Ways to Connect

When was the first time race — as a concept or category — came up in conversation with your child?

What questions did they have? Is there anything you wish you could have handled differently? Or if you haven't had this conversation yet, do you have any questions about how to begin?

Tell us your story in a voice memo. Use this form or email it to

A federal commission led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recommends rescinding Obama-era guidance intended to reduce racial discrimination in school discipline. And, DeVos says, it urges schools to "seriously consider partnering with local law enforcement in the training and arming of school personnel."

Sometimes a psychiatric crisis can be triggered by something small. For Alexia Phillips, 21, it was a heated argument with a close family member in February 2017. She remembers the fight blew up before she left the house to go to classes at Queens College in Flushing, New York.

By midday, Phillips, then a sophomore, says she began to cry loudly and uncontrollably.

"It really triggered me. I just got really angry really fast...I was crying so much I couldn't breathe and couldn't talk. I didn't know how to handle it," she says.

Students in U.S. schools were less likely to be suspended in 2016 than they were in 2012. But the progress is incremental, and large gaps — by race and by special education status — remain.

This data comes from an analysis of federal data for NPR in partnership with the nonprofit organization Child Trends. And it comes as the Trump administration is preparing the final report from a school safety commission that is expected to back away from or rescind Obama-era guidance intended to reduce racial disparities in school discipline.

Yassiry Gonzalez goes to bed early. But often she wakes up around 1 or 2 in the morning. And from then on, sometimes all the way through dawn, the New York City high school student is on her phone — on FaceTime with close friends, or looking through Instagram.

"Sometimes, I'm so tired that I'll just fall asleep in school." She estimates the all-nighters happen once or twice a week. And on the weekends? "There's no sleep. No sleep."

Looking back, 2018 may be the year that a critical mass of people started wondering: Am I spending too much time on my phone?

A spike in blood pressure. A racing heart rate. Sweaty palms.

For many adults, this is what they feel when faced with difficult math.

But for kids, math anxiety isn't just a feeling, it can affect their ability to do well in school. This fear tends to creep up on students when performance matters the most, like during exams or while speaking in class.

One reason for a kid's math anxiety? How their parents feel about the subject.

You're reading NPR's weekly roundup of education news.

The Education Department hatches plan to fix troubled TEACH grant

The Education Department plans to erase debt for thousands of teachers whose TEACH grants were converted to loans, after an almost year-long NPR investigation into the troubled federal program.

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The U.S. Department of Education is sending emails to about 15,000 people across the country telling them: You've got money.

Six years after 26 children and educators were killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut by a troubled 20 year old, a group of parents is stepping up its efforts to make sure it doesn't happen again.

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A small city in Wisconsin recently made headlines after a photo of high schoolers apparently giving a Nazi salute went viral.

Kentucky's Supreme Court has struck down a pension law that spurred thousands of the state's teachers to protest last spring.

The court ruled that the way the pension bill was passed didn't give state lawmakers a "fair opportunity" to consider it. In a surprise maneuver, both chambers pushed the measure through in a matter of hours — before the public and even some lawmakers had had a chance to read it.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, came into being in 1845 as the church of Southern slaveholders.

Now, 173 years later, Southern Baptist leaders are not just acknowledging their dark history; they are documenting it, as if by telling the story in wrenching detail, they may finally be freed of its taint.

"I'm here to raise a warning flag with American students and American taxpayers," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said at a conference about federal student aid in Atlanta in November. "We have a crisis in higher education."

Many American teenagers try to put in a full day of school, homework, after-school activities, sports and college prep on too little sleep. As evidence grows that chronic sleep deprivation puts teens at risk for physical and mental health problems, there is increasing pressure on school districts around the country to consider a later start time.

Two students share a laptop in the atrium of the chemistry building at the University of Michigan. One, Cameron Russell, is white, a freshman from a rice-growing parish in Louisiana; the other, Elijah Taylor, is black, a senior and a native of Detroit.

They are different, yes, but there is much that unites them.

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It’s not hard to find a reason to be down. News can be overwhelming and bleak. Dystopian fiction books and shows are hot commodities.

But all is not lost. A new genre, called Hope Punk, has arrived.

Polygon says the genre is a result of pop culture “largely becom[ing] brighter, kinder and more focused on empathy.”

One way this genre is making itself heard is through podcasts. Some of these shows are fictional, but others focus on making abstract topics more engaging, like fine art — as the podcast Accession does.

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Mounting evidence about President Trump's 2016 campaign raises legal issues and a big political question.


Updated Dec. 10 at 4:10 p.m. ET

A school in California where a student on the autism spectrum died last week after being physically restrained violated several state regulations, according to findings from a preliminary investigation by the state's Department of Education.

On Nov. 28, 13-year-old Max Benson was restrained by a staff member at his small private school in El Dorado Hills, Calif. While he was being restrained, Max lost consciousness.

NPR is doing an ongoing series of stories about the troubled TEACH Grant program.

If you're one of the thousands of teachers who had grants converted to loans even though you were meeting the teaching requirements of the program — we want to hear from you.

There is now a fix underway to help teachers who lost their grants. If you can document that you are meeting or have met the teaching requirements of the program, the Department of Education says it will change your loans back to grants.

For public school teacher Kaitlyn McCollum, even simple acts like washing dishes or taking a shower can fill her with dread.

"It will just hit me like a ton of bricks," McCollum says. " 'Oh my God, I owe all of that money.' And it's, like, a knee-buckling moment of panic all over again."

She and her family recently moved to a much smaller, older house. One big reason for the downsizing: a $24,000 loan that McCollum has been unfairly saddled with because of a paperwork debacle at the U.S. Department of Education.

Friday News Roundup - International

Dec 7, 2018

Researchers around the world warned of the escalating toll of climate change this week. Carbon dioxide emissions around the world are reaching record highs. Global emissions grew 1.6 percent in 2017, reported The Washington Post. The rise in 2018? A projected 2.7 percent. This is a bad sign as world leaders gather at the COP 24 summit in Poland to talk about ways to prevent global temperature increases.

Friday News Roundup - Domestic

Dec 7, 2018

Lawmakers, friends, colleagues and family members memorialized President George H.W. Bush in Washington on Wednesday.

The public mourning for the 41st president included a number of reminders of a way politics used to happen — or at least how it seems like it used to happen. Here’s what The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser wrote about the service:

The Albuquerque public school district is apologizing for a teacher who allegedly cut one Native American student's hair during class and called another by a racial slur.

"It breaks my heart," said Superintendent Raquel Reedy at an Albuquerque Public Schools board meeting on Wednesday. "It truly saddens me so much to think that these students, that any of our students, may feel disrespected or unappreciated or unaccepted."

The incident happened at Cibola High School on Halloween, when teachers and students were dressed in costume.

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A for-profit college chain mired in financial troubles announced on Wednesday it is shutting down dozens of campuses across the country by the end of the month. The abrupt decision comes a day after the company lost its accreditation and funding, leaving frantic students scrambling in the final days of the year to enroll in new schools.

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