Education news

18 in the Bay

20 hours ago
Jiro Bevis for Matter

Turning 18 is a big deal. You can rent an apartment, you can get a tattoo, you can vote. Perhaps most importantly, you're legally recognized as an adult.

You might remember that moment yourself, but almost everything else about being that age is changing fast, even in the past few years. So what’s it actually like to be 18 right now?

On the August 24th edition of Your Call, we’ll have a conversation with founders of Voices of Witness, an oral history project, and book series that depicts human rights injustices through the stories of the men and women who experience them.


For decades, California’s public university system has been a model for the world, and its prestige has helped to create much of the state’s prosperity. More recently the system has been stumbling – a victim of constant budget cutting, chronic overcrowding, and administrative gridlock.

In 2011, about 82 percent of San Francisco’s students graduated from high school. Ten percent dropped out. Break it down by ethnic group and the numbers change in uncomfortable ways. For example, just 62.3 percent of the city’s African-American students graduated, and nearly 20 percent dropped out. The numbers for Latino students are similar. Kids need education and support, but resources are increasingly scarce. Often in these cases, in cities like San Francisco, nonprofits step in. Resources for those organizations are limited, too, but it helps to be able to show pretty much constant success.


Callie Jones is showing me how to 3-D print a tiny yellow chess piece, after designing it herself on a computer. It’s her second day in the 3-D printing club and she’s already a pro.

“So the printer’s like putting little dots on top of little dots on top of little dots, and so when the dots hit each other, they start to dry, and so it just starts to build up and up and up until you make the figure that it’s printing,” she explains.

August 3, 2015: On our next show, host David Onek will be one-on-one with the Superintendent of San Francisco Unified School District, Richard Carranza.

Hana Baba

Americans are often stereotyped as not knowing much about the rest of the world.  But, according to the numbers, it’s more than a mere stereotype. In the latest national geographic poll of geographic knowledge, American 18- to 24-year-olds place almost last, second only to Mexico.

Crayon Crunch

Think about some of the classics of children’s literature. There’s Where the Wild Things Are...Goodnight Moon...and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Those are just a few books that have shaped the lives of many Americans. What do all these books have in common? They’re all about white people. And what do most children’s books have in common? They’re almost all about white people. Actually, just 10% of children's books published in the last 21 years are about people of color.  But a Berkeley-based children’s book company called Crayon Crunch wants to help change that. They’re publishing a book where parents and children can pick what the main character looks like. But what do kids think of having characters who look like them? And can one book really change the diversity problems in an entire publishing industry? 

High up on a hill in San Francisco's Hunter's Point neighborhood is a tiny two-bedroom apartment. From the outside it looks like any other building on the block. But as you approach, the sound of laughing, yelling, stomping, squealing, and music can be heard spilling out of the door and windows. 

Gathered inside is a group of black girls. They're old friends, new friends, cousins, sisters, neighbors, and strangers. Every day after school, nearly 30 of them make their way here to be part of a makeshift, girls-only clubhouse called Girls 2000.

Here, the girls can learn to cook for themselves. They help each other with homework. They work on art projects. They talk about boys. And they learn how to grow.

On the June 15th edition of Your Call, we’ll hear stories of people who turned their lives around after spending many years in prisons and jails. The Welcome Home Project collects stories and photographs of 20 formerly incarcerated men and women who changed their lives around after spending many years behind bars. What stigma and barriers do the formerly incarcerated face? Join the conversation, with Rose Aguilar and you.


On the June 9th edition of Your Call, we’ll bring back the conversation with Kirby Dick, director of The Hunting Ground, a new documentary about the epidemic of campus rape and sexual assault. One in five women in college are sexually assaulted. The federal government is currently investigating 100 colleges for mishandling or covering up rape cases. Who should be held accountable? And what actions should colleges take? It’s Your Call, with Rose Aguilar.


Sofi Karasek, co-founder of End Rape on Campus at UC Berkeley

My Favorite Teacher: David Christiano

May 29, 2015
Steven Athanases

In this installment of KALW’s “My Favorite Teacher” series, University of San Francisco professor Darrick Smith talks about a teacher who inspired him. 

Looking At Education with Carol Kocivar

May 26, 2015

Carol Kocivar speaks with Jesus Hoguin, President of the California School Boards Association.

SF School Board Superintendent's Message

May 26, 2015

San Francisco School Board Superintendent Richard Carranza's message delivered at the Board of Education meeting Tuesday May 26, 2015.

On the May 19th edition of Your Call, we’ll have a conversation with NPR’s Anya Kamanetz, about her new book The Test: Why Our Schools Are Obsessed with Standardized Testing — But You Don't Have to Be. According to the Council of the Great City Schools, students take an average of 113 standardized tests from grades K through 12. What are the alternatives for tracking the success of students and schools? Where do you stand on testing? It’s Your Call, with Rose Aguilar, and you.


Anya Kamenetz, NPR's education reporter

"Reveal" takes us into the hidden dangers of daycare

Apr 30, 2015
Altanka /

When the preschool that journalist Katharine Mieszkowski’s daughter attended closed unexpectedly, she scrambled to find a safe alternative. She found that although state inspection records of preschools are public, they’re really hard to find.

My Favorite Teacher: Herb Kennedy

Apr 21, 2015

In this installment of KALW’s “My Favorite Teacher,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tells us about a teacher who taught her how to be curious.

My Favorite Teacher: Miss Grace Garcia

Apr 21, 2015
Book jacket: This War Called Love

In this installment of KALW’s “My Favorite Teacher” series, San Francisco’s Poet Laureate Alejandro Murguia talks about his art teacher. 

Teacher pay can vary widely across just a single county. For instance, in Oakland the average teacher pay is $55,000 a year. In nearby Pleasanton it is $84,000 a year.

Ryan Smith, executive director of The Education Trust - West spoke to KALW's Hana Baba about how wide ranging teacher pay is in districts around the state and why salaries need to increase in the lowest paying districts.

It’s 8:08am, the Friday before spring break, and under other circumstances Kathleen Byrnes would already be at work.

“We would be in our classrooms preparing for the day, which is where we would rather be,” she says.


It’s a Saturday night, and I’m standing just across from the UC Berkeley campus on Piedmont Avenue, Berkeley’s fraternity row. Young women like Trixie Scolari and Tara Harmon wander past: The two are deciding whether or not to go to a fraternity party that evening. I ask them if they feel safe when they go to these parties.

“I do!” says Scolari. “It’s your attitude...I go in and we’re really careful.”

Harmon says, “In general, I think we’re both pretty smart. And if we are drinking, we’re watching our drinks, and not drinking too much.”

Flikr user Jeff Croft

The number of children in the city of San Francisco is dwindling. Back in the 1960s, kids made up a full quarter of the population. The latest census numbers showed the city was made up by only 13.4 percent of them. But now, after a concerted effort by City Hall, there’s been a dramatic change.

A note for our readers: the following story is of an adult nature.

Stephanie Tam


California eighth graders are ranked 45th in the country in math, according to the most recent scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Meanwhile, the pool of jobs requiring math, science, and engineering experience is growing, especially in the Bay Area. For people with the right skills, these jobs have become the latest iteration of the American dream -- steady, livable wages, and plenty of demand.
Under CC license from Flickr user torbakhopper

The latest edition of the San Francisco Public Press features a report called "Choice is Resegregating Public Schools." In it, reporter Jeremy Adam Smith unveils the reality of diversity, or more accurately the lack thereof, in San Francisco's public schools. San Francisco Unified School District's 'choice' system allows parents to rank and choose any school in the city for their children. Then, a lottery determines where they go.

Inside a "SuperGirl Math" playgroup

Mar 23, 2015
Rebecca Martin/Youth Radio

Inside A ‘SuperGirl Math’ Playgroup

On a Monday afternoon a group of second graders gathers at a friend’s house in Berkeley. As each girl arrives, she takes her shoes off, throws down her backpack, and sprints off to join her giggling friends.The girls teacher, Henri Ducharme -- a tall, soft-spoken man with mostly gray hair -- sits quietly on the rug. Soon all the girls are sitting in a circle.

Your Call: Are our schools re-segregating?

Mar 22, 2015

On the March 23rd edition of Your Call, we’ll have a conversation about how school choice programs affect diversity in schools.  According to the San Francisco School District’s Student Assignment report, since 2010, the number of San Francisco’s 115 public schools dominated by one race has climbed significantly. What is the school district doing to diversify schools? Why does diversity matter? And how diverse are schools in your community? Join the conversation on the next Your Call, with Rose Aguilar and you.


On the March 12th edition of Your Call, we’ll have a conversation with Kirby Dick, director of The Hunting Ground, a new documentary about the epidemic of campus rape and sexual assault. One in five women in college are sexually assaulted. The federal government is currently investigating 100 colleges for mishandling or covering up rape cases. Who should be held accountable? And what actions should colleges take? It’s Your Call, with Rose Aguilar and you.


Sofi Karasek, co-founder of End Rape on Campus at UC Berkeley

What Will Replace the Absurdly Expensive Degree?

Mar 2, 2015

Thanks to an endless stream of research and anecdote, more people are realizing that the absurdly expensive, time-consuming college and graduate degree are often not close to worth it--either in learning gains or employability. 

Perhaps in response, there's been an explosion of online courses--including those sought-after but overrated courses taught by the research professors at Stanford, Harvard, etc. 

Courtesy OUSD African American Male Achievement office

Young African-American men in Alameda County face a lot of serious challenges -- things like high rates of incarceration, homicide, poverty, and low academic achievement. In 2010, the Oakland public school district became the first in the country to create an office dedicated to addressing some of these issues.