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Anya Kamenetz

Anya Kamenetz is NPR's lead education blogger. She joined NPR in 2014, working as part of a new initiative to coordinate on-air and online coverage of learning.

Kamenetz is the author of several books about the future of education. Generation Debt (Riverhead, 2006), dealt with youth economics and politics; DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education (Chelsea Green, 2010), investigated innovations to address the crises in cost, access, and quality in higher education. Her forthcoming book, The Test (PublicAffairs, 2015), is about the past, present and future of testing in American schools.

Learning, Freedom and the Web (http://learningfreedomandtheweb.org/), The Edupunks' Guide (edupunksguide.org), and the Edupunks' Atlas (atlas.edupunksguide.org) are her free web projects about self-directed, web-enabled learning.

Previously, Kamenetz covered technology, innovation, sustainability and social entrepreneurship for five years as a staff writer for Fast Company magazine. She's contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Slate, and O, the Oprah Magazine.

Kamenetz was named a 2010 Game Changer in Education by the Huffington Post, received 2009 and 2010 National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, and was submitted for a Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing by the Village Voice in 2005, where she had a column called Generation Debt.

She appears in the documentaries Generation Next (2006), Default: A Student Loan Documentary (2011), both shown on PBS, and Ivory Tower, which premiered at Sundance in 2014 and will be shown on CNN.

Kamenetz grew up in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, in a family of writers and mystics, and graduated from Yale University in 2002. She lives in New York City.

With student debt at a staggering $1.3 trillion, many families are facing a huge financial dilemma: Their final springtime decisions about college enrollment and acceptance. The NPR Ed team teamed up with Weekend Edition to answer some listener questions about debt and degrees.

Waiting on the numbers

Marcy, from Union City, N.J. has twin girls going off to college in September.

Greetings and welcome to NPR Ed's weekly roundup of education news from Washington and around the country.

Supreme Court hears a voucher-related case

The crisis in Syria has displaced about 1.4 million children and teenagers from their homes. An estimated 900,000 of them are not in school.

Historically, in conflict zones, education has taken a backseat to immediate needs like food, shelter and medical care. But more recently, there has been a movement in the international aid community to provide better "education in emergencies."

Greetings and welcome to our weekly roundup of education news from Washington and around the country:

DeVos hires

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made her first official staff announcement this week, with 10 names.

Among them: Josh Venable, will serve as DeVos' chief of staff. He worked on the presidential campaign of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and is an advocate of both school choice and the Common Core.

New York state has passed legislation that would create the largest experiment in the country to offer free tuition at two- and four-year colleges. The Excelsior Scholarship, approved over the weekend as part of the state budget, would cover full-time students in the State University of New York system, which totals 64 campuses and 1.3 million students.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, appeared with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and state education leaders in an event hailing the new program, which would begin this fall and is estimated to cost $163 million per year.

How important is it to have a role model?

A new working paper puts some numbers to that question.

Having just one black teacher in third, fourth or fifth grade reduced low-income black boys' probability of dropping out of high school by 39 percent, the study found.

And by high school, African-American students, both boys and girls, who had one African-American teacher had much stronger expectations of going to college. Keep in mind, this effect was observed seven to ten years after the experience of having just one black teacher.

As we head toward Tax Day, we've got student debt and state education plans on our minds in another edition of the NPR Ed Team's weekly roundup.

Imagine if one notice from the federal government could cause you to question your major life decisions.

More than half a million people may have found themselves in that situation after a new legal filing by the Education Department.

Under a program known as Public Service Loan Forgiveness, some student loan borrowers were supposed to be able to have the balance of their student loans forgiven after ten years of both on-time payments and eligible work in the public sector. Meaning, a qualifying nonprofit, federal, local, state, or tribal government.

A new legal filing by the Education Department last week calls into question the future of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which allowed student loan borrowers to have their loans forgiven after 10 years of work in the public sector.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Recent college graduates who borrow are leaving school with an average of $34,000 in student loans. That's up from $20,000 just 10 years ago, according to a new analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Welcome to another weekly roundup from the NPR Ed Team, where we lasso the latest news on student aid, school choice, and more.

Trump University settlement finalized

Thousands of students are set to get money back now that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel has finalized the $25 million fraud settlement against Trump University.

Seventeen-year-old Indrani Das just won the top high school science prize in the country. Das, who lives in Oradell, N.J., took home $250,000 from the former Intel Science Talent Search, now the Regeneron Science Talent Search, for her study of brain injuries and neuron damage. In her spare time, she's already working with patients as a certified EMT.

