Anya Kamenetz

Anya Kamenetz is NPR's lead education blogger. She joined NPR in 2014, working as part of a new initiative to coordinate on-air and online coverage of learning.

Kamenetz is the author of several books about the future of education. Generation Debt (Riverhead, 2006), dealt with youth economics and politics; DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education (Chelsea Green, 2010), investigated innovations to address the crises in cost, access, and quality in higher education. Her forthcoming book, The Test (PublicAffairs, 2015), is about the past, present and future of testing in American schools.

Learning, Freedom and the Web (http://learningfreedomandtheweb.org/), The Edupunks' Guide (edupunksguide.org), and the Edupunks' Atlas (atlas.edupunksguide.org) are her free web projects about self-directed, web-enabled learning.

Previously, Kamenetz covered technology, innovation, sustainability and social entrepreneurship for five years as a staff writer for Fast Company magazine. She's contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Slate, and O, the Oprah Magazine.

Kamenetz was named a 2010 Game Changer in Education by the Huffington Post, received 2009 and 2010 National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, and was submitted for a Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing by the Village Voice in 2005, where she had a column called Generation Debt.

She appears in the documentaries Generation Next (2006), Default: A Student Loan Documentary (2011), both shown on PBS, and Ivory Tower, which premiered at Sundance in 2014 and will be shown on CNN.

Kamenetz grew up in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, in a family of writers and mystics, and graduated from Yale University in 2002. She lives in New York City.

Part of our ongoing series exploring how the U.S. can educate the nearly 5 million students who are learning English. Brains, brains, brains. One thing we've learned at NPR Ed is that people are fascinated by brain research. And yet it can be hard to point to places where our education system is really making use of the latest neuroscience findings. But there is one happy nexus where research is meeting practice: bilingual education. "In the last 20 years or so, there's been a...

Whenever you surf the web, sophisticated algorithms are tracking where you go, comparing you with millions of other people. They're trying to predict what you'll do next: Apply for a credit card? Book a family vacation? At least 40 percent of universities report that they're trying some version of the same technology on their students, according to several recent surveys. It's known as predictive analytics, and it can be used to either help or hurt students, says a new report from the New...

On Thursday, Hillary Clinton packaged a major new school policy proposal as an attack on her rival, Donald Trump. "Donald Trump has made no apologies to the growing list of people that he has attempted to bully since the launch of his hate-filled campaign," read the press release from the Clinton campaign about a new $500 million initiative called " Better than Bullying ." In order to get the money, states would have to pass comprehensive anti-bullying laws and form plans to use school-based...

In a working-class city in southeast Michigan there's a barbershop where kids get a $2 discount for reading a book aloud to their barber. "Any help these kids can get with reading and ... comprehension is a big thing," said Ryan Griffin, the veteran barber who instituted the program. "You know, maybe someday some kid will grow up and be a journalist, be a writer, and he'll say, 'You know what, when I was young, my barber used to make me read.' " We published a story about Griffin and the shop...

William Bowen, a scholar and former president of Princeton University, died last week. He is associated with one of the key explanations for just why a college degree keeps getting more and more and more expensive. Bowen, who was President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation , and before that, led Princeton from 1972 to 1988, died Oct. 20 at the age of 83. An economist by training and a decorated scholar of higher education, Bowen worked to make Princeton more inclusive and wrote...

If there's one rule that most parents cling to in the confusing, fast-changing world of kids and media, it's this one: No screens before age 2. As of today , that rule is out the window. The American Academy of Pediatrics, which first issued that recommendation back in 1999, has extensively updated and revised its guidelines for children and adolescents to reflect new research and new habits. The new guidelines, especially for very young children, shift the focus from WHAT is on the screen to...

Cameron Smith was a fifth-grader with straight A's when her school, Fickett Elementary, was caught up in a national cheating scandal . The story started in 2001, when scores on statewide tests across Atlanta began improving greatly. The superintendent, Beverly Hall, was hailed as a highly effective reformer, winning National Superintendent of the Year in 2009. Then it all came crashing down. A report ordered by Georgia's governor found , based on score anomalies, that some form of cheating...

