Category Archives: Uncategorized

Theological schools feel the squeeze

Roughly 7 in 10 Americans still identify as part of the Christian faith. But the numbers have been declining over the past decade, according to the Pew Research Center.

That has some Christian theological schools worried about dropping enrollment numbers. Less students, of course, means less money.

As some of the mainline Protestant seminaries feel the squeeze, they are exploring mergers and selling off buildings. The oldest theological graduation school in the country, Andover Newton, joined the Yale Divinity School for example.

Our guest, Rick Seltzer, wrote an article in Inside Higher Ed on just that.

The ‘invisible tax’ on teachers of color

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, US Secretary of Education John King made the case that teachers of color suffer from the so-called “invisible tax.”

That’s when a teacher of color is the only minority teacher in their school. The tax they pay is when they are expected to act as experts on every issue related to cultural diversity.

King says the invisible tax leads to burnout, at a time when teachers of color are leaving the profession more quickly than their white peers.

Dr. William Hayes is a principal at a middle school in Camden, New Jersey.

He joined Associate Producer Ryan Katz on the podcast to talk about the invisible tax along with his work with a Philadelphia-based support group for black male educators, The Fellowship.

Should colleges teach men how to be men?

Today, women are more likely to go to college than men. And they perform better academically once they get there.

This has some experts wondering why – and what policymakers can do about it.

Andrew Reiner wrote about this in a recent New York Times op-ed “Teaching Men to Be Emotionally Honest.” He cites research that argues: “boys’ underperformance in school has more to do with society’s norms about masculinity than with anatomy, hormones or brain structure.”

Reiner is a professor at Towson University in Baltimore. He joins host Stephen Smith on the podcast to chat about it.


‘My frain is bried’: shadowing a student

Recently, more than 1400 educators from all 50 states and 30 different countries took the Shadow a Student Challenge.

They followed around a student for a whole day: riding the bus, working on science projects, doing jumping-jacks, eating lunch, performing in plays. All in the name of building empathy for what it’s like to be a student nowadays.

Ingrid Fournier, a 6th grade teacher in a suburb of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was one of them.

Mrs. Fournier says she was expecting the day to be a lot of “sit ‘n git.” In other words, there would be a lot of sitting around, with the teacher lecturing and pouring knowledge into students.

She says, at least at the 5th grade level, that wasn’t the case at all.  “There was so much rich information that I couldn’t keep it all in my head,” Mrs. Fournier says.

And, Mrs. Fournier reports, there was little down time.

“As a teacher, I get prep time with a 30 minute block at some point during the day. I guess I didn’t realize how important that is to me…and to humans,” says Mrs. Fournier. She thought about kids who go home after school and close their bedroom door: they need alone time, like we all do.

The student Mrs. Fournier shadowed, 5th grader Nure Hamad, says she could use more breaks during the school day.

Looking back, Mrs. Fournier says she was shocked at how disjointed the classes were. And now she assigns little to no homework.

At the end of the day, a couple of students asked Mrs. Fournier how it went. “And I said ‘my frain is bried.’…They just all started giggling. And then one of my girls said ‘Well, welcome to our world.'”


The Shadow a Student Challenge is part of School Retool, a project of the Stanford and Ideo.

High school job prep

Typically, a student’s education is supposed like this: elementary, middle, high school. College. Job.

The idea that high school can directly prepare students for a job is more controversial. But it has a long history. Vocational education goes back to the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 – the law that first authorized federal funding for what is today called “career and technical education” (CTE)  in American schools.

Nowadays, most good jobs require a college degree. But a new study finds that some CTE students are more likely to graduate from high school, actually do better in college, and earn higher wages than their peers.

The report’s author, Shaun Dougherty, joins Stephen to talk about his findings.


How tutoring helps students

Private tutoring for students can cost thousands upon thousands of dollars per year.

But economist Jonathan Guryan co-authored a study that found tutoring improves student learning and graduation rates.

He studied a pilot tutoring program in Chicago Public Schools that helped students struggling at math. One tutor met with two students at a time, so the tutor could match the students at their individual math level.

Guryan wants to expand the program nationally.

Our documentary, One Child at a Time, takes a deep dive into personalized learning in the United States.

Is advanced math necessary?

Before you devour this week’s episode, listen to last week’s American RadioWorks podcast “Decoding the Math Myth.” Really do it. We’ll wait.

By now that you’ve learned that last week’s guest, Andrew Hacker, argues that teaching advanced math to every student in the United States is hurting the economy by preventing people from getting college degrees.

But this week’s guest, Keith Devlin, says math is vital for developing student reasoning skills. He’s a mathematician at Stanford University and author of “The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci’s Arithmetic Revolution.”


Featured doc: An Imperfect Revolution

An Imperfect Revolution: Voices from the Desegregation Era

(Sept. 2007)

by Kate Ellis and Catherine Winter.

Nearly everyone who experienced school desegregation has a story to tell about crossing racial lines. Together they reflect on an era marked by struggle and hope, anger and idealism.

American RadioWorks traveled to Louisville, KY and Charlotte, NC to talk with people about their memories of integration. Here are some of their stories.

Decoding the math myth

Politicians and economists say people need advanced math skills to be successful in the highly technical jobs of the 21st century. But political scientist Andrew Hacker says that’s just not true. In his new book, “The Math Myth and Other STEM Delusions,” Hacker writes that the idea that everyone needs geometry, algebra, trigonometry and even some calculus is hurting the economy by preventing people from getting college degrees. He talked to ARW senior education correspondent Emily Hanford.

Next week, a critic of “The Math Myth” will weigh in.

Writing discipline reform into law

We’re working on a documentary that explores the backlash against harsh school discipline policies across the country. In Minnesota, there’s a bill before the legislature that would change how school districts across the state approach discipline. The proposed Student Inclusion and Engagement Act comes at a moment when researchers and educators are expressing concern about the disproportionate use of suspensions and expulsions on students of color and students with disabilities.

This week on the podcast, ARW associate producer Suzanne Pekow speaks with Josh Crosson, advocacy manager for education nonprofit MinnCan. Crosson is part of a coalition that drafted the bill.