teachers

A teacher in a classroom
Columbus Neighborhoods / WOSU

A new bill signed into law by Gov. John Kasich is changing the way teachers are evaluated in Ohio.

Rachael McRae, a fifth-grade teacher in central Illinois, was sitting on the couch the other day with her 4-month-old when she saw the email.

"He was having a fussy day," she says, "so I was bouncing him in one arm, and started going through my emails on my phone, just to feel like I was getting something done." In her spam folder, she found an email from an organization called My Pay, My Say, urging her to drop her union membership.

Crowdfunding Classrooms

Jul 18, 2018
Flickr

Teachers in Ohio often spend their own money to outfit classrooms. As costs rise and budgets shrink, many teachers have turned to online fundraising, or crowdfunding, attracting outside support for education.

The popular DonorsChoose.org crowdfunding website, for example, has raised funds for more than a million projects since 2000 and currently hosts more than 2,000 initiatives for Ohio alone. 

A new report from the Ohio Auditor's office, however, recommends school districts adopt policies that regulate the online fundraising.

The U.S. Department of Education is in the midst of a top-to-bottom review of a troubled federal grant program for public school teachers. The effort follows reporting by NPR that found many teachers had their grants unfairly converted to loans, leaving some with more than $20,000 in debt. In recent weeks, 19 U.S.

With school out, a lot of teachers are thinking about a wave of protests that had them walking off the job, demanding things like better pay and benefits and more funding for public education.

Some of those educators are now running for public office and are on the ballot in North Carolina, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado and in West Virginia where those strikes began. Still, others wonder if what has been seen as a movement created by public school teachers can translate to wins for seats in statehouses across the country.

Updated at 1:05 p.m. ET

It's a financial nightmare for public school teachers across the country: Federal grants they received to work in low-income schools were converted to thousands of dollars in loans that they now must pay back.

"I thought this just happened to me."

That's the refrain from dozens of teachers who reached out to NPR — via email and social media — in response to our investigative story about serious problems with a federal grant program that, they say, have left them unfairly saddled with thousands of dollars of debts they shouldn't have to pay.

Teachers have staged protests in recent weeks in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado and Arizona. Some are fighting lawmakers who want to scale back their pensions.

It's no secret that many states have badly underfunded their teacher pension plans for decades and now find themselves drowning in debt. But this pensions fight is also complicated by one little-known fact:

America needs teachers committed to working with children who have the fewest advantages in life. So for a decade the federal government has offered grants — worth up to $4,000 a year — to standout college students who agree to teach subjects like math or science at lower-income schools.

Nick Evans / WOSU

“Want to see something cool?” Matt Hysell asks, popping his head into a classroom. 

He’s marching down the hallway almost before I can answer. 

Pages