JARED BLALOCK: I don’t have anything wrong with coal mining. Coal mining is a — it’s a great industry here, but you don’t know. That’s the thing about it. That’s why I’m doing this right now, because I need to take advantage of my opportunity. HARI SREENIVASAN: So far, 23 crew members have completed their degrees and have been placed in full-time jobs; 55 are currently in the program, and 15 are on the waitlist. Chris Farley hopes to use his degree and work experience to start a business of his own. CHRIS FARLEY: I would like to actually start my own restaurants called Homegrown Home Cooking. My little girl, she’s going to help me with the farm. My wife is going to help me. We’re just going to start our own little business. HARI SREENIVASAN: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Hari Sreenivasan. JOHN YANG: There’s more online from our series Rethinking College, including a look at a Tennessee pilot program that helps ease the financial burden so adults can finish their college degrees. You will find that at PBS.org/NewsHour. The post Job training and community college put coal miners on a new path appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
7 minutes | Sep 5, 2017
How online graduate programs offer degrees at significant savings
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio JUDY WOODRUFF: Now we continue our special series on Rethinking College with a look at graduate students who pay little or even nothing for a top 10 master’s degree program. Hari Sreenivasan has our report. It’s part of our weekly segment Making the Grade. HARI SREENIVASAN: It’s graduation day, and these two students are earning their computer science master’s degree from a top 10 program in the country. But it’s the first time they have ever visited campus. VANESSA ANDERSON, Graduate: This whole experience was very surreal. This is my first time on campus, being here. The energy in this room was crazy. HARI SREENIVASAN: Students Vanessa Anderson and Miguel Morales did all of their course work for Georgia Institute of Technology online. Neither live in Georgia. MIGUEL MORALES, Graduate: I’m going to be working in autonomous systems, and just it’s a dream job. HARI SREENIVASAN: And a job which pays. The average starting salary for Georgia Tech’s master degree graduates is $150,000. This spring, 64 students earned their computer science master’s degree on campus, but 212 earned them online. CHARLES ISBELL, Professor, Georgia Tech: The degree is the same on the transcript. It’s the same on the diploma. There’s no distinction whatsoever. HARI SREENIVASAN: Charles Isbell, a senior associate dean for Georgia Tech’s College of Computing, helped design the online master’s program. CHARLES ISBELL: It’s about accessibility. We see that we can get many more people who don’t look like the traditional folks that we have coming on campus. HARI SREENIVASAN: In fact, online students are typically older and have full-time jobs. Online, there are nearly twice as many of students of color than on campus. And while Isbell insists the quality of learning is equal for the two programs, he points out one key difference: cost. CHARLES ISBELL: There’s a huge difference in price. So, for our on-campus degree, it’s somewhere north of $42,000 a year. For the online degree, it’s $6,600 for the entire degree. HARI SREENIVASAN: So, if the experience is the same, how can you deliver a product at $6,600 that you’re delivering at $42,000? CHARLES ISBELL: Well, there’s two big things. The first is, we don’t have to pay for buildings. We don’t have to build new classrooms. But the really big difference is scale. So we have about 4,500 students in the program, compared to the 400 or so that we have on campus. HARI SREENIVASAN: A recent Harvard study of Georgia Tech’s online master’s concluded that the combination of a top 10 program offering a traditional degree at significant cost savings has created a whole new consumer market in higher education. For some students, tuition is actually free. That’s because many companies offer their full-time employees tuition reimbursement. Student Nica Montford is a data integrator for General Motors Innovation Center in Roswell, Georgia. NICA MONTFORD, Online Graduate Student, Georgia Tech: Every GM employee gets $8,500 to spend in higher education every year, and so it falls well within the $8,500 that we get. HARI SREENIVASAN: After two-and-a-half years studying online, Montford plans to graduate this December. NICA MONTFORD: I’m focusing on the social computing aspect, social media, and the social landscape. I’m really interested to see where I can take it, as it expands, and as it grows, and OK be on the leading edge. HARI SREENIVASAN: Master’s student Eboni Bell, a product software engineer for AT&T, is also taking advantage of tuition reimbursement. EBONI BELL, Online Graduate Student, Georgia Tech: I knew I wanted to get my master’s, and I also knew that I wanted to have a company that paid for it, because I didn’t want to go into even more student loan debt. HARI SREENIVASAN: Bell would like to start her own company using technology to help solve societal problems, like obesity and diabetes. EBONI BELL: I’m interested in interactive intelligence and how can we use, leverage artificial intelligence, leverage data itself to change the world. HARI SREENIVASAN: But does learning suffer when the human connection found in physical classrooms is missing? Isbell says no. CHARLES ISBELL: If you’re on the fourth row, the fifth row, the 27th row, you’re about as close to me as someone who is online, right? You’re not really getting the face-to-face interaction. HARI SREENIVASAN: Eboni Bell agrees. In fact, she says, the way our culture thinks about a classroom should be reconsidered. Evolving technology, she says, allows her to keep in constant contact with classmates. EBONI BELL: We communicate daily through chat. We communicate through Google Hangout, through videoconferencing. We e-mail each other back and forth. HARI SREENIVASAN: However, Bell says answers from teaching assistants are not as immediate. EBONI BELL: I have to go to this online discussion, type my question, and then wait for a response. And, usually, the response isn’t no more than a day, but even the fact that I have to wait for a day, whereas, if I’m in the classroom, I raise my hand and I get immediate feedback. HARI SREENIVASAN: That’s where Georgia Tech professor Ashok Goel comes in. A professor of computer and cognitive science, Goel created an artificial intelligence tool to help answer questions for the 4,500 online master’s degree students. And this is Jill Watson. ASHOK K. GOEL, Professor, Georgia Tech: That’s right. HARI SREENIVASAN: What does Jill do? ASHOK GOEL: Jill is an artificial intelligence T.A. So, as students ask questions, Jill gives answers to those questions. HARI SREENIVASAN: Why is there a need for an artificial intelligent T.A.? ASHOK K. GOEL: That’s a very good question. So, what happens is that students who are highly motivated, highly engaged, they ask thousands of questions. Some of this can be delegated to an artificial intelligent T.A., thereby relieving the professor to answer more creative questions, more open-ended questions. HARI SREENIVASAN: So, you’re saying, let the artificial intelligence deal with the easy ones, and let the humans deal with the tough ones? ASHOK GOEL: That’s right. Yes. EBONI BELL: We don’t really notice who is answering our questions, as long as they’re giving us the best answer. It doesn’t need to be a human. HARI SREENIVASAN: But she still sees an important role for professors. EBONI BELL: We need professors. We need people that are going to help motivate us still in the class, and help us understand why we’re even taking the class. HARI SREENIVASAN: Not all courses can go online like this. CHARLES ISBELL: Why not? HARI SREENIVASAN: There have to be things that a campus experience provides. Otherwise, why would we have campuses at all? CHARLES ISBELL: Well, we have campuses because we didn’t have online education 150 years ago, right? Students have to feel they’re a part of that community. They have to feel engaged. That’s what you get being on a campus. You get to meet people. You get to build friendships. You still get to do that online, if you provide the support for the students. EBONI BELL: We all have the same goal. We want to do well. We want to succeed. And so that bringing that all together, we find ways to make it work. HARI SREENIVASAN: In Atlanta, for the PBS NewsHour, I’m Hari Sreenivasan. The post How online graduate programs offer degrees at significant savings appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
