If ‘Free College’ Sounds Too Good To Be True, That’s Because It Often Is

To millions of parents and students, they’re magical words: free college.

But is the idea pure fantasy?

More than a dozen states now offer grants, often called scholarships, promising to help qualifying students pay for some or all of their college education. In fact, that word, “promise,” shows up again and again in these programs’ official names: Nevada Promise, Oklahoma’s Promise, Oregon Promise, Tennessee Promise … you get the idea.

Sometimes referred to as “free college” programs, most are relatively new, sparked by the relentless rise in college costs and by a desire among state leaders to improve college access, especially for low-income students. Hundreds more free college programs have popped up at the local level, too. But a new review of 15 of these statewide programs, conducted by The Education Trust, finds that states vary wildly in how they define both “free” and “college.”

Full story at npr.org

Education Department Considers Allowing Schools to Use Federal Money to Buy Guns

THE EDUCATION Department is considering allowing states to use federal funding to buy guns for teachers, according to a report in The New York Times.

The unprecedented move would reverse a long-held stance that the federal government should not fund the purchase of weapons.

In justifying the decision, the department is citing a program in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, called Student Support and Academic Enrichment. The program does not mention the prohibition of weapons purchases, which Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would use to condone using grant money to fund gun purchases and training, according to the Times.

One of the three pillars of the program is to “improve school conditions for student learning.” People familiar with the situation told the Times that in its research the Education Department concluded that gun purchases could fall under this pillar. Currently, the guidelines for this section of the grant include encouraging schools to increase mental health counseling, reducing suspensions and establishing dropout prevention programs.

Full story at US News

Secretary DeVos Visits “She Can” STEM Summer Camp

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos earlier this week visited with sixth through eighth grade girls participating in the Smithsonian’s “She Can” STEM Summer Camp to highlight the exciting opportunities available in STEM fields. The camp, which was open to Washington, D.C. area girls who attend Title 1 Schools, doubled in size with support from the Department of Education. President Donald J. Trump donated his second quarter salary to the Department of Education to fund a STEM-focused camp.

At the camp, students learned about the science of flight and were exposed to a wide array of aviation-related activities and career paths. During the Secretary’s visit she worked with a group of girls to build and fly their own drones, was a passenger in an FAA-certified flight simulator and toured the Boeing Aviation Hangar.

Full story at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Proposes Overhaul of Gainful Employment Regulations

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Education today announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes to rescind Gainful Employment (GE) regulations in order to provide useful, transparent higher education data to students and treat all institutions of higher education fairly.

“Students deserve useful and relevant data when making important decisions about their education post-high school,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “That’s why instead of targeting schools simply by their tax status, this administration is working to ensure students have transparent, meaningful information about all colleges and all programs. Our new approach will aid students across all sectors of higher education and improve accountability.”

Full story at ed.gov

Electronics in the Classroom Lead to Lower Test Scores

USING ELECTRONIC devices in the classroom can be distracting to students and lead to lower grades.

A study published in the journal Educational Psychology found that students who had cellphones or laptops present while a lesson was being taught scored five percent, or half a letter grade, lower on exams than students who didn’t use electronics.

Researchers separated 118 college students enrolled in the same course into two groups. Each group was taught the same material by the same professor, but one group was allowed to have cellphones and laptops open for non-academic purposes, while the other group was not. While the students allowed electronics didn’t score lower on comprehension tests during lectures, they scored lower on exams at the end of the term.

Full story at US News

For Many College Students, Hunger ‘Makes It Hard To Focus’

As students enter college this fall, many will hunger for more than knowledge. Up to half of college students in recent published studies say they either are not getting enough to eat or are worried about it.

This food insecurity is most prevalent at community colleges, but it’s common at public and private four-year schools as well.

Student activists and advocates in the education community have drawn attention to the problem in recent years, and the food pantries that have sprung up at hundreds of schools are perhaps the most visible sign. Some schools nationally also have instituted the Swipe Out Hunger program, which allows students to donate their unused meal plan vouchers, or “swipes,” to other students to use at campus dining halls or food pantries.

That’s a start, say analysts studying the problem of campus hunger, but more system-wide solutions are needed.

Full story at NPR

U.S. Department of Education Announces Opportunity for Federal Student Loan Borrowers to be Reconsidered for Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The U.S. Department of Education (Department) has launched a process for federal student loan borrowers to be reconsidered for loan forgiveness under a temporary expansion of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.

This limited opportunity—which the Department is referring to as Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF)—was made possible by a $350-million appropriation through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018. The law provides additional conditions under which borrowers may become eligible for loan forgiveness if some or all of their payments made on William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program loans were made on a nonqualifying repayment plan for the PSLF Program. This opportunity is only available on a first-come, first-served basis until the $350 million has been allocated or other criteria are met.

The Department will reconsider eligibility for the TEPSLF opportunity using an expanded list of qualifying repayment plans, which includes the Graduated Repayment Plan, Extended Repayment Plan, Consolidated Standard Repayment Plan, and Consolidated Graduated Repayment Plan. Funds for this opportunity are limited, and borrowers will be considered on a first come, first serve basis. Once funds under this opportunity are depleted or other criteria are met, the program will end.

Full story at ed.gov

Cars Get Students ‘On Track’ for STEM Careers

It wasn’t the 110-octane fuel or the race car suspension that captured the attention of sixth-grader Finn Alcott at Bowling Green Junior High School.

Sure, having his tympanic membrane rattled when the 1980 Corvette’s 750-horsepower engine roared to life was cool and all, but Alcott was more interested in the sports car’s sleek lines.

“I’m more into engineering,” Alcott said. “I had a collection of Hot Wheels cars when I was younger, and I always liked this one car that went faster than the others. What it was was aerodynamics.”

That a sixth-grader is even using such scientific terms serves as proof that this past Wednesday’s On Track event is serving the purpose envisioned by the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce and Western Kentucky University’s SKyTeach program.

Full story at US News

Teachers Take School Funding Fight Straight To North Carolina’s Capitol

The months-long wave of teacher protests, which has rolled through roughly half a dozen states already, swelled and crashed on the front stoop of North Carolina’s Capitol building Wednesday. Demonstrators donned red and gathered in the capital, Raleigh, to demand better pay and better school funding.

And there they stayed for hours, crowding into the opening session of the Legislature and eddying in the streets outside, gathering for a massive rally nearby organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators, the state’s biggest teacher advocacy group.

Schools across the state, meanwhile, were shuttered as teachers attended the protests. More than three dozen school districts closed, according to member station WUNC, which notes that that represents more than 1 million public school students — or two-thirds of the state’s public school population — who had their classes canceled.

Full story at npr.org

More Than Just A Job: Stories Of Teachers Who Deserve An A+

Teachers across the country are pushing for better pay and increased school funding. They consistently make less than other college graduates with comparable experience — even though, for many teachers, working with students is more than a full-time job.

There are long days in the classroom, clubs and activities, planning and grading, and the many after-school hours spent with students.

Earlier this spring, we asked NPR Ed readers to send in stories of teachers going to great lengths to help students succeed in and out of school. We heard from hundreds of you. Many of you said that every teacher you know fits the bill.

Here are a few teachers that caught our eye.

Full story at NPR.org