Rain beats against the windows of a downtown New York City building on a soporific Friday morning. A high school teacher is reading out loud from a sample recommendation letter when she notices a few students fidgeting and texting. "I'm not seeing all eyes ..." she says, her voice trailing off. Naama Wrightman, who is coaching the teacher, jumps in. "All right, pause. It's the right correction. How can you frame it positively? ... Take out the 'not.' " "All eyes on me?" "Exactly, give that...

The high school graduation rate in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 83 percent in the 2014-2015 school year, President Obama announced today, marking the fifth straight record-setting year. Achievement gaps have narrowed even as all boats have risen. Graduation rates range from 90 percent for students who identify as Asian/Pacific Islanders to 64 percent for students with disabilities. In remarks at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C., the president used the good...

Should schools of education be held accountable for producing teachers who can raise their students' achievement? This week the U.S. Education Department said, emphatically, yes. The new guidelines for teacher-prep programs are arguably the strictest federal accountability rules in all of higher ed. They have teeth: Low-performing programs will be in danger of losing access to federal TEACH grants , which pay for teachers to enter fields of high need in high-poverty schools. And they are...

With her infant son in a sling, Monique Black strolls through a weekend open house in the gentrified Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C. There are lots of factors to consider when looking for a home — in this one, Monique notices, the tiny window in the second bedroom doesn't let in enough light. But for parents like Black and her husband, Jonny, there's a more important question: How good are the nearby schools? It's well known in the real estate industry that highly rated schools...

"Do you speak English?" When Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng walked into his summer school classroom for the first time as a brand-new teacher, a student greeted him with this question. Nothing in his training had prepared him to address race and identity. But he was game, answering the student lightly, "Yes, I do, but this is a math class, so you don't have to worry about it." "Oh my gosh, was that racist?" he says the girl asked, and quickly checked her own assumption: "'That's exactly like when I...

What does it mean to declare that #blacklivesmatter in education? Last month the Movement for Black Lives, representing elements of the Black Lives Matter movement and related groups, issued a detailed policy platform denouncing what it called "corporate-backed," "market driven" "privatization" in school reform, and helped set off a furor over this question. Under the section labeled "community control," M4BL called for an end to state and mayoral takeovers of school systems in favor of local...

45 CFR Chapter XIII RIN 0970-AC63. That's the official name of the newly-revised government standards for running a Head Start program. If the name doesn't grab you, this should: The Department of Health and Human Services says it's the first "comprehensive" revision of Head Start rules since they first published them in 1975. And the changes are, in a word, big . Or two words: "incredibly impressive." That's according to NYU's Pamela Morris, who's been lead researcher on a number of...

Oh, middle school. The land of pantsing. Mean girls who won't let you sit with them in the cafeteria. And, these days, cryptic taunts posted on social media, where parents and teachers can't always see them. Middle schoolers report higher rates of bullying and fights than students in any other grade span, and their academic performance also tends to dip. But, things could be a little better — if we just got rid of middle schools, according to a big new study . Sorry kids, I'm not talking...

Ian grew up in Milwaukee, in an African-American family with five kids where the annual income was just $25,000. He was involved in sports and after-school activities, and spent a year working after high school to save up for college. He saw himself as a role model in his community: "They see me going to college and are like, 'Oh, he's doing something positive, he's breaking through the ceiling.' " Our college aid system is generally assumed to be set up to help students like Ian, one of six...

College presidents from High Point, N. C., to Laie, Hawaii, are sitting up a little straighter, because the 2017 U.S. News & World Report rankings are out today. Published every year since 1983, they've become perhaps the most famous and influential college rankings. But they're no longer the only game in town. There are more than 7,000 accredited colleges and universities in the U.S., and 20.5 million students enrolled in them this fall . That's potentially 20.5 million opinions about what...

They read a book quietly under their desks, pester the teacher for extra credit, or, perhaps, they simply check out and act up. Every classroom has a few overachievers who perform above their grade level and don't feel challenged by the status quo. A new report suggests they are surprisingly common — in some cases, nearly half of all students in a given grade. "The start of this was a little embarrassing," says Matthew Makel, who researches academically gifted children for Duke University's...

