In the 1970s, the founder of the National Institute on Aging convinced a nation that senility was really Alzheimer's and could be cured. Research money flowed to one theory — and alternatives remained unexamined.
There is a theory about how people read words — one that's deeply embedded in teaching practices and curriculum materials widely used in elementary school classrooms. Although the idea has been disproved by cognitive scientists, it continues to be included in teacher preparation programs, promoted in professional development sessions, and marketed by publishers.
Moving a lot is hard on school kids. And millions of children in the United States have unstable housing. A growing body of research finds that repeatedly uprooted children are more likely to struggle in school and more likely to drop out. But there are ways to help them succeed.
Scientific research has shown how children learn to read and how they should be taught. But many educators don't know the science and, in some cases, actively resist it. As a result, millions of kids are being set up to fail.
Colleges have long offered a pathway to success for just about anyone. But new research shows that with the country growing ever more economically divided, colleges are not doing enough to help students from poor families achieve the American Dream.
There are proven ways to help people with dyslexia learn to read, and a federal law that's supposed to ensure schools provide kids with help. But across the country, public schools are denying children proper treatment and often failing to identify them with dyslexia in the first place.
President Trump is ending DACA, which allowed some 800,000 undocumented young people to stay and work in the United States. For some, that may mean the end of a dream of going to college. This program profiles DACA students and their opponents and examines a key court case and political forces that led to this moment.
A growing number of colleges and universities in the eastern United States are confronting their historic ties to the slave trade. Profits from slavery and related industries helped build some of the most prestigious schools in New England. In many southern states, enslaved people built and maintained college campuses.
There may be nothing more important in the educational life of a child than having effective teachers. But the United States is struggling to attract and keep teachers. The problem is most acute in rural areas, where kids may learn math from a social studies teacher. In urban schools, the teachers most likely to leave are black men, who make up just 2 percent of teachers.
One of the best, most cost-effective ways to reduce recidivism is to offer inmates a college education. But, as the nation prepares for an increase in the number of released prisoners, there is very little being invested in prison higher ed.
Nearly half of all black and Hispanic students in the United States go to a high-poverty school, where graduation rates lag far behind schools in higher-income areas. Schools in Miami and Pasadena are trying to help students overcome the effects of poverty and segregation.
Kids who are suspended or expelled from school are more likely to drop out and wind up in prison. Schools are struggling to reduce suspensions and to find other ways to make sure classrooms are calm and safe.
When students go to college, they expect to be in college classes. But nearly half end up in basic math and English, re-learning what they were supposed to learn in high school. The vast majority never get a college degree.
Scientists say most people on Earth will first experience climate change in terms of water — either too much or too little. This documentary explores some of the most pressing water problems and some innovative solutions by visiting two countries where water issues are critical: India and Israel.
In the 1940s a British headmaster named Kurt Hahn set up a wilderness school called Outward Bound to teach young men the skills they needed to survive World War II — skills like leadership, persistence, and working together. Hahn believed these were skills conventional schools should focus on too. Fifty years later, Hahn's ideas about education inspired the founding of a network of public schools in the United States.
The longest war in American history is drawing to a close. Now, the men and women who served are coming home, and many hope to use higher education to build new, better lives. They have help from the Post-9/11 GI Bill, a piece of legislation that many advocates say offers more support to returning veterans than any policy since the original GI Bill of 1944.
Research shows good teaching makes a big difference in how much kids learn. But the United States lacks an effective system for training new teachers or helping them get better once they're on the job.
Before the civil rights movement, African Americans were largely barred from white-dominated institutions of higher education. And so black Americans, and their white supporters, founded their own schools, which came to be known as Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president in 1932, he and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt both used the new medium of radio to reach into American homes like never before. They rallied the nation to combat the Great Depression and fight fascism. The Roosevelts forged an uncommonly personal relationship with the people. This documentary explores how FDR and ER's use of radio revolutionized the way Americans relate to the White House and its occupants.
Vocational education was once a staple of American schooling, preparing some kids for blue-collar futures while others were put on a path to college. Today the new mantra is "college for all." But not everyone wants to go to college, and more than half of jobs don't require a bachelor's degree. Many experts say it's time to bring back career and technical education.
Just 20 percent of college-goers fit the stereotype of being young, single, full-time students who finish a degree in four years. College students today are more likely to be older, part-time, working, and low-income than they were three decades ago. Many are the first in their families to go to college.
