Cory Turner

Cory Turner edits and reports for the NPR Ed Team. He's led the team's coverage of the Common Core while also finding time for his passion: exploring how kids learn — in the classroom, on the playground, at home and everywhere else.

Before coming to NPR Ed, Cory was Senior Editor of All Things Considered. There he worked closely with the staff and hosts to make sure the right questions were asked of the right people at the right time. As the show's editor, Cory was its narrative custodian: story architect, correction czar, copy writer and polisher, guardian of the show's "voice," and the person by the phone when the hosts had an emergency question.

Before coming to NPR, Cory lived in Los Angeles and, hoping for a way in to public radio, answered phones at the network's Culver City studios. In 2004, a two-week temporary assignment booking for The Tavis Smiley Show led to regular work on NPR News with Tony Cox and News & Notes with Ed Gordon. In 2007, he won two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists.

In 2000, Cory earned a master's in screenwriting from the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. There he wrote a short film that has seen more of the world than he has, ultimately screening at the Sundance Film Festival and selling to HBO. He also wrote a feature film for Magnolia Pictures.

You can reach him at dcturner@npr.org.

If this were a normal Monday morning, students at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, would be heading back to class. Instead, school is closed, its classrooms still a crime scene. The big question for investigators: How did a gunman walk into school Friday morning, killing 10 people and wounding 13?

But Katelyn "Kayte" Alford and her 1,400 classmates struggle with a different question: How do we move on from this?

It's been nine weeks since teachers in West Virginia walked out of their classrooms to protest low wages and rising health care costs. That sparked a movement that has spread to a handful of other states where teachers have fought — or are fighting — not just for higher wages but also increased spending, more pay for support staff and, in some cases, to stop proposed changes to their pensions.

In fact, so much has happened in the past two months that we thought we'd put together a refresher, state by state.

Teachers in Arizona are staging what they're calling a walk-in today. They're asking lawmakers for a 20 percent pay raise and for school funding to return to pre-recession levels. This comes as teachers in Oklahoma continue their walk-out. After more than a week of protests and dozens of closed schools across the state, Oklahoma lawmakers have already agreed to increase teacher pay and school funding.

Black students, boys, and students with disabilities are disproportionately disciplined in K-12 schools across the country. That's according to a new report, out Wednesday, from the non-partisan federal watchdog, the Government Accountability Office.

Those disparities were consistent, "regardless of the type of disciplinary action, regardless of the level of school poverty, and regardless of the type of public school attended," says Jacqueline Nowicki, who led the team of researchers at the GAO.

The teachers strike in West Virginia may have ended last week when Gov. Jim Justice signed a law giving educators a 5 percent pay increase, but the fight in other states is just warming up.

"You can make anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 more by driving 15 minutes across the state line," said Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association. "We're having trouble keeping and attracting young teachers."

Wednesday morning, at 10 o'clock, students at schools across the country will walk out of their classrooms. The plan is for them to leave school — or at least gather in the hallway — for 17 minutes. That's one minute for each of the victims in last month's school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

The walkout has galvanized teens nationwide and raised big questions for schools about how to handle protests.

For the more than 3,000 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Wednesday's mass shooting was terrifying and life-changing. But what of the tens of millions of other children, in schools across the country, who have since heard about what happened and now struggle with their own feelings of fear, confusion and uncertainty?

It's been a difficult week for schools in this edition of our weekly roundup.

School shooting in Parkland, Fla.

For much of the past half-century, children, adolescents and young adults in the U.S. have been saying they feel as though their lives are increasingly out of their control. At the same time, rates of anxiety and depression have risen steadily.

What's the fix? Feeling in control of your own destiny. Let's call it "agency."

"Agency may be the one most important factor in human happiness and well-being."

"In the ways that we teach and learn about the history of American slavery," write the authors of a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), "the nation needs an intervention."

"Trauma" is a heavy and haunting word. For many Americans, it conjures images of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The emotional toll from those wars made headlines and forced a healthcare reckoning at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician, would like to see a similar reckoning in every doctor's office, health clinic and classroom in America — for children who have experienced trauma much closer to home.

"The federal government must take bold action to address inequitable funding in our nation's public schools."

So begins a list of recommendations released Thursday by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent, bipartisan agency created by Congress in 1957 to investigate civil rights complaints. Thursday's report comes after a lengthy investigation into how America's schools are funded and why so many that serve poor and minority students aren't getting the resources they say they need.

If you're like most Americans, you don't have a 529 college savings plan.

If you're like most Americans, you don't even know what it is.

All the more reason to keep reading.

