Cory Turner

Cory Turner reports and edits for the NPR Ed team. He's helped lead several of the team's signature reporting projects, including "The Truth About America's Graduation Rate" (2015), the groundbreaking "School Money" series (2016), "Raising Kings: A Year Of Love And Struggle At Ron Brown College Prep" (2017), and the NPR Life Kit parenting podcast with Sesame Workshop (2019). His year-long investigation with NPR's Chris Arnold, "The Trouble With TEACH Grants" (2018), led the U.S. Department of Education to change the rules of a troubled federal grant program that had unfairly hurt thousands of teachers.

Before coming to NPR Ed, Cory stuck his head inside the mouth of a shark and spent five years as Senior Editor of All Things Considered. His life at NPR began in 2004 with a two-week assignment booking for The Tavis Smiley Show.

In 2000, Cory earned a master's in screenwriting from the University of Southern California and spent several years reading gas meters for the So. Cal. Gas Company. He was only bitten by one dog, a Lhasa Apso, and wrote a bank heist movie you've never seen.

This story was adapted from an episode from a Life Kit podcast, Parenting: Raising Awesome Kids.

Are humans born kind?

We both assumed, as parents of young children, that kindness is just something our kids would pick up by osmosis, because we love them. It's a common assumption.

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Ask Cookie Monster to demonstrate self-control? Sounds like the setup to a joke. The blue, furry monster we grew up with was pure id.

But in recent years, Cookie has evolved as Sesame Workshop has sharpened its focus on social and emotional skills. Research shows that at least half a child's success is determined by those skills. Life Kit: Parenting has been looking at strategies for helping kids learn emotional self-regulation and self-control, so we called in Cookie for help.

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Ask Cookie Monster to demonstrate self-control? Sounds like the setup to a joke. The blue, furry monster we grew up with was pure id.

In the tiny town of Erwin, Tenn., history is the elephant in the room.

At the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce, Cathy Huskins remembers one particularly angry tourist "came barreling through the door, and came up to the counter here and slung her hands down. ... And she says, 'I cannot believe that you killed an elephant!' "

Librarian Angie Georgeff is used to the strange phone calls and unannounced visits from world travelers:

Nearly 2,300 teachers have just had a mountain of student loan debt lifted off their backs, according to previously unreleased figures from the U.S. Department of Education. The move follows reporting by NPR that exposed a nightmare for public school teachers across the country.

Six Democratic senators, including two presidential candidates, sent a letter to the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday demanding that the agency prove it is policing the companies, known as servicers, that the government pays to manage its trillion-dollar, federal student loan portfolio.

With Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty on one side and bulbous-headed Fart Ninjas on the other, the gender divide was impossible to avoid at the North American International Toy Fair in New York City back in February.

The light-up Barbie mermaids vying for space with Gatling-style foam-dart blasters in Manhattan's Javits Center raised a question: Have toys really progressed since our grandparents' days? And how do the toys we play with shape the people we grow up to be?

Death first visited me on a Thursday.

I had a brown 'n' serve roll in my hand and a Vesuvius of buttered mashed potatoes on my plate. It was Thanksgiving and my 7th birthday, 1983.

I know she died, but when is Grandma coming back?

Why is your skin darker than Mommy's?

Why do we live here but Daddy doesn't?

Are you the tooth fairy?

Anyone with kids in their life knows what it's like to be surprised by a tough question. It can come at any time, often when you least expect it: at breakfast, at bedtime or from the back seat.

Updated at 3:13 p.m. ET

A critical new report from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General finds the department's student loan unit failed to adequately supervise the companies it pays to manage the nation's trillion-dollar portfolio of federal student loans. The report also rebukes the department's office of Federal Student Aid for rarely penalizing companies that failed to follow the rules.

You're reading NPR's weekly roundup of education news.

New guidance on TEACH Grant program

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education made good on its promise to map out how it would help thousands of public school teachers who have been hurt by the federal TEACH Grant program.

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For public school teacher Kaitlyn McCollum, even simple acts like washing dishes or taking a shower can fill her with dread.

