Education | WABE 90.1 FM


U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his speech at the Grand Theater of Havana, Tuesday, March 22, 2016.
Desmond Boyland / Associated Press

President Barack Obama called on the Cuban government to expand Internet access for its citizens in a speech in Havana on Tuesday. In Cuba, less than about 5 percent of the population has open Internet access.

That's slowly changing as the government adds a few Wi-Fi hotspots and foreign companies work to update the digital infrastructure.  

But in the meantime, a Georgia Tech initiative is helping Cubans access information more quickly.

Gov. Nathan Deal signs legislation to create an Opportunity School District in Georgia. The measure would allow the state to step in and help underperforming schools if voters approve it in the fall.
Brenna Beach / WABE

A coalition of groups including the Georgia Federation of Teachers, the League of Women Voters and the AFL-CIO publicly opposed Gov. Nathan Deal’s school takeover plan Tuesday. The Georgia Legislature passed the measure last year. If voters approve it in a November referendum, the state constitution will be amended to include it.

It’s too late to change the legislation, which creates an "Opportunity School District" to manage so-called "chronically failing" schools.

Steven Senne / Associated Press

The visitors walking up her family's driveway mystified Maya Wolf. Four wore blue jackets. One was in a lion mascot costume. Then, as it clicked, she reached to her mouth in surprise.

"Congratulations on your acceptance," said one of the men, who introduced himself as Grant Gosselin, the admissions dean for Wheaton College. He handed Wolf an oversize white envelope. "We've heard great things about you."

Courtesy of Michelle Duren

This story is part of WABE and American Graduate's Advancing Atlanta: Education series. For more stories, click here.

When Tyler Folks started at Cherokee High School, few expected him to finish.

“I didn’t want to be here,” Folks said. "I didn’t like school. I’d get in trouble, get in fights, didn’t care."

He would get mad at teachers. He was older than others because he was held back in middle school. He has a hard time reading.

U.S. Department of Education/flickr / U.S. Department of Education/flickr

It may have been hard to notice Tuesday in the midst of the presidential election buzz, but the country officially got a new education secretary.

John King, the former education commissioner for the state of New York, was sworn in this week.

Fulton County Schools

The Fulton County schools announced Thursday it has tapped Jeff Rose, current superintendent of Beaverton School District in Oregon, as its new finalist for superintendent. He replaces former sole candidate Philip Lanoue of Clarke County, Georgia, who withdrew from consideration.


Susan Walsh / AP Photo

U.S. Education Secretary John King came to Georgia State University Wednesday. King says he was here to gather research on how to increase college graduation rates nationwide.  

GSU boosted its graduation rate 22 percentage points over ten years. Last year the U.S. Education Department gave Georgia State an $8.9 million grant to expand its work. After talking with students, King said the grant seems to be paying off.

Michell Eloy / WABE News

This story is part of WABE and American Graduate's Advancing Atlanta: Education series. For more stories, click here.

About a dozen kids are huddled inside the Brownwood Park Recreation Center in East Atlanta on a rainy afternoon. For about 12 children, ages eight to 11, who are trapped inside after a long day of sitting at school, this would seem like a nightmare scenario.

Martha Dalton / WABE

The Cobb County school board will reconsider a newly-adjusted proposal that incentivizes parents to get involved at Pebblebrook High School.

In January, school board member David Morgan presented a program that would bar kids at Cobb’s Pebblebrook High School from some extracurricular activities if their parents didn’t attend school conferences and meetings.

“Quite frankly, I just got tired of looking at the same realities and really little being done about it,” Morgan said, referring to low parent participation at the school.  

Martha Dalton / WABE

This story is part of WABE and American Graduate's Advancing Atlanta: Education series. For more stories, click here.

Of all the problems facing public schools, one that has stumped educators for years is how to get kids to show up. Truancy, or chronic absenteeism, can be a particular problem in low-income areas. State research shows attendance is tied to achievement. Kids who miss more than six days of school during the year tend to see their academic performance slip.

Kennesaw State students participate in an exchange program with students at Japan's Chukyu University.
Courtesy of Kennesaw State University / Courtesy of Kennesaw State University

Starting this fall, students at Kennesaw State University will be able to major in Asian Studies, as part of the first interdisciplinary Asian Studies bachelor’s degree program in the University System of Georgia.

Communication and Asian Studies Professor Dr. May Gao is coordinator of the new program. She led the campaign to have an Asian Studies major in the summer of 2012.

“We realized that the knowledge of Asia is critical for our students to be competitive in the global marketplace,” Gao said. “This new degree will open a lot of new doors for students.”

David Goldman / Associated Press

The public's chance to comment on proposed changes to Georgia's social studies standards ends today at 5 p.m. What the new standards leave out, however, are leaving some teachers and advocates upset.

In the sixth-grade standards, the changes to the requirements no longer include the Holocaust or slavery's impact on the American continent.

This worries Jane Moore, a sixth-grade teacher at Inman Middle School, because standards determine what shows up on students' tests.

Jessica Johnson leads her pre-k class in a storytelling exercise.
Kate Sweeney / WABE

  This story is part of WABE and American Graduate's Advancing Atlanta: Education series. For more stories, click here.

At Dunbar Learning Complex, literacy education begins young.

Take this group of 22 wiggly four-year-olds, bursting with post-naptime energy. Jessica Johnson has wrangled them into a loose version of a circle to tell a story together.