No rest for the weary in our weekly roundup of national education news.

Supreme Court rules on special education case

"I'm thrilled," said Amanda Morin, a parent and advocate with the website Understood.org, after the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in a case that could affect 6.5 million special education students. "Now I can actually go into a school system and say 'The Supreme Court has said, based on my child's abilities, he is legally entitled to make progress.' "

We are in the midst of a quiet revolution in school discipline.

In the past five years, 27 states have revised their laws with the intention of reducing suspensions and expulsions. And, more than 50 of America's largest school districts have also reformed their discipline policies — changes which collectively affect more than 6.35 million students.

School districts must give students with disabilities the chance to make meaningful, "appropriately ambitious" progress, the Supreme Court said Wednesday in an 8-0 ruling.

The decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District could have far-reaching implications for the 6.5 million students with disabilities in the United States.

This blog post has some pretty useful information. So print it out; get out your highlighter and take off the cap.

Ready? Now throw it away, because highlighters don't really help people learn.

We all want for our kids to have optimal learning experiences and, for ourselves, to stay competitive with lifelong learning. But how well do you think you understand what good learning looks like?

Fake news has been, well, in the news a lot lately. It seems no claim is too absurd to be aired.

For example, NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal has just become the fourth NBA star to make public remarks that he believes the Earth is flat, not round.

National K-12 and higher ed news came fast and furious this week. Here are our highlights to help you keep on top.

The president's "skinny budget" has cuts for education

The biggest story of our week happened early Thursday morning when President Trump released his budget outline, historically known as a "skinny budget" because it has few details.

The U.S. Department of Education came in for a $9 billion, or 13.5 percent, cut.

This morning President Trump released a proposed 2018 budget that calls for a $9 billion, or 13.5 percent, cut for the U.S. Department of Education.

"Millions of poor, disadvantaged students are trapped in failing schools."

So said President Trump at the White House recently. It's a familiar lament across the political spectrum, so much so that you could almost give it its own acronym : PKTIFS (Poor Kids Trapped In Failing Schools).

Where there's no consensus, however, is on the proper remedy for PKTIFS.

"If I can get them out the door with pants on, I feel like we've won the day."

A lot of parents can probably relate to those words from a stressed out dad, who's trying to deal with big issues of parenting amid the normal chaos of just getting them to school.

He was one of more than a dozen parents who joined us one night to talk about parenting in the digital age. We wanted to know: How do you make sense of all the latest research on a topic like screen time and somehow fit it into daily family life?

On a cold Friday morning, more than 50 people sit in the auditorium of the Benjamin Franklin Health Science Academy in Brooklyn. Many have small children fidgeting on their laps.

President Trump has indicated several times now that his education agenda may feature a school choice program known as tax credit scholarships.

It was another big week for national education news. Here's our take on the top stories of the week.

Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump meet with HBCU leaders

The Education Secretary seems to be racking up controversies at the rate of about one per week.

My bank sends me a text alert when my account balance is low. My wireless company sends me a text alert when I'm about to use up my monthly data. Somebody — I guess the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration? --sends me a text alert when it's going to rain a whole lot.

A few clever researchers said: "Hey! What if we could send text alerts to parents when students miss class or don't turn in their homework?" And what do you know, it worked.

In his speech last night, President Trump asked Congress to pass a broad school choice initiative.

"I am calling upon members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children. ...

"These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them."

Tressie McMillan Cottom studies for-profit colleges as a sociologist at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has analyzed large data sets, scrutinized financial filings, interviewed students and staff. But she has also helped enroll students at two different for-profits herself.

They're not named, but known only as "Beauty College" and "Technical College" in her new book, Lower Ed.

NPR Ed has covered both the rise, and some of the travails, of this form of education. We called up Cottom to hear her thoughts. Here's an edited version of our conversation.

Welcome to our second weekly roundup of notable national education news! (Missed us last week? Find it here.)

The biggest ed headline of the week, of course, had to do with:

Transgender students and Title IX

On Wednesday, the Trump administration made big news regarding the rights of transgender students. But what exactly changed?

Fake news has been, well, in the news a lot lately. But for the world's largest crowdsourced encyclopedia, it's nothing new.

"Wikipedia has been dealing with fake news since it started 16 years ago," notes LiAnna Davis, deputy director of the Wiki Education Foundation.

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