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
6:38 am
Tue May 19, 2015

What Do You Do With A Student Who Fidgets?

Studies found that fidgeting can help children with ADHD collect their thoughts.
LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 7:52 am

Our story last week about the connection between ADHD, movement and thinking struck a nerve with readers. We reported on a small study in which students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder performed better on memory tasks when they were allowed to spin and move around in a swiveling chair.

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NPR Ed
8:55 am
Thu May 14, 2015

Vindication For Fidgeters: Movement May Help Students With ADHD Concentrate

Allowing kids with ADHD to move around in class may help them collect their thoughts.
LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Thu May 14, 2015 9:46 am

Are you a pen-clicker? A hair-twirler? A knee-bouncer? Did you ever get in trouble for fidgeting in class? Don't hang your head in shame. All that movement may be helping you think.

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NPR Ed
6:43 am
Wed May 13, 2015

A Key Researcher Says 'Grit' Isn't Ready For High-Stakes Measures

The accuracy of self-reporting depends on your frame of reference. Excerpted from "Measurement Matters: Assessing Personal Qualities Other Than Cognitive Ability for Educational Purposes."
Courtesy of Angela L. Duckworth and David Scott Yeager

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 7:23 am

If you've followed education in the news or at the book store in the past couple of years, chances are you've heard of "grit." It's often defined as the ability to persevere when times get tough, or to delay gratification in pursuit of a goal.

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NPR Ed
10:08 am
Tue May 12, 2015

A #BlackLivesMatter Leader At Teach For America

President Obama greets Brittany Packnett, the executive director of Teach for America in St. Louis, last December.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 7:23 pm

When 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., last summer, Brittany Packnett felt that she had no choice but to get involved.

"I'm a North County kid," she said, referring to the region of St. Louis that includes Ferguson. "These are my people. Mike could have been my brother."

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NPR Ed
6:53 am
Sun May 10, 2015

Counting Poor Students Is Getting Harder

LA Johnson/NPR

Researchers, grant-makers and policymakers have long relied on enrollment numbers for the federally subsidized Free and Reduced-Price Lunch program. They use those numbers as a handy proxy for measuring how many students are struggling economically. The paperwork that families submit to show their income becomes the basis of billions in federal funds.

To be eligible for these programs, a family must earn no more than 85 percent above the poverty line. Just over half of public school students fit that description.

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NPR Ed
12:03 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

A For-Profit School Startup Where Kids Are Beta Testers

AltSchool's schools are a proving ground for dozens of engineers seeking to build "an operating system for education."
Courtesy of Altschool

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 4:48 pm

At first glance, the warehouse in San Francisco's SOMA neighborhood could be the headquarters of any well-funded startup: exposed concrete, natural light, lots of Macbooks. Then you spot the 12- and 13-year-olds doing yoga in a glass-walled conference room.

It's a tech company, but it's also a private, for-profit middle school: a unique, hybrid venture called AltSchool.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Several Florida School Districts Cut (Way) Back On Tests

LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Wed April 29, 2015 9:04 am

Did you hear that?

It's the sound of hundreds of thousands of public school students in Florida breathing sighs of relief.

The state's largest school district, Miami-Dade County, just cut the number of district-created, end-of-course exams it will require from roughly 300 to 10. And even those 10 will be field-tested only, on just a sampling of students.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Delinquent. Dropout. At-Risk. When Words Become Labels

Sidney Poitier (right) and Glenn Ford (standing) in the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle.
The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 5:05 pm

Much of our recent reporting, especially from New Orleans, has focused on young people who are neither in school nor working. There are an estimated 5 1/2 million of them, ages 16 to 24, in the United States.

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NPR Ed
4:48 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

The Largest For-Profit College Shutdown In History

Corinthian operated colleges and training programs under the names Everest College, Heald, WyoTech and QuickStart Intelligence. This location is in Milwaukee.
Jeramey Jannene Flickr

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 5:47 pm

The long-running story of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges has entered what looks like a final phase. As our colleagues at SCPR wrote:

"Corinthian Colleges will shut down all of its remaining 28 ground campuses, displacing about 16,000 students, less than two weeks after the U.S. Department of Education announced it was fining the for-profit institution $30 million for misrepresentation."

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Sun April 26, 2015

What If Students Could Fire Their Professors?

