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Cory Turner

Cory Turner reports and edits for the NPR Ed team. He's helped lead several of the team's signature reporting projects, including "The Truth About America's Graduation Rate" (2015), the groundbreaking "School Money" series (2016), "Raising Kings: A Year Of Love And Struggle At Ron Brown College Prep" (2017), and the NPR Life Kit parenting podcast with Sesame Workshop (2019). His year-long investigation with NPR's Chris Arnold, "The Trouble With TEACH Grants" (2018), led the U.S. Department of Education to change the rules of a troubled federal grant program that had unfairly hurt thousands of teachers.

Before coming to NPR Ed, Cory stuck his head inside the mouth of a shark and spent five years as Senior Editor of All Things Considered. His life at NPR began in 2004 with a two-week assignment booking for The Tavis Smiley Show.

In 2000, Cory earned a master's in screenwriting from the University of Southern California and spent several years reading gas meters for the So. Cal. Gas Company. He was only bitten by one dog, a Lhasa Apso, and wrote a bank heist movie you've never seen.

A new report from a government watchdog, first obtained by NPR, says an expanded effort by Congress to forgive the student loans of public servants is remarkably unforgiving.

Congress created the expansion program last year in response to a growing outcry. Thousands of borrowers — nurses, teachers and other public servants — complained that the requirements for the original program were so rigid and poorly communicated that lawmakers needed to step in. But, documents show, even this expansion of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program isn't working.

The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a new student loan watchdog, and his appointment is raising questions about who is safeguarding the interests of student borrowers.

The first time I stuck my head into the mouth of a great white shark, I did not flinch. In fairness to the shark, named Bruce, he was old. And made of fiberglass, with chipped wooden teeth. That was nine years ago.

I found him in a Sun Valley, Calif., junk yard.

A few weeks ago, I did it all again. Same shark. Only this time, I broke a sweat and closed my eyes. Bruce had gotten a makeover. He now has row after row of razor-sharp teeth and a hauntingly deep, fleshy gullet.

Roughly 9 million children — nearly 1 in 5 public school students in the U.S. — attend schools that are racially isolated and receive far less money than schools just a few miles away. That's according to a sweeping new review of the nation's most divisive school district borders from EdBuild, a nonprofit that investigates school funding inequities.

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.

In the tiny town of Erwin, Tenn., history is the elephant in the room.

At the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce, Cathy Huskins remembers one particularly angry tourist "came barreling through the door, and came up to the counter here and slung her hands down. ... And she says, 'I cannot believe that you killed an elephant!' "

Librarian Angie Georgeff is used to the strange phone calls and unannounced visits from world travelers:

Nearly 2,300 teachers have just had a mountain of student loan debt lifted off their backs, according to previously unreleased figures from the U.S. Department of Education. The move follows reporting by NPR that exposed a nightmare for public school teachers across the country.

Six Democratic senators, including two presidential candidates, sent a letter to the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday demanding that the agency prove it is policing the companies, known as servicers, that the government pays to manage its trillion-dollar, federal student loan portfolio.

Updated at 3:13 p.m. ET

A critical new report from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General finds the department's student loan unit failed to adequately supervise the companies it pays to manage the nation's trillion-dollar portfolio of federal student loans. The report also rebukes the department's office of Federal Student Aid for rarely penalizing companies that failed to follow the rules.

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

New guidance on TEACH Grant program

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education made good on its promise to map out how it would help thousands of public school teachers who have been hurt by the federal TEACH Grant program.

For public school teacher Kaitlyn McCollum, even simple acts like washing dishes or taking a shower can fill her with dread.

"It will just hit me like a ton of bricks," McCollum says. " 'Oh my God, I owe all of that money.' And it's, like, a knee-buckling moment of panic all over again."

She and her family recently moved to a much smaller, older house. One big reason for the downsizing: a $24,000 loan that McCollum has been unfairly saddled with because of a paperwork debacle at the U.S. Department of Education.

"Thank YOU," writes Cara Christensen, a first-grade teacher in Washington state who read NPR's deep dive into the troubled Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF). The reporting, she says, "made me feel not so alone."

We received dozens of emails, tweets and Facebook comments from aggrieved borrowers responding to news that, over the past year, 99 percent of applications for the popular loan-forgiveness program have been denied.

Update: Many student borrowers have responded to this story by sharing stories of their struggles with PSLF. We've curated many of them here.

