Cory Turner

Cory Turner edits and reports for the NPR Ed Team. He's led the team's coverage of the Common Core while also finding time for his passion: exploring how kids learn — in the classroom, on the playground, at home and everywhere else.

Before coming to NPR Ed, Cory was Senior Editor of All Things Considered. There he worked closely with the staff and hosts to make sure the right questions were asked of the right people at the right time. As the show's editor, Cory was its narrative custodian: story architect, correction czar, copy writer and polisher, guardian of the show's "voice," and the person by the phone when the hosts had an emergency question.

Before coming to NPR, Cory lived in Los Angeles and, hoping for a way in to public radio, answered phones at the network's Culver City studios. In 2004, a two-week temporary assignment booking for The Tavis Smiley Show led to regular work on NPR News with Tony Cox and News & Notes with Ed Gordon. In 2007, he won two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists.

In 2000, Cory earned a master's in screenwriting from the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. There he wrote a short film that has seen more of the world than he has, ultimately screening at the Sundance Film Festival and selling to HBO. He also wrote a feature film for Magnolia Pictures.

You can reach him at dcturner@npr.org.

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is down.

If those words don't send a shiver up your spine, it means you're not a high school senior or college student rushing to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

The FAFSA is the form — famously complicated and difficult to finish — that stands between many low-income students and the federal, state and institutional aid they need to pay for college.

Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the radical Muslim cleric with ties to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, died early morning Saturday at a federal prison complex in Butner, N.C.

According to Kenneth McKoy, the facility's acting executive assistant, Abdel-Rahman, 78, died after a long struggle with coronary artery disease and diabetes.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LAKSHMI SINGH, HOST:

Republicans in Congress have been getting an earful all week, especially those who ventured back to their districts. Protesters have been overwhelming town hall meetings of several prominent House Republicans, as NPR's Cory Turner reports.

The latest, remarkable misstep of a Cabinet nominee who has misstepped plenty came in answer to a simple question:

"Why do you think their performance is so poor?" asked Senator Patty Murray, D-Wa., in a written question to Betsy DeVos, President Trump's nominee to lead the Education Department.

Niya Kenny pulled out her cell phone and began recording.

It happened in 2015, after a classmate had refused to hand over her own cell phone during class and was being pulled from her chair by a police officer based at their school, Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C. When Kenny loudly protested and, like her classmate, refused to hand over her phone, she too was arrested.

The charge: disturbing a school.

The U.S. Department of Education has withdrawn a proposal that could have fundamentally changed the flow of federal dollars to schools that serve low-income students.

After Betsy DeVos' Senate confirmation hearing yesterday — all three hours and change — we know a little more about Donald Trump's pick to be the next education secretary.

Appearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, DeVos faced questions on a range of issues, from private school vouchers and charter school oversight to guns in schools.

The education philosophy of Betsy DeVos boils down to one word: choice. The billionaire has used her money to support the expansion of public charter schools and private school vouchers.

For more than three hours on Tuesday, President-elect Donald Trump's pick to run the Education Department handled tough questions on school choice, charters and the future of the nation's schools from the Senate committee that handles education.

In her opening remarks, DeVos made clear she doesn't think traditional public schools are a good fit for every child.

He didn't have long. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. was confirmed by the Senate in March 2016 after President Obama's long-serving secretary, Arne Duncan, stepped down at the end of 2015. No matter the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, King knew that Obama would be out in a year and replaced by a president who, regardless of party, would almost certainly replace him.

We all experience stress at work, no matter the job. But for teachers, the work seems to be getting harder and the stress harder to shake.

A new report out this month pulls together some stark numbers on this:

By now, you've probably heard about one very real consequence of fake news — the infamous "pizzagate" conspiracy theory that ended with Edgar Welch, 28, firing a real gun inside a real Washington, D.C., pizzeria filled with real people.

President-elect Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that school choice is "the new civil rights issue of our time." But to many Americans, talk of school choice isn't liberating; it's just plain confusing.

Exhibit A: Vouchers.

