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Anya Kamenetz

This story was adapted from an episode from a Life Kit podcast, Parenting: Raising Awesome Kids.

Are humans born kind?

We both assumed, as parents of young children, that kindness is just something our kids would pick up by osmosis, because we love them. It's a common assumption.

Kyle Kashuv, one of the survivors of the mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla., applied and was accepted into Harvard University.

His acceptance, however, was rescinded after Harvard discovered that Kashuv, now 18, used racial slurs in texts, Skype conversations and Google documents when he was 16.

Here's why people are talking about Kashuv's case.

A Parkland survivor turned activist

NPR/Ipsos conducted a national poll recently and found that more than 8 in 10 teachers — and a similar majority of parents — support teaching kids about climate change.

But in reality, it's not always happening: Fewer than half of K-12 teachers told us that they talk about climate change with their children or students. Again, parents were about the same.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has issued another big policy proposal as part of her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. This one concerns higher education.

Warren proposes that the federal government write off hundreds of billions of dollars in existing student loan debt.

More than 80% of parents in the U.S. support the teaching of climate change. And that support crosses political divides, according to the results of an exclusive new NPR/Ipsos poll: Whether they have children or not, two-thirds of Republicans and 9 in 10 Democrats agree that the subject needs to be taught in school.

A separate poll of teachers found that they are even more supportive, in theory — 86% agree that climate change should be taught.

If you're naming top colleges, you might not think of the City University of New York right away. It's not selective — it serves what one former official called "the top 100 percent." It also has a pretty low graduation rate.

But if you look deeper, at metrics like diversity and sheer number of lives changed, then CUNY can make a strong case.

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

President Trump pivots to higher education this week

On Thursday, President Trump signed an executive order that could affect a few areas of higher education: from data collection to free speech.

It's no secret that wealth brings advantages when it comes to sending your kids to college. Rich and famous parents can donate large sums of money to schools or lean on their names and connections. Some ritzy colleges explicitly prefer the children and grandchildren of alumni — at Harvard University, an investigation found last year that these "legacy" admits were over five times more likely to get in than the average Joe.

The current wave of teacher walkouts started a year ago this week, when educators across West Virginia were out of the classroom for nine days. The movement spread to five more states before the school year was over.

The overuse of technology has overtaken drugs, sex and bullying as the biggest parental worry, according to the annual Brigham Young and Deseret News American Family Survey.

But what are we actually supposed to be doing about it?

Jordan Shapiro, a Temple University professor whose background is in philosophy and psychology, has a prescription that might surprise you. In his new book, The New Childhood, his argument is that we're not spending enough screen time with our kids.

A federal commission led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recommends rescinding Obama-era guidance intended to reduce racial discrimination in school discipline. And, DeVos says, it urges schools to "seriously consider partnering with local law enforcement in the training and arming of school personnel."

Yassiry Gonzalez goes to bed early. But often she wakes up around 1 or 2 in the morning. And from then on, sometimes all the way through dawn, the New York City high school student is on her phone — on FaceTime with close friends, or looking through Instagram.

"Sometimes, I'm so tired that I'll just fall asleep in school." She estimates the all-nighters happen once or twice a week. And on the weekends? "There's no sleep. No sleep."

Looking back, 2018 may be the year that a critical mass of people started wondering: Am I spending too much time on my phone?

The U.S. Department of Education is sending emails to about 15,000 people across the country telling them: You've got money.

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

New guidelines for campus sexual assault enforcement are open for public comment

Every time Bill Zima, superintendent of schools in Hallowell, Maine, sends an email, it has this sentence under his signature: "Cultivating Hope In All Learners."

This is his school district's philosophy. It means something very specific. Zima got it from a YouTube video.

"A colleague sent it to me. It was a guy in a three-piece suit standing in front of a podium that said Business Summit To Drive Education Reform. I thought, ugh, this is going to be a bashing of public education."

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

New rules on college campus sexual assault and harassment

No one ever shows up at brunch and says, "Oh my gosh, I was so sober last night!"

Risky behavior draws attention. As a result, people tend to assume that everyone else is doing it more than they really are.

But, over the last two decades, research on college campuses has shown that giving students the real facts about their peers reduces unsafe drinking. This approach is called positive social norms. It works because of a basic truth of human nature: People want to do what others are doing.

John, a father of two in Colorado, had no idea what his 15-year-old son had gotten into, until one night last year when John walked into his home office. We're not using his last name to protect his son's privacy.

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

Education is a top issue in the midterms

From the 36 gubernatorial races to some key state congressional races, education will be a major issue on Election Day. We've reported previously on a record number of educators who are themselves running. There were teacher walkouts in six states this year. That issue alone has gotten people mobilized.

There's something else that's bringing education to the midterms: Betsy DeVos, the polarizing education secretary.

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

Report: Most schools now have high-speed internet access

40.7 million students have gained access to high-speed Internet over the last five years. That's according to EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit dedicated to closing the digital divide in American classrooms. There are still 2.3 million students unconnected, according to the group's most recent annual report.

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

A new education budget awaits approval

A new spending bill could add $581 million to the Department of Education's budget. The legislation would bolster career and technical training and programs that serve low-income students.

When the Access Hollywood tape of Donald Trump, along with sexual assault stories involving Brock Turner and Bill Cosby, hit the news back in 2016, a middle school student in Maryland named Maeve Sanford-Kelly was listening.

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

How many times per year does a gun go off in an American school?

We should know. But we don't.

This spring the U.S. Education Department reported that in the 2015-2016 school year, "nearly 240 schools ... reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting." The number is far higher than most other estimates.

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.

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