Larry Abramson

Larry Abramson is the Education Correspondent at NPR. Abramson covers a wide variety of issues related to education, from federal policy to testing to instructional techniques in the classroom. In 2006, Abramson returned to the education beat after spending 9 years covering national security and technology issues for NPR. Since 9/11, Abramson has covered telecommunications regulation, computer privacy, legal issues in cyberspace, and legal issues related to the war on terrorism. During the late 1990s, Abramson also was involved in several special projects related to education. He followed the efforts of a school in Fairfax County, Virginia, to include severely disabled students in regular classroom settings. He joined the National Desk reporting staff in 1997.

From 1990 to 1997, Abramson was senior editor for NPR's National Desk. His department was responsible for approximately 25 staff reporters across the United States, five editors in Washington, and news bureaus in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. The National Desk also coordinated domestic news coverage with news departments at many of NPR's member stations. The desk doubled in size during Abramson's tenure. He oversaw the development of specialized beats in general business, high-technology, workplace issues, small business, education, and criminal justice.

Abramson joined NPR in 1985, working as a production assistant with Morning Edition. He moved to the National Desk, where he served for two years as Western editor. From there, he became the deputy science editor with NPR's Science Unit, where he helped win a duPont-Columbia Award as editor of a special series on Black Americans and AIDS.

Prior to his work at NPR, Abramson was a freelance reporter in San Francisco and worked with Voice of America in California and in Washington, D.C. He has a master's degree in comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley. Abramson also studied overseas at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and at the Free University in Berlin, Germany.



Mon August 29, 2011

Irene Disrupts Power, Commutes, Travel Plans

Irene knocked out power to millions and threatened transportation systems up and down the east coast. The restoration of most subway and bus lines in New York City helped avoid the commuting nightmare that some had feared, but the storm will leave many without power for days.

Hurricane Irene caused havoc for many rail lines, forcing crews to face a maze of downed trees and branches on the tracks and restoring power to some lines.

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Mon August 29, 2011
Around the Nation

Some Areas Stunned By Irene's Mild Touch

While Hurricane Irene did not turn to be the storm of the century, it did cause millions to lose power, forced hundreds of thousands to be evacuated and resulted in a number of fatalities.


Sun August 28, 2011

States Search For Answers To Cheating Scandals

Originally published on Sun August 28, 2011 8:28 pm

Students leave Atlanta's Emma Hutchinson School in July. Hutchinson is a year-round school that has been identified as one of 44 schools involved in a test cheating scandal.
John Bazemore AP

Cheating scandals have rocked a number of school districts across the country this year. The publicity is pushing states to look for better ways to detect and prevent tampering with the test results, and some say constant vigilance is required to guard against cheating.

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Tue August 23, 2011
Around the Nation

Earthquake Sends Tremors From N.H. To N.C.

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck the Northeast Tuesday, sending tremors from New Hampshire to North Carolina. Office buildings were evacuated in major cities and a nuclear plant near the quake's epicenter in Virginia was taken offline.


Fri August 12, 2011

Detroit Residents Monitor Fate Of Local Schools

Detroit Public Schools will continue closing schools this year, in an effort to keep up with a steady decline in the number of students. Neighbors fear that a closed school will add to the city's rapid decline in population.


Sat July 16, 2011
The End Of The Space Shuttle Era

Post-Shuttle, NASA To Keep Students Looking Up

Seventh-graders Sophie Maloro (left) and Unity Bowling "fly" a mission to Mars, part of a summer program at the MathScience Innovation Center in Richmond, Va.
Larry Abramson NPR

A child born today will never see an American space shuttle blast off from the Kennedy Space Center. The end of the shuttle program worries educators who say that human space flight is a great recruiter for future scientists and engineers. Don't worry, NASA says, its education mission won't slow down when this final shuttle flight lands.

Keeping A Captivated Audience

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Sat July 2, 2011

School Trains The Blind On Life With A Guide Dog

Guide Dogs Acting President Morgan Watkins with his guide dog, Will.
Courtesy of Guide Dogs For The Blind

Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, Calif., has been teaching students how to adapt to life with an animal at their side since World War II.

The training process lasts about a month, and recently, about half-dozen blind students were preparing for their second class. Some are here for the first time and have to learn everything from scratch, like how to put on that harness. The school serves about 300 people a year.

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Thu June 23, 2011

Math Videos Go From YouTube Hit To Classroom Tool

Fifth graders (from left) Reese Toomre, Lucas Nguyn and Michael An race through the Khan Academy's Trigonometry Challenge. The program allows more advanced students to race ahead, while other students can proceed at their own pace.
Larry Abramson NPR

Part 2 of a two-part report.

A lot of struggling math students have found comfort in the mathematical stylings of Salman Khan.

A few years back, Khan started creating videos to help tutor his cousin in math. Those videos became so popular, he quit his job with a hedge fund to work on them full time. Now his online Khan Academy offers more than 2,100 videos and attracts scads of teachers and students. Now, some adventurous school districts are trying to bring Khan's approach into the classroom.

Working At Your Own Pace

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Wed June 22, 2011

Schools Blend Computers With Classroom Learning

Kindergartners at KIPP Empowerment Academy in South Los Angeles work on laptops while in another corner of the room, a group of students do an activity with a teacher.
Larry Abramson NPR

Part 1 of a two-part report.

