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

  • 08.28.14

    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.
  • 08.27.14

    Read the Common Core standards

    Pick up the newspaper or check out social media and you're going to find plenty of opinions about the Common Core. Decide for yourself what you think by reading the Standards themselves.
  • 08.25.14

    What is the Common Core?

    The Common Core is a huge change for public schools, but most Americans know little about it. Learn what Common Core is, where it came from, and why it’s become so controversial.

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

  • 08.28.14

    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.
  • 08.27.14

    Read the Common Core standards

    Pick up the newspaper or check out social media and you're going to find plenty of opinions about the Common Core. Decide for yourself what you think by reading the Standards themselves.
  • 08.25.14

    What is the Common Core?

    The Common Core is a huge change for public schools, but most Americans know little about it. Learn what Common Core is, where it came from, and why it’s become so controversial.


Adoption stories


Barbara Kavan
LeCenter, MN

Birth Country: Romania
Decade of adoption: 1990s

My story is about the adoption of two boys from Romania and the joy that they have given to me and my family. From a historical perspective, Romania had been under a communist dictator up until December of 1989. He had wanted to build up his army, so therefore no birth control was allowed. However families couldn't afford to keep the children and they were then put in state institutions where they could be taken care of. The orphanages were very crowded and extremely under-staffed.

The adoption of Stefan occurred in September of 1991. For 33 months he had lived in an orphanage in Timosara, Romania. Stefan was about to be put in the home for "irrecuperables" because they diagnosed him mentally retarded and his eyes were crossed. I could see after watching a video of him that he was far from retarded, but had severe developmental delays. After many years of both private therapy and assistance from the public school system settings, Stefan has made wonderful progress and now is appropriately diagnosed as having high-functioning autism. He is a sophomore in high school and is taking geometry and biology as part of his course-work (not bad for a kid that would have never had a chance in a Romanian institution.)

My second son, Eugen, was adopted in the fall of 1995. He had spent seven years living in an orphanage in Turna Severin, Romania. After spending 12 days in Romania and seeing the horrific conditions, I could only begin to understand the abuse that Eugen had gone through.

He has shared with us the beatings that he took, the limited food that he was allowed and the unclean conditions he lived in. Bringing him back to America was a very trying experience. He was like a little wild animal trying to fit into a home with no reference point as to what that meant. He had to learn the language, attend school for the first time and follow the boundaries that we expect when living in a home.

School continues to be very difficult for Eugen, as he is diagnosed with ADHD and he is in special classes for reading and math. He has a wonderful spirit however, and is very happy to be in our home. Eugen is a true survivor and his heart will carry him a long way. Though the boys are not genetically linked, they share a common bond that can never be taken away from them. Their names were the only possessions that they took from Romania with them. They have taught me so much over the years. I am often told by friends and extended family that the boys were so lucky to be adopted. My response to that is that I am the lucky one!



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

  • 08.28.14

    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.
  • 08.27.14

    Read the Common Core standards

    Pick up the newspaper or check out social media and you're going to find plenty of opinions about the Common Core. Decide for yourself what you think by reading the Standards themselves.
  • 08.25.14

    What is the Common Core?

    The Common Core is a huge change for public schools, but most Americans know little about it. