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Cory Turner

Updated January 13, 2022 at 4:02 PM ET

The loan servicing giant Navient has agreed to cancel $1.7 billion in student loan debts owed by roughly 66,000 borrowers, as part of a settlement announced Thursday with 39 state attorneys general.

Updated January 5, 2022 at 3:34 PM ET

Teachers across the country face a daunting challenge this week: how to talk with students about the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

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The troubling enrollment losses that school districts reported last year have in many places continued this fall, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt public education across the country, an NPR investigation has found.

When President-elect Joe Biden was asked whether student loan cancellation figured into his economic recovery plan, he declared, "It should be done immediately."

"[Student debt is] holding people up," Biden said on Nov. 16, 2020. "They're in real trouble. They're having to make choices between paying their student loan and paying the rent."

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The U.S. Department of Education says it will reach out to federal student loan borrowers who may have been prematurely denied loan forgiveness under the revamped Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and will reprocess their applications.

Student borrowers, take note. In testimony before a House subcommittee, the head of the office of Federal Student Aid told lawmakers that his agency is preparing for federal student loan repayments to resume early next year.

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The U.S. Department of Education has begun sending emails to thousands of teachers, nurses and other public servants to tell them they could have some of their federal student loan debts erased months — and even years — earlier than borrowers had expected.

Zahra Nealy was in the shower, listening to the radio, when she heard NPR reporting on Friday that the U.S. Department of Education would use its authority to help borrowers and relax the rules of the troubled Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

"That's me! You're talking about me," Nealy, who works for a Southern California nonprofit, remembers thinking. "It's really hope, in a desperate time."

A troubled student debt relief program for teachers, police officers and other public service workers will soon get the makeover that borrowers have been demanding.

Next week, according to a source familiar with the plans but who is not authorized to discuss them publicly, the U.S. Department of Education will unveil a significant overhaul of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which has been a magnet of confusion, mistakes and mismanagement since its inception in 2007.

The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday that it would send roughly $148,000 to one Florida school district, Alachua County Public Schools, reimbursing it for money that has been withheld by the state.

Updated September 24, 2021 at 6:58 AM ET

Miguel Cardona walks the halls of Locust Lane Elementary School in Eau Claire, Wis., with a gray mask, a crisp blue suit and the easy familiarity of a teacher or principal, though he is neither.

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona kickstarts his "Return-to-School Road Trip" this week, talking up the Biden administration's efforts to help children safely return to classrooms. The five-day bus tour begins early Monday with a pep rally at Locust Lane Elementary School in Eau Claire, Wisc.

When teacher Brandon Graves in Louisville, Ky., talks with his elementary school students about the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he tells them where he was that day — in Washington, D.C., a freshman at Howard University, where he could smell smoke from the Pentagon.

"I liken it to, when I was that age, my parents and the adults around me would talk about where they were when Martin Luther King got killed," Graves says.

New staff, new tech and even new classrooms — that's just some of what school superintendents across the country are buying with the windfall of COVID-19 relief dollars Congress has sent their way since the pandemic began. Those are the findings of a new survey of hundreds of school leaders put together by the national School Superintendents Association, or AASA.

Before we get to the survey, though, some context:

Parents and caregivers may have to wait until the end of 2021 before a COVID-19 vaccine is fully approved for young children ages 5 to 11. The news comes from Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, in an interview with NPR's Morning Edition.

Collins said both Pfizer and Moderna are still collecting trial data, trying to understand — among other things — whether young children should receive a smaller vaccine dose than what has already been approved for adults.

Updated July 15, 2021 at 7:55 AM ET

A new review of states' learning standards brings fresh insight — and facts — to the heated debate over critical race theory (CRT) and America's K-12 schools.

New rules kick in today that will help aspiring teachers pay for college and complete a years-long overhaul of the federal TEACH Grant program — from a bureaucratic bear trap that hobbled thousands of teachers with unfair student loan debts to a program that may actually make good on its foundational promise: to help K-12 educators pay for their own education in exchange for teaching a high-need subject, like math, for four years in a low-income community.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Roughly 7 million children in the U.S. receive special education services under a decades-old federal law — or did, until the pandemic began. Many of those services slowed or stopped when schools physically shut down in spring 2020. Modified instruction, behavioral counseling, and speech and physical therapy disappeared or were feebly reproduced online, for three, six, nine months. In some places, they have yet to fully resume. For many children with disabilities, families say this disruption wasn't just difficult.

New research released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reinforces an old message: COVID-19 spreads less in schools where teachers and staff wear masks. Yet the study arrives as states and school districts across the country have begun scaling back or simply dropping their masking requirements for staff and students alike.

With the majority of school-age children still too young to qualify for vaccination, Friday's research is the latest salvo in a simmering fight between public health officials and politicians — with parents lining up on both sides.

"How many people do you think take care of our campus?"

A chorus of young voices shout guesses from the Sayre School's playground in Lexington, Ky.

"15? 50? 20?"

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