The United States is in the midst of a huge education reform. The Common Core State Standards are a new set of expectations for what students should learn each year in school. The standards have been adopted by most states, though there's plenty of controversy about them among activists and politicians. Teachers say Common Core has the potential to help kids who are behind, as well as those who are ahead. But they have big concerns about the Common Core tests.
Researchers have long been searching for better ways to learn. In recent decades, experts working in cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience have opened new windows into how the brain works, and how we can learn to learn better.
The General Educational Development test (GED) is a second chance for millions of school dropouts. Each year, more than 700,000 people take the GED test. People who pass it are supposed to posses a level of education and skills equivalent to those of a high school graduate. Most test-takers hope the GED will lead to a better job or more education. But critics say the GED encourages some students to drop out of school. And research shows the credential is of little value to most people who get one.
Learning with a personal tutor is one of the oldest and best ways to learn. Hiring a tutor for every student was never a realistic option. Now, new computer programs can customize education for each child. But adding computers to classrooms isn't likely to help unless teachers are willing to change their approach to teaching.
For-profit colleges have deep roots in American history, but until recently they were a tiny part of the higher education landscape. Now they are big players. More than one in 10 college students attends a for-profit. The rapid rise of these career-oriented schools has provoked heated debate, opening up new conversations about the costs, quality and purpose of higher education.
Digital technologies and the Internet are changing how many Americans go to college. From online learning to simulation programs to smart-machine mentors, the 21st-century student will be taught in fundamentally new ways.
More people are going to college than ever before, but a lot of them aren't finishing. Low-income students, in particular, struggle to get to graduation. Only 9 percent complete a bachelor's degree by age 24. Why are so many students quitting, and what leads a few to beat the odds and make it through?
College students spend a lot of time listening to lectures. But research shows there are better ways to learn. And experts say students need to learn better because the 21st century economy demands more well-educated workers.
The most popular college major in America these days is business. Some students think it doesn't pay to study philosophy or history. But advocates of liberal arts programs say their graduates are still among the most likely to become leaders, and that a healthy democracy depends on citizens with a broad and deep education.
Mississippi led the South in an extraordinary battle to maintain racial segregation. Whites set up powerful citizens groups and state agencies to fight the civil rights movement. Their tactics were fierce and, for a time, very effective.
Titled after the classic 1969 James Brown anthem, “Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud,” this anthology illuminates the ideas and debates pulsing through the black freedom struggle from the 1960s to the present. These arguments are suffused with basic questions about what it means to be black in America.
Teachers matter. A lot. Studies show that students with the best teachers learn three times as much as students with the worst teachers. Researchers say the achievement gap between poor children and their higher-income peers could disappear if poor kids got better teachers.
When Lyndon B. Johnson became president after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, he put the power of his presidency behind a remarkable series of reform initiatives. The legislation was geared toward boosting economic opportunity, a theme captured by his administration's catchphrase, the Great Society.
What should children learn in school? It's a question that's stirred debate for decades, and in 1974 it led to violent protests in West Virginia. Schools were hit by dynamite, buses were riddled with bullets, and coal mines were shut down. The fight was over a new set of textbooks.
The Perry Preschool Project is one of the most famous education experiments of the last 50 years. The study asked a question: Can preschool boost the IQ scores of poor African-American children and prevent them from failing in school?
President Barack Obama wants to create jobs by building infrastructure. So did another president. Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to put people to work by building roads, bridges, dams, sewers, schools, hospitals and even ski jumps. The structures that New Deal agencies built transformed America.
For almost a century, Muncie, Indiana has been known as "Middletown," the quintessential American community. But now, as the rust-belt city grapples with deepening recession, many residents are losing their hold on the middle class.
Until recently, Las Vegas was one of the few places where the American Dream still seemed widely possible. Each month, thousands of people flocked there, lured by the promise of good jobs and a chance to own a home. It was the fastest growing city in the country. But now, Las Vegas has a new distinction: the nation's highest foreclosure rate.
The 1968 presidential election was a watershed in American politics. After dominating the political landscape for more than a generation, the Democratic Party crumbled. Richard M. Nixon was elected president and a new era of Republican conservatism was born.
Sergeant Adam Gray made it home from Iraq only to die in his barracks. Investigating his death, American RadioWorks pieces together a story of soldiers suffering psychological scars – because they abused Iraqi prisoners.
Michael Whitehead lived in Chicago's Ida B. Wells housing project for nearly 50 years. In 2008, the Chicago Housing Authority closed down Wells, as part of its "Plan for Transformation," a city-wide public housing rehabilitation effort.
