For years now, Washington, D.C., school officials have been under pressure to fully investigate allegations of inflated test scores, cheating and possibly a cover up. At the center of it all is Michelle Rhee. She's the fiery former school chancellor who based much of her success on dramatic gains in kids' reading and math scores. Those gains are now suspect. And as NPR's Claudio Sanchez reports, questions about what really happened just won't go away.
It turns out that the budget cuts that are affecting Head Start come at a time when spending on early childhood education is shrinking across the country. From 2011 to 2012, state funding for pre-kindergarten dropped by half a billion dollars - that according to her recent report from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.
The director of the institute, Steve Barnett, is with us now. Welcome to you. Thank you so much for joining us.
Tomorrow, in Madison, Wisconsin, college students will be partying, and it's not your average University of Wisconsin party. It's the annual Mifflin Street block party, a pre-exam bash. And as we hear from Gilman Halsted of Wisconsin Public Radio, the tradition has morphed into a sometimes violent 24-hour drinking fest, and the city and university are not happy about it.
In fall 2011, Sebastian Thrun, a research professor at Stanford, and Peter Norvig, the top scientist at Google, teamed up to develop and teach a free, online course on artificial intelligence. Their aim, as Norvig said in an impassioned and compelling TED talk, was to develop a course at least as good as, if not better than, the course they teach together at Stanford. They'd put the result online and make it available to everyone, for free.
"It's not about making learning happen. It's about letting it happen." — Sugata Mitra
Learning is an integral part of human nature. But why do we — as adults — assume learning must be taught, tested and reinforced? Why do we put so much effort into making kids think and act like us? In this hour, TED speakers explore the ways babies and children learn, from the womb to the playground to the Web.
After years of offering children self-supervised access to the Web, Sugata Mitra says kids can teach themselves. Mitra continues the conversation from earlier this episode by arguing that self-organized classes are the future of education, and he puts forward a bold vision: to build a school in the cloud.
Veteran teacher Rita Pierson believes that relationships are crucial to education. She talks about how classrooms lack the kind of human connections kids need to feel inspired and to learn. Pierson gave her talk as part of the PBS Special TED Talks Education, airing May 7.
Chicago's plan to shut down 54 schools would be the largest school closure in U.S. history. And it has taken a step closer to becoming a reality. After a month of public hearings, officials will hand over reports to the school board with recommendations for how many of the schools in question should be closed. As NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, parents, educators and students in Chicago say they are not ready to quit fighting for their schools.