7 minutes | Aug 29, 2017
Colorado apprenticeship program turns the factory floor into a classroom
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio MILES O’BRIEN: Next, we continue our series Rethinking College, with a look at the nation’s first statewide youth apprenticeship program. As Hari Sreenivasan reports, it offers high school and college credit and pays students for their work. This story is part of our weekly education segment, Making the Grade. HARI SREENIVASAN: In Colorado, this factory floor may be the classroom of the future. MAN: This goes into that hopper, gets melted back into a liquid, as it goes through the machine. HARI SREENIVASAN: And these students may be hired for prime jobs before they even finish high school. Manufacturers like Intertech Plastics in Denver are facing critical shortages of skilled labor, and they want to teach teens how to work for them. NOEL GINSBURG, CEO, Intertech Plastics: We couldn’t support the growth in both facilities because we didn’t have the people. HARI SREENIVASAN: Noel Ginsburg is the CEO. NOEL GINSBURG: From the day I started the company to this day, the biggest challenge we have was around having the right people with the skills we needed to grow the business. We have 40,000 unfilled tech jobs in Colorado. College is not cheap, right? So, if you could earn up to 40 to 50 credit hours for college by working in a business like this, and get paid, and get your high school diploma, who wouldn’t want to do that? It’s a pretty cool deal. HARI SREENIVASAN: Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, is behind the idea. GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER, D-Colo.: We are one of the fastest growing economies in the country. You can’t sustain that without talent. And it is a global competition for talent now. And a lot of that talent, it’s not Ph.D.s and the superstars. A lot of that talent is middle skills. HARI SREENIVASAN: Partnering with the state, Ginsburg founded CareerWise, an apprenticeship program that links Colorado industries and school districts. Starting this year, high school Jr.s and seniors can spend three school days a week as on-the-job apprentices, earning classroom credit and a paycheck. NOEL GINSBURG: We’d like to have 230 career paths that will, in 10 years, serve 20,000 young people in a whole host of careers, from banking and finance to advanced manufacturing. HARI SREENIVASAN: Colorado leaders believe they are in the forefront of addressing what economists call a middle skills gap, unfilled jobs that require more than high school, but less than a four-year college degree. GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER: For more than 30 years, we took on this challenge that we were going to make sure every kid went to college, and this was the only solution. But we have barely nudged the needle in terms of how many kids actually go to college and graduate. And in that sense, I think it’s been a failure. NOEL GINSBURG: I was part of that mantra, saying everybody should go to college. The reality of it is, that’s never going to happen. In this country, what the percentages? Twenty-eight percent, at best, will get a four-year degree in this country. So, we’re essentially telling everybody else that they can’t be successful in our economy and in our country. And it’s simply not true. HARI SREENIVASAN: After graduating high school, the program offers apprentices full-time employment and financial support toward community colleges degrees. The pitch convinced visiting high school student Kevin Roquemore to add another choice to his career path. So, what are you going to do after you graduate high school? What are you thinking right now? KEVIN ROQUEMORE, Student: So I have a plan A, plan B. Plan A hopefully is to go to the Major Leagues, just if I don’t go to college, play baseball. HARI SREENIVASAN: OK, I don’t know your athletic skill, but let’s just say the baseball career stops in high school. What are you going to do? KEVIN ROQUEMORE, High school student: My plan B was to be in manufacturing and engineering. HARI SREENIVASAN: Alejandro Garcia’s parents were thrilled to hear he was accepted into the program. JOSEFINA SANTUARIO, Mother of Alejandro Garcia, high school student (through interpreter): We preferred him to attend university. That’s what we wanted. But when we heard of this opportunity, we jumped straight on it. HARI SREENIVASAN: But will schools become training grounds for industry? Will apprentices miss out on crucial classroom learning? The idea that critical thinking and kind of the long-term life lessons that you pick up being in an academic environment, those are necessary too. NOEL GINSBURG: They are, but what I believe is that those skills can be learned in the workplace, because the workplace is real, and you have different personalities. I think soft skills are better taught in business, not in the classroom. HARI SREENIVASAN: Looking to fine-tune their apprentice program, Colorado leaders traveled to Switzerland, where 40 percent of companies offer student apprenticeships. MAN: So, why apprenticeship? Swiss firms do not only train because it’s a tradition. There is an economic rationale. MAN: It is an investment into young people for making sure that we have a low unemployment rate. HARI SREENIVASAN: Suzi LeVine, former U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, hosted the delegation and is now working with Colorado’s CareerWise apprentice program. SUZI LEVINE, Former U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland: We’re at the front end of an apprenticeship renaissance in the United States. When you look back at Hamilton and Franklin, started out as apprentices. In Switzerland, two-thirds of young people go into apprenticeship. Their youth unemployment is just 3.2 percent. We need that here in the United States. GAIL MELLOW, President, La Guardia Community College: I think what Colorado is doing is a great first step. HARI SREENIVASAN: Gail Mellow is the president of New York’s La Guardia Community College, which also offers programs that link high school students to middle skills. While enthusiastic about Colorado’s new program, Mellow cautions that Europe and the United States have very different social structures. GAIL MELLOW: The challenge is that if we model those steps exactly at what happens in Switzerland, we don’t have the robust safety net. So, our robust health benefits, the living wages, those are often not part of American businesses. HARI SREENIVASAN: And she’s concerned that apprenticeships could lead to short-lived jobs that improved technology could eventually wipe out. That it’s not a dead-end job? GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER: It’s a job that’s going to lead to a better job, that will lead to a better job. That’s what we used to call a career. HARI SREENIVASAN: For now, Colorado’s apprenticeships are financed by federal and state funds, business and philanthropy. But the future plan is for industry to provide the biggest investment. In Denver, for the PBS NewsHour, I’m Hari Sreenivasan. The post Colorado apprenticeship program turns the factory floor into a classroom appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
7 minutes | Aug 22, 2017