The nation's foreign-born population will soon surpass the 14.7 percent share reached in 1910, when the Statue of Liberty beckoned to Europe's "huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Most of the new immigrants are from Latin America.
In January 2000, a German engineer living in South Africa met with a friend and business partner to hatch a deal. Gerald Wisser, a 61-year-old broker, visited his friend's pipe factory outside Johannesburg to see if his friend wanted to make a bid on a manufacturing project.
Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Four decades later, King remains one of the most vivid symbols of hope for racial unity in America. But that's not the way he was viewed in the last year of his life.
New research is lending insight into why we want stuff that we don't need. It also explains why some people are what are called tightwads, while other people are spendthrifts. Why do we buy? How are designers and marketers influencing what we buy? And how are individuals using market ideas, tricks, and tools to market themselves?
Advocates for kids are trying to persuade more families to adopt teenagers. If teenagers in foster care don't find permanent families, they face a grim future. They "age out" of foster care, usually when they turn 18 years old, and many wind up on the streets. Every year, more than 24,000 American young people age out of foster care.
The effects of mental illness are well documented. But until recently, there has been little said about the siblings of the mentally ill. Now researchers are starting to look at the "well-sibling" syndrome.
The early signs of climate change are showing up across vastly differing landscapes: from melting outposts near the Arctic Circle to disappearing glaciers high in the Andes; from the rising water in the deltas of Bangladesh to the "sinking" atolls of the Pacific. Reports from a Warming Planet takes you to parts of the planet where global warming is already making changes to life and landscape, and demonstrates how climate change is no longer restricted to scientific modeling about the future. It's happening now.
To many people, global youth culture means rock and roll and other Western fashions. But for more and more young people across to world, the capital of pop culture is Tokyo. Over the past decade, Japanese video games, animation and comic books have caught fire in much of the world, including the United States.
Hurricane Katrina devastated the lives of thousands of Mississippi Gulf Coast residents. Rebuilding Biloxi tells the stories of several families in the coastal community of Biloxi, Miss., and their struggle to survive and then recover from the storm.
Public documents show that from 2000 through mid-2005, Capitol Hill staffers accepted nearly 17,000 free trips worth almost $30 million. Many of these trips clearly violate ethics rules designed to limit the abuse of power.
In August 1996, landmark legislation fulfilled the promise to "end welfare as we know it." Congress gave the states money to run their own programs and required them to move many welfare recipients into the workforce. Supporters declared it a new day, the beginning of self-sufficiency for poor families. Others warned the action would push women and children into the streets, perhaps by the millions.
Internet poker has taken America by storm. Three-quarters of high school and college kids are gambling on a regular basis. But adolescents are far more vulnerable to getting addicted to gambling than adults. And with Internet companies making millions from online gamblers, there's little incentive or legal controls to restrict youth gambling.
On February 25, 1956, former Kremlin leader Nikita Khrushchev revealed and denounced, for the first time in the history of the Soviet Union, the crimes of his predecessor, Joseph Stalin, dramatically shifting Soviet Russia's course, stirring a human rights movement, and opening the door to the eventual collapse of the USSR.
More than 20,000 foreign children are adopted by Americans every year. Most come from poor and troubled parts of the world, and a life in America offers new hope. But it also means separation from their birth culture. Finding Home: Fifty Years of International Adoption explores the pull of adoption across lives and borders.
In the 1970s, women began breaking into male-dominated professions as never before. Women took jobs as police officers, lawyers and steelworkers. Across the country, the first women in male bastions faced a hostile reception. In the iron mines of northern Minnesota, women were harassed, threatened and assaulted. Their fight to keep their jobs broke new legal ground and helped change the workplace forever.
Terrifying events like the terrorist attacks of 9/11 trigger strong biological and psychological reactions. Most people can recover over time, but researchers are trying to understand why some never do.
The United States is making huge demands on its military people, the toughest since the Vietnam War. But most soldiers during Vietnam were young, single men. Today, in the all-volunteer military, about half of all service people are married with children, so the burdens of fighting these wars are shared back home.
Most children can be volatile at some point in their development, with no particular cause for worry. But at what point do irritability, mood swings, and tantrums constitute a mental illness? Up to half a million children are believed to have bipolar illness. This is the story of three of those children, their families, and the professionals who work with them.
President Bush has admitted ordering intelligence agencies to electronically spy on American citizens without court oversight since 9/11. Such monitoring of suspected terrorists affects thousands of people. But unknown to most people, the government has also turned to the nation's burgeoning data industry to track millions of people in the name of homeland security. So for most Americans, there is no place to hide.
