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Students and Schools

  

This reporting initiative is made possible by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation — working to reshape public education to better prepare all students for the future.

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David DesRoches / WNPR

New guidelines have been developed by Connecticut's education department that describe the process parents should use for their children to be evaluated for special education services. But concerns are being raised that the new guidelines would make it harder for parents, not easier, than under previous guidance. 

At schools across the country today, students are getting up from their desks and walking out when the clock strikes 10 a.m. They're participating in the National School Walkout, part of the movement that has taken hold among students to call for action to end gun violence.

Today marks 19 years since the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in which two high school students shot and killed thirteen people.

When Lane Murdock, a high school sophomore, heard that 17 high school students and educators had been killed in a shooting in Parkland, Fla., she says she felt numb.

To her, and so many others, mass shootings can feel all too common in the U.S.

"In the time I've been in high school we've had the Pulse, Las Vegas and now, [the Parkland] shooting," Murdock says.

Werwin15, Creative Commons

Connecticut's graduation rate is now the highest on record, state officials said Monday. Last year, 87.9 percent of high school seniors graduated. That's about five points higher than the national average. The graduation rate gap between students of color and white students also shrank.

College of DuPage / Creative Commons

A large number of Connecticut high school graduates don't get a college degree within six years of leaving high school. But there's not a lot of information on what they're actually up to.

"I'm 54 years old and my paycheck is $1,980 [a month]. I can't afford f****** health insurance."

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

The system that oversees private special education schools in Connecticut needs an overhaul, according to a recent state audit. About 3,000 students with severe needs are currently placed in these schools, mostly at the expense of public school districts.

Quinnipiac University's NAMI chapter handed out materials on mental health services.
Quinnipiac NAMI Chapter Photo

As anxiety and depression among college students soars, universities in Connecticut and nationally are expanding their mental health counseling, even offering courses that address mental well-being.

Students in Hartford join the national walkout over gun violence.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that district administrators in Stonington did not respond to a request for comment. In fact, Stonington High School Principal Mark Friese responded to WNPR in an email before the story was published, and he provided his account of the day’s events, which is now included.

Stonington High School junior Caroline Morehouse was excited when she learned that her school would allow students to walkout of class to protest gun violence in a nationwide day of action on March 14. She'd be standing in solidarity with students from Parkland, Florida, who only a month earlier had lost 17 classmates in yet another school shooting.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

The March For Our Lives event in East Haddam was one of 12 happening in Connecticut—and more than 800 across the globe for that matter. 

An earlier rally in Washington D.C. after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Victoria Pickering / Creative Commons

The “March For Our Lives” takes place in various cities across the country this weekend. In Connecticut, Tyler Suarez, a freshman at the University of Bridgeport helped put together the march in Hartford.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

It’s lunchtime at Central Connecticut State University and 10 students converge on their usual spot in the dining hall. They start talking about the food — and it becomes clear that they don’t love the rice. They explain that it’s not as seasoned as the homemade arroz in Puerto Rico.

jasastyle/iStock / Thinkstock

Teachers from across Connecticut convened at the state Capitol on Friday, asking lawmakers to not increase their pension obligations. Teachers call it the "teacher tax,” and they said it’s asking them to fix a system broken by years of under-funding by the state.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Catherine Smith is Commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Economic and Community Development. This hour, she stops by for an update on the state's economy and manufacturing workforce.

Later, we also check in with Goodwin College President Mark Scheinberg. How is his school training the next generation of manufacturing employees? We find out and we also hear from you. 

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Right now, every student at a public college in Connecticut, including those who are undocumented must pay a portion of their tuition towards a financial aid fund. But undocumented students are not allowed to apply for the aid they help to fund.

"Why have you become, people say, the most hated Cabinet secretary?" Lesley Stahl asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in a 60 Minutes interview that is drawing lots of attention.

"I'm not so sure how exactly that happened," DeVos responded in the interview, which aired Sunday night on CBS.

Pixabay / Creative Commons

Connecticut has spent over $50 million helping schools beef up security since 2013. Some of that money -- $3.2 million -- has gone to private schools, which are reimbursed at a higher rate than many public schools.

Students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., will once again walk the halls of their school Wednesday, exactly two weeks after many of them evacuated in single file lines, scared for their lives and worried about their friends.

Some students may still not be ready.

Many students and parents had a chance to go back into the school on Sunday for an orientation. They hugged and cried as they stepped inside for the first time since a former student, Nikolas Cruz, 19, killed 17 people when he shot an AR-15 in the freshman building on February 14.

It’s a simple plan: Run. Hide. Fight.

That's what the Department of Homeland Security advises people to do when there’s an active shooter. Police departments also use this method when training school employees, students, and increasingly, aspiring teachers.

Fran Rabinowitz, the president of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, called for changes to gun legislation Thursday at East Hartford High School. She was supported by student leadership at the school.
Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

East Hartford High School students are joining a national chorus of voices against gun violence. They want to be heard by legislators in Washington D.C.

Alberto G./flickr creative commons

Connecticut schools performed about the same as they did last year on the state's accountability system. 

Jim Finley - Principal consultant to the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF).
Chion Wolf / WNPR

A recent Connecticut Supreme Court decision found that the legislature, not the court, is responsible for decisions around funding the state's public schools. But that sparked a debate between an advocate and a lawmaker over where the responsibility actually lays.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Catherine Smith is Commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Economic and Community Development. This hour, she stops by for an update on the state's economy and manufacturing workforce.

Later, we also check in with Goodwin College President Mark Scheinberg. How is his school training the next generation of manufacturing employees? We find out and we also hear from you. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Brian Dunnigan is a web designer and co-founder of the Hawthorn Watch Co. in Vernon, Connecticut.

Coming up, we discuss the inspiration behind his business and talk about Connecticut’s role in manufacturing the hands of time.

But first: mastering the skills of traditional craftsmen.

We hear how an exhibit at the Connecticut Historical Society celebrates the bond between artists and their apprentices.

Antonio Cruz, a city school bus driver, addresses the Hartford school board at a public hearing Tuesday night. Cruz is the father of Paola Cruz, 9, a student at Batchelder Elementary School, which would close under the district's consolidation plan.
Vanessa de la Torre / WNPR

Antonio Cruz is the father of a 9-year-old at Hartford’s Batchelder Elementary, one of the city neighborhood schools that the superintendent has proposed shutting down this summer.

"The federal government must take bold action to address inequitable funding in our nation's public schools."

So begins a list of recommendations released Thursday by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent, bipartisan agency created by Congress in 1957 to investigate civil rights complaints. Thursday's report comes after a lengthy investigation into how America's schools are funded and why so many that serve poor and minority students aren't getting the resources they say they need.

Justin Brockie / Creative Commons

Across New England, freezing temps and blizzard conditions marked an unforgiving start to 2018.

This hour, we consider the factors underlying this extreme winter weather -- including the role of global climate change. 

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