Purdue invests in students’ futures with new model of financing
Watch Video | Listen to the AudioFind all of our stories in our Rethinking College series JUDY WOODRUFF: As students are heading back to campus, we kick off a special series we do each year on innovative ideas in higher education. It’s called “Rethinking College.” We start with a look at how one university is fighting the rising costs of tuition by investing in its students. Hari Sreenivasan has our report. It’s part of our weekly segment, Making the Grade. HARI SREENIVASAN: College graduation, a time for celebration. But for those with student loans, it’s also a time of financial anxiety, because the repayment clock just started ticking. Last year alone, U.S. student debt reached $1.3 trillion. The average amount owed was $37,000 dollars. The sobering statistics led Purdue University in Indiana to offer students a new way to pay for their degrees. MITCH DANIELS, President, Purdue University: I just know you are bound for exciting places, great achievements, thrilling moments. HARI SREENIVASAN: This year, Purdue began funding students who agreed to pay back the university a percentage of their future earnings. READ MORE: Georgia students drop out with high debt despite state surplus MITCH DANIELS: We’re so very, very proud of you. HARI SREENIVASAN: President Mitch Daniels says the new funding model, called an income share agreement, can be viewed as an investment, much like investing in the stock market. MITCH DANIELS: Unlike student debt, it shifts the burden — or the risk, I should say — entirely from the student to the investor. HARI SREENIVASAN: That’s because the terms of the agreement, called an ISA, are made well before students launch their careers. So, even if a student ends up in a low-paying job, the pay-back percentage stays the same. MITCH DANIELS: If the student’s career doesn’t pan out too well during those early years, then the student is not on the hook and the loss falls on the investor. The investor is banking on the fact student is going to do well. And they’ll get their money back and maybe a little more. HARI SREENIVASAN: In this case, the investor is Purdue’s Research Foundation, which funded all 160 students who applied. Throughout the year, Purdue sponsored workshops to explain income share agreements. WILLIAM NELLIGAN, Jain Family Institute: We think education financing should be based on your potential. HARI SREENIVASAN: Will Nelligan, who helped create Purdue’s ISA model, explained how the agreements work. WILLIAM NELLIGAN: Freedom from debt. You don’t have a fixed amount that you need to repay, there’s no interest attached to it. HARI SREENIVASAN: Not having to pay interest caught the attention of Purdue junior Alek Ventorino. ALEK VENTORINO, Purdue University Student: The worst fear is, even if I graduate and have a good job, because of the interest, it’s not like you’re just paying off a certain amount and it goes away. No, it’s going to take many years. HARI SREENIVASAN: Proponents of income share agreements say universities haven’t been held accountable for graduates who fail to repay their loans. MITCH DANIELS: I think it would be a good thing if schools were more, had more, as they say, skin in the game. HARI SREENIVASAN: In 2016, 11 percent of the nation’s former students defaulted on federal loans. MITCH DANIELS: I personally think that it’s been a mistake that universities, and ours included, are not at risk when a student doesn’t pay back their student loan. I very much favor the accountability that would come from the school owning a little bit of the — taking a little bit of the hit. HARI SREENIVASAN: This year, senior Melissa Gillbanks signed up for Purdue’s ISA. Until last year, she relied on private loans to pay her out-of-state tuition. (on camera): How deep in debt are you to — MELISSA GILLBANKS, President, Purdue University: A lot. I think currently, my Sallie Mae loans are sitting at like 80K without — that’s like without interest on top of that. You get to learn a lot of different types of manufacturing — HARI SREENIVASAN: In exchange for an additional $30,000 from Purdue, Gillbanks agreed to share 5 percent of her future earnings for 10 years. (on camera): Would you have done an income share for the whole thing if you could have? MELISSA GILLBANKS: Absolutely. HARI SREENIVASAN: So, it’s what you do your spare time. MELISSA GILLBANKS: Yes. HARI SREENIVASAN: Build a Thor hammer. MELISSA GILLBANKS: Yes. HARI SREENIVASAN: Gillbanks is a digital design engineer, and feels pretty confident she’ll land a good salary. MELISSA GILLBANKS: I try not to think about it, because it’s a little daunting, because I know I’m going to have a good job — well, OK, fingers crossed I’m going to have a good job. HARI SREENIVASAN: Each agreement is different. The percentage of a student’s future income and the number of years a student must pay back Purdue is based on how much money that student is likely to earn. So, who are you going after? Are you going after the ones who are going to be engineers, doctors, lawyers, bankers? MITCH DANIELS: Oh, yes. It’s a common misunderstanding. But we had 70 different majors in the first cohort of 160 ISAs, and STEM graduates, all the way down to philosophy students and historians and so forth. HARI SREENIVASAN: Critics argue that universities should not be in the business of making bets on financial outcomes based on fields of study. And, questions have been raised about how this could impact a student’s choice of majors. ADAM WILLIAMS, Purdue University Student: Wouldn’t this kind of program push incoming freshman or sophomores to a more lucrative field? The earning potential of an art major just isn’t that of a computer science major. So, do you think this income agreement could push students to pursue something that they’re not interested in, simply because they can get funded for that major? WILLIAM NELLIGAN: The way that we account is again in adjusting those terms, right? A more professional major might pay a smaller share of their income for a shorter period of time, and someone, say, an art history, to use your example, pays a slightly larger share for a longer period of time. HARI SREENIVASAN: Senior Zach Meyer will pay a smaller percentage than fellow student Gillbanks, the design engineer. That’s because Meyer is majoring in financial counseling and likely to have a lucrative career. For $10,000, he’s agreed to pay 3.8 percent of his future income for 10 years. But before Meyer’s signed, he had one question. ZACH MEYER, Purdue University Student: If I’m making a lot of money, am I going to have to pay back just a ton of money? HARI SREENIVASAN: The answer was no. ZACH MEYER: They cap at two and a half times whatever you borrow, so the most I’ll be paying back is $25,000. So, I guess it’s not a big deal. HARI SREENIVASAN: Purdue also sets a minimum income threshold. If, in the future, you are out of work, or earning very little, you don’t pay. WILLIAM NELLIGAN: What feels most important to you? PURDUE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: The protection when times get tough, so that way if you are unemployed, rather than interest piling up, you’re already struggling to get back on your feet, you don’t need interest on top of that. HARI SREENIVASAN: Is it a good investment for the university? MITCH DANIELS: Well, we’ll find out. Frankly, I’ll be disappointed if this new instrument doesn’t grow over time, so that it attracts all kinds of investors, people who see a chance, maybe to — yes, help a student, but also make some kind of a return. HARI SREENIVASAN: This fall, Purdue University is expanding their income share agreement program from juniors and seniors, to incoming sophomores. In Indiana, for the PBS NewsHour, I’m Hari Sreenivasan. The post Purdue invests in students’ futures with new model of financing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
4 minutes | Aug 19, 2017
Can students return a billion oysters to a New York harbor?
