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Gallaudet President Navigates From World Of Hearing To Sound Leadership Of The Deaf

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Gallaudet University President Roberta Cordano speaks using American Sign Language in her office in Washington, D.C. She is the first Deaf woman president at the university.

Becky Harlan/NPR

In its 152-year history, Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. never had a deaf female president — until a year ago. Roberta Cordano is the first deaf woman to lead the school.

Gallaudet is a liberal arts university devoted to deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Classes are taught in American Sign Language, and all students and faculty are required to know how to sign.

But president Cordano never attended a deaf school herself.

“I grew up during a period of time when it was believed that American Sign Language was what they called a monkey language,” Cordano says, speaking through an interpreter provided by Gallaudet. While the interpreter translates rapidly, Cordano whispers out faintly in English as she signs.

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Education

After 50 Years, Head Start Struggles With Uneven Quality

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LA Johnson/NPR

For more than 50 years, Head Start has provided free early childhood education and other services to low-income families. But new national research, out Wednesday, shows great variation from state to state in how well the program works.

The study comes from the National Institute for Early Education Research, and it examined Head Start programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

It focused on quality and ranked states accordingly. Kentucky and Vermont came out the best, while 18 states ranked very poorly: Arizona, Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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Education

Beyond The Pail: NPR Unpacks The History Of The Lunch Box

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A Spider-Man lunch box on duty at Payne Elementary School in Washington, D.C.

Kat Lonsdorf/NPR

Our Tools of the Trade series is exploring some of the icons of schools and education.

It was made of shiny, bright pink plastic with a Little Mermaid sticker on the front, and I carried it with me nearly every single day. My lunch box was one of my first prized possessions, a proud statement to everyone in my kindergarten bubble: “I love Ariel.”

(Oh, and it held my sandwich too.)

That clunky container served me well through first and second grade, until the live-action version of 101 Dalmatians hit theaters, and I needed — needed — the newest red plastic box with Pongo and Perdita on the front.

I know I’m not alone here — I bet you loved your first lunch box, too.

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Education

What Are The Main Reasons Teachers Call It Quits?

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For Ross Roberts, it was a lack of resources that drove him from the classroom. For Danielle Painton, it was too much emphasis on testing. For Sergio Gonzalez, it was a nasty political environment.

Welcome to the U.S. teaching force, where the “I’m outta here” rate is an estimated 8 percent a year — twice that of high-performing countries like Finland or Singapore. And that 8 percent is a lot higher than other professions.

The teaching force is “a leaky bucket, losing hundreds of thousands of teachers each year — the majority of them before retirement age,” says a recent report from the Learning Policy Institute.

Why are so many teachers leaving?

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Education

University of Chicago Strikes Back Against Campus Political Correctness

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University of Chicago students on campus Friday as the summer quarter ends. Credit Joshua Lott for The New York Times

The anodyne welcome letter to incoming freshmen is a college staple, but this week the University of Chicago took a different approach: It sent new students a blunt statement opposing some hallmarks of campus political correctness, drawing thousands of impassioned responses, for and against, as it caromed around cyberspace.

“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called trigger warnings, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own,” John Ellison, dean of students, wrote to members of the class of 2020, who will arrive next month.

It was a not-so-veiled rebuke to the protests calling for limits on what kinds of speech should be condoned on campus, and who should be allowed to speak, that have rocked Yale, Wesleyan, Oberlin and many other colleges and universities in recent years. Some alumni, dismayed by the trend, have withheld donations from their alma maters.

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Education

A College Education Costs Even More Than You Thought It Did

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We all know that American college education isn’t cheap. But it turns out that it’s even less cheap if you look at the numbers more closely.

That’s what the Wisconsin HOPE Lab did. The lab, part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducted four studies to figure out the true price of college.

To get a sense of student realities, researchers interviewed students on college campuses across the state of Wisconsin. But they also examined 6,604 colleges nationally and compared their costs with regional cost-of-living data from the government.

The researchers found that college life is more expensive than sticker prices might suggest, and that financial aid doesn’t help students as effectively as it could, especially after the first year. All these findings are summarized in a report from The Century Foundation.

Colleges want to keep their sticker price low because it helps with rankings and attracts more students, the report says. But students might be less likely to drop out or take time off of college if they could better plan their college finances.

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