On the morning of Monday, Aug. 27, Seth Frotman told his two young daughters that he would likely be home early that day and could take them to the playground. They cheered.

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.

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

Student loan forgiveness applicants largely denied

Seeking to "evaluate the independence and effectiveness" of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's student loan office, 15 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus sent a terse letter Thursday evening to Mick Mulvaney, the CFPB's acting director. The letter was first obtained by NPR.

To millions of parents and students, they're magical words: free college.

But is the idea pure fantasy?

More than a dozen states now offer grants, often called scholarships, promising to help qualifying students pay for some or all of their college education. In fact, that word, "promise," shows up again and again in these programs' official names: Nevada Promise, Oklahoma's Promise, Oregon Promise, Tennessee Promise ... you get the idea.

Updated at 1:12 p.m. ET

The federal official in charge of protecting student borrowers from predatory lending practices has stepped down.

In a scathing resignation letter, Seth Frotman, who until now was the student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, says current leadership "has turned its back on young people and their financial futures." The letter was addressed to Mick Mulvaney, the bureau's acting director.

Turn on your TV and surf the stuff meant for kids. I dare you.

You'll likely find a surfeit of fast action and fart jokes. And that's what makes Esme & Roy so unusual.

The new show, about an unlikely duo who babysit monsters, is Sesame Workshop's first animated children's program in more than a decade, and it deftly combines the Workshop's parallel passions — for learning and play. In fact, Esme & Roy is dedicated to an idea that can feel radical these days:

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

Congress approves career tech bill

Believe it or not, it's still possible: This week, Congress approved a measure with bipartisan support.

The measure in question is a rewrite of the legislation that governs more than $1 billion of federal funding for career and technical education. CTE programs are meant to give students skills and hands-on experience in a range of important fields, from construction to the culinary arts.

Rates of anxiety and depression among teens in the U.S. have been rising for years. According to one study, nearly one in three adolescents (ages 13-18) now meets the criteria for an anxiety disorder, and in the latest results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 32 percent of teens reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

Want to know what the teenagers in your life really think about sex and drugs?

Are you sure?

Well, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a pretty good idea, thanks to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Every other year, thousands of teens in public and private high schools across the country take this nationally representative survey. The CDC just released results for 2017, and here are a few of the highlights:

Sex

Childhood — and parenting — have radically changed in the past few decades, to the point where far more children today struggle to manage their behavior.

That's the argument Katherine Reynolds Lewis makes in her new parenting book, The Good News About Bad Behavior.

"We face a crisis of self-regulation," Lewis writes. And by "we," she means parents and teachers who struggle daily with difficult behavior from the children in their lives.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Lawmakers have asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about an NPR report about a troubled grant program for public school teachers. Here's NPR's Cory Turner.

If this were a normal Monday morning, students at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, would be heading back to class. Instead, school is closed, its classrooms still a crime scene. The big question for investigators: How did a gunman walk into school Friday morning, killing 10 people and wounding 13?

But Katelyn "Kayte" Alford and her 1,400 classmates struggle with a different question: How do we move on from this?

It's been nine weeks since teachers in West Virginia walked out of their classrooms to protest low wages and rising health care costs. That sparked a movement that has spread to a handful of other states where teachers have fought — or are fighting — not just for higher wages but also increased spending, more pay for support staff and, in some cases, to stop proposed changes to their pensions.

In fact, so much has happened in the past two months that we thought we'd put together a refresher, state by state.

Teachers in Arizona are staging what they're calling a walk-in today. They're asking lawmakers for a 20 percent pay raise and for school funding to return to pre-recession levels. This comes as teachers in Oklahoma continue their walk-out. After more than a week of protests and dozens of closed schools across the state, Oklahoma lawmakers have already agreed to increase teacher pay and school funding.

Black students, boys, and students with disabilities are disproportionately disciplined in K-12 schools across the country. That's according to a new report, out Wednesday, from the non-partisan federal watchdog, the Government Accountability Office.

Those disparities were consistent, "regardless of the type of disciplinary action, regardless of the level of school poverty, and regardless of the type of public school attended," says Jacqueline Nowicki, who led the team of researchers at the GAO.

The teachers strike in West Virginia may have ended last week when Gov. Jim Justice signed a law giving educators a 5 percent pay increase, but the fight in other states is just warming up.

"You can make anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 more by driving 15 minutes across the state line," said Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association. "We're having trouble keeping and attracting young teachers."

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