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio CLARISSA LYNN: Does everyone have a pen or pencil? IVETTE FELICIANO: 7th grade science teacher Clarissa Lynn takes her class on a 15-minute walk from their school in Harlem to New York City’s East River. There, they pull up a cage filled with oysters from an an oyster restoration station. CLARISSA LYNN: Put it in… IVETTE FELICIANO: Observing the growth of oysters is part of the Billion Oyster Project, an initiative to restore a billion of the once plentiful oysters to New York’s harbor by 2035. Clarissa Lynn’s Central Park East 2 is one of over 100 participating middle schools and high schools. CLARISSA LYNN: The oysters are a perfect hands on vehicle to teach kids a lot of different science skills. You can go into lessons on classification, and identification, ecology roles, so how do these organisms work together to create a balanced ecosystem? IVETTE FELICIANO: More than 10,000 students monitor and collect data at 100 oyster restoration stations. CLARISSA LYNN: You can identify what type of crab. They’re learning so much about the world that they particularly live in. We’re not studying a coral reef in some other part of the world. No, this is your backyard. IVETTE FELICIANO: Students document conditions, like water quality and clarity, and write reports. JANINE JIMENEZ, STUDENT: My question is how and why are the oysters dying. Since there’s a lot of things going on. The oysters haven’t been doing well today, like for the past few months. EJ JIMINEZ: We started with about 100 and then next thing we know, a bunch of them died. IVETTE FELICIANO: Twins Janine and Ej Jiminez are studying why 70 percent of the oysters have died at their station since last October. CLARISSA LYNN: That was the inspiration for their project – why is this happening? Finding out that this is not a suitable place to put an oyster reef is important, because that’ll help us narrow down the places for the project to ultimately be successful. IVETTE FELICIANO: New York City was once known as the oyster capital of the world, with 200,000 acres of oyster reefs. MURRAY FISHER: There were more oysters consumed, produced, and shipped out of New York Harbor in New York City than anywhere else in the world. But by the early 1800s, we had eaten them all. IVETTE FELICIANO: Billion Oyster Project co-founder Murray Fisher considers oysters a keystone species that can help can clean or filter the water by removing algae, phytoplankton, and other particles. MURRAY FISHER: An adult oyster filters, conservatively, in the summertime when they’re feeding, a gallon of water an hour, so 24 gallons a day. That means the standing volume of New York Harbor would be filtered by a billion oysters once every three days. IVETTE FELICIANO: The oyster reefs not only filter the water, they also provide habitat for other wildlife and help protect erosion of the shoreline from future storms and flooding. Since the project began three years ago, students have planted over 24 million oysters in the harbor. While these oysters are not destined for consumption, restaurants across the city are participating, by providing millions of recycled oyster shells to build back the reefs. NAAMA TAMIR: We keep the top part of the oyster shelL. When they’re done with the oysters, we make sure we keep the bottom parts as well. IVETTE FELICIANO: Naama Tamir hosts a daily oyster happy hour at her restaurant, Lighthouse, in Brooklyn. She donates 800 shells a week. The project then implants them onto the shells and distributes them to the monitoring stations. The project still has a long way to go before reaching a billion. CLARISSA LYNN: My hope is that some of these students will end up in career paths into sciences, technology and engineering. They definitely have the ability, and I think a big part is helping them see that they have the confidence or they have the capability to do that. MURRAY FISHER: This once was one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet. If we want to live sustainably and happily for another several hundred years or maybe every thousand years, we’ve got to take care of this natural resource. And if we don’t know about it, we’re not going to take care of it. The post Can students return a billion oysters to a New York harbor? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
7 minutes | Aug 15, 2017
B is for bug when preschoolers make nature their classroom
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio HARI SREENIVASAN: But first: A movement to get kids out of classrooms with walls and into the great outdoors is picking up steam. Across the U.S., nature preschools are seeing a surge. Jeffrey Brown traveled to Midland, Michigan, to find out why for our weekly education segment, Making the Grade. STUDENT: There’s a spider in my net. JEFFREY BROWN: Hunting for bugs, jumping off logs, dipping for frogs, it’s what kids do, right? In fact, no, many don’t, certainly not as part of their education. But in the age of testing, screens, and, some would say, excessively coddled children, a new movement of nature preschools is growing and pushing kids outdoors. Jenn Kirts, a biologist by training, oversees educational programs at the nonprofit Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, Michigan, 1,200 acres of woodlands, wetlands, ponds and meadows. JENN KIRTS, Director of Programs, Chippewa Nature Center: In a classroom, a lot of the things that you have are static and were designed to be played with in one particular way. The natural environment changes every single day. The weather changes, the humidity. There’s scat left behind. There’s new footprints. There’s leaves that are chewed today that weren’t chewed yesterday. And so there’s just a natural curiosity that happens there. And it’s something that people have spent time in for generations and generations. All of our existence, kids have grown up outdoors. That has changed in these current generations. JEFFREY BROWN: Students here spend most of the day outdoors. Some nature preschools don’t even have indoor classrooms. The alphabet and language skills are emphasized, while the lab for other skills is all around. JENN KIRTS: When we’re dipping at a pond and we’re discovering what’s there, that’s life science right there. And when we’re measuring trees, and kids are then going around and designing things to do those measurements and to figure that out, that is engineering and problem-solving and math. JEFFREY BROWN: And the idea is catching on. Nature preschools are seeing a surge in the U.S. — 10 years ago, there were barely 20. Today, by one count, the number has grown to nearly 250. STUDENT: A tadpole is swimming away. JEFFREY BROWN: These 3- and 4-year-olds learned about the life cycle of a frog, and then went to the pond to catch some. JESSICA DANKERT, Chippewa Nature Center: To see a child touch a frog that looks slimy and ewy and icky for them, and they’re OK and their hands and shaking, and we gently put them in there for them, and their face just glows. WOMAN: What do we not want to touch? STUDENTS: Poison ivy. WOMAN: Poison ivy. JEFFREY BROWN: During a weeklong summer camp, which closely mirrors the preschool program, teacher Kendall Cunningham led her charges to a meadow to catch insects and learn about the habitat. KENDALL CUNNINGHAM, Teacher, Chippewa Nature Center: A lot of the times, they say they don’t like the insects, they don’t want to touch them, but they want to watch. Watching it different than handling it. JEFFREY BROWN: Madison Powell is the director of the Chippewa Nature Preschool, with 140 students during the school year and a growing wait list. MADISON POWELL, Nature Preschool Director, Chippewa Nature Center: Children are so very scheduled, they’re not allowed to be bored anymore, they’re not allowed to play with things that are dangerous or that are messy. We want them to have those opportunities. We ask parents to look back at their childhood. What are some of the things you remember? Was it climbing a tree? Was it being covered in mud, stomping in puddles? And a lot of times, it is. And if it’s not their parents, it’s their grandparents, or some sort of relative who said, I grew up that way. I came home and the streetlights came on, that sort of thing. JEFFREY BROWN: Right. MADISON POWELL: And we’re living in a society that just doesn’t allow children to make many decisions for themselves. JEFFREY BROWN: