Education

Studies, research papers, doctoral dissertations, conference presentations — each year academia churns out thousands of pieces of research on education. And for many of them, that's the end of it. They gather dust in the university library or languish in some forgotten corner of the Internet.

A few, though, find their way into the hands of teachers, principals and policymakers. Each year the American Educational Research Association — a 99-year-old national research society — puts out a list of its 10 most-read articles.

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Should sex education be limited to health class?

East Hartford health teacher Sue Patria suggested on WNPR's Where We Live that the best sex education programs are ones where all teachers incorporate sex and gender topics into their teaching. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Forty-eight school districts across Connecticut got a total of $428,000 to help them reduce the number of tests taken by students.

Districts are expected to use the money to analyze their current tests to ensure that they align to new state standards, provide value, and are not redundant with other tests.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It's often said that the way Connecticut pays for public schools is one of the strangest and most complicated in the country. There have been lawsuits, task forces, and now, once again, the governor has said that he wants to give school districts the same slice of the pie they got this year. 

Joe Cirasuolo, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, said that he's happy the governor doesn't want to cut spending, but that education simply needs more.

UConn Graduate Employee Union

Last spring, UConn recognized a union made up of 2,200 graduate assistants, the first of its kind in Connecticut.

But both sides have yet to agree on a contract, and the grad students are getting frustrated with the university.

Following dozens of arrests last year, the University of Massachusetts Amherst plans to limit the number of campus guests and increase police presence during an annual weekend party known as Blarney Blowout.

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Governor Dannel Malloy has proposed mandating full-day kindergarten across the state. While this plan would likely be favorable to many parents, it has the head of the state's superintendents' association concerned about how it will be funded.

Joe Cirasuolo, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, said Malloy's proposal to have full-day kindergarten by 2017 is "a major unfunded mandate."

Kevin Roche

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has backed off  a new policy  that banned Iranian nationals from some engineering and science programs.

The school had said the ban was tied to federal sanctions designed to discourage Iranian citizens from entering the U.S. to prepare for careers in the energy sector of Iran, or in nuclear science or engineering.  In a statement released Wednesday, the school says after consulting with the State Department and outside counsel,  it will accept Iranian students into science and engineering programs and will develop individualized study plans based on a student's projected coursework and research. 

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The state legislature's higher education committee is exploring the possibility of adopting an outcome-based funding model for Connecticut's public colleges and universities.

Thirty states currently tie funding of higher education to performance indicators: things like graduation rates, course completion, and retention of minority and low income students. The goals and amount of funding vary widely from state to state.

North Dakota, for example, ties nearly all of its base funding for higher education to number of credit-hours completed by students, while Illinois ties less than one percent of its funding on institutional outcomes.

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Parents in the town of Fairfield are locking horns with public school teachers over the best way to keep kids with food allergies safe. Part of that controversy is over who is responsible for reading food labels.

If you have a kid in public school, chances are you might have gotten a note from your teacher about what foods are okay to bring to class, like fresh fruit, and what foods aren't, like peanuts or cheese. But what about packaged or store-bought foods, where sometimes the food labels aren't so clear?

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White House officials are worried that proposed legislation from House Republicans would transfer money from poor school districts to wealthy ones. But this is already happening across the country after changes made under the current administration.

The funding program called Title I was created to give federal money to the poorest schools in the country, yet, for at least the last two years, wealthy schools have been getting Title I cash.

New England Public Radio/Naomi Volain

A Springfield public school teacher is among ten finalists for a lucrative international award often called the Nobel Prize for teachers.

Naomi Volain has taught environmental science at Central High School for 17 years; she said she uses hands-on teaching methods, and often holds classes outside.

Sydney Missionary Bible College / Creative Commons

On Tuesday, February 17, join WNPR's Where We Live for a live broadcast from Tunxis Community College. We talk to a panel of experts about Obama's free community college proposal, and find out how it could impact students here in Connecticut. 

Yale University has banned a fraternity from campus for two years over a violation of the school's sexual misconduct policy. The university's chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon is being punished for what the fraternity describes as a presentation made at a February 2014 initiation ceremony. 

Rob.Wall, creative commons

If you’re a poor, black, and disabled student, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be suspended, expelled, or arrested, especially if you live in an urban area.

A new study by Connecticut Voices for Children found that while student arrests and expulsions have declined across the state, there are still high numbers of poor students, minorities, and students with disabilities being arrested or expelled.

What's most alarming, the study found, is that poor kids were arrested nearly 23 times more often than their wealthy peers. 

Yusor Abu-Salha was one of the young students killed in Tuesday's shooting in Chapel Hill, N.C.

She and her former third-grade teacher, Mussarut Jabeen, spoke to StoryCorps in May. In fact, all three victims in the shooting — Abu-Salha, 21, her husband, Deah Barakat, 23, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19 — attended the Al-Iman School in Raleigh, N.C., where Jabeen taught.

Jabeen returned to StoryCorps Wednesday to talk about that 2014 conversation with Abu-Salha.

wlscience / Creative Commons

The final results of an audit into Darien Public Schools' special education program has uncovered an assortment of problems that go beyond Darien and imply a nationwide system riddled with deceptive practices. 

Darien got over $200,000 in state and federal money for special education services that never existed. The audit found that one of the wealthiest towns in the wealthiest nation had horrendous record-keeping. There were no time logs to see if consultants were actually doing their jobs. There were poor directions written into students' educations plans. There was no proof that kids with disabilities were actually being educated.

