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.

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NPR Ed
4:19 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

In Congress, New Attention To Student-Privacy Fears

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 10:30 am

Several efforts in Washington are converging on the sensitive question of how best to safeguard the information software programs are gathering on students.

A proposed Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015 is circulating in draft form. It has bipartisan sponsorship from Democratic Rep. Jared S. Polis of Colorado and Republican Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Questions To Ask About Ed-Tech At Your Kids' School

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 1:33 pm

When a 4-year-old comes home from pre-K proudly announcing that she spent her "choice time" playing on the computer, what's a parent to do?

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NPR Ed
1:03 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Math Love, Game-Based Learning, And More From NPR Ed At #SXSWEdu

Sarah Hagan, a young algebra teacher in Oklahoma oil country, will be joining us at SXSW Edu to talk about her unorthodox approach to classroom math.
Elissa Nadworny NPR

It's not quite as glamorous as the way our colleagues at NPR Music do it, but this week, the NPR Ed team will be heading down to Austin, Texas for the South By Southwest Edu conference.

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NPR Ed
5:58 am
Sun February 22, 2015

If Your Teacher Likes You, You Might Get A Better Grade

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 10:59 am

Were you ever the teacher's pet? Or did you just sit behind the teacher's pet and roll your eyes from time to time?

A newly published paper suggests that personality similarity affects teachers' estimation of student achievement. That is, how much you are like your teacher contributes to his or her feelings about you — and your abilities.

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NPR Ed
7:03 am
Fri February 20, 2015

Q&A With Lani Guinier: Redefining The 'Merit' In Meritocracy

LA Johnson/NPR

As a high school student, Lani Guinier wrote a letter to the College Board over a math question on the SAT that she found problematic.

When she got to Harvard's Radcliffe College, her roommate announced that she was worried about something: With her perfect SAT score she'd have trouble finding someone to marry.

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NPR Ed
9:34 am
Sun February 15, 2015

Q&A: Exit Interview With A Nationally Known School Leader

Joshua Starr
Skip Brown

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 12:49 pm

Joshua Starr, a nationally prominent superintendent with the Montgomery County schools in Rockville, Md., this month was granted early release from his contract after 3 1/2 years.

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NPR Ed
12:08 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Virtual Schools Bring Real Concerns About Quality

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Mon February 2, 2015 6:30 pm

At the end of Angela Kohtala's leadership skills course, her high school students have to plan and carry out a community service project. Maybe it's fixing up their school courtyard, or tutoring younger students in an afterschool program.

Afterwards, they create a PowerPoint with pictures of the project. This isn't just a nice way to develop presentation skills — it's mandatory to prove that they really weeded that garden or sat with those kids in the first place.

You see, Kohtala's students are spread across the state of Florida, while she herself lives in Maine.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Competency-Based Degree Programs On The Rise

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 2:22 pm

Competency-based education is in vogue — even though most people have never heard of it, and those who have can't always agree on what it is.

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NPR Ed
3:39 am
Thu January 22, 2015

The Past, Present And Future Of High-Stakes Testing

PublicAffairs Books

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 3:14 pm

After a long stretch as the law of the land, annual standardized tests are being put to, well, the test.

This week, the Senate education committee held a hearing on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law and, specifically, on testing. The committee's chairman, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has released a draft bill offering a lot more leeway to states in designing their own assessment systems.

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NPR Ed
12:08 am
Thu January 15, 2015

A New Study Reveals Much About How Parents Really Choose Schools

A painted map of the U.S. seen from inside a classroom at Homer A. Plessy Community School, a charter school in New Orleans.
Eric Westervelt NPR

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 9:13 am

The charter school movement is built on the premise that increased competition among schools will sort the wheat from the chaff.

It seems self-evident that parents, empowered by choice, will vote with their feet for academically stronger schools. As the argument goes, the overall effect should be to improve equity as well: Lower-income parents won't have to send their kids to an under-resourced and underperforming school just because it is the closest one to them geographically.

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NPR Ed
1:09 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Arne Duncan Wants To Drop 'No Child Left Behind' — But Keep Its Tests

Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaks with reporters after he and Attorney General Eric Holder toured the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center on Dec. 8, 2014.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 4:11 pm

In a speech Monday at an elementary school in Washington, D.C., Education Secretary Arne Duncan laid out the president's position on the nation's largest federal education law, even as debate unfolds over the law's re-authorization.