Here, they’re willing to push boundaries. We watched as one boy tried to tear down what he thought was a dead tree. First, he shook it, to no avail, then tied a rope around the sapling’s trunk to bring it down. Finally, he and a classmate managed to snap the tree, and now it really was a dead tree. KENDALL CUNNINGHAM: They’re going to learn something from the whole experience. We can sacrifice a tree. JEFFREY BROWN: Teacher Kendall Cunningham explained: KENDALL CUNNINGHAM: If it would have gotten to a point that it didn’t look like it was going to be a safe activity anymore, then I probably would have intervened and said, OK, now it’s time to stop. We can’t do this anymore. JEFFREY BROWN: And the lesson wasn’t over. Cunningham gave the boys some tools for learning, small saws, in fact, used under her watchful eyes. Preschool director Madison Powell: MADISON POWELL: We just make sure that we’re going with the comfort level of the teachers and the kids. Our teachers have maybe a higher tolerance for that, because we do see such value in risky play and what that does for their decision-making. We make sure that they’re within reach. They’re not going to fall from great heights, according to us. Great heights for them might be the top of this bench. JEFFREY BROWN: A certain level of risk is allowed. MADISON POWELL: It sure is, and it’s healthy. JEFFREY BROWN: Also considered healthy, going outside in most types of weather. We visited on a very hot day, but even on cold winter days in Michigan the kids bundle up and head out. Parents we talked with hear no complaints. BECKY BENSALL, Parent: They would love to be outside all the time. Just maybe the snow suits that they wear are phenomenal. It keeps them so warm that they don’t even know it’s cold. Doesn’t even bother them. They love it. WOMAN: They would live outside if I let them live outside. And they’re extremely curious. They’re always asking me questions, whether we’re playing in the backyard, we’re out here for hikes, or anywhere outside. JEFFREY BROWN: But will these nature kids be academically prepared for kindergarten? That’s the subject of study right now by a Michigan State University research team, which followed the children around last year, rain or shine, gathering data with GoPro cameras and conducting interviews to test their skills. Lori Skibbe, one of the lead investigators, told us the early results. LORI SKIBBE, Michigan State University: What we found is that children at the, here at the nature-based center did just as well on our literacy measures, our language measures, our science measures and some of our executive function measures as children in the more traditional setting. So, they learned just as much. JEFFREY BROWN: Does that surprise you so far? LORI SKIBBE: At how similar they are, yes, that surprised me. The rates of learning were fairly equivalent across all of our schools, were pretty much the same. JEFFREY BROWN: And can you draw any preliminary conclusions from that? LORI SKIBBE: I think you can say that a nature-based setting can prepare you for kindergarten, as well as a traditional setting, if it’s done well. JEFFREY BROWN: That study continues, for now, along with the hunt for the next insect. For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jeffrey Brown at the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, Michigan. The post B is for bug when preschoolers make nature their classroom appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
5 minutes | Aug 11, 2017
This Baltimore school helps girls step up for college
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: A new documentary captures the power of art to change lives. “Step” follows students from the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, or BLSYW. It’s a middle and high school. As an art form, step started in Africa and became popular in the United States as it was adopted and transformed by members of predominantly African-American fraternities and sororities. BLSYW has one primary goal for its students: 100 percent college acceptance. But you will see, that wasn’t the only success. Have a look. PAULA DOFAT, Director of College Counseling: Step is not dance. Dancing or step dancing or a dance number? No, it’s step. BLESSIN GIRALDO, Step Team Founder: Step is life because it taught me a lot about myself. PAULA DOFAT: Making good use of your body. Your body makes the percussion. Clapping, stomping, military movement, the spoken word, gymnastics, cheerleading, making literally music with your bodies. BLESSIN GIRALDO: That was the first place where I could practice my natural abilities, being a leader, teaching discipline, learning how to be disciplined. I’m Blessin Giraldo. I’m the captain of the BLSYW step team, also the founder. PAULA DOFAT: I was their first step team adviser, not their coach, but their adviser. My name is Paula Dofat. I’m the director of college counseling for the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. GARI MCINTYRE, Step Coach: I was hired just to coach the ladies. My hidden agenda was to mentor them. My name is Gari McIntyre, also known as Coach G. BLESSIN GIRALDO: She wanted us to use our voice, black women, not only a minority, but from an urban community like Baltimore. PAULA DOFAT: I want to have three main principles that we follow, solidarity, discipline and self-esteem. STUDENT: I like the step because it’s empowering. STUDENT: It’s a form of art that brings us all together. BLESSIN GIRALDO: Believing in someone plays a huge part of confidence and performance and the outcome of the common goal, which for us is to go to college. PAULA DOFAT: I was put on earth to do this kind of work, to be a college counselor, to help students to get from point A to point B on their success plan. GARI MCINTYRE: I have a purpose. And no matter what you’re doing, when people show your appreciation, you feel refueled and you feel like your purpose has been met. BLESSIN GIRALDO: It kind of makes me really emotional, because I don’t know where I would be without my school. And I feel like I was put in this predicament. I would consider myself one of the lucky ones from our city. GARI MCINTYRE: I think without the structure of BLSYW, step, and Paula Dofat, a lot of these girls would be lost, as I was when I graduated high school. PAULA DOFAT: From the time they come in, in sixth grade, they’re taught about self-advocacy, they’re taught about the support of their sisters, they’re taught about taking responsibility for their actions. BLESSIN GIRALDO: I wouldn’t blame anyone else but myself, but it was somebody that I had to battle with every day to not be defeated, not having the best amount of support in my immediate environment, which wasn’t at BLSYW, or maybe not having food in our refrigerator, or not having the lights. GARI MCINTYRE: Step, I truly think, is what gave them the discipline, what gives them the drive to keep on going academically, because you can’t be on the step team if your grades are not right. BLESSIN GIRALDO: Being a subject of a documentary, signing up for that, it wasn’t easy. It was really hard. You want to inspire, but, in order to do that, you have to be honest. And that’s how you lead with integrity. PAULA DOFAT: Most people, the first thing they — the word that comes to mind when they have seen the film and their reaction is that it’s inspiring, not just their struggles, but how they triumph over their struggles. BLESSIN GIRALDO: It’s not brave if you’re not afraid. There were moments when I felt like I did want to cut the camera off. I knew that that moment was probably a moment of where I might have felt embarrassed or had to take a double-take of if I wanted somebody to see this. PAULA DOFAT: We are absolutely exceptional, but I don’t think we are the exception. We did it in year two, class of 2017, 100 percent college acceptance, and we took it up one notch. Ten percent of that graduating class are on full-ride scholarships. BLESSIN GIRALDO: The day the documentary premiered in Baltimore, there was no murders that day, August 4. And, to me, I felt like that was a symbol of how much this movie can unite people and change people’s perceptions of Baltimore. JUDY WOODRUFF: Powerful. The post This Baltimore school helps girls step up for college appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
6 minutes | Aug 8, 2017
Will rules on investigating college sexual assault be dialed back?