This school year, the University of Chicago has put the debate over "trigger warnings" on campus back in the news. The University told incoming freshmen that, because of its commitment to freedom of expression, it does not support warnings to students about potentially difficult material. But amid all the attention to trigger warnings, there have been very few facts about exactly how common they are and how they're used. NPR Ed sent out a survey last fall to faculty members at colleges and...

The fall semester has just begun on most college campuses, but tens of thousands of students in 38 states were told today that, instead, their college is closing its doors. In a press release , ITT Educational Services announced it would close all campuses of its ITT Technical Institutes. The for-profit college system has become a household name over the past half-century. The company blamed the shutdown on the U.S. Department of Education, which had stepped up oversight of the school and...

For nearly a half-century, the professional educators organization Phi Delta Kappa has released a poll this time of year to capture the public's attitudes toward public education. This year, by far the most lopsided finding in the survey was about a controversial reform policy: school closures. By 84 percent to 14 percent, Americans said that even when a public school has been failing for several years, the best response is to keep the school open and try to improve it rather than shut it...

Let's say you have invites to two parties that advertise "free drinks!" At the first party, there's simply an open bar. At the second party, though, you have to bring in your tax return, fill out a long form, and register to receive a cocktail grant in a given amount based on your annual income. Once those funds are drained, you can then become eligible for vouchers to pay for further beverages up to a predetermined limit. Which party sounds like more fun? Which will be better attended? And...

As a new school year gets underway, the Common Core remains a partisan flashpoint, while Americans overall have serious concerns about the direction of our public education system. That's according to two new polls. Education Next , a policy journal, released its 10th annual large national poll of public opinion on education today. And Gallup, the polling organization, has recently released new figures as well. With results broken out along partisan lines, the polls also provide insight into...

Garrison Institute looks a little like Hogwarts. The retreat center is housed in a former monastery amid tranquil green hills overlooking the Hudson River, 60 miles north and a world away from New York City. Inside the airy chapel on a recent summer afternoon, about 35 educators from the U.S. and at least five foreign countries are seated quietly, shoes off. "Just notice your breath, the sensation of your air coming in, going out," says Christa Turksma, a Dutch woman dressed all in white with...

A group of recent studies on technology in education, across a wide range of real-world settings, have come up far short of a ringing endorsement. The studies include research on K-12 schools and higher ed, both blended learning and online, and show results ranging from mixed to negative. A deeper look into these reports gives a sense that, even as computers become ubiquitous in classrooms, there's a lot we still don't know — or at least that we're not doing to make them effective tools for...

To be human is to be constantly at war between our lofty goals and our immediate impulses. Future Me wants me to run five miles. Right Now Me wants a cookie. Unfortunately, that totally understandable tendency is one factor that can stop people from completing their education: Ninety-three percent of high school seniors say they intend to go to college, but 1 in 10 of those never apply. Between 10 and 15 percent of those who are admitted never register for classes. Of those who do show up,...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhEovwWiniY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pvgef9ABDUc The field of educational technology is mourning a visionary whose work was considered 50 years ahead of its time. Seymour Papert, who died July 31 at age 88, was a mathematician and computer scientist who spent decades at MIT. "Seymour was one of the very first people to recognize that new computer technologies could be used by kids to create things in new ways and express themselves," Mitchel Resnick, a...

How should schools best prepare kids to live and work in the second half of the 21st century? In previous eras, the job of school was simple: Teach them math and reading skills. Have them learn some basic facts about the world. Today the challenge is a lot different. Most people all over the world, even in the poorest countries, have much easier access to a calculator, a dictionary and great swaths of knowledge in their pockets. And technology isn't just expanding access to knowledge. It's...

Think about our planet for a second. Earth has an elliptical — oval-shaped — orbit. That means we're closer to the sun for one part of the year and farther away another part of the year. Does that fact explain why it's hotter in the summer and colder in the winter? Lots of kids think it does. Lots of adults think so, too. And they're wrong.* Philip Sadler is both a professor of astronomy and the director of the science education department at Harvard University, and he is obsessed with wrong...

At the Democratic National Convention this week, Bill Clinton gave a shout-out to a program called Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youth. In HIPPY, as it's called, parents receive free books, educational materials and weekly home visits to coach them on how to get their young children ready for school. "Twenty years of research has shown how well this program works to improve readiness for school and academic achievement. There are a lot of young adults in America ... who are...

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