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.

In a working-class city in southeast Michigan there's a barbershop where kids get a $2 discount for reading a book aloud to their barber.

William Bowen, a scholar and former president of Princeton University, died last week. He is associated with one of the key explanations for just why a college degree keeps getting more and more and more expensive.

Bowen, who was President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and before that, led Princeton from 1972 to 1988, died Oct. 20 at the age of 83.

If there's one rule that most parents cling to in the confusing, fast-changing world of kids and media, it's this one: No screens before age 2.

As of today, that rule is out the window.

Cameron Smith was a fifth-grader with straight A's when her school, Fickett Elementary, was caught up in a national cheating scandal.

The story started in 2001, when scores on statewide tests across Atlanta began improving greatly. The superintendent, Beverly Hall, was hailed as a highly effective reformer, winning National Superintendent of the Year in 2009.

Rain beats against the windows of a downtown New York City building on a soporific Friday morning. A high school teacher is reading out loud from a sample recommendation letter when she notices a few students fidgeting and texting.

"I'm not seeing all eyes ..." she says, her voice trailing off.

Naama Wrightman, who is coaching the teacher, jumps in.

"All right, pause. It's the right correction. How can you frame it positively? ... Take out the 'not.' "

"All eyes on me?"

"Exactly, give that quick scan again."

The high school graduation rate in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 83 percent in the 2014-2015 school year, President Obama announced today, marking the fifth straight record-setting year.

Achievement gaps have narrowed even as all boats have risen. Graduation rates range from 90 percent for students who identify as Asian/Pacific Islanders to 64 percent for students with disabilities.

Should schools of education be held accountable for producing teachers who can raise their students' achievement?

This week the U.S. Education Department said, emphatically, yes. The new guidelines for teacher-prep programs are arguably the strictest federal accountability rules in all of higher ed.

They have teeth: Low-performing programs will be in danger of losing access to federal TEACH grants, which pay for teachers to enter fields of high need in high-poverty schools.

With her infant son in a sling, Monique Black strolls through a weekend open house in the gentrified Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C. There are lots of factors to consider when looking for a home — in this one, Monique notices, the tiny window in the second bedroom doesn't let in enough light. But for parents like Black and her husband, Jonny, there's a more important question: How good are the nearby schools?

"Do you speak English?"

When Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng walked into his summer school classroom for the first time as a brand-new teacher, a student greeted him with this question. Nothing in his training had prepared him to address race and identity. But he was game, answering the student lightly, "Yes, I do, but this is a math class, so you don't have to worry about it."

"Oh my gosh, was that racist?" he says the girl asked, and quickly checked her own assumption: "'That's exactly like when I go into a store and people follow me around because I'm black.'"

What does it mean to declare that #blacklivesmatter in education?

Last month the Movement for Black Lives, representing elements of the Black Lives Matter movement and related groups, issued a detailed policy platform denouncing what it called "corporate-backed," "market driven" "privatization" in school reform, and helped set off a furor over this question.

45 CFR Chapter XIII RIN 0970-AC63.

That's the official name of the newly-revised government standards for running a Head Start program.

If the name doesn't grab you, this should: The Department of Health and Human Services says it's the first "comprehensive" revision of Head Start rules since they first published them in 1975. And the changes are, in a word, big.

Oh, middle school. The land of pantsing. Mean girls who won't let you sit with them in the cafeteria. And, these days, cryptic taunts posted on social media, where parents and teachers can't always see them.

Ian grew up in Milwaukee, in an African-American family with five kids where the annual income was just $25,000. He was involved in sports and after-school activities, and spent a year working after high school to save up for college. He saw himself as a role model in his community: "They see me going to college and are like, 'Oh, he's doing something positive, he's breaking through the ceiling.' "

College presidents from High Point, N. C., to Laie, Hawaii, are sitting up a little straighter, because the 2017 U.S. News & World Report rankings are out today. Published every year since 1983, they've become perhaps the most famous and influential college rankings. But they're no longer the only game in town.

They read a book quietly under their desks, pester the teacher for extra credit, or, perhaps, they simply check out and act up.

Every classroom has a few overachievers who perform above their grade level and don't feel challenged by the status quo. A new report suggests they are surprisingly common — in some cases, nearly half of all students in a given grade.

This school year, the University of Chicago has put the debate over "trigger warnings" on campus back in the news. The University told incoming freshmen that, because of its commitment to freedom of expression, it does not support warnings to students about potentially difficult material.

But amid all the attention to trigger warnings, there have been very few facts about exactly how common they are and how they're used.

The fall semester has just begun on most college campuses, but tens of thousands of students in 38 states were told today that, instead, their college is closing its doors.

For nearly a half-century, the professional educators organization Phi Delta Kappa has released a poll this time of year to capture the public's attitudes toward public education.

This year, by far the most lopsided finding in the survey was about a controversial reform policy: school closures. By 84 percent to 14 percent, Americans said that even when a public school has been failing for several years, the best response is to keep the school open and try to improve it rather than shut it down.

Let's say you have invites to two parties that advertise "free drinks!"

At the first party, there's simply an open bar. At the second party, though, you have to bring in your tax return, fill out a long form, and register to receive a cocktail grant in a given amount based on your annual income.

Once those funds are drained, you can then become eligible for vouchers to pay for further beverages up to a predetermined limit.

Which party sounds like more fun? Which will be better attended? And which one is likely to be more expensive for the hosts?

As a new school year gets underway, the Common Core remains a partisan flashpoint, while Americans overall have serious concerns about the direction of our public education system. That's according to two new polls.

Garrison Institute looks a little like Hogwarts. The retreat center is housed in a former monastery amid tranquil green hills overlooking the Hudson River, 60 miles north and a world away from New York City.

Inside the airy chapel on a recent summer afternoon, about 35 educators from the U.S. and at least five foreign countries are seated quietly, shoes off.

A group of recent studies on technology in education, across a wide range of real-world settings, have come up far short of a ringing endorsement.

The studies include research on K-12 schools and higher ed, both blended learning and online, and show results ranging from mixed to negative. A deeper look into these reports gives a sense that, even as computers become ubiquitous in classrooms, there's a lot we still don't know — or at least that we're not doing to make them effective tools for learning.

First, a quick overview of the studies and their results:

To be human is to be constantly at war between our lofty goals and our immediate impulses.

Future Me wants me to run five miles. Right Now Me wants a cookie.

Unfortunately, that totally understandable tendency is one factor that can stop people from completing their education:

  • Ninety-three percent of high school seniors say they intend to go to college, but 1 in 10 of those never apply.
  • Between 10 and 15 percent of those who are admitted never register for classes.

The field of educational technology is mourning a visionary whose work was considered 50 years ahead of its time.

How should schools best prepare kids to live and work in the second half of the 21st century?

In previous eras, the job of school was simple: Teach them math and reading skills. Have them learn some basic facts about the world.

Today the challenge is a lot different. Most people all over the world, even in the poorest countries, have much easier access to a calculator, a dictionary and great swaths of knowledge in their pockets.