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio JUDY WOODRUFF: Next tonight, we turn to one of the most controversial issues in higher education today, sexual assault on college campuses. The U.S. secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, is considering dialing down federal guidance for how colleges and universities should handle sexual misconduct investigations. It’s a move that’s dividing school administrators, survivors and even the accused. That’s the topic for our weekly education segment, Making the Grade. Our William Brangham has more. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: We’re talking about the interpretation of Title IX. That’s the 1972 law meant to prohibit sexual discrimination at federally funded schools and colleges. In 2011, the Obama administration issued new requirements for how those schools should handle investigations into sexual assaults on their campuses. Survivors and advocates had long argued that administrators weren’t doing enough to deal with an epidemic of these assaults. A 2016 Justice Department survey showed that one in five women said they’d been sexually assaulted in college. The Obama administration wanted to address that. Here’s how then Education Secretary Arne Duncan described their effort: ARNE DUNCAN, Former U.S. Education Secretary: Today, for the first time ever, an administration is releasing guidance under Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972 explaining how schools and colleges should deal with sexual violence. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: One of the more controversial changes was that the department urged schools to now use a lower standard of evidence in investigating these cases, using a — quote — “preponderance of evidence” that a sexual attack had occurred. Schools began changing their policies. Those that didn’t were threatened with the loss of federal funding. Victim advocates, like Fatima Goss Graves of the National Women’s Law Center, celebrated the new guidance. FATIMA GOSS GRAVES, National Women’s Law Center: Forty-five years after Title IX first banned sex discrimination in education, you finally have colleges and universities paying more attention, trying to take the steps that are necessary to have campuses that are safer, and to ensure that sexual assault isn’t an issue that’s just swept under the rug. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But others, like Cynthia Garrett of Families Advocating Campus Equality, argue that the increased pressure on schools tipped the scales of justice against the accused. CYNTHIA GARRETT, Families Advocating Campus Equality: I think that the guidance that Obama — the Obama administration issued went too far the other way. And, as a result, there are colleges terrified to rule in favor of accused students or find them not responsible. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Taking a fresh look at the rules, last month, new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos convened listening sessions with sexual assault survivors, school administrators, and even students who’d been accused of sexual violence. BETSY DEVOS, U.S. Education Secretary: No student should feel the scales are tipped against him or her. We need to get this right. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Critics rallied outside the department’s headquarters, demanding DeVos not rescind the Title IX guidance from the Obama years. Adding to the controversy, Candice Jackson, DeVos’ acting head of the Office for Civil Rights, said that nearly all sexual assault allegations fall into the category of — quote — “We were both drunk, we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation.” Jackson later apologized for her comments. Survivors and their advocates fear this sentiment signals that the department will rescind the 2011 guidance or simply not enforce it. Michelle Anderson is the president of Brooklyn College. MICHELLE ANDERSON, President, Brooklyn College: If Betsy DeVos rescinds the 2011 guidance, campuses are left adrift about how to respond to the mandates of Title IX. And the campuses need that guidance in order to perform effectively, in order to respond to the needs of students. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: There’s no sign yet as to what the Department of Education plans to do. For more on all this, we turn to Anya Kamenetz. She’s the lead education writer for NPR. Welcome back to the NewsHour. ANYA KAMENETZ, NPR: Thanks, William. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, before we get into the nitty-gritty of this, the cases that we’re talking about here, the assault cases, are an allegation where one student has made against another student, and it’s the schools, not law enforcement, that are adjudicating this. ANYA KAMENETZ: Yes. And a lot of people feel like that’s really the heart of the issue, because the Obama administration’s guidance was attempting to get schools, colleges, to take a stronger stance in adjudicating these claims. And a lot of people might say, well, shouldn’t that be law enforcement’s problem? But the argument was that, under Title IX, this is a civil rights matter, because it has to do with female students and other victims’ ability to have equal access to educational opportunity. Schools might say, well, we don’t have the infrastructure to necessarily investigate these claims or the fact-finding. And then some critics of the policy as well from outside say, yes, there’s not necessarily the same standards of evidence for an investigation when a school looks at a claim vs. law enforcement. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And the criticism of what the Obama administration did was that by tying these investigations to federal money, and by lowering the evidentiary standard, that you’re basically making a very strong incentive for schools to convict someone who is accused. ANYA KAMENETZ: Right. So, with this statement, the Obama administration sort of created a national standard of preponderance of the evidence. Some colleges have used that standard before, but the bottom line is, they’re forcing a compliance mentality on the colleges by saying, we think that, in order to be good colleges with regard to sexual violence, that you have to follow these rules, one, two, three. Some victims’ advocates were very much in favor of that. And others, including some legal scholars, said this is overreach by the federal government. That’s certainly the position that DeVos and the Trump administration seem to be taking. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Currently, are schools and universities happy with this circumstance? ANYA KAMENETZ: I think that there’s a variety of opinions. Unfortunately, sexual violence is endemic on campuses. And so the feeling among colleges is, nobody wants to be singled out. And so some might say that having a single standard of investigation and what the federal government considers to be a strong standard, then colleges can point to that and say, we’re in compliance, we’re doing the right thing. Other colleges might say — resent having this thrust upon them. And it’s hard to say where colleges might fall on that. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, we don’t know exactly what Betsy DeVos and the current Education Department is going to do, but kids are going to start going to college pretty soon now. What do you think that this whole conversation is going to mean for them going forward? ANYA KAMENETZ: I think the messaging around this is really important, because, ultimately, sexual violence, it claims victims. It’s a common situation, unfortunately, common on campuses, but it’s also a school climate issue. It has to do with how a young woman and even a young man feels about what party they’re going to go to. If they’re going to be doing a certain activity after hours, can they walk alone? And I think that those safety issues are going to be on students’ minds as they go back to campus, and certainly on parents’ minds as well. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Anya Kamenetz of NPR, thank you so much. ANYA KAMENETZ: Thank you. The post Will rules on investigating college sexual assault be dialed back? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
