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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

When Race and Identity Collide in the Classroom

Close to half the kids in America’s public schools are students of color. But the overwhelming majority of teachers are white. In Philadelphia, educators at John B. Stetson Charter School are trying to take culturally relevant approach to their classrooms as a way to form bridges.

Reporter Yowei Shaw went to Stetson to find out what kind of impact this approach is having on students of color.

This story comes from Raise Up, a project of Youth Speaks, in collaboration with the Association of Independents in Radio, with funding by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as part of American Graduate.

Photo via John B. Stetson school site

International High: A Haven for Immigrant Students

High school is tough enough as it is, but immigrant children who arrive in the U.S often speak little to no English and are thrown into an educational system completely different to them. Many slip between the cracks in schools that can’t give them the support they need. However, one group of schools in New York City takes a different approach. Instead of seeing these kids as outsiders, it has a teaching model based on the very diversity they bring. Golda Arthur visited the International High School at Lafayette in Brooklyn to find out how kinds from a variety of geographic and linguistic backgrounds are getting by.

Photo screen grab via YouTube

DREAMers Rally For In-State Tuition

If a couple of states legalizing pot is significant, the number of states which have approved in-state tuition for undocumented students, or DREAMers, is a tidal wave. And for states, education of immigrants can mean big business–and big tax revenue. From Minnesota, to Florida, to Utah, we hear from students what affordable college means to them. And then we learn about one state-Georgia-where students are fighting for their educations.





ellyyu_photo (1)


Elly Yu is a freelance journalist based in Atlanta. She has reported for WNYC, WABE, and the New York Daily News, among others. She is a 2014 immigration reporting fellow with the Institute for Justice and Journalism. Elly has a master’s in journalism from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor’s in international relations from the University of Southern California.




Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images




The Risk Of Reaching Dropouts

National estimates say that fewer than 70 percent of Latinos and African Americans graduate high school. In Austin, Texas, there’s a charter school dedicated solely to teaching dropouts and helping them graduate. But the state says the school doesn’t meet academic and financial standards. The school, American Youthworks, is at risk of getting shut down.



urlJoy Diaz has been a reporter with KUT on and off since 2005. Since joining KUT, Joy has covered education, healthcare and immigration. She is now the station’s city reporter. Originally from Mexico, Joy moved to the U.S. in 1998 when her husband Luis was transferred from his job in Mexico City to train workers in a telecommunications plant in Virginia. While there, Joy worked for Roanoke’s NPR station WVTF.




Photo by Joy Diaz

Claudio Sanchez: My Education Story

While the U.S. celebrates Mother’s day on the second Sunday of May, Mexico always honors mothers on May 10th.  For people living on the U.S. – Mexico border, getting it right can be tricky. I know – I was born on the border.


Norma Cantu describes the border as “a wound that’s forever healing.” For me, the border is my true home.


I grew up in Nogales Sonora, right across from Nogales Arizona. The working class neighborhood of Colonia Ingenieros was nothing more than a narrow dirt street between two hills with dozens of homes perched on either side.


Our small three-room house had a tiny garden where my grandmother grew medicinal herbs that she dried, stored and sold in Coca Cola bottles. Up to five people could fit if we slept diagonally on the only bed we had. A 20 foot wire allowed us to “borrow” electricity from the nearest lamp post. When the government finally cut us off, huge bonfires would bloom at night in the middle of the street, which in turn brought out the barrio historians. Their stories had a special place in Nogales Folklore.


My favorite was the story of “El Buya,” the neighborhood’s ancient, amiable bake who sprinkled his best bread with the finely crushed bones of disobedient children.


While I loved Colonia Ingenieros, my mother, Blanca Luz, felt differently. All she saw was people imprisoned by their fatalism. My mother’s name means “White Light” – her optimism and confidence could light up a room.


Not long after my parents separated, my mother grew tired of Nogales. She hated walking through the gauntlet of women peering from behind their long dark shawls. They were always murmuring, “Y que de los pobres niños, sin padre.” – poor kids, with no father.


My mother was a voracious reader with two years of college thanks to the philanthropy of an old priest. But in Mexico, her education did not guarantee a job that could sustain our family, let alone pay for good schools.


She was convinced that as a single parent, life would be better in the United States. It felt like we were poorer in this country than we were in Mexico My mother could not buy us lots of things but she surrounded us with lots of books.