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NPR Ed
7:03 am
Tue January 6, 2015

What Schools Could Use Instead Of Standardized Tests

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 4:26 pm

Close your eyes for a minute and daydream about a world without bubble tests.

Education Week recently reported that some Republican Senate aides are doing more than dreaming — they're drafting a bill that would eliminate the federal mandate on standardized testing.

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NPR Ed
8:08 am
Wed December 24, 2014

An Update On For-Profit Colleges

A person walks past an Everest Institute sign in an office building in Silver Spring, Md., on July 8.
Jose Luis Magana AP

NPR Ed is updating readers on some of the top stories we've been following in 2014.

There was lots of news coming out of the for-profit education sector this year, most of it related to regulatory action.

As we reported earlier,

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NPR Ed
2:33 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

An Update From New Orleans

Students at KIPP Central City Primary School raise their hands during a social studies class on August 14, 2014 in New Orleans. The school's student body is nearly 100 percent black in a system that is 85 percent black.
Edmund D. Fountain for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 1:34 am

NPR Ed is updating readers on some of the top stories we've been following in 2014.

All this year, NPR Ed has been exploring the dramatic changes to the New Orleans school system, where more than nine out of ten children attend charter schools, most run by the state Recovery School District.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Sat December 20, 2014

12 Weeks To A 6-Figure Job

A student at the coder boot camp at General Assembly in New York City learns more than "Hello, world."
Courtesy of General Assembly

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 11:26 am

Marlon Frausto is in pursuit of the new American dream. Just a few weeks ago, he left his job, in Hispanic marketing for the legal industry, and moved to San Francisco.

Every day he wakes at 5:30 a.m., commutes 45 minutes by train, and studies until 9 or 10 at night. He's spending down his savings and says he's getting help from "my loving family."

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NPR Ed
7:03 am
Fri December 19, 2014

New Federal College Ratings Will Consider Aid, Total Cost, Employment

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 5:12 pm

Today the Education Department released long-awaited details on a plan to hold colleges accountable for their performance on several key indicators, and officials said they'll be seeking public comment on the proposals through February.

"As a nation, we have to make college more accessible and affordable and ensure that all students graduate with a quality education of real value," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.

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NPR Ed
12:03 pm
Sun December 14, 2014

A For-Profit College Tries The Charter School Market

ITT Technical Institute's Early College Academy campus in Troy, MI.
Nicole Elam/ITT Technical Institute

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 11:14 am

Starting this past spring, parents in Indianapolis; Troy, Mich.; Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla.; and Houston, Texas, heard about a new option for their children's last two years of high school.

In each city, a charter school called Early Career Academy planned to offer students the chance to earn associate degrees, either in network systems administration or software development, alongside their high school diplomas. Students were offered laptops to work on and ebooks to use. All for free.

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NPR Ed
2:56 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Why The President Wants To Give Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars To Toddlers

Nikki Jones' preschool class at Porter Early Childhood Development Center in Tulsa, Okla.
John W. Poole NPR

Why does public school start at age 5?

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NPR Ed
3:49 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Why Math Might Be The Secret To School Success

There's a real lack of math learning in pre-K. In one study, in fact, just 58 seconds out of a full preschool day was spent on math activities.
Kaylhew Flikr Creative Commons

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 2:01 pm

Little children are big news this week, as the White House holds a summit on early childhood education on Wednesday. The president wants every 4-year-old to go to preschool, but the new Congress is unlikely to foot that bill.

Since last year, more than 30 states have expanded access to preschool. But there's still a lack of evidence about exactly what kinds of interventions are most effective in those crucial early years.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Sat December 6, 2014

Q&A: J Is For Jihad

Columbia University Press

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 8:21 am

Letter M (capital M and small m): (Mujahid): My brother is a Mujahid. Afghan Muslims are Mujahideen. I do Jihad together with them. Doing Jihad against infidels is our duty.

These words come from a textbook written to teach first-graders Pashto, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan. In the primer, eight of the 41 letters of the alphabet contain similar references, to guns, swords and defending the homeland against infidels.

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