6 minutes | Aug 1, 2017
What Flint’s superintendent did to protect children from lead
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: an update on how schools in Flint, Michigan, are coping with lead problems, and what the city’s school superintendent did to protect children from exposure, while making sure their education wasn’t interrupted. The district was already facing declining enrollment, financial problems and falling test scores. Lead is especially dangerous to young children, having the potential to impair brain development and cause behavioral changes. The Flint School District began making changes even before other city officials. Special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza, with our partner Education Week, has this report. It’s part of our weekly series Making the Grade. KAVITHA CARDOZA: It’s been two years since alarmingly high levels of lead were found in Flint children. MARY JOHNS, Kindergarten Teacher, Eisenhower Elementary School: Everybody, what’s this word? KAVITHA CARDOZA: Mary Johns has taught kindergarten for 12 years. She’s now seeing the impact up of lead poisoning. MARY JOHNS: I had a student in kindergarten last year. He wasn’t progressing like I thought he should physically, mentally. He just wasn’t. He tested highly positive for lead poisoning. Just from last year to this year, you just see the change in him completely. KAVITHA CARDOZA: Johns sees differences in behavior, too. Another symptom? MARY JOHNS: Sometimes, they get agitated easily. Sometimes, they get angry easy, a lot easier than they used to. KAVITHA CARDOZA: Superintendent Bilal Tawwab is leading a comprehensive effort to mitigate the effects of lead on children. BILAL TAWWAB, Superintendent, Flint Community Schools: We have been focusing on hiring support staff for our students, additional social workers, school psychologists, speech pathologists, behavior specialists. KAVITHA CARDOZA: Signs of the effort are everywhere. Meditation classes calm students showing signs of anxiety. Swivel chairs have been added for fidgety kids. Hand wipes are available for those children who still can’t bathe at home. And along with free bottled water everywhere, there’s free breakfast. BILAL TAWWAB: As you know, there are lead-mitigating foods that our children can consume, and so we have been very intentional in developing a diet for our children. KAVITHA CARDOZA: The problem began three years ago. Flint changed to a new water system, the Flint River, to save money. This water flowing through the aging pipes caused lead, a neurotoxin that affects brain development, to seep into the water system. Health officials estimate tens of thousands were affected, many of them children. Bilal Tawwab had been named the new superintendent of Flint schools a few months earlier. BILAL TAWWAB: I knew I was coming into a situation which was going to be a heavy lift. You have a district which some would say is failing academically. We had a huge decline in enrollment over the past few years, financial crises. KAVITHA CARDOZA: Then, things got worse. Pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha conducted a study before and after Flint’s water source was changed. It showed the percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels essentially doubled. This wasn’t an announcement state officials wanted to hear. DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA, Pediatrician: I was being attacked by the state. So, the state was saying that, hey, you’re wrong. This research is not true. You’re causing near hysteria. The state’s numbers don’t match my numbers. So my credibility, this data, this science was being attacked. KAVITHA CARDOZA: But Tawwab took her warning seriously. He ignored possible political backlash, as well as concerns about costs, and turned off all school taps. He ordered schools to switch to bottled water. DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: It was very brave and courageous of him to stand up for kids, and to use his power as a superintendent to say, hey, we don’t know what’s going on. There’s a potential of this going on. So let’s err on the side of caution, and let’s protect children. KAVITHA CARDOZA: Government funds and philanthropy pay for the school district’s programs to mitigate the effects of lead poisoning. All the bottled water is donated. Tawwab says working with partners is essential. BILAL TAWWAB: It starts with a leader who’s willing to collaborate to bring everyone to the table. You can’t go in as the leader feeling as if you have all of the answers. No. You don’t want to do that. You want folks to come in and be able to collaborate, and come up with the solution together. KAVITHA CARDOZA: He insists that the water crisis shouldn’t stand in the way of the district’s essential job, teaching. BILAL TAWWAB: I can’t look at a child and say, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to educate you that year because we were dealing with a water crisis. That’s not a fair excuse. KAVITHA CARDOZA: But the crisis is far from over. WOMAN: Girls, do you want some water? KAVITHA CARDOZA: Most of the city is still without drinkable water. Health officials are facing criminal charges. And it’s unclear how long government aid will last. Worst of all, pediatrician Hanna-Attisha expects to see signs of lead poisoning, especially among those who have not yet started school. DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA: This is an irreversible neurotoxin. There is no magic pill. There is no antidote for this exposure. But there is a lot that we can do to mitigate the impact of this exposure. KAVITHA CARDOZA: Through it all, though, the superintendent remains optimistic. During Tawwab’s tenure, the graduation rate has improved, though it’s still below the national average. Test scores have gone up slightly. Enrollment is up, and there are plans to open new schools. BILAL TAWWAB: You have kids who are excited to be in school. You have teachers who are excited to be teaching. We do not want to let this crisis define this community. It’s not going to happen. KAVITHA CARDOZA: I’m Kavitha Cardoza with Education Week for the PBS NewsHour. The post What Flint’s superintendent did to protect children from lead appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
8 minutes | Jul 25, 2017
The challenge of reaching hungry kids when school is out
