Claudio Sanchez

Former elementary and middle school teacher Claudio Sanchez is an Education Correspondent for NPR. He focuses on the "three p's" of education reform: politics, policy and pedagogy. Sanchez's reports air regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Sanchez joined NPR in 1989, after serving for a year as executive producer for the El Paso, Texas, based Latin American News Service, a daily national radio news service covering Latin America and the U.S.- Mexico border.

From 1984 to 1988, Sanchez was news and public affairs director at KXCR-FM in El Paso. During this time, he contributed reports and features to NPR's news programs.

In 2008, Sanchez won First Prize in the Education Writers Association's National Awards for Education Reporting, for his series "The Student Loan Crisis." He was named as a Class of 2007 Fellow by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. In 1985, Sanchez received one of broadcasting's top honors, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, for a series he co-produced, "Sanctuary: The New Underground Railroad." In addition, he has won the Guillermo Martinez-Marquez Award for Best Spot News, the El Paso Press Club Award for Best Investigative Reporting, and was recognized for outstanding local news coverage by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Sanchez is a native of Nogales, Mexico, and a graduate of Northern Arizona University, with post-baccalaureate studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Many educators say quality early childhood education programs give young children a strong foundation for kindergarten and beyond.

But what does a high-quality preschool program look like? Early childhood education researchers point to Tulsa, Okla., as a school system that gets it right. NPR's education team went to Tulsa to find out what help sets the city's preschool program apart. You can read more about what they found — and visit a Tulsa preschool classroom, here.

For years, President Obama has been a vocal booster of early childhood education. In his past two State of the Union addresses, he has called on Congress to help fund preschool for every child in the country.

"Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child's life is high-quality early education," Obama told Congress in January.

The federal government spends almost $8 billion on preschool programs across the country, mostly on low income 4-year-olds. States spend billions more. But with at least 30 states planning to expand access to pre-K and President Obama promoting "preschool for all," what constitutes a quality preschool program?

Mike Neal gets annoyed when he talks about politicians in his state. Just three years ago, when the Common Core State Standards for education were implemented, no one had a problem with them, says Neal, president of the Tulsa, Okla., Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"It's been a really frustrating situation to the business community in Oklahoma in that we've all been on the same page, from the governor, the House, the Senate, school board members," Neal says. "They've all been behind this."

Now, things are different.

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If you want to get an earful about paying for college, listen to parents from states where tuition and fees have skyrocketed in the last five years. In Arizona, for example, parents have seen a 77 percent increase in costs. In Georgia, it's 75 percent, and in Washington state, 70 percent.

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The nation's largest teachers union is calling for a delay in the adoption of the Common Core. That's the name of new math and language arts standards that are supposed to be in place next fall in 45 states. The 3 million-member National Education Association has been a strong supporter. But as NPR's Claudio Sanchez reports, the NEA now says teachers and students haven't had enough time to prepare.

When you think about minimum-wage workers, college professors don't readily come to mind. But many say that's what they are these days.

Of all college instructors, 76 percent, or over 1 million, teach part time because institutions save a lot of money when they replace full-time, tenured faculty with itinerant teachers, better known as adjuncts.

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Kyrah Whatley, 17, is a bright student with pretty good grades. But the thought of spending two to four more years in a college classroom is depressing, she says.

Masonry, on the other hand, intrigues her. "I'm a kinesthetic learner. ... I learn with my hands," she says.

That's why Kyrah is thinking of joining the Navy as a certified mason right after she graduates from Buchtel High School in Akron, Ohio.

This is the first in a three-part report on Philadelphia schools in crisis.

Sharron Snyder and Othella Stanback, both seniors at Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin High, will be the first in their families to graduate from high school. This, their final year, was supposed to be memorable. Instead, these teenagers say they feel cheated.

"We're fed up with the budget cuts and everything. Like, this year, my school is like really overcrowded. We don't even have lockers because it's, like, too many students," Sharron says.

Rapper Pitbull (Armando Christian Pérez) is the latest in a long list of celebrities lending their star power to the flourishing charter school movement. Alicia Keyes, Denzel Washington, Shakira, Oprah — all support or sponsor charter schools.