"It will just hit me like a ton of bricks," McCollum says. " 'Oh my God, I owe all of that money.' And it's, like, a knee-buckling moment of panic all over again."

She and her family recently moved to a much smaller, older house. One big reason for the downsizing: a $24,000 loan that McCollum has been unfairly saddled with because of a paperwork debacle at the U.S. Department of Education.

"Thank YOU," writes Cara Christensen, a first-grade teacher in Washington state who read NPR's deep dive into the troubled Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF). The reporting, she says, "made me feel not so alone."

We received dozens of emails, tweets and Facebook comments from aggrieved borrowers responding to news that, over the past year, 99 percent of applications for the popular loan-forgiveness program have been denied.

Update: Many student borrowers have responded to this story by sharing stories of their struggles with PSLF. We've curated many of them here.

On the morning of Monday, Aug. 27, Seth Frotman told his two young daughters that he would likely be home early that day and could take them to the playground. They cheered.

As the student loan ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Seth Frotman watched as the Department of Education became one of the biggest banks in the country. It has lent out more than a trillion dollars to student borrowers. The problem is, the Department of Education wasn't really built to be a bank.

You're reading NPR's weekly roundup of education news.

A new education budget awaits approval

A new spending bill could add $581 million to the Department of Education's budget. The legislation would bolster career and technical training and programs that serve low-income students.

This question came up again and again Tuesday during an at-times heated hearing of the Senate's education committee: Does the law allow schools to use federal money to arm teachers?

The federal money in question comes from Title IV of the big, k-12 federal education law known as The Every Student Succeeds Act. It's a billion-dollar pot intended for what the law calls "student support and academic enrichment."

At midnight, Oct. 1, the rush begins.

You're reading NPR's weekly roundup of education news.

Student loan forgiveness applicants largely denied

Seeking to "evaluate the independence and effectiveness" of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's student loan office, 15 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus sent a terse letter Thursday evening to Mick Mulvaney, the CFPB's acting director. The letter was first obtained by NPR.

To millions of parents and students, they're magical words: free college.

But is the idea pure fantasy?

More than a dozen states now offer grants, often called scholarships, promising to help qualifying students pay for some or all of their college education. In fact, that word, "promise," shows up again and again in these programs' official names: Nevada Promise, Oklahoma's Promise, Oregon Promise, Tennessee Promise ... you get the idea.

Updated at 1:12 p.m. ET

The federal official in charge of protecting student borrowers from predatory lending practices has stepped down.

In a scathing resignation letter, Seth Frotman, who until now was the student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, says current leadership "has turned its back on young people and their financial futures." The letter was addressed to Mick Mulvaney, the bureau's acting director.

Turn on your TV and surf the stuff meant for kids. I dare you.

You'll likely find a surfeit of fast action and fart jokes. And that's what makes Esme & Roy so unusual.

The new show, about an unlikely duo who babysit monsters, is Sesame Workshop's first animated children's program in more than a decade, and it deftly combines the Workshop's parallel passions — for learning and play. In fact, Esme & Roy is dedicated to an idea that can feel radical these days:

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The Department of Education wants to relax regulations on colleges and the agencies that accredit them. This includes how long-distance learning programs are defined. NPR's Cory Turner explains.

You're reading NPR's weekly roundup of education news.

Congress approves career tech bill

Believe it or not, it's still possible: This week, Congress approved a measure with bipartisan support.

The measure in question is a rewrite of the legislation that governs more than $1 billion of federal funding for career and technical education. CTE programs are meant to give students skills and hands-on experience in a range of important fields, from construction to the culinary arts.

Rates of anxiety and depression among teens in the U.S. have been rising for years. According to one study, nearly one in three adolescents (ages 13-18) now meets the criteria for an anxiety disorder, and in the latest results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 32 percent of teens reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

This piece originally ran in March 2018.

Our series Take A Number is exploring problems around the world — and the people who are trying to solve them — through the lens of a single number.

The solution first: 15. More precisely, 15 books.

That's Alvin Irby's answer to a problem he knows all too well as a former kindergarten teacher: How to get children of color excited about reading if they don't have much experience with books or reading outside of school, and the books they see inside of school don't speak to them.

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