Watch Video | Listen to the AudioJUDY WOODRUFF: For American children, summer is supposed to be a time of fun and games, but, for many, it is also a time of true need. During the school year, roughly 22 million children in this country get free and reduced-price lunch. In the summer, those numbers drop dramatically. Just under four million have access to subsidized meals. There are 50,000 locations providing summer meals, but reaching those who need the food can be a challenge. WATCH: Hunger a persistent problem for poor Americans as Republicans mull SNAP cuts Special PBS correspondent Lisa Stark of our partner Education Week traveled to Nebraska to see how one food bank is trying to fill the gap. LISA STARK: It’s a scorching summer day in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, about 40 minutes south of Omaha, as the food truck lumbers into view. Despite the heat, families are lining up for lunch at what’s called Kids Cruisin’ Kitchen. BECKY HAM, Parent: They get milk. They get fruit and vegetables. It’s really a nice program. LISA STARK: Becky Ham and her children rely on the food truck a few times a week. BECKY HAM: We started doing this about three summers ago when my husband lost his job right before the end of the school year. And we were really panicked about how we were going to make everything work. LISA STARK: Ham’s husband has a new job, but the budget remains tight. The family still qualifies for free school lunches, and is thankful for the summer help. BECKY HAM: It’s really helping kids out. It’s really helping families out when they need it. LISA STARK: Kids Cruisin’ Kitchen was launched six years ago by Omaha’s Food Bank for the Heartland and Salvation Army. With four food trucks and 10 fixed locations, it serves 1,300 children a day. Do you get enough to eat at the food truck? MARLINE AHMED, Kindergartener: They give us a lot of meals. LISA STARK: A lot of meals and a lot of food? MARLINE AHMED: Yes. LISA STARK: Yes? Susan Ogborn is the food bank president. Who are you trying to help? Who’s your target here for the summer meals? SUSAN OGBORN, President, Food Bank for the Heartland: Primarily, the children of the working poor. They are the folks who won’t tell you that they need help. They are the folks whose children qualify for free or reduced price-lunches. LISA STARK: Preparing these meals begins early in the morning in an industrial kitchen run by an Omaha area school district. They make meals for Kids Cruisin’ Kitchen and other summer meal programs. JACKIE CAMBRIDGE, Contract Meal Services, Westside Community Schools: We do about 3,000 meals a day during the summer. LISA STARK: In less than three hours on this morning, corn dogs are cooked, bananas packed, chocolate milk readied, sack lunches bagged, chicken patties, fruit and veggies prepped for later in the week. JACKIE CAMBRIDGE: It’s the five food groups. It’s grains, meat, fruit, vegetables, milk. LISA STARK: Meals are paid for by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, $3.83 each, and must meet government nutrition standards, which are a bit looser in the summer. Jackie Cambridge manages this summer meal service. JACKIE CAMBRIDGE: There’s always a whew when we get it out the door. And then we just hope that it’s getting to kids in need, and that they’re enjoying it, and we do it all again the next day. LISA STARK: Shortly after 9:00 a.m., the Kids Cruisin’ Kitchen truck pulls up to load its food, hot meals to go. The truck makes four stops each weekday during most of the summer break. After that first stop in Plattsmouth, it’s off to a public library, followed by a public housing project, then onto an affordable housing development, areas where more than half of children quality for free and reduced-price lunch, although anyone is welcome. CHILD: You got corn dogs today? Bananas. LISA STARK: Summer lunches are an outgrowth of subsidized school lunches, which expanded in the 1960s. NARRATOR: A good lunch provides from a third to one-half of the student’s daily needs. LISA STARK: As part of President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty. LYNDON JOHNSON, Former President of the United States: Children just must not go hungry. LISA STARK: The programs have grown enormously. Today, 85 percent of all breakfasts served at schools and 73 percent of school lunches are subsidized by the USDA; 12 million students depend on breakfast, 22 million on lunch. Nationwide, nearly 20 percent of children under age 18 live in poverty. That’s 14.5 million children. LAURA HATCH, Director of National Partnerships, No Kid Hungry: Sometimes, schools are providing the only meals that kids get during the week. LISA STARK: Laura Hatch is With No Kid Hungry, a national advocacy group trying to reduce childhood hunger. She says school meals make a big difference. LAURA HATCH: We know that kids that eat breakfast do better on math tests. We know that serving breakfast as part of the school day can actually keep kids in their seat and lessen absenteeism. LISA STARK: Serving school meals is easier. Students are all in one place. Summer meals are tougher. The food has to get to where the children are. To make it work, the food bank hires 10 temporary staffers, and relies on 200 volunteers from Mutual of Omaha. This is Gary Hering’s third year helping out. He understands hunger. GARY HERING, Volunteer, Mutual Omaha: There were times when, as a family, I know we struggled, and we’d go visit relatives just to eat, you know, have food every day. LISA STARK: Do you think that’s true for some of these kids? Or what do you think? GARY HERING: You bet. That’s the best part about it today, that these kids aren’t going to be hungry at lunch. LISA STARK: Despite all this effort by the food bank and others, Nebraska ranks near the bottom of all 50 states when it comes to summer meals. For every 100 children who depend on the school lunch program, only eight are getting help during the summer. That’s according to the Food Research and Action Center, which found that, last year, nationwide, that gap between filling the need during the school year and the summer got wider. It’s especially difficult to reach children in rural areas. They are spread out, and USDA rules require all summer meals to be served and eaten in one place at one time. WOMAN: You guys going to eat it over here today, OK? LISA STARK: Regulars, like Michelle Brown and her sisters, are well aware of the rules. CHILD: You just have to, like, eat here, and you have to come on time. LISA STARK: USDA has a pilot program in seven states and two tribal areas to help families in need during the summer by temporarily increasing food stamps benefits. Advocates would like this program offered more widely. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who recently visited a summer meal site in Washington, D.C., says he’s open to the idea. SONNY PERDUE, U.S. Agriculture Secretary: I don’t think any of us want to fast over the summer, so just because school stops doesn’t mean that the needs for good, nutritious, healthy food and a good environment doesn’t stop. LISA STARK: The food bank’s Susan Ogborn is eager to see regulations relaxed to make it easier to expand summer meals. SUSAN OGBORN, President, Food Bank for the Heartland: The problem is, children are hungry every day. And so we hope that Secretary Perdue and the rest of his team at USDA get their rules and regulations figured out pretty quickly. LISA STARK: For now, the food bank will continue to roll along with its current program, hoping one day to reach many more children, but committed to the mostly satisfied customers it already has. What do you think about the food truck? ALUAL AKUEI, Third Grader: I like it, but I would love it if they added donuts. LISA STARK: Maybe next summer. For the PBS NewsHour and Education Week, I’m Lisa Stark in Omaha, Nebraska. JUDY WOODRUFF: We love donuts, too. Editor’s Note: We mistakenly referred to the Food Research and Action Center as the Food Research and Action Network. A correction has been made in the transcript. The post The challenge of reaching hungry kids when school is out appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Terms of Service
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© Stitcher 2022