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After Nearly 2 Decades, Californians Revisit Ban On Bilingual Education

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Alice Callaghan watches as students practice their English at Las Familias Del Pueblos in Los Angeles.

Morgan Walker for NPR

Alice Callaghan has spent decades working with mostly Mexican and Guatemalan families out of a tiny office near Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. It doubles as a school for a few dozen 4- and 5-year-olds.

After the Pledge of Allegiance, children scamper to their seats to work on phonics exercises, blended words, vocabulary and reciting classroom rules. Not a word in Spanish is spoken, heard or written on the posters and word puzzles hanging on the walls, and many of the children’s names have been anglicized.

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Education

How NYC’s First Puerto Rican Librarian Brought Spanish To The Shelves

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Pura Belpré became the first Puerto Rican librarian at the New York Public Library in 1921. She’s shown above leading a story hour in the 1930s.

New York Public Library

11:00 a.m. is bilingual story hour at the Aguilar branch of the New York Public Library. Dozens of kids — mostly children of immigrants from China, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico — have settled down to hear Perez y Martina, a story based on a Puerto Rican folktale.

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Education

A History Lesson: When Math Was Taboo

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That’s not from a disgruntled student. It’s from a textbook.

The author, 16th century mathematician Robert Recorde, nestled the line just after his preface, table of contents and a biblical quote citing God’s command to measure and number all things.

Recorde didn’t believe in math’s awfulness — quite the opposite. He was simply reflecting popular opinion on his way to a spirited defense of math. Why?

Mathematics was associated with banking and trade and so “was shunned among the upper classes and the educated classes in Europe,” explains Houman Harouni of Harvard University.

Recorde’s math textbook — published in 1543 — is far from unique.

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Education

Want Kids To Eat More Veggies? Market Them With Cartoons

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Sammy Spinach (far left), Erica Eggplant, Todd Tomato and other characters in the Super Sprowtz gang with Roger, the super hero trainer (center).

Courtesy of Super Sprowtz

Be it SpongeBob SquarePants or Tony the Tiger, food companies have long used cartoon characters to market their products to children. But that tactic can also sway younger kids to eat fresh vegetables, according to a new study.

Sammy Spinach, Oliver Onion, Colby Carrot, Suzy Sweet Pea and a slew of cartoon vegetable characters with superpowers were developed as puppets by a nonprofit organization called Super Sprowtz. Using live puppet performances across the country and short videos featuring the veggie characters with stars like basketball legend Shaquille O’ Neal, the organization has been trying to make vegetables more appealing to children.

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Education

A Victory For Affirmative Action, And For Many Colleges A Sigh Of Relief

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Rob Dobi for NPR

The nation’s colleges and universities have been on pins and needles waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether race can be a factor in their admissions policies.

And so today’s 4-3 ruling upholding the affirmative-action program at the University of Texas at Austin brought a sigh of relief to much of the higher education world.

“The Supreme court has, for the fourth time in the last 40 years, said that if they do it carefully, institutions can consider race as part of admissions without discriminating against someone else,” said Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, which represents more than 1,700 college presidents.

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Education

On praise

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Over the next few months, Robert Ahdoot, a high-school math teacher and founder of YayMath.org, will be sharing singular, bite-sized morsels of inspired education strategies. These aim to be juicy, yet easily digestible pieces of teaching wisdom. Enjoy.

For some educational and parental context, please first view this hilarious video on how the analysis of praise can get out of hand. It’s two minutes well spent. And now, my analysis.

On a daily basis, teachers grapple with what appear to be opposing forces. On one hand, we wish to praise student performance and offer them positive reinforcement, and on the other, we don’t want to over-condition them to seek external rewards for the timeless and sacred act of learning. Everywhere we turn, we hear anecdotes of younger generations being over-coddled, e.g. recreational sports leagues giving trophies to all participants, even if their team finished last.

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