The College Board, sponsor of the SAT, says latest scores show that roughly 6 in 10 college-bound high school students who took the test were so lacking in their reading, writing and math skills, they were unprepared for college-level work.

The College Board is calling for big changes to better prepare students for college and career.

Stagnant Scores

Forty-five states have adopted the Common Core State Standards, the first-ever national academic standards for students. But opposition is growing, and some lawmakers are having second thoughts about their states' support.

Meanwhile, proponents of the standards are still struggling to explain the initiative to parents, many of whom say they've never even heard of Common Core.

Looking For Direction

The death of a long-time, part-time professor in Pittsburgh is gathering the attention of instructors nationwide. The trend of relying on part-time faculty has been in the works for decades, and Margaret Mary Vojtko's story is seen by some as a tragic byproduct.

Last spring, months before her death, Vojtko showed up at a meeting between adjunct professors at Duquesne University and the union officials who had been trying to organize them. The professors are trying to organize a union affiliated with the United Steelworkers.

The superintendent of the Lancaster, Pa., school district is meeting with teachers and staff at George Washington Elementary. It's the start of a new school year, and he's trying to sound upbeat about the district's finances.

"We continue to lose 5 and 10 percent of budgets each year," Pedro Rivera tells them. "And our overall goal is to make those plans and stretch out dollars to not impact you, because no kids should go without. Right?"

President Obama unveiled a plan on Thursday that would, for the first time, tie federal student aid to a new rating system for colleges and universities. While the president's message that higher education costs should be reined in was simple enough, the sweeping proposal is anything but.

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For years, Miami-Dade County Public Schools faced problems common to many urban schools: low attendance, high dropout rates, poor grades. But since 2008, Alberto Carvalho has been in charge of the nation's fourth largest school district, and there've been some noticeable improvements in Miami schools. More students are graduating, fewer are dropping out, test scores are up and the district's budget crisis has faded.

NPR's Claudio Sanchez has this profile of the man some call a miracle worker.

Charter schools turn 21 this year. In that time, these privately run, publicly funded schools have spread to 41 states and enrolled more than 2 million students.

But one key question lingers: Do kids in charter schools learn more than kids in traditional public schools?

The interest rate on government-backed student loans is going to jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent Monday.

Republicans, Democrats and the Obama administration could not agree on a plan to keep it from happening. Lawmakers say a deal is still possible after the July 4 recess. But if they don't agree on a plan soon, 7 million students expected to take out new Stafford loans could be stuck with a much bigger bill when they start paying the money back.

It has been one of the more heated debates in Washington this year.

The U.S. spends more than $7 billion a year preparing classroom teachers, but teachers are not coming out of the nation's colleges of education ready, according to a study released Tuesday by U.S.News & World Report and the National Council on Teacher Quality.

The study says most schools of education are in disarray.

From New Mexico to New York, 10 state university systems have announced they are joining the ranks of elite institutions embracing the massive open online course, or MOOC, system.

On Thursday, they unveiled a landmark partnership with Coursera, a for-profit tech company with 3.5 million registered students. It's the biggest effort to catapult degree-granting institutions into the world of global education.

Thirty years ago this week, President Ronald Reagan's administration released "A Nation at Risk," a report warning of "a rising tide of mediocrity" in American public education.

According to the report, only one-third of 17-year-olds in 1983 could solve a math problem requiring two steps or more, and 4 out of 10 teenagers couldn't draw inferences from written material. In an address to the nation, Reagan warned that "about 13 percent of 17-year-olds are functional illiterates and, among minority youth, the rate is closer to 40 percent."

At 2 p.m., it's crunchtime for students who write for The Harbinger Online, the award-winning, student news site at Shawnee Mission East High just outside Kansas City, Kan. They've been investigating an initiative to develop common curriculum and test guidelines for states.

The young reporters have pored over countless documents about the Common Core State Standards and talked to Kansas state legislators who pushed for their adoption, trying to understand why they're necessary.

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