Education

School voucher programs need (at least) three key ingredients:

1. Multiple schools (don't roll your eyes, city dwellers, this one's a brick wall for many rural parents).

2. A system that makes private schools affordable for low-income parents. Choice isn't choice if it's only the rich who get to choose.

3. And transparency, so that a child's caregiver can review the options and make an informed choice.

This story is about that last ingredient.

"I was talking to a secondary teacher in Uganda," Sharath Jeevan tells me when I ask about his organization's impact. "I asked her: What's the biggest change you've seen in two months? She said, 'I stopped beating my [students]. I know now how to engage kids in a much more constructive, positive way.' "

Jeevan is the founder and CEO of STIR Education, a nonprofit that administers a professional development program for public school teachers in India and Uganda. The program has grown fast. From a pilot with 25 teachers in Delhi in 2012, they will reach 80,000 teachers this year.

Our weekly education news roundup is back! And what a week it was.

Higher Education Act proposals in the House

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

As the tax bill moves through Congress, an issue has risen that hits dangerously close to U.S. efforts in science.

College completion rates vary widely, but one thing sticks out: They’re nowhere near as high as they should be.

In 2009, President Obama set a new goal for American students and educators. In his first address to Congress he said “By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world”.

Twelve years on, the U.S. isn’t even in the world’s top ten of 25 to 34-year olds with an associate’s degree or higher.


In 1965, Congress took a major step in addressing the plight of schoolchildren growing up in some of the nation's most impoverished communities: It passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. At the time, it was considered an important victory in the "war on poverty."

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Graduate students at dozens of university campuses walked out of class yesterday. They were protesting a Republican tax plan - specifically a House version - that would lead to a huge tax increase for grad students. NPR's Chris Arnold has more.

Graduate students around the country walked out of their classes, office hours, and research labs to protest the House Republican tax plan Wednesday.

"This plan is going to be disastrous for higher ed," said Jack Nicoludis, a Harvard graduate student in chemistry, who helped organize a protest on the campus. He said the bill would more than double his taxes.

Cellphones in the classroom were once considered little more than a distraction for students, but the devices have now become integrated into lessons. They can be great for research, calculations and social interaction with classmates.

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