American RadioWorks | Hearing is Seeing
Students in Kentucky taking a Common Core math test. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Greater Expectations

The United States is in the midst of a huge education reform. The Common Core State Standards are a new set of expectations for what students should learn each year in school. The standards have been adopted by most states, though there's plenty of controversy about them among activists and politicians. Most teachers, however, actually like the standards. This American RadioWorks documentary takes listeners into classrooms to explore how the standards are changing teaching and learning. Teachers say Common Core has the potential to help kids who are behind, as well as those who are ahead. But many teachers have big concerns about the Common Core tests. The new, tougher tests are meant to let the nation know how kids are really doing in school -- but bad scores could get teachers and principals fired.

Recent Posts

  • 08.29.14

    Greater Expectations transcript

  • 08.28.14

    A teacher loses faith in the Common Core

    New York teacher Kevin Glynn was once a big fan of the Common Core, but he says the standardized testing that's come along with it is reducing students to test scores and narrowing what gets taught in schools.
  • 08.28.14

    Are you smarter than a Common Core student? Try a Common Core test

    New Common Core tests are supposed to measure students' ability to think critically, analyze information, and cite evidence as well as test their conceptual understanding of mathematics and their ability to apply math to the real world. See how you'd do on a Common Core test.
  • 08.28.14

    Questioning the Common Core tests

    In the United States, education standards come with tests. Most students haven't been tested on the Common Core yet. But in one state where they have, the controversy is so intense that it's threatening to bring down the Common Core altogether.

American RadioWorks | Hearing is Seeing
Students in Kentucky taking a Common Core math test. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Greater Expectations

The United States is in the midst of a huge education reform. The Common Core State Standards are a new set of expectations for what students should learn each year in school. The standards have been adopted by most states, though there's plenty of controversy about them among activists and politicians. Most teachers, however, actually like the standards. This American RadioWorks documentary takes listeners into classrooms to explore how the standards are changing teaching and learning. Teachers say Common Core has the potential to help kids who are behind, as well as those who are ahead. But many teachers have big concerns about the Common Core tests. The new, tougher tests are meant to let the nation know how kids are really doing in school -- but bad scores could get teachers and principals fired.

Recent Posts

  • 08.29.14

    Greater Expectations transcript

  • 08.28.14

    A teacher loses faith in the Common Core

    New York teacher Kevin Glynn was once a big fan of the Common Core, but he says the standardized testing that's come along with it is reducing students to test scores and narrowing what gets taught in schools.
  • 08.28.14

    Are you smarter than a Common Core student? Try a Common Core test

    New Common Core tests are supposed to measure students' ability to think critically, analyze information, and cite evidence as well as test their conceptual understanding of mathematics and their ability to apply math to the real world. See how you'd do on a Common Core test.
  • 08.28.14

    Questioning the Common Core tests

    In the United States, education standards come with tests. Most students haven't been tested on the Common Core yet. But in one state where they have, the controversy is so intense that it's threatening to bring down the Common Core altogether.


Adoption stories


Jeanne Strong
Richmond, VA

Birth Country: Kazakhstan
Decade of adoption: 1990s

I am a single white woman from the South. My original story is not that unusual, unfortunately. You see, the one thing that I had wanted since I was a little girl was to "have" my own baby. Of course, as I grew older, I accumulated other dreams, but my child was always smiling confidently in the background. The unfortunate part was that the creation of this person continued to escape my grasp. It seemed my body was not in sync with my dream.

I continued through life knowing that it would be impossible for me to never hear someone call me "Mommy."

I will never forget that day in April of 1999. I was on my way home when I stopped at a shopping center. I almost didn't stop because I was tired and needed to get some things done at home, but at the last minute I swerved into the right lane, barely missing some irritated drivers. As I walked into the store, I noticed a child's sweet face staring at me from a poster. As I looked closer, I realized it was about an informational meeting regarding international adoption.

I copied down the information, made a phone call and ended up at a meeting a couple of days later. Everything seemed to move quickly for a while. I met with people from the adoption agency, filled out forms, did a home study and poured over photos of beautiful children, all of whom were in need of a home. It did feel a bit strange to look at these pictures in an attempt to "pick out" a child, but that is how the procedure was presented to me. All of the children that I was shown were from Russia.

I had "chosen" a baby girl who looked a bit as I did when I was a baby, but at the last minute, I was shown a snap shot of this wise, calm looking little soul behind these crib bars of peeling paint. Her pants were held onto her ankles with rubber bands and her sleeves were in shreds, but there she sat staring at the camera with such a peaceful look on her face. This was my daughter and she was just waiting for me to bring her home where she had always belonged. That was in September 1999, one month before her first birthday.

My daughter is now six-years-old and beginning the first grade. She is happy, healthy, energetic, bright, funny, stubborn and beautiful. She is a blend of Asian and Caucasian with almond shaped brown eyes and straight dark brown hair, while I am very fair with blue eyes and reddish brown hair. The difference seems to go unnoticed by most or if noted, then to a small degree. But everyone knows about her adoption. It is a story I am proud to tell again and again.

When my daughter gets older and wants to visit her place of birth (Pavlodar, Kazakhstan), then we will together. It is her every right to own all of the knowledge regarding her pre-beginning with me that we can aquire. At the time of the adoption, I received as much information as was available about her birth parents. I feel so lucky that this was an option for my daughter and myself. I have contemplated international adoption again. It is a distinct possibility. But for today I am very, very happy to be going to pick up my daughter from school.



Back to Adoption Stories


American RadioWorks | Hearing is Seeing
Students in Kentucky taking a Common Core math test. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Greater Expectations

The United States is in the midst of a huge education reform. The Common Core State Standards are a new set of expectations for what students should learn each year in school. The standards have been adopted by most states, though there's plenty of controversy about them among activists and politicians. Most teachers, however, actually like the standards. This American RadioWorks documentary takes listeners into classrooms to explore how the standards are changing teaching and learning. Teachers say Common Core has the potential to help kids who are behind, as well as those who are ahead. But many teachers have big concerns about the Common Core tests. The new, tougher tests are meant to let the nation know how kids are really doing in school -- but bad scores could get teachers and principals fired.

Recent Posts

  • 08.29.14

    Greater Expectations transcript

  • 08.28.14

    A teacher loses faith in the Common Core

    New York teacher Kevin Glynn was once a big fan of the Common Core, but he says the standardized testing that's come along with it is reducing students to test scores and narrowing what gets taught in schools.
  • 08.28.14

    Are you smarter than a Common Core student? Try a Common Core test

    New Common Core tests are supposed to measure students' ability to think critically, analyze information, and cite evidence as well as test their conceptual understanding of mathematics and their ability to apply math to the real world. See how you'd do on a Common Core test.
  • 08.28.14

    Questioning the Common Core tests

    In the United States, education standards come with tests. Most students haven't been tested on the Common Core yet. But in one state where they have, the controversy is so intense that it's threatening to bring down the Common Core altogether.