Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hungry hungry students

With the Hollywood depictions of frat bros chugging beer and hippies snacking on munchies, the starving college student might seem like a myth.

Yet student hunger in higher education is no folk tale. Although the national data on college student hunger is abysmal, recent surveys suggest that show many students don’t get enough to eat.

One study by researchers at the Wisconsin Hope Lab found that nearly one in five students reported that they did not have enough money to buy food, ate less than they felt they should or cut down the size of their meals.

Stephen Smith talks to an author of that report, Katharine Broton.

What is restorative justice?

In the United States, three million kids are suspended from school every year.

Yet research shows suspension is often ineffective: it doesn’t make students behave better when they come back to school.

Restorative justice is one alternative to suspension or expulsion. But what exactly does “restorative justice” mean?

Thalia Gonzalez is a Professor of Politics at Occidental College. She joins producer Catherine Winter to discuss her research on restorative justice programs in schools nationwide.

A homeless student struggles towards graduation

This week, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidelines to states and school districts for supporting homeless children.

Over one million homeless students are enrolled in K-12 schools in the United States.

Due to their lack of housing, many of them struggle in school. Research has found homeless children struggle with vocabulary and sentence formation. Homeless students score lower on standardized tests and are more likely to drop out than their peers.

Laura Yuen (@laura_yuen) of Minnesota Public Radio followed one homeless high school senior in the suburbs of Minneapolis over the course of this past school year.

Her story is part of MPR’s Minnesota Graduation Gap series.


The facts and fictions of student debt

Stories all over the news have identified a new crisis in the United States: student debt. They say debt is crushing college students, topping $1 trillion dollars overall. That’s more than both credit card and auto loans; it’s second only to mortgages.

Yet our guest this week says that scary trillion-dollar number isn’t what we should focus on.

Sandy Baum is a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and author of Student Debt: Rhetoric and Realities of Higher Education Financing.

Baum says loans provide access to college for students who couldn’t other wise afford it. Instead of dismissing debt out of hand, every student should evaluate what kind of higher education is worth it for them.

Race in suburban schools

Picture the suburbs. Before Arcade Fire, there was Leave It to Beaver, the white picket fence, perfectly manicured lawns. You’re probably not conjuring an image of a diverse place.

Yet data show the suburbs are increasingly diversifying. Today more than one-third of all suburban residents are people of color.

As the suburbs are diversifying so are their schools. Yet even in a diverse and well-resourced school district, a racial achievement gap remains.

Dr. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy studied one Midwestern suburban school district to find out why. He wrote up his findings in the book, Inequality in the Promised Land: Race, Resources and Suburban Schooling.

Going to college in prison

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education announced plans to reinstate federal scholarships for incarcerated prisoners. Through 67 different colleges and universities, an estimated 12,000 inmates will receive Pell Grants to pursue higher education.

Congressional Republicans repudiated the program, questioning why people who have committed crimes deserve scholarship money while plenty of law-abiding citizens cannot afford college.

Advocates say prison education improves the lives of prisoners and betters society at the same time. A 2014 report showed those inmates who took college classes had a 43% lower chance of going back to prison.

Sean Pica is one such advocate. He is the Executive Director of Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison. Pica spoke with APM Reports producer Samara Freemark.

Few teachers, little money, low test scores: Rural schools in the South

Rural schools in the United States face an abundance of problems: budget cuts, shrinking enrollments, teacher shortages, poor internet.

Nowhere is that more true than in the South. In states like Alabama and Mississippi, around half of all public schools are located in rural areas.

Jackie Mader is the Mississippi bureau chief at The Hechinger Report, a non-profit news organization that covers eduction. She also blogs for EdWeek about rural schools.

Mader joins host Stephen Smith to talk about how rural schools in the South are dealing with these issues.

New podcast name!

Hey! Stephen Smith here. I want to let you know about some changes. American RadioWorks is joining a new long-form investigative and documentaries group called APM Reports.

APM Reports recently launched with an investigation that uncovered how government dysfunction allowed a Minnesota juvenile corrections facility to hide allegations of poor treatment.

We’re very excited to be part of APM Reports.

It also means we have a new name for our podcast. We’ll continue to go in depth on new ideas and research on how we learn and how we teach … but with a new name … “Educate, a podcast from APM Reports.”

Same quality reporting, new name. Right now, we’re in the middle of a series on rural schools.

If you’ve subscribed to the podcast, nothing will change. Tweet us @educatepodcast. And please leave us a review on iTunes.

Thanks for listening.

Merging small, rural school districts

Last week we started a series on rural schools by looking at Vermont – a state where more than half of public school students are enrolled in rural districts.

A recent law, Act 46, encourages consolidation of smaller school districts there.

Daniel French is the former superintendent of Bennington-Rutland SU and writes about Act 46.

He calls Act 46 a “historic opportunity.”

French joins host Stephen Smith on the podcast to chat about why small school consolidation could be important for Vermont and other states around the country.



Fighting for ‘our school’

School in Smalltown, USA is changing. Over the past several decades, rural schools have suffered as enrollment has dropped and districts have merged.

Yet some estimate more than twenty percent of all public school students in the country go to school in rural districts.

We begin our series on rural schools by looking at Vermont, a state in the middle of a big fight over the role of its schools.

Over half of all students in Vermont go to rural schools.

Last year, the Vermont legislature passed law Act 46. It aims to provide better quality education for students through greater efficiency.

But not everyone agrees it will do that.

Erica Heilman produced this episode for her excellent podcast, Rumble Strip Vermont.