Larry Abramson

Larry Abramson is NPR's National Security Correspondent. He covers the Pentagon, as well as issues relating to the thousands of vets returning home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Prior to his current role, Abramson was NPR's Education Correspondent covering a wide variety of issues related to education, from federal policy to testing to instructional techniques in the classroom. His reporting focused on the impact of for-profit colleges and universities, and on the role of technology in the classroom. He made a number of trips to New Orleans to chart the progress of school reform there since Hurricane Katrina. Abramson also covers a variety of news stories beyond the education beat.

In 2006, Abramson returned to the education beat after spending nine 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 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.

For seven years prior to his position as a reporter on the National Desk, 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 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.

For a long time, most public colleges and universities have gotten their funding based on how many students they enroll: More students mean more money.

But economic pressures have convinced states they should only reward results that help students — and the state's economy.

Tennessee is a leader among states trying to peg funding to the number of students who actually graduate.

Getting Education To Do More For The State

The typical college student today isn't "typical" anymore: Only 1 in 4 lives on campus and studies full time.

But part-timers and commuter students are much less likely to finish — most part-time students are still without a degree or a certificate after eight years. Higher education is desperately looking for strategies that improve those numbers. There might be one in Tennessee.



On Long Island in New York, a high school cheating scandal is widening. The local district attorney says 13 additional people now face charges for trying to cheat on college entrance exams. More from NPR's Larry Abramson.

This week, Ohio voters soundly rejected Gov. John Kasich's plan to scale back collective bargaining rights for public employees. The vote was a big victory for labor; in particular, it showed how important the nation's teachers unions have become beyond the classroom. Teachers groups are mobilizing like never before — because they face threats to their very existence.

New Orleans has become the center of an education revolution, where more than 70 percent of students attend a charter school.

The number of students taught in traditional district-run schools is shrinking fast. That's because parents in post-Hurricane Katrina can pick and choose from a smorgasbord of schools with different approaches and cultures.

By many measures, this educational marketplace has improved student achievement. But as this experiment moves ahead, it's led to questions about whether the district is truly open to the most challenging students.

Students are borrowing more money to pay for college than ever before. New data shows that students who graduated in 2010 carried 5 percent more debt than in the previous year. And education debt is expect to grow in the coming years, as students struggle to pay higher tuition costs.

Many of the protesters occupying Wall Street and other places say they are upset about the rising price of going to college. Tuition and other costs have been going up faster than inflation, and family incomes can't keep up. Despite public outrage about the problem, there's little sign these costs will drop anytime soon.

The Obama administration wants states to focus more of their attention on the lowest-performing schools, where large numbers of students are failing state tests year after year.

So the Department of Education is inviting all states to apply for waivers from the No Child Left Behind law.

The waivers could win relief for schools where a small number of students are falling short of federal requirements.

But advocates for minority and special education students worry their students will be ignored.

The 'Failing School' Stigma

The Department of Education says that as distance learning has grown so has fraud. An inspector general's report found that scam artists are taking advantage of the popularity of online education to steal federal education money.

The White House is announcing Friday that it will grant waivers to states that cannot meet the testing standards of the No Child Left Behind education law. But states will face strict scrutiny from Washington before they get these waivers.

The nation's for-profit colleges and universities have reaped a windfall from the new post-Sept. 11 GI bill.

The top for-profit companies brought in around a billion dollars in benefits in the last year alone.

Some lawmakers say federal regulations encourage these schools to target current and former members of the military.

At a Senate hearing Thursday, lawmakers and witnesses praised the two-year post-Sept.11 GI bill, saying it had helped many vets and active-duty service personnel go to college.

The start of a new school year in Maryland brings a new requirement: All schools in the state must develop plans to promote environmental literacy. The new requirement is creating some challenges for teachers. The goal is to integrate environmental concerns into science, social studies and other topics.

Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator, has launched a new program aimed at reducing the digital divide, or the gap between high- and low-income communities in Internet accessibility and digital literacy.

The company says low-income families will now be able to get a fast Internet connection for $9.95 per month; the question now is whether the effort can overcome the many barriers that keep the poor from getting online.

If there were an award for the "most challenged" school district in the United States, the Detroit public school system would have good reason to claim the title.

The system is wrestling with crumbling buildings, low achievement and a decline in enrollment that just won't stop. But this year, the system has added some new faces and plans to the mix in an attempt to revive it.

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.