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Clare Lombardo

What happened to a circus elephant in the small East Tennessee town of Erwin a century ago, and what are the people there today doing about it?

And what do a group of middle school girls from the Bronx have to say about the stigma that surrounds talking about periods?

Those are the questions that propelled students from Elizabethton High School and Bronx Prep Middle School to the top of the nearly 6,000 podcast entries we received in the first-ever NPR Student Podcast Challenge. Congratulations to our grand-prize winners.

We asked teachers and students to put on their headphones and turn their ideas into sound for our first-ever NPR Student Podcast Challenge — and boy, did they. We got nearly 5,700 entries, from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Podcasts that explored climate change. Podcasts about gun control and mental health. About great books and mythology. Hedgehogs and history.

Teachers and their students at 1,580 schools participated: all told, roughly 25,000 students nationwide.

The fallout — and fascination — continue from the massive college admissions scandal.

Two afternoons a week, Mikala Tardy walks six blocks from Eastern High School to Payne Elementary School, not far from Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

She signs in at the front desk just after 3:30 p.m. and makes her way to a classroom, where she'll be tutoring second- and third-graders who are full of energy after the school day.

Today, Mikala and three students work through an exercise about communities and the building blocks that create them. They learn how to spell people and playground — two essential components of any community, they decide.

Students with disabilities and disability rights advocates are among those angry — and feeling victimized — after the arrests in the college admissions and bribery scandal Tuesday.

"Stories like this are why we continue to see backlash to disability rights laws," Rebecca Cokley, director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress, said in a statement.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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

Report: Limited school choice options for Native American students

According to a report released Monday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, "Few areas provide American Indian and Alaska Native students ... school choice options other than traditional public schools."

Updated at 3:14 p.m.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Republican lawmakers have announced a proposed tax credit that would go toward donations to private school scholarships and other school choice initiatives.

"A great education shouldn't be determined by luck or by address or by family income," DeVos said Thursday at a news conference.

She appeared alongside Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., who said they plan to introduce the tax credit in Congress.

In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated public schools are unconstitutional.

In 2018, on the 64th anniversary of that ruling, a lawsuit filed in New Jersey claimed that state's schools are some of the most segregated in the nation. That's because, the lawsuit alleged, New Jersey school district borders are drawn along municipality lines that reflect years of residential segregation.

The current wave of teacher walkouts started a year ago this week, when educators across West Virginia were out of the classroom for nine days. The movement spread to five more states before the school year was over.

They came covered in blue paint, donning red and white hats, nearly 3,000 in all. Their goal was simple: To break the world record for the largest group of people dressed as Smurfs.

Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

December 23, 2012. Bayada, Homs.

July 29, 2014. Old City, Aleppo.

July 4, 2018. Douma, outside Damascus.

A study released on Sunday tallies the chemical weapons attacks over the course of the Syrian civil war, which has left hundreds of thousands dead. At least 336 have occurred, according to authors Tobias Schneider and Theresa Lütkefend of the Berlin-based Global Public Policy Institute.

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

More teacher strikes could be on the way

Updated 9:38 a.m. ET Thursday

Union members in Los Angeles voted to approve a deal with the city's school district on Tuesday, ending a six-day teacher strike. Teachers headed back to class on Wednesday.

According to a Wednesday news release, 81 percent of United Teachers Los Angeles members who cast a ballot voted in favor of the agreement.

"I couldn't be prouder to be a teacher tonight," said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl at a Tuesday news conference in which he announced the preliminary results.

As parents across Los Angeles dropped their kids off at school Monday morning, they were greeted by picket lines of teachers, many dressed in red ponchos and holding red umbrellas.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, educators in LA are on strike.

"Teachers want what students need," a crowd outside Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School in Boyle Heights chanted in the pouring rain.

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