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The winter wonderland that comes with fresh snow is often a double-edged sword for many Connecticut families with school-aged children. With no school, instructional time is swapped for fun time. This can create all kind of problems, from the school to the student to home life.

A seven-member board has been appointed to oversee eight middle schools in Springfield that are among the lowest performing schools in Massachusetts.

The board will report to the Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Springfield Superintendent of Schools.  Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said the city and the state struck a deal on control of the 8 schools in an effort to quickly improve student achievement.

The main federal education law may finally get its long-overdue makeover in Congress this year, and we're going to be hearing and reading a lot about it.

Formally, it's the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA. The last time it got a major overhaul was in 2001, with President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. But nothing much has been done with the law since 2007.

If Congress does finally get to it this year, What can we expect?

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Starting next fall, the Waterbury school district will recognize two Muslim holidays.

Often, when Eid Al-Fitr or Eid Al-Adha falls on a school day in the United States, Muslim families have to make a choice. "A lot of kids have to make the choice between religion and going to school on that day," said Amr Abu-al-rub, an imam at the United Muslim Mosque in Waterbury. "It's a tough choice to make, especially for kids."

It's a choice made tougher if a field trip, classroom party, or major test is scheduled on the holiday.

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The Board of Regents for Higher Education has been mired in problems ever since it was set up four years ago to oversee many of the state's colleges. There have been secret raises, resignations with huge severance packages, and even a promotion given to an employee while he was in jail.

State Representative Gail Lavielle, a Republican representing Norwalk, Wilton, and Westport, is co-sponsoring a bill that seeks to dissolve the board completely.

It's a bold statement that she hopes will draw attention to the need for better oversight, even if it doesn't go anywhere. 

For the first time, Harvard University is banning sexual relationships between faculty and undergraduates, strengthening language in its policies on sexual misconduct. The change comes as the school examines its rules and undergoes a federal review.

Last year, Harvard was among dozens of schools the Department of Education said it's investigating for how they handle sexual abuse allegations.

Alberto Cairo / ProPublica

Imagine walking into your young child's classroom and seeing him on the floor, his hands behind his back, as if he was being arrested. This is what happened to Lisbeth Ehrlich in Darien. 

"It's profoundly disturbing,” Ehrlich said. “It is surreal; it's something you cannot believe you're seeing."

In Ehrlich's case, she said it was done because her son "didn't want to sit through circle time." A new report from the Office of the Child Advocate shows that cases like Ehrlich's are not unusual, and that some kids have been restrained or secluded for minor behavior problems such as throwing puzzle pieces on the floor or swinging a coat around.

The State Department of Education released data last year showing that the number of restraints and seclusions increased by over 2,000 incidents compared to the year before.

ConnSCU

Ten Connecticut State University system professors have withdrawn their support for Board of Regents President Gregory Gray, citing course content developed by for-profit companies.

The Hartford Courant reports that the professors wrote Monday to the legislature's Higher Education Committee. They cited "disturbing reports" that a plan touted by Gray promotes a "model of `blended learning" in which course content would be developed by outside for-profit companies, rather than by faculty.

Chion Wolf WNPR

Alcoholism and sexual assaults on college campuses continue to make headlines across the country, but for one college president, part of the solution could involve simply increasing diversity among the student body.

Joanne Berger-Sweeney, president of Trinity College in Hartford, told WNPR’s Where We Live that by actively creating an environment that reflects the diversity of the state’s capital, students would be exposed to different values that might alleviate some of the social and cultural pressures that lead to alcohol and drug abuse, as well as sexual misconduct.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The college scene in Hartford is really starting to bustle with institutions relocating campuses to the city, but the steady presence is Trinity College. Last year, Joanne Berger-Sweeney was sworn in as the 22nd President and addressed the changes that have happened in Hartford since the institution got its start nearly 200 years ago. "Trinity College has had to maintain a learning network in the varied and changing Hartford environment," said Berger-Sweeney in her inaugural address.

On Where We Live, we spend an hour with President Berger-Sweeney to talk about her school’s role in revitalizing the capital city, while educating students from all over the country. We explore higher education during the hour and take your questions.

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The Waterbury School board will consider whether to recognize two Muslim holidays on the school calendar on Thursday night. 

According to The Republican-American, a petition with nearly 300 signatures is seeking recognition of the holidays Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. The petition asks that the days be recognized on the school calendar and that teachers and staff avoid scheduling tests, field trips and other events on those days.

Mathleu Thouvenin / Creative Commons

As top-tier universities in the United States have worked to overcome reputations for serving only the children of the American elite, there is now a push to do the same amongst international applicants looking to study in the U.S.  

BeyondDifferences.org

Laura Talmus experienced that most unthinkable of events for a parent. Her daughter, Lili, died in her sleep after only 15 years of life. Her death was due to complications with a cranial facial syndrome, but her mother, Laura, said that while Lili was alive, she also suffered from an often-unnoticed affliction: social isolation.

“When Lili passed away, it was a group of her peers who came up to me and said that they had really not realized that by leaving Lili out from a lot of the social structure of middle school, but particularly at lunch, they felt terrible and they wanted to know what they could do,” Talmus said.

So Talmus and Lili's classmates got together and went to other middle schools to see if students noticed anyone eating alone or without friends. The response, she said, was overwhelming.

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