Education, schools, and learning


Education is one of the best ways to get ahead in America. So, why do so many young people from poor backgrounds drop out? An economic paper published this month by the Brookings Institution suggests one possible answer, and it has nothing to do with grades or test scores. Maybe, for kids who grow up poor, with evidence of inequality all around them, dropping out of school just seems like the rational choice. 

It should be the opposite. Most economists would say, kids who start out at the bottom of the economic heap should have the incentive to get as much education as possible. Many economists believe the problem really comes down to skills. Young people trying to climb up out of poverty want to be highly educated, the thinking goes. They just don't get the right skills and training along the way. In this model, the education system itself is where the problem occurs, and that's where the fix is needed.

But the new Brookings paper by economists Melissa Kearney and Philip Levine (who we previously mentioned here) suggests the problem lies elsewhere.

Five things to know about music and early literacy

Mar 23, 2016
Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Is there a particular song that lifts your spirits every time you hear it? Or one that always brings back not-too-fond memories?

According to Yahoo! Beauty, in addition to its ability to shift our mood and tap into our emotions, when you listen to music you also work better, you can exercise harder and longer, and you experience changes in blood pressure.

But did you know introducing kids to music instruction helps them develop early language and literacy skills?

Five reasons you should be reading to baby from birth

Mar 18, 2016
Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

New parents are often bombarded with advice and tips from everyone around them.

From things like how to dress your baby, to what to feed them, it can be a bit overwhelming.

But there is one piece of advice the American Academy of Pediatrics wants to make sure you follow: Reading to your baby from the time they're born. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture's photostream / Flickr Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's 3 p.m.

The school bell rings.

For a lot of kids it's a moment of excitement, signaling the end of the school day.

But for many, the end of the school day means the start of an afternoon without direction, without productive activities, and maybe even without supervision.

For kids and families in need, afterschool programs provide essential services like a safe and supervised environment, enriching activities, healthy snacks and meals, and caring and supportive mentors.

Yes. Girls can be scientists, too

Mar 9, 2016
Intel Free Press / Flickr Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? What do your kids say they want to be now? Police officer? Firefighter? Pirate?

When I was a kid I wanted to be a scientist. When I wanted to be an astronaut like Mae Jemison, my mom bought me a telescope. When I wanted to be a chemist, she got me a microscope.

But somewhere along the way, my interest in science waned until I became dispassionate.

Oğuzhan Abdik / Flickr Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Did you go to college after high school and complete a degree? What influenced your decision, either way? 

It turns out that attitudes about the importance of a college education differ between racial and ethnic groups.

Black and Hispanic parents are more likely than white parents to see a college degree as key to their children's success, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

It’s 8:45 on a Saturday morning, and I’m following along with one of the co-founders of Reach Out to Youth, a long-running program that brings elementary age kids into medical school for a day.

The idea behind Reach out to Youth is that many kids are interested in getting into the medical field, but very few kids get to go inside a medical school.

"If you want to learn a language, you go to a country," Dr. Carolyn King says. "If you want to learn a career, you go to the place where the careers are."

Detroit kids to get robots and creative writing too

Jan 20, 2016
826michigan is opening the Detroit Robot Factory - along with a tutoring and creative writing center.

826michigan - a free tutoring and creative writing center for kids - is setting up a new shop.  

The group has already helped thousands of school-aged children in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti write poetry or just get their algebra homework done, and now it hopes to do the same in Detroit. 

"My invention is called the Crazy Boom," Mohamed Conde reads from his short story at 826michigan's writing center in Ann Arbor.

"I can go back to prehistoric times.  Like if I wanted to see George Washington or a dinosaur, I could because of my invention.  My brain is bigger than Albert Einstein's.  Ten times bigger."

Nick Azzaro / Ypsilanti Community Schools

This story is part of the NPR reporting project “School Money,” a nationwide collaboration between NPR’s Ed Team and 20 member station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but it’s worth repeating: we have no idea – as a state – how much it costs to adequately educate a child in Michigan. Most states have done so-called “adequacy studies,” but Michigan hasn’t. Until now. We’ve got a new school funding study underway. But before we get to the nitty gritty details about what goes into the study, let's ask some students how much they think it costs to educate one child per year in Michigan. 

Do cops belong in Michigan classrooms?

Jan 6, 2016
Brittany Bartkowiak / Michigan Radio

Last year a disturbing cell phone video caused national outrage over the presence of police in schools. It shows a South Carolina cop grabbing a student's desk, flipping it over, and dragging her body out of class. You can hear the officer saying "give me your hands" over and over, followed by the student's voice saying "I'm hurt." 

This video got us wondering how officers are trained to work in schools. With the new semester about to begin, I decided to find out.