Alan Alfaro (cropped) /

New research from the Foundation for Excellence in Education shows that as the U.S. population ages, the number of retired people could outnumber those in the workforce.  That’s bad news for schools, according to the foundation, because fewer people working means less tax revenue going toward schools.

Courtesy of the DeKalb School of the Arts

This story is part of WABE and American Graduate's Advancing Atlanta: Education series. For more stories, click here.

If the quality of a song or painting is largely subjective, how does one know if a public arts high school is “working?”  WABE’s series on what works in Atlanta-area education turns to the DeKalb School of the Arts to try for an objective assessment.

Arts and Academics

Georgia public school teachers may soon see widespread changes in their classrooms.

A House committee discussed a bill on Wednesday that would introduce sweeping reforms to standardized testing, teacher evaluations and attendance. However, the committee postponed a vote until Friday.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins, a Republican from Marietta. A large number of education organizations from around the state gave their support for the bill, and nearly 30 different speakers signed up to address the committee at Wednesday's hearing.

Martha Dalton / WABE

Georgia’s Board of Regents adopted two policies Wednesday that address how state colleges handle sexual assault allegations.

Last year, a state committee found schools deal with claims of rape and other assaults differently. So the group came up with a statewide set of procedures, including training for staff and access to legal counsel for the accused and alleged victims. 

Naomi Daniel and Tiffany Lavenby examine the root of a plant.
Alison Guillory / WABE

This story is part of WABE and American Graduate's Advancing Atlanta: Education series. For more stories, click here.

Researchers say the United States is short on students who are pursuing science, technology, engineering and math careers – the group of subjects known as STEM.

Courtesy of Emory Photo/Video

For the next two months, more than 500 students, staff and faculty members at Emory University have signed up to sleep, shop and eat a little more chocolate as part of what's called the Happiness Challenge.


In early February, the DeKalb County public school system regained full accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS. It had been some three years since SACS put DeKalb on probation, citing board mismanagement and an atmosphere of "conflict and chaos" in the school system.

molly samuel / WABE

This story is part of WABE and American Graduate's Advancing Atlanta: Education series. For more stories, click here.

Every day more than 1,200 students go from their regular high schools to the Carroll County College and Career Academy to learn fields as varied as health care, culinary arts, video production, IT and auto mechanics. The hallways feel like a typical high school’s, but behind one door, there’s an auto shop, behind another, an HVAC lab.

In this photo taken Jan. 17, 2016, a sign is seen at the entrance to a hall for a college test preparation class at Holton Arms School.
Alex Brandon / Associated Press

Georgia students took a new, more rigorous state test last year. Education officials hope raising the testing bar will eventually ensure kids are better prepared for college and careers.

But according to one national expert, it may be tough for Georgia students to know exactly how they stack up.

Courtesy of DeKalb County Schools

In a new opinion-editorial, DeKalb County Superintendent Stephen Green says the district is reconsidering its discipline policies.

The piece is a response to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which noted two DeKalb high schools had more out-of-school suspensions during the 2014-15 school year than enrolled students.

Dboybaker /

Students from MIT and Britain's University of Cambridge will spend the weekend hacking one another's computers, with the blessing of their national leaders.

The two schools are competing in a hacking contest that U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron announced last year among other joint cybersecurity projects between the two nations. The White House billed it as a showdown between the two prestigious schools, both known as heavyweights in the world of computer science.

before the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in North Charleston, S.C.
Rainier Ehrhardt / Associated Press

Ryan Lysek rose to become vice president of his fifth-grade class at Lorraine Academy in Buffalo, New York, after the sitting veep got bounced for saying things that went against the school's anti-bullying rules. So the 10-year-old is a little puzzled that candidates running to lead the entire country can get away with name-calling and foul language.

Shannan Muskopf (cropped) /

This weekend, high school students in Georgia — and across the country — will sharpen their No. 2 pencils to take a new version of the SAT. The new test will focus more on evidence-based reading, according to the College Board, which administers and scores the exam.

Atlanta Superintendent Meria Carstarphen in the WABE studios.
Jason Parker / WABE

In November, Georgia voters will be asked whether the state should be authorized to take over schools it deems "chronically failing."

If the measure passes, 26 Atlanta public schools could qualify for a takeover. APS’ plan to save those schools looks outside the district.

The Atlanta Public School system is implementing a strategy to increase student achievement dramatically and to transform its lowest-performing schools.

Shannan Muskopf (cropped) /

Georgia Democrats and Republicans have agreed on at least one piece of legislation this session.

Senate Bill 364 would reduce the impact of student test scores on teachers’ evaluations. It passed the state Senate unanimously Friday.

"All employees need an annual evaluation, but we also want to make a statement that moves to make teacher evaluations more of a tool to be used for continuous improvement, than a punitive measure,” said Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta, the bill’s sponsor.

Who's Regulating For-Profit Schools? Execs From For-Profit Colleges

Feb 26, 2016

College accreditors have come under scrutiny recently for allowing for-profit schools to collect billions in federal aid despite low graduation and high default rates.

Accreditors are supposed to be watchdogs for college quality. They are not government agencies but colleges need an accreditor's seal of approval so students can qualify for federal loans.

Students at Georgia’s public colleges and universities are better-prepared than they were a few years ago. But there's still work to do, state education officials said during a Senate Higher Education Committee meeting Wednesday.

The Georgia Department of Education said over a three year period, the rate of college students taking remedial math classes has dropped by about 7 percent. It’s fallen about six percent for English/Language Arts.

“We’ve seen decreases over time and this is at the same time that the standards themselves have gotten more challenging,” Dooley said.