Politicians love to use this buzzword in perpetual second reference, assuming vouchers are like Superman: Everyone knows where they came from and what they can do. They're wrong. And, as Trump has tapped an outspoken champion of vouchers, Betsy DeVos, to be his next education secretary, it's time for a quick origin story.

Twenty-two states still allow corporal punishment in school: 15 expressly permit it while another seven do not prohibit it. That's according to a recent letter written by U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. to the nation's governors and state school chiefs.

Not sure what, exactly, corporal punishment is? Here's a quick primer.

It often involves a paddle. Always, pain. That's the point.

When the Obama administration announced last year that it would overhaul the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, prospective college students (and their parents) cheered.

"Today, we're lending a hand to millions of high school students who want to go to college and who've worked hard," said Arne Duncan, who was at that time U.S. secretary of education. "We're announcing an easier, earlier FAFSA."

And it is both.

"Common Core is a total disaster. We can't let it continue."

So said presidential candidate Donald Trump in a campaign ad on his website.

To make sure there's no confusion about where he stands on the learning standards that are now used by the vast majority of states, Trump also tweeted earlier this year:

"Get rid of Common Core — keep education local!"

Students need many things, from visionary principals to sharp pencils. Somewhere near the top of that list should be these two words:

Black teachers.

As of 2012, 16 percent of public school students were African-American, while just 7 percent of teachers were black. To make matters worse, according to the U.S. Department of Education, black teachers are leaving their classrooms at a higher rate than any other group.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

President Obama had a number on his mind today, and it has nothing to do with politics or the election. Here he is this morning at a high school in the nation's capital.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Parents and teachers are worried.

They believe that today's kids are growing up in an unkind world and that learning to be kind is even more important than getting good grades. But, when it comes to defining "kind," parents and teachers don't always agree.

First, a story:

Late one night, a man searches for something in a parking lot. On his hands and knees, he crawls around a bright circle of light created by a streetlamp overhead.

A woman passes, stops, takes in the scene.

"What are you looking for? Can I help?"

"My car keys. Any chance you've seen them?"

"You dropped them right around here?"

"Oh, no. I dropped them way over there," he says, gesturing vaguely to some faraway spot on the other side of the lot.

"Then why are you looking here?"

The man pauses to consider the question.

"The state's teacher evaluation system is little more than cotton candy in a rainstorm."

That metaphorical mic drop came last week from Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher, ruling in a decade-old school funding lawsuit.

This story is part of a series from NPR Ed exploring the challenges U.S. schools face meeting students' mental health needs.

Every year, thousands of children are suspended from preschool.

Take a second to let that sink in.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 6,743 children who were enrolled in district-provided pre-K in 2013-14 received one or more out-of-school suspensions.

Today, the U.S. Department of Education unveiled new rules, explaining to states and districts how they can prove they're spreading resources fairly between poor and less-poor schools.

Today's release is a re-write of rules that were first unveiled last spring and that caused quite a stir, creating a political unicorn: a fight in which Republicans and teachers unions found themselves on the same side.

The grass is greener ... if you're a student in Detroit, looking across your school district's boundary with the neighboring Grosse Pointe public schools.

Nearly half of Detroit's students live in poverty; that means a family of four lives on roughly $24,000 a year — or less.

In Grosse Pointe, a narrow stretch of real estate nestled between Detroit and Lake St. Clair, just 7 percent of students live at or below the poverty line.

To recap, that's 49 percent vs. 7 percent. Neighbors.

For a moment, let's pretend.

That everything you know about America's public education system — the bitter politics and arcane funding policies, the rules and countless reasons our schools work (or don't) the way they do — is suddenly negotiable.

Pretend the obstacles to change have melted like butter on hot blacktop.

Now ask yourself: What could — and should — we do differently?

You sneak them into backpacks and let them commingle with the video games (hoping some of the latter's appeal will rub off). You lay them around the kids' beds like stepping stones through the Slough of Despond and, for good measure, Vitamix them to an imperceptible pulp for the occasional smoothie.

Books are everywhere in your house, and yet ... they're not being consumed. Because it's summer, and kids have so many other things they'd rather do.

Pages