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School Walkouts, Broken-down Classrooms, And Beyoncé

We're crazy in love with all the education news — from Coachella to new findings on screen time.

Beyoncé brings HBCU pride to Coachella performance

The first black woman to headline the Coachella music festival in California, Beyoncé invoked a historically black college homecoming, with yellow logo sweatshirts, a marching band, drumline, choir, and step routinesbased on those performed by black fraternities and sororities.

As a follow-up, the pop star announced four $25,000 scholarships to be awarded at four historically black colleges and universities: Xavier, Wilberforce, Tuskegee and Bethune-Cookman.

Teachers marching; nation is behind in school infrastructure spending

Teachers in Arizona held a strike vote Thursday planning a walkout this coming week, asking for more school funding, adding to a list that includes West Virginia, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kentucky and Colorado. The New York Times gathered testimonials from over 4,000 teachers on the impact of budget cuts. In addition to low pay, teachers spoke about decrepit classrooms, outdated books, and missing supplies. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research and policy institute dedicated to reducing poverty and inequity, spending on school infrastructure, like renovations and new technology, is hurting even more than spending on salaries. Inflation-adjusted capital spending for public school systems was $50 billion in 2015, compared to $75 billion in 2008 before the Great Recession.

School safety and racial justice

On Friday, April 20, there was a second wave of and "days of service" across the country. The coordinated effort marked the second month after the Parkland shooting, as well as the anniversary of the Columbine school shooting in 1999. At a high school in Ocala, Fla., a student was reportedly wounded in a shooting just before a planned walkout.

A coalition of several organizations representing youth of color released an open letter arguing, "Calls for an end to gun violence, which low income communities of color have been making for years, must include a demand for an end to police violence."
The groups proposed a series of reforms that would address both gun violence and "divestment from school policing" in favor of restorative justice and social and emotional resources. Four states have passednew gun safety measures since February, and there is an ongoing federal debate about school discipline, school safety and civil rights.

More U.S. kids than ever in public pre-K

After more than a decade of growing enrollment and investment, 33 percent of 4-year-olds and 5 percent of 3-year-olds are now enrolled in publicly funded pre-K programs, according to a new national report. Quality, though, is uneven. Spending has surged, but spending per child has declined in constant dollars since 2002. That's according to the State of Preschool 2017, the latest edition of an annual report, by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.

Nearly 3 million children out of school due to the war in Syria

Eight years into the Syrian crisis, collaborations by education ministries, international aid organizations and nonprofits have kept 2.5 million children enrolled in school in Syria and the five main "host countries" for refugees: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. However, 2 million children in Syria are currently out of school, as are almost 700,000 Syrian refugee children in other countries, which adds up to 36 percent of children displaced by the war. That's according to a new report by No Lost Generation, an initiative of the United Nations, governments, and NGOs.

School leaders say kids have too much screen time at home

A nationally representative poll of U.S. principals, assistant principals, and school deans, conducted by the Education Week Research Center, found 95 percent thought kids were getting too much digital media exposure at home. By contrast, two in three thought that their students were getting the right amount of screen time in class, and one in five would like to see even more in-school screen use.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anya Kamenetz is an education correspondent at NPR. She joined NPR in 2014, working as part of a new initiative to coordinate on-air and online coverage of learning. Since then the NPR Ed team has won a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for Innovation, and a 2015 National Award for Education Reporting for the multimedia national collaboration, the Grad Rates project.
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