Claudio Sanchez

Former elementary and middle school teacher Claudio Sanchez is an Education Correspondent for NPR. He focuses on the "three p's" of education reform: politics, policy and pedagogy. Sanchez's reports air regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Sanchez joined NPR in 1989, after serving for a year as executive producer for the El Paso, Texas, based Latin American News Service, a daily national radio news service covering Latin America and the U.S.- Mexico border.

From 1984 to 1988, Sanchez was news and public affairs director at KXCR-FM in El Paso. During this time, he contributed reports and features to NPR's news programs.

In 2008, Sanchez won First Prize in the Education Writers Association's National Awards for Education Reporting, for his series "The Student Loan Crisis." He was named as a Class of 2007 Fellow by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. In 1985, Sanchez received one of broadcasting's top honors, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, for a series he co-produced, "Sanctuary: The New Underground Railroad." In addition, he has won the Guillermo Martinez-Marquez Award for Best Spot News, the El Paso Press Club Award for Best Investigative Reporting, and was recognized for outstanding local news coverage by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Sanchez is a native of Nogales, Mexico, and a graduate of Northern Arizona University, with post-baccalaureate studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Fewer than 5 percent of Americans had completed college when historian James Truslow Adams first coined the term "American dream" in 1931.

Today, many consider higher education the gateway to a better, richer and fuller life. But for many kids growing up in poverty, college might as well be Mars, and the American dream a myth.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

California State University, the nation's largest four-year, public university system, is in trouble. Wednesday, professors authorized a strike over working conditions and pay, and students began a hunger strike demanding a tuition freeze.

The faculty authorization allows for two-day strikes at each of the schools in system, one after the other. A strike date is pending, though, and will only take place if negotiations fail.

This unfolding crisis is the result of massive state cuts in funding that have pushed higher education in California to the breaking point.

Now that your child has gotten into college, have you figured out how much it's actually going to cost — and who's going to pay for it?

These questions are hitting college-bound students and their parents right about now, along with the other million questions that nobody seems to have straight answers for. Paying for college can be complicated, if not mind-boggling.

Roughly 7 out of 10 students borrow money to pay for college, and for many, the process might as well be a mystery wrapped in a riddle.

Not long after the start of the school year, Monique Sanders, a teacher at Nathan Hale Elementary School in Manchester, Conn., realized many of her students were going to bed hungry.

"It was very bad. I had parents calling me several times a week, asking did I know of any other way that they could get food because they had already gone to a food pantry," Sanders says. "The food pantry only allows you to go twice per month, so if you are running low on your food stamps or you didn't get what you needed and you're not able to feed your family, that's very stressful."

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Obama administration is calling for major changes in Head Start, the 46-year-old early childhood education program that helped launch President Johnson's War on Poverty.

President Obama says too many children today aren't learning, and too many education programs are mismanaged.

"We're not just going to put money into programs that don't work," the president announced late last year. "We will take money and put it into programs that do."

College and university presidents are wringing their hands over the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to revisit the issue of affirmative action next fall. Critics of racial preferences are thrilled because the court could significantly restrict the use of race in admissions, but proponents of affirmative action say this would be a huge setback for institutions struggling to diversify their student body.

Every year, roughly 750,000 high school dropouts try to improve their educational and employment prospects by taking the General Educational Development test, or GED, long considered to be the equivalent of a high school diploma.

The latest research, however, shows that people with GEDs are, in fact, no better off than dropouts when it comes to their chances of getting a good job.

This is raising lots of questions, especially in school districts with high dropout rates and rising GED enrollments.

A Second Chance, But Is It Enough?

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on every state to require students to stay in school until they graduate or turn 18. "When students don't walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma," he said.

The White House cited studies that showed how raising the compulsory schooling age helps prevent kids from leaving school. And while some of that is true, some of it is also wishful thinking.

For New Hampshire Deputy Commissioner of Education Paul Leather, the president made the right call in his address.

Nearly three decades ago, Kenny Buchanan decided to drop out of school. Over the last 26 years, he's jumped from job to job and unemployment. He now has a full-time job and for the first time in years, he and his family have health insurance and can enjoy a few luxuries.

School funding in Texas is in turmoil. State lawmakers slashed more than $4 billion from education this school year — one of the largest cuts in state history — and more than 12,000 teachers and support staff have been laid off.

Academic programs and transportation have been cut to the bone. Promising reforms are on hold or on the chopping block. Next year, the cuts could go even deeper.

Virginia Tech is quiet Friday morning after a gunman shot and killed a campus police officer and then killed himself Thursday afternoon. For hours the sprawling campus in Blacksburg, Va., relived the horror of a 2007 shooting that left 33 dead and raised troubling questions about the university's slow response to the tragedy.

The sort of offenses that might land a student in the principal's office in other states often send kids in Texas to court with misdemeanor charges. Some schools have started rethinking the way they punish students for bad behavior after watching many of them drop out or land in prison because of tough disciplinary policies.

In a downtown Houston municipal court, Judge David Fraga has presided over thousands of cases involving students "ticketed" by school police. His docket is still relatively small at the moment, with only 45 to 65 cases per night.

In the fall of 1963, in the throes of the Cold War, Coral Way Elementary took in the children of political refugees fleeing Fidel Castro's Cuba. The goal was not just to teach them English, but to make sure they remained fluent in Spanish and held on to their culture. Cuban-Americans thrived in Miami, and so did Coral Way's bilingual immersion model.

Students at more than 100 colleges across the country rallied Thursday to show solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Demonstrators, both on and off campus, are voicing increasing frustration with the high cost of college, mounting student debt loads and the lousy job market for recent graduates.

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