Education

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Mark Twain Elementary second grade teacher Elizabeth Clarke staples together work from two of her second-grade students in this 2013 photo.
Chase Cook / Oklahoma Watch

In South Dakota, one of two states with lower average teacher pay than Oklahoma, the Legislature in March approved a half-cent sales tax intended to boost salaries by thousands of dollars.

The other state, Mississippi, also is phasing in a teacher pay increase.

By contrast, when Oklahoma legislators adjourned Friday, they left ambitions of higher salaries for teachers unfulfilled. That means the state could find itself dead last in teacher pay soon unless more funding is generated.

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Mel Atkins has spent most of his life with Grand Rapids Public Schools in Michigan. He graduated from Ottawa Hills High, where he played baseball. But his real love was bowling. He says he's bowled 22 perfect games.

He's been a teacher and principal in the city's public schools. And now he works for the district, overseeing just about everything related to students.

One more thing you need to know about him: Mel Atkins is a number-cruncher.

Three years ago, the superintendent came to him with a question: Does Grand Rapids have an issue with chronic absenteeism?

On San Jose State University's lush inner-city campus, students in their graduation gowns pose with their families in front of ivy-covered buildings.

They're the lucky ones.

Just 10 percent of students graduate from this public university in four years. After six years, it's only a bit more than half.

Think about that — of 100 students who enrolled four years ago, only 10 will walk across the stage this year.

That sounds low, but you can find these kind of numbers at lots of universities in the U.S.

The Kansas Supreme Court has rejected lawmakers' attempt to fix the state's education-funding problem. The court has said that schools will have to close if the Legislature does not correct inequity in the system by the end of June.

After reviewing the lawmakers' changes, the justices concluded, "Disparities among the districts remain inequitable and unconstitutional."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Baylor University has removed Ken Starr as president and suspended head football coach Art Briles amid the release of a report critical of how the school has treated allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

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