BC-US--Back to School,ADVISORY, US


Associated Press

Posted on September 1, 2013 at 3:00 AM

Updated Sunday, Sep 1 at 3:00 AM


The final story in The Associated Press' Back to School series was sent Saturday:


WASHINGTON — Schools and classrooms are spiffed up — maybe. New textbooks have been ordered — perhaps. Teachers are energized — hopefully.

What's certain is that millions of children in the United States are heading to school after the summer. Many are there for the first time, while others are in the final year of their formal education. There will be tears, from some prekindergarten and kindergarten youngsters starting school, and from parents as they leave their new college students at the dorm. As the school year begins, some facts and figures about education in America. By Carole Feldman

The other stories that moved as part of the package:


WASHINGTON — For many students and teachers, summer vacation was more like summer term. Reading lists. Science camps. Portfolio development. The to-do list for kids and teachers sound remarkably alike. Schools are on the hook to improve student performance on high-stakes tests, administrators are eyeing more science and technology instruction, and parents are demanding more for their children. By Philip Elliott.


WASHINGTON — Despite all the grumbling about tuition increases and student loan costs, other college expenses also are going up. The price of housing and food trumps tuition costs for students who attend two- and four-year public universities in their home states, according to a College Board survey. Even with the lower interest rates on student loans that President Barack Obama signed into law, students are eyeing bills that are growing on just about every line. By Philip Elliott.


WASHINGTON — Often criticized as too prescriptive and all-consuming, standardized tests have support among parents, who view them as a useful way to measure both students' and schools' performances, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. By Philip Elliott and Jennifer Agiesta.


WASHINGTON — Minority and low-income parents are more likely to see serious problems in their schools — from low expectations to bullying to out-of-date technology and textbooks — than those who are affluent or white, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Poll.


ELMA, N.Y. — "Nurse Zak's" health office at Elma Primary School in suburban Buffalo has all the Band-Aids, ice packs and cotton balls expected in a place tasked with treating the bumps, bruises and paper cuts of school life. But there's also a rocking chair and stuffed animal for when comfort is the best medicine, a few pairs of sneakers to lend so forgetful kids don't miss gym and some shirts and pants in case of a spill or mishap in the lab. Nurse Zak — Jane Zakrzewski — has found that being prepared as a school nurse means being ready for pretty much anything. By Carolyn Thompson.


MIAMI — In the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Pembroke Pines, students returning to school this year are being greeted not only by their teachers and principal. They're also meeting the armed school resource officer who will be stationed permanently on campus. In the aftermath of the massacre at Sandy Hook, many districts across the nation are increasing the number of school resource officers on campus and, in a few cases, permitting teachers to carry concealed weapons themselves. By Christine Armario.


The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia with the goal of better preparing the nation's students for college or a job. Despite their widespread adoption, many parents don't know what the standards are or whether their state has adopted them, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. A look at the learning standards and the issues surrounding them. By Carolyn Thompson.


After just one year, some schools around the country are dropping out of the healthier new federal lunch program, complaining that so many students turned up their noses at meals packed with whole grains, fruits and vegetables that the cafeterias were losing money. Federal officials say they don't have exact numbers but have seen isolated reports of schools cutting ties with the $11 billion National School Lunch Program, which reimburses schools for meals served and gives them access to lower-priced food. By Carolyn Thompson.

In addition, Lifestyles subscribers received the following Back to School stories:


NEW YORK — The recession and its impact on the job market have led some colleges to change their emphasis when it comes to wooing prospective students. Once, the message was "Follow your passions!" Now, on many campuses, presentations for high school students and their families also include this promise: "We can help you find a job!" By Beth J. Harpaz.


Back-to-school shopping isn't just about the kids. The wardrobe to complement that first opening bell can help set the tone for a teacher's year, too. There's nothing in the contract that requires dangling cat-character earrings or kooky bow ties. The right look can command respect while earning a little street cred. By Fashion Writer Samantha Critchell.


How can you get kids back on a good sleep schedule during the final weeks of the summer, so that it won't be too difficult to get them moving on the first mornings of the school year? It's challenging: Families want to get the most out of the last evenings of summer, while it's still light out and the fun of summer break is still in the air. But those early school mornings are approaching quickly. By Melissa Rayworth.


Remember the old days of basic backpacks, plain pencil cases, and spirals and staplers with so little snap they might as well have been destined for mom or dad's office? Today's school supplies are packed with personality, and kids have an imaginative array of gear from which to choose as they prep for the start of a new year. A look at what's new in backpacks, lunch sacks and more. By Kim Cook.


School picture day can be a success with some easy tips from photographers. Most important, they say, is helping children feel comfortable having their portraits taken. That means being relaxed, and wearing appropriate clothes in solid colors or simple patterns. And please, no posing. By Amy Lorentzen.

For story reruns, please contact Customersupport@ap.org, or call 877-836-9477. Contact Carole Feldman at cfeldman@ap.org with any other questions.

The AP