LA Johnson/NPR

"Welcome to Iowa State University. May I take your paper, please?"

A bill circulating in the Iowa state Senate would rate professors' performance based on student evaluations. Just student evaluations.

Low-rated professors would be automatically fired — no tenure, no appeals.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Thu April 23, 2015

To Get More Students Through College, Give Them Fewer Choices

Redesigning America's Community Colleges: A Clearer Path to Student Success by Thomas R. Bailey, Shanna Smith Jaggars and Davis Jenkins
Harvard University Press

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 11:18 am

How many different flavors of jam do you need to be happy?

In 2000, a famous experiment showed that when people were presented with a supermarket sampler of 24 exotic fruit flavors, they were more attracted to the display. But, when the sample included only six flavors, they were 10 times more likely to actually buy.

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NPR Ed
5:01 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Anti-Test 'Opt-Out' Movement Makes A Wave In New York State

A school bus passes a sign encouraging parents to have their children opt out of state tests in Rotterdam, N.Y.
Mike Groll AP

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 9:25 am

Across New York state this week, some students are refusing to take a test, and they're not getting punished for it. The test is a Common Core-aligned, federally mandated exam, and students, parents and educators are part of what they're calling the opt-out movement.

Opt-outs made news last week in several states: Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, to name a few. The objections are similar everywhere. But no state is posting numbers like New York.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Sat April 18, 2015

Falling Through The Cracks: Young Lives Adrift In New Orleans

Craig Adams, Jr., 18, is studying for his second try at the high school equivalency exam.
LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 10:37 am

On weekend afternoons, Craig Adams Jr. plays for tourists on the streets of the French Quarter.

He gigs with different bands, bringing whatever's needed: trumpet, trombone, saxophone — he plays six or seven instruments in all. There's a white plastic bucket on the sidewalk so people can drop in cash as they browse the T-shirts and Mardi Gras masks.

Craig is 18, and there's music in his blood: "I had my uncle, my grandfather, and my dad to teach me." His father, Craig Adams Sr., leads a group called the Higher Dimensions of Praise Gospel Band.

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NPR Ed
7:03 am
Sat April 11, 2015

New Research Shows Free Online Courses Didn't Grow As Expected

Student Raul Ramos goes through his online homework during a session of a massive open online class, or MOOC, in Madrid, Spain.
Andres Kudacki AP

Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 12:02 pm

Remember the MOOC?

Just a few years ago, the Massive Open Online Course was expected to reinvent higher education. Millions of people were signing up to watch Web-based, video lectures from the world's great universities. Some were completing real assignments, earning certificates and forming virtual study groups — all for free.

Surely the traditional college degree would instantly collapse.

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NPR Ed
4:47 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

The Atlanta Cheating Verdict: Some Context

Former Deerwood Academy assistant principal Tabeeka Jordan is led to a holding cell. She is one of 11 Atlanta educators found guilty of racketeering.
Kent D. Johnson AP

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 12:59 pm

Today an Atlanta jury found eleven educators guilty of racketeering in a case that implicated dozens of schools and hundreds of educators. Their scheme: inflate scores on high-stakes standardized tests.

The case has drawn national attention, exposing widespread abuse and unethical behavior in the school district. Those convicted face decades in prison. But how much does it tell us about high-stakes testing in general?

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Education
5:41 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Students From Troubled For-Profit Colleges Refuse To Pay Back Loans

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 2:59 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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NPR Ed
5:38 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Activists Stop Paying Their Student Loans

Makenzie Vasquez (from left), Pamala Hunt, Latonya Suggs, Ann Bowers, Nathan Hornes, Ashlee Schmidt, Natasha Hornes, Tasha Courtright, Michael Adorno and Sarah Dieffenbacher are refusing to pay back loans they took out to attend Corinthian Colleges.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 11:03 am

Latonya Suggs says she borrowed thousands of dollars in student loans to attend the for-profit Corinthian Colleges but has nothing to show for it. Most employers don't recognize her criminal justice degree.

"I am completely lost and in debt," Suggs says. And now she's doing something about it: She's refusing to pay back those loans.

Suggs and 106 other borrowers now saddled with Corinthian loan debt say their refusal to repay the loans is a form of political protest. And Tuesday, the U.S. government gave them an audience.

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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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