Every night she would read mystery novels or Grimm’s fairy tales. Once a week, if I was good, she would bring me a pile of used comic books in both English and Spanish. I loved all the Marvel superheroes, The Lone Ranger and Pequeña Lulu, a precocious mischievous little girl not unlike Lucy, Charlie Brown’s nemesis.


My mom, Blanca Luz, made sure poverty did not trump education. She told us that if we were going to make something of ourselves, we had to hang on to our dignity as if our life depended on it. Our appearance, the way we carried ourselves, the precision of our speech, she emphasized that being poor is no excuse for failure.


It was a lesson that I began to understand and appreciate as a teen, when I started high school in this country.


Nogales High was 90 percent Mexican American, but speaking English with an accent was a curse. Losing your accent meant that you were ready to move up among the kids who wore their assimilation proudly. Only then could you dare mingle with the few “rich kids” who ran the school in the same way their parents ran the city’s economy and politics.


In high school I realized that the process of assimilation brings all immigrants to a crossroads, an identity crisis of sorts. I remember wanting desperately to shed my “alienhood” but realizing I would forever be labeled: Resident Alien, Mexican-American, Chicano, Pocho, Latino, “Hispanic, Her Panic, Your Panic, Our Panic” as my mother would often say. I can still hear her laugh.


It’s an idea that permeates my reporting about struggling families, kids and schools, because there but for the grace of God go I. Happy Mother’s Day, Blanca Luz. Gracias. Thanks for showing me how to survive and thrive on both sides of the border.



claudio sanchezFormer elementary and middle school teacher Claudio Sanchez is an Education Correspondent for NPR. He focuses on the “three p’s” of education reform: politics, policy and pedagogy. Sanchez’s reports air regularly on NPR’s award-winning newsmagazinesMorning EditionAll Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.







Getty Images/Scott Olson

Why Are We Failing Our Black And Latino Students?

Black and Latino kids perform significantly less well in school than their white counterparts. The factors for this so-called achievement gap are well documented: failing schools, crime-ridden neighborhoods, unequal resources and limited social capital. But despite this research, some advocates say American schools are perpetuating traditional patterns of poverty and inequality. Latino USA guest host Claudio Sanchez talks to researchers Claudia Galindo and Pedro Noguera about community involvement, cultural misunderstandings, and how stereotypes hold children back.



Claudia Galindo is an Associate Professor in the Language, Literacy, and Culture Ph.D. Program and Affiliate Associate Professor of Gender and Women Studies at UMBC in Baltimore, Maryland, US.  Her research focuses on educational inequality and the social context of education






Pedro Noguera is the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University.  Dr. Noguera is a sociologist whose scholarship and research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions, as well as by demographic trends in local, regional and global contexts.





Alex Wong/Getty Images





Teaching Chicano History Through Theater

During the 1960s, East Los Angeles became the center of the Chicano Movement, or Movimiento, the Mexican-American civil rights struggle. Thousands of Chicanos marched in protests, won reforms and changed America forever. But two generations later, that history is being forgotten. California schools don’t teach it and many immigrant parents don’t know it. A group of Chicano artists is trying to bring that history back to life by bringing a special theater program to an East L.A. school for youth at risk.



Valerie. photoValerie Hamilton is an independent producer. She reports on issues on and around the U.S-Mexico border for U.S. and European public media. She’s based in Los Angeles.





A Rainforest in A New England School

Time out in Peck Middle School in New England happens in the Puerto Rican rainforest. For years now, Gerardo Munoz, one of the Puerto Ricans that make up half of the population of Holyoke, Massachusetts, has grown an indoor plant garden with seeds from la isla’s vegetation. He calls it “El Yunque” after Puerto Rico’s national park. Muñoz is a school outreach worker at Peck, and El Yunque is the legacy he wants to leave to the teachers and students of his school. In this piece, Karen Brown goes to El Yunque, where teachers and students go to find the peace and warmth of the Puerto Rican jungle.




Karen-headshot1-220x251Karen Brown is a reporter at New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts, and a freelance print and radio contributor for The Boston Globe, NPR, Harvard Public Health Magazine, and other outlets. She was a Knight Fellow in Science Journalism at MIT and is currently a fellow with the Association of Health Care Journalists. She tends to report on health, mental health, and social issues.




Photo courtesy of Karen Brown

Catching Up With The Stem Sisters

In the last few years theres been a big push on the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and careers.