Many school districts are reluctantly cutting staff and dropping courses in a desperate effort to respond to tighter budgets. But some educators are looking at ways to save money and improve instruction at the same time.

The answer for some schools: blended learning, which is part computer lesson, part classroom instruction.

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Mon June 20, 2011

In Detroit, Low-Performing Schools Get A Makeover

Michigan's governor announced a new reform program for Detroit schools Monday. The program creates a mini district for the city's lowest performing schools — and it works with university and private partners to improve schools and offer guaranteed college scholarships for city students. Detroit's long-troubled school system has been beset in recent years by financial mismanagement and declining enrollment. The district has already embarked on a plan to turn nearly half of its schools into charter schools.


Wed June 15, 2011

In Teaching, Pink Slips Are A Way Of Life

Teacher Rohya Prudhomme has gotten a pink slip from the Los Angeles school district. Despite good reviews, Prudhomme is one of many teachers who regularly receives layoff notices, making it hard to plan for the future.
Larry Abramson NPR

For many teachers, job uncertainty is one of the biggest downsides of their profession.

Recent estimates from the American Association of School Administrators show that about a quarter-million educators could face layoffs in the coming year as states cut education spending in an effort to balance their budgets. That has left many teachers wondering where their next paycheck will come from.

Two of those teachers facing uncertainty are in Los Angeles, where as many as 1,600 teachers and staff may lose their jobs this summer.

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Thu May 26, 2011

Detroit Looks To Charters To Remake Public Schools

Angie Melhado, a charter school consultant, talks to parents and community members who are considering serving on charter school boards. Detroit wants to convert dozens of traditional schools to charters, but many in the city remain skeptical about the plan.
Larry Abramson NPR

This story is the first in an ongoing series on education overhaul in Detroit.

The Detroit Public School system hopes to convert dozens of schools into charters in the next year or so in a last ditch effort to cut costs and stop plummeting enrollment.

The plan faces tremendous skepticism from a generation of parents and teachers frustrated from previous reform efforts.

No one has ever done what DPS is trying to do: turn more than 40 schools into charters, some in just a few short weeks.

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Tue May 17, 2011
Money Counts: Young Adults And Financial Literacy

Monkey Bars No More: Trying The Money Playground

Originally published on Tue May 17, 2011 4:01 pm

Kate Haynes (left) and Samantha Jensen watch the stock tickers and debate what to select for their investments while participating in Junior Achievement's Finance Park program in Fairfax County, Va.
Erin Schwartz NPR

Part of a series on young people and financial literacy

Fairfax County in the Washington, D.C., suburbs has plenty of shopping malls. Finance Park, though, is the only one exclusively for tweenagers. Every eighth-grader in this large, suburban school system must show up at this mock-up of the real world, spend money and act like an adult for a day. Jacque Weir says she was magically transformed into "a single mom with an 8-year-old."

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Sat May 14, 2011
Around the Nation

New Rules Seek To Educate Schools On Service Dogs

Nathan Selove relies on his service dog, Sylvia, to help him deal with meltdowns and other issues related to Asperger's syndrome.
Larry Abramson NPR

Many disabled people say that life without their service animals is unthinkable. And while public institutions are required to admit service animals without question, some public schools claim they cannot handle the disruption of a dog in a busy classroom.

Disabled students are hoping new federal guidelines will help them avoid legal battles over their animals.

Nathan And Sylvia

Everyone at Sherando High School in Virginia knows Nathan Selove: He's the kid with the dog.

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Fri May 13, 2011

Colleges Receive Gifts With Strings Attached

A recent gift to Florida State University is once again raising questions about what kinds of strings donors can attach to their gifts. Big donors say they are just trying to ensure that universities expand their research, but many faculty feel that schools strapped for money are agreeing to unacceptable conditions.


Tue May 10, 2011

Ed Programs Assail 'U.S. News' Survey

Amid criticism from education reform advocates who say many teacher preparation programs provide poor training, a national organization is conducting a review of more than 1,000 programs to help aspiring teachers choose from the best. This consumer guide for prospective teachers — conducted by the National Council on Teacher Quality — will be published in U.S. News and World Report next year.

But many schools of education say the effort is misguided, and they are threatening to scuttle the project.

Compiling The Stats

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Fri May 6, 2011

School Voucher Debate Heats Back Up

The state of Indiana has approved one of the country's most extensive school voucher programs.

Republican Governor Mitch Daniels says vouchers will level the playing field for Indiana students. Some are hoping this and other efforts will push vouchers into the educational mainstream.

The Indiana voucher program will take state support of private education into new territory — the middle class. These programs are typically available only to low income or disabled students, but Ohio's plan will give some public support to families earning as much as $61,000 a year.

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Sat April 23, 2011

'Three Cups Of Tea' Author Fights Accusations

Best-selling author Greg Mortenson has been defending himself against accusations that his homegrown charity may have misspent public donations. A recent article and 60 Minutes story allege the author of Three Cups of Tea used those donations to help hawk his books. While the accusations have not been proven, the shock waves are already hitting his charity, and the non-profit world in general.


Tue April 19, 2011

Ohio Schools Told To Cut Four-Year Degree To Three

The tough economy continues to boost the number of students in college, as people try to burnish their job credentials. That's leading some schools to ask whether they should shrink the time it takes to get a degree.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has ordered state universities to investigate ways for students to get a bachelor's degree in three years. The hope is that three-year degrees will help save students money and get them into the job market quicker.

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