That's because, with the new tax law, Republicans have made important changes to 529 plans that will affect millions of taxpayers, not just the ones saving for college. Before that news, though, a quick primer.

Hello and welcome to another roundup of the top education stories. It has been a long week, and a lot has happened. Here is our recap.

The FCC votes to repeal net neutrality regulations

The Republican majority on the Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to repeal Obama-era rules that restrict the power of Internet service providers to favor specific websites and apps. This dramatic reversal in favor of providers has propelled the once-wonky issue of net neutrality into the mainstream, turning it into an increasingly political matter.

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.

This story contains language that some readers may find offensive.

"I can't teach the book right now," says Shaka Greene, algebra teacher at Ron Brown College Preparatory High School. "Because my students are still learning to add 49 plus 17."

So begins Part 3 — the conclusion of our podcast series: Raising Kings: A Year of Love and Struggle at Ron Brown College Prep.

"They can't just be average."

Charles Curtis is talking about the roughly 100 young, black men in the inaugural freshman class at Ron Brown College Prep, a radical new high school in Washington, D.C.

Curtis, the school psychologist, puts it simply: "There is no place in the world for an average black person."

So begins Part 2 in our series: Raising Kings: A Year of Love and Struggle at Ron Brown College Prep.

At Ron Brown College Preparatory High School, students aren't kids or boys.

In the classrooms and cafeteria, they're kings.

That's just one of the many things that stand out in this new boys-only, public school in Washington, D.C. The school opened in August 2016 to a class of roughly 100 young men. All are freshmen. All are students of color. All are determined to change the narrative.

Updated at 10:04 a.m. ET with Louisiana study

It is the education debate of the Trump era. With the president and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos using policy and the bully pulpit to champion private school vouchers, supporters and critics have tangled over the question:

Do low-income, public school students perform better when they're given a voucher to attend a private school?

Over and over again, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos deflected a barrage of pointed questions with one answer:

"Schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law."

What a week it's been for education news. Let's begin NPR Ed's weekly roundup as the week began, on Monday ...

DeVos talks choice in Indianapolis

It was expected to be an important speech, perhaps the unveiling of President Trump's long-awaited, $20 billion plan to expand school choice nationally. But that didn't happen.

Instead, when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos took the stage in Indianapolis at the American Federation For Children's National Policy Summit, she talked philosophy.

Wendy Robinson wants to make one thing very clear.

As the long-serving superintendent of Fort Wayne public schools, Indiana's largest district, she is not afraid of competition from private schools.

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is down.

If those words don't send a shiver up your spine, it means you're not a high school senior or college student rushing to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

The FAFSA is the form — famously complicated and difficult to finish — that stands between many low-income students and the federal, state and institutional aid they need to pay for college.

Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the radical Muslim cleric with ties to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, died early morning Saturday at a federal prison complex in Butner, N.C.

According to Kenneth McKoy, the facility's acting executive assistant, Abdel-Rahman, 78, died after a long struggle with coronary artery disease and diabetes.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LAKSHMI SINGH, HOST:

Republicans in Congress have been getting an earful all week, especially those who ventured back to their districts. Protesters have been overwhelming town hall meetings of several prominent House Republicans, as NPR's Cory Turner reports.

The latest, remarkable misstep of a Cabinet nominee who has misstepped plenty came in answer to a simple question:

"Why do you think their performance is so poor?" asked Senator Patty Murray, D-Wa., in a written question to Betsy DeVos, President Trump's nominee to lead the Education Department.

Niya Kenny pulled out her cell phone and began recording.

It happened in 2015, after a classmate had refused to hand over her own cell phone during class and was being pulled from her chair by a police officer based at their school, Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C. When Kenny loudly protested and, like her classmate, refused to hand over her phone, she too was arrested.

The charge: disturbing a school.

The U.S. Department of Education has withdrawn a proposal that could have fundamentally changed the flow of federal dollars to schools that serve low-income students.

After Betsy DeVos' Senate confirmation hearing yesterday — all three hours and change — we know a little more about Donald Trump's pick to be the next education secretary.

Appearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, DeVos faced questions on a range of issues, from private school vouchers and charter school oversight to guns in schools.

The education philosophy of Betsy DeVos boils down to one word: choice. The billionaire has used her money to support the expansion of public charter schools and private school vouchers.

For more than three hours on Tuesday, President-elect Donald Trump's pick to run the Education Department handled tough questions on school choice, charters and the future of the nation's schools from the Senate committee that handles education.

In her opening remarks, DeVos made clear she doesn't think traditional public schools are a good fit for every child.

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