As part of our first hour long episode in September we introduced you to four Latinas we dubbed the STEM Sisters. Alma, Marcela, Sonia, and Xochyl met at DePaul University in Chicago while getting degrees in environmental studies. They noticed each other over their years at college because they were the only Latinas in their classes.

When we first spoke with them they had just graduated and were figuring out what to do next. Now a few months later, we talk to three of the STEM sisters about looking for work, trying to figure out how to start STEM careers, and looking forward to 2014.

Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images

Data Mining in the Coachella Valley

The Coachella Valley, in Southern California, is one of the country’s richest agricultural regions, providing the country with tons of grapes, dates and other produce. But it’s also what environmentalists call a “data desert.” Nobody knows the full extent of environmental problems that make life hazardous for the farmworkers there simply because the numbers are lacking. Without that data, the region can’t get money for improvements. Lisa Morehouse reports on an effort by environmentalists to crowdsource the needed data with the help of local teenagers.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images


Lisa-Morehouse-150x150Lisa Morehouse is an award-winning independent public radio and print journalist, who’s filed for KQED’s The California Report, NPR’s Latino USA and All Things Considered, Edutopia magazine and McSweeney’s. Her reporting has taken her from Samoan traveling circuses to Mississippi Delta classrooms to the homes of Lao refugees in rural Iowa.  She’s currently working on After The Gold Rush: The Future of Rural California, an audio documentary website and series. A former public school teacher, Morehouse also works with at-risk youth to produce radio diaries.

Diplomas Behind Bars

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a school is offering high school diplomas–not GEDs–to county jail inmates. Freelance reporter Megan Kamerick tells us more.

Photo courtesy of Flicker.


megankMegan Kamerick is a freelance journalist and radio producer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She been a journalist for 20 years, mostly in print.  As a business reporter and editor at the San Antonio Business Journal, New Orleans CityBusiness and the New Mexico Business Weekly, she covered numerous beats, including real estate, economic development, law, education,  tourism, the creative economy, philanthropy and the film/media industries. Her work has also appeared in Art Business News, New Orleans Magazine and New Mexico Journeys.

She is currently working part-time as a host and producer at New Mexico PBS for the show “Public Square” and as an independent producer at KUNM radio on the conservation beat. She also produces newscasts and interviews for the KUNM show “Women’s Focus.”

She has received awards over  the years for investigative pieces, arts coverage, environmental stories, profiles, breaking news and the portrayal of women. She was also named outstanding small business journalist in New Mexico by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s New Mexico office.


California as a Crystal Ball

California is demographically ahead of the curve: its Latino population has outpaced that of the rest of the country. So how have the institutions and culture adapted? Maria Hinojosa asks Kimberly Nalder of the Project for an Informed Electorate and Belinda Reyes of the Cesar Chavez Institute, and takes a few audience questions.

Photo courtesy of

B2_Kimberly NadlerKimberly Nalder is the director of the Project for an Informed Electorate and associate professor in the Department of Government at California State University Sacramento.



B2_ belinda reyes

Formerly a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, Belinda Reyes is an authority on immigration policy and the social and economic progress of racial and ethnic groups in the United States and director of the Cesar Chavez Institute at San Francisco State University.

Decolonize Your Tortilla!

Heads up, tortilla snobs! A pair of California professors behind the blog Decolonize Your Diet! show us how to make fresh homemade tortillas the traditional way. They’re not just tastier, they’re healthier.

Photo courtesy of Tena Rubio


C1_Tena+Rubio+for+BioTena Rubio is an award-winning radio journalist based in San Francisco and Los Angeles. She’s a contributor to NPR’s Latino USA and is the former host & executive producer of the national public affairs show, Making Contact. A former TV news writer and producer, she is currently the Board Secretary for the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR).



Dr. Luz Calvo is an Associate Professor at California State University, East Bay
Dr. Catriona Rueda Esquibel is an Associate Professor, San Francisco State University




Chicago Schools Update

Last May, many of Chicago’s public schools closed. And as the school year starts, some students are forced to cross dangerous gang territory to attend their new schools. We hear from two of them.


Photo courtesy Brian Lowry.


Class of 2030: Dual Language in the South

A demographic surge of young Latinos is making their way through school, and by the time they’re out of college, the year will be 2030. In this first installment of our year-long series, Maria Hinojosa talks to teacher Elizabeth Bonitz about how dual language programs have become more popular in her town of Siler City, North Carolina.

Photo courtesy of Flickr


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