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.

Back in May, school funding experts predicted a looming financial disaster for the nation's K-12 schools.

"I think we're about to see a school funding crisis unlike anything we have ever seen in modern history," warned Rebecca Sibilia, the founder of EdBuild, a school finance advocacy organization. "We are looking at devastation that we could not have imagined ... a year ago."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We follow up now on the story of financial trouble for schools. Rebecca Sibilia has been warning since May of an effect of the pandemic.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

The closure of school buildings in response to the coronavirus has been disruptive and inconvenient for many families, but for those living in homeless shelters or hotel rooms — including roughly 1.5 million school-aged children — the shuttering of classrooms and cafeterias has been disastrous.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Monday, Sept. 21, was supposed to mark the start of in-person classes for New York City's 1.1 million public school students. It was the only big-city district planning to start the school year in person. But with just four days to go, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced that only the youngest students, in 3-K and Pre-K, and those with significant special needs, would be coming back on Sept. 21. The rest of the students will phase in by grade level between through Oct. 1.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

A controversial rule backed by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and meant to reroute millions of dollars in coronavirus aid to K-12 private school students, has been shut down, at least temporarily.

The U.S. Education Department announced Wednesday that the rule is no longer in effect after a federal judge determined that the department had not only "acted beyond its authority" but misinterpreted the will of Congress.

Six months into schools' pandemic-driven experiment in distance learning, much has been said (and debated) about whether children are learning. But the more urgent question, for the more than 30 million kids who depend on U.S. schools for free or reduced-price meals, is this:

Are they eating?

The answer, based on recent data and interviews with school nutrition leaders and anti-hunger advocates across the country, is alarming.

More than 6,500 current and former teachers have gotten a second chance to shed millions of dollars in unfair student debts, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education.

The educators had enrolled in the department's troubled TEACH Grant program, which provides grants to help aspiring teachers pay for college. In exchange, they agreed to teach a high-need subject for four years in a school that serves low-income families.

For Sarah McLaren, who lives in a suburb of Minneapolis, talking about the spring is painful. Her daughter, a rising fourth-grader, struggles with auditory processing and receives special education services. But McLaren says her daughter had trouble keeping up with teachers on an iPad because the instruction was almost all talk.

"They'd tell her, 'Look at this problem, look at that problem. No, show me your worksheet,' " McLaren remembers. "The teachers were doing the best they could, but all those rapid verbal directions just overwhelmed her."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

At least 97,000 children tested positive for the coronavirus during the last two weeks of July, according to a new review of state-level data by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children's Hospital Association. The increase represents a 40% surge in the nation's cumulative total of child cases.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STACEY VANEK SMITH, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Ann Levett's worst day as superintendent of Savannah-Chatham County Public School System wasn't March 26, the day Georgia's governor first closed schools, keeping Levett's more than 37,000 students home in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Her worst day came just a couple of weeks ago, Levett says, when she realized the infection numbers around Savannah were so high that she wasn't going to be able to reopen schools.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Parents, teachers and students across the country are gearing up for the new school year. But what school will look like is still a mystery.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

The U.S. Department of Education moved this week to make it easier for colleges to reconsider and potentially increase financial aid for students who have lost jobs or family income in the economic crisis.

Updated 3:40 p.m. ET

In the latest move from the Trump administration to push for states to reopen schools this fall, Vice President Pence couched guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to safely reopen schools, saying it shouldn't be used as a "barrier" to students returning to classrooms.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The Trump administration delivered a clear message today about whether kids should head back to school this fall.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

In a new rule announced Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos signaled she is standing firm on her intention to reroute millions of dollars in coronavirus aid money to K-12 private school students. The CARES Act rescue package included more than $13 billion to help public schools cover pandemic-related costs.

The U.S. Department of Education is making it harder for colleges to reconsider — and potentially increase — financial aid for students who have lost jobs or family income in the current economic crisis.

First, the end:

"Please be kind to one another. That's all for today."

So closes the middle-school top-prize winner of NPR's Student Podcast Challenge. World, meet The Dragon Kids.

Safely reopening the nation's public schools will be an expensive and Herculean task without additional help from the federal government. And, until schools do reopen, the nation's most vulnerable children will continue to be hardest hit — losing consistent access to meals, valuable learning time, and vital social-emotional support. Those were just some of the takeaways Wednesday from a hearing of the U.S. Senate's education committee.

School district lines have become engines of inequity in many states. Not only can they be used to keep children out of a neighborhood's schools, they can also keep a district's wealth in. But with many districts facing severe budget cuts because of the coronavirus pandemic, a new report proposes a radical solution:

Austin Beutner looked haggard, his face a curtain of worry lines. The superintendent of the second-largest school district in the nation sat at a desk last week delivering a video address to Los Angeles families. But he began with a stark message clearly meant for another audience:

Lawmakers in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

Congressional Democrats have accused U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of trying to reroute hundreds of millions of dollars in coronavirus aid money to K-12 private school students. The coronavirus rescue package, known as the CARES Act, included more than $13 billion to help public schools cover pandemic-related costs.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

This is a confusing, stressful time for kids. And kids, you know what I'm talking about. So Anya Kamenetz and Cory Turner from our podcast Life Kit got together with a special guest who wants to help make you a little less nervous. Here they are.

Pages