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. Her latest is The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life (PublicAffairs, 2018).

Her previous books were Generation Debt; DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, and The Test.

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, and appeared in documentaries shown on PBS and CNN.

Kamenetz was named a 2010 Game Changer in Education by the Huffington Post, received 2009, 2010, and 2015 National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for innovation in 2017 along with the rest of the NPR Ed team.

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.

Young people around the country are among those joining the debate over Christine Blasey Ford's accusation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh in 1982, when both were teenagers.

What are teens learning from all this? And how should adults be handling this conversation?

One night during the summer of 2017, a teenager named Francesca in Virginia was assaulted by a classmate: "I was pinned down and he fondled my breasts and sexually assaulted me." We're only using her first name because she's 15 years old.

The new school year marches on, and so does our weekly roundup.

Tropical Storm Florence closes schools in the Carolinas

A federal judge ruled this week that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' delay of a key student borrower protection rule was improper and unlawful.

"This is such an important win for student borrowers and anyone who cares about a government that operates under the rule of law," says Toby Merrill, of Harvard Law School's Project On Predatory Student Lending. The judge is expected to order a remedy in the next week.

You're reading NPR's weekly roundup of education news.

Schools and colleges are coping with extreme heat

NPR's weekly education roundup is back after a short hiatus. This edition features a longer list to catch you up on the news you may have missed over the long, hot summer.

1. Student loan ombudsman resigns, and slams the door

It may be a new school year, yet I come to sing the praises of trampolines and bubble-blowing, pillow forts and peekaboo, Monopoly and Marco Polo.

When I was a high school junior in New Orleans taking AP American history, my teacher assigned us a paperback book. Slim in contrast to our hulking required textbook, it was a funny, compelling, even shocking read. Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen, explained how history textbooks got the story of America wrong, usually by soft-pedaling, oversimplifying and burying the thorny drama and uncertainties of the past under a blanket of dull, voice-of-God narration.

Editor's note on Aug. 8, 2018: This piece has been substantially updated from a version published in 2014.

A solemn little boy with a bowl haircut is telling Mr. Rogers that his pet got hit by a car. More precisely, he's confiding this to Daniel Striped Tiger, the hand puppet that, Rogers' wife, Joanne, says, "pretty much was Fred."

From the policy of separating immigrant families, to limiting the power of labor unions, to naming the next justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, this summer the DeVos family name has been all over the news.

Over the years, the parents, in-laws and husband of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have given hundreds of millions of dollars to conservative causes. And many of those causes are front and center of policy initiatives and goals of the Trump administration right now.

The U.S. Education Department is going back to the drawing board on some basic rules of higher education, including one concept that has been in place for 125 years.

The goal? Unleash innovation to better serve students.

A version of this interview ran in 2015.

Have you ever paid your kid for good grades? Have you driven to school to drop off a forgotten assignment? Have you done a college student's laundry? What about coming along to Junior's first job interview?

An earlier version of this piece ran in 2016.

"Why are traffic lights red, yellow and green?"

When a child asks you a question like this, you have a few options. You can shut her down with a "Just because." You can explain: "Red is for stop and green is for go." Or, you can turn the question back to her and help her figure out the answer with plenty of encouragement.

Rachael McRae, a fifth-grade teacher in central Illinois, was sitting on the couch the other day with her 4-month-old when she saw the email.

"He was having a fussy day," she says, "so I was bouncing him in one arm, and started going through my emails on my phone, just to feel like I was getting something done." In her spam folder, she found an email from an organization called My Pay, My Say, urging her to drop her union membership.

Do you remember the day you decided you were no good at math?

Or maybe you had the less common, opposite experience: a moment of math excitement that hooked you for good?

Thousands of studies have been published that touch on the topic of "math anxiety." Overwhelming fear of math, regardless of one's actual aptitude, affects students of all ages, from kindergarten to grad school.

A version of this piece ran in February 2018.

Parents today struggle to set screen time guidelines.

One big reason is a lack of role models. Grandma doesn't have any tried-and-true sayings about iPad time. This stuff is just too new.

An earlier version of this piece ran in June 2017.

It's summer vacation season again and many families will be lucky enough to be heading off for at least a few days. At least half of parents say quality time together is the most important reason to take a family vacation, according to a national survey by the rental car company Alamo.

This piece combines and updates two posts from spring 2018.

During the summer, it's safe to assume children are using technology more than usual.

School may be out, but there has been no lack of news this summer on race and admissions: an announcement from Jeff Sessions, a Harvard lawsuit, changes in the Supreme Court and proposals for selective high schools in New York City. Here's a rundown of the facts in place, and the latest developments.

Who is in school?

In the U.S., more than 4 out of 10 undergraduate college students are above the age of 25. When people talk about these adult students, you usually hear words like "job skills" and "quickest path to a degree."

But for more than four decades, a special program in Washington state has sought to offer much more than that.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling Wednesday that will reverberate through America's schools for years.

In Janus v. AFSCME, a 5-4 court majority overturned precedent, saying that public sector unions, like those that represent law enforcement, state employees, and, of course, teachers, can no longer collect what are known as agency fees from nonmembers.

"For the last 14 years I had been a stay at home mom and a soccer mom of three kids," says Lori Alhadeff. "On Valentine's Day my daughter was brutally shot down and murdered and I became a school safety activist."

That day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, when a 19-year-old former student killed Alyssa Alhadeff and 16 other people, changed many lives.

And it pushed the question of school safety once again to the front and center.

Ben Zimmerman lives in a suburb of Chicago. Like a lot of 9-year-olds, he's fond of YouTube, Roblox, and Minecraft.

And, like a lot of parents, his mom and dad wanted to make sure Ben wasn't spending too much time on those activities. They tried to use Google's "Family Link" parental control software to limit screen time for Ben and his older sister, Claudia.

Did you know that kids growing up in poverty hear 30 million fewer words by age 3?

"I want The Three Bears!"

These days parents, caregivers and teachers have lots of options when it comes to fulfilling that request. You can read a picture book, put on a cartoon, play an audiobook, or even ask Alexa.

This week, another school shooting is dominating news headlines. At least 10 people were killed, and 10 others wounded, when a gunman opened fire inside Santa Fe High School, a small-town high school located halfway between Houston and Galveston, Texas.

This is a developing news story, you can check npr.org for the most recent updates.

Betsy DeVos spotlights religious schools on NYC trip

School officials have issued warnings to parents ahead of the second season of the Netflix drama "13 Reasons Why," which premieres this week.

U.S. News and World Report released its rankings of the best high schools in the country on Wednesday. These numbers are based on student test scores — U.S. News compared those test scores to state averages as a way of calculating how well a school serves its student body. The rankings also factor in graduation rates and AP and IB exams.

It's a single line in an email:

"The office of 'Students & Young Consumers' ... will be folded into the office of 'Financial Education.' "

Words sent Wednesday morning by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's acting director, Mick Mulvaney, announcing various staffing changes at the bureau.

Why did this bureaucratic-sounding announcement trigger a sheaf of critiques from consumer groups, California's attorney general and at least two U.S. senators?

Scott Barry Kaufman was placed in special education classes as a kid. He struggled with auditory information processing and with anxiety.

But with the support of his mother, and some teachers who saw his creativity and intellectual curiosity, Kaufman ended up with degrees from Yale and Cambridge.

This week in our roundup, we travel from Arizona to the United Kingdom to the Philippines to bring you the education news.

Teachers in Arizona head back to class

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