WNPR/David DesRoches

The frigid February air stings Odane Campbell as he slogs across ice and snow toward the bus stop. Huddling with friends, the only thing to do is hope the bus isn't late this morning.

It's moments like this when the 18-year-old realizes how far away from Jamaica he actually is.

"Jamaica is not this cold out there," he said. "It's like pretty warm, like summer all the time."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

After more than two years, the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has released its final report to Governor Dannel Malloy.

The 16-member panel has pored over the details of December 14, 2012, trying to figure out why the Sandy Hook tragedy happened in the first place, and pinpointing specific measures that would prevent such a tragedy in the future.

Meet Jenni Hofschulte, the 35-year-old mom who's one of the parents leading the charge against testing in Milwaukee.

"I have two children in Milwaukee Public Schools," Hofschulte says over coffee at a cafe near her home. "The oldest one is in eighth grade." She's interrupted by her fidgety 4-year-old son, Lachlan.

Hofschulte quiets him down, furrows her brow and begins again.

Hofschulte says that when she found out her son would have to take a diagnostic test next year that's required of all Wisconsin kindergartners, all kinds of red flags went up.

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Should all kids, regardless of their individual abilities, be taught in the same classroom?

It's a controversial topic, and the laws around it are a little contradictory. For example, federal law requires disabled students to be taught in what's called the "least restrictive environment." In Connecticut, this is defined by time spent with non-disabled peers. But, for some kids, being around non-disabled peers could actually be considered restrictive.

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A state education report says suspensions of children younger than seven from Connecticut's public schools jumped nearly ten percent last year.

The report, presented to the state Board of Education, says 1,217 children younger than seven were suspended, up from 1,110 in 2013. 

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Today more than ever college students face an uncertain future.

We hear more and more about the importance of a top-notch education and how increasingly, studies in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics offer the only promise of a successful road forward. But as the pragmatism of STEM fields is professed, and the ivy leagues declared the place to study them, has the importance of the humanities been forgotten?

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Should all Connecticut teachers get more special education training? 

The idea has been put on the table by a group of educators, lawmakers and other professionals, with a goal to help teachers identify students with disabilities earlier, so that they don't fall behind in class or develop behavior problems.

This is the canary in the coal mine.

Several big states have seen alarming drops in enrollment at teacher training programs. The numbers are grim among some of the nation's largest producers of new teachers: In California, enrollment is down 53 percent over the past five years. It's down sharply in New York and Texas as well.

In North Carolina, enrollment is down nearly 20 percent in three years.

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Last week’s Congressional wrangling over Homeland Security funding temporarily ended House debates in Washington on the GOP’s version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind.  

Republicans would take away much of the federal government’s authority over how states and local school districts spend federal education dollars. Some conservative critics say the bill doesn't go far enough in scaling back the federal role in education.

Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro spoke out last week against the GOP version of the bill.

The latest changes to Connecticut's landmark school desegregation case are moving forward. Plaintiffs in the Sheff versus O'Neill lawsuit said Friday that a new, one-year extension of an agreement with the state and city of Hartford marks further progress toward ending racial and ethnic isolation in Hartford.

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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.

Paul Keller / Creative Commons

With sex education being a big political issue in many states, what does this all mean for the future of sex education funding in America? 

This hour, local and national experts weigh in on how public schools are talking to students about their sexual health. We learn about the history of sex education in the U.S., and find out where it's all headed in the future. / Creative Commons

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."

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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?

Denise Chan / Creative Commons

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.

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.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A panel created by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy in the wake of the Newtown school shooting has issued a set of draft recommendations aimed at avoiding another tragedy like Sandy Hook.

The 256-page report from the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission was posted online Thursday.

The report offers recommendations in the areas of school design and operations, mental health, and law enforcement.

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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.

When Sara Martín's children were infants, she made sure they got all the recommended immunizations.

"And then somewhere when they became toddlers I started to fall a little behind on the vaccinations," she says. "Not intentionally — just, that's kind of how it happened for me."

Martín is 29 years old and a single mother of two. She says it was a huge chore to travel from her home in East Los Angeles to a community clinic downtown.

ecksunderscore / Creative Commons

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 major battle is coming to a head over the fate of a century-old Boston Public School building that most recently housed the Dearborn Middle School in Roxbury.

The building is scheduled for demolition to make way for the first new school to be built in the city in more than a decade.

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. 

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.


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.