Five years after the hoopla and warnings about Y2K, many still dismiss it as a hoax, scam, or non-event. But in reality, Y2K was not only a real threat narrowly averted, it also led to changes in how we look at technology and economic shifts that are still being felt today. For the fifth anniversary of Y2K, we look at the history and the legacy of the millennium bug.
Thirty-eight states have elections for state courts around the country. These days, those races are getting more expensive, and can even run into the millions of dollars. Much of that money comes from special interests trying to elect candidates to the courts. That raises alarms bells about the independence of the judiciary, and calls for reform.
One hugely influential issue in the last election got little attention: gerrymandering. Politicians have been tinkering with the boundaries of their electoral districts for decades, but in the last five years, the practice has exploded, and it led to the least competitive race for the U.S. House of Representatives in memory.
Two candidates for President, offering two directions for America. They are men of the same generation, Yale graduates from privileged New England families. But they took starkly different paths as they formed their values and politics. In this report, a dual biography of George W. Bush and John Kerry, and how their distinctive histories and personalities would shape their approach to the presidency.
They were the kings of corporate America, but over the past 25 years, American manufacturers have lost that position of power. Today, America's largest private sector employer is Wal-Mart, a retailer so large, it virtually dictates many decisions manufacturers make, and is pushing American production overseas.
During an 18-month investigation, the 9/11 Commission heard extraordinary testimony about the terrorist attacks on America. Witnesses told stories of lucky breaks and deadly errors. The commission pieced together new evidence and new details to tell the most complete story to date of the al Qaeda plot.
Five years after the start of World War II, the people of Warsaw rose up against the German occupation of their city. The uprising was meant to last just 48 hours. Instead, it went on for two months. A quarter of a million people were killed and the Polish capital was razed to the ground. It was one of the great tragedies of World War II, and yet it is rarely talked about outside Poland.
More women than ever are taking antidepressant medication, including more pregnant women. For those trying to weigh the danger of fetal exposure to medication against the risk of a mother's relapse into depression, scientists offer mixed or even conflicting advice.
A decade ago, Nelson Mandela became president in South Africa's first multi-racial democratic election. Mandela's journey, from freedom fighter to president, capped a dramatic half-century long struggle against white rule and the institution of apartheid.
The '60s were a time of social movements and big changes, but a quieter revolution was underway too -- one led by a few middle-aged women who wanted to change our way of death. They were the founders of the hospice movement.
In 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first African American appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. But Marshall had already earned a place in history, as the leader of an extraordinary legal campaign against racial segregation in America.
In 1927, Iran developed a legal code doing away with gruesome Islamic punishments such as stoning and lashing. That all changed during the Islamic revolution of 1979. NPR Producer Davar Ardalan and co-producer Rasool Nafisi look at Iran's long search for a lawful society.
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor faces international war crimes charges arising from one of Africa's most brutal civil wars. American RadioWorks followed investigators as they built their case against Taylor.
Can a civilian head of state, indicted while still in office, be held accountable for crimes carried out by rank-and-file troops? Legal experts say the outcome could help set the course of global justice for war crimes and other gross human rights abuses.
For the estimated 6 million Muslim Americans, the new spotlight on Islam presents both hazards and opportunities. A Muslim congregation in Raleigh, North Carolina has taken September 11th as a 'wake-up call.'
After 30 years America's War on drugs costs U.S. taxpayers $40 billion a year with no victory in sight. Combatants from both sides of the drug war shed light on the U.S. government's fight against one of the world's most profitable industries.
In the summer of 1964, about a thousand young Americans, black and white, came together in Mississippi for a peaceful assault on racism. It came to be known as Freedom Summer, one of the most remarkable chapters in the Civil Rights Movement.
In Europe and the United States, the debate over genetically modified (GM) crops has focused on questions about the environment and food safety. But in developing countries, the possibility that GM crops could make things better--or worse--is a question of life or death.
Twenty-five years after the fall of Saigon, the legacy of the war affects lives on both sides of the Pacific. In this series of reports, American RadioWorks reveals how events fading into memory still influence our environments, institutions, and cultures.
Two hundred seventy people died when Pan Am 103 was blown out of the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988. It was the worst-ever act of airline terrorism against the United States. It was also called the world's biggest unsolved murder.
In a landmark legal case, human rights groups have sued the Unocal Corporation. This is the first time that anybody has sued an American corporation in an American court on the grounds that the company's violating human rights in another country.
The true story of 28 men lost in Antarctica for almost two years, fighting ice and the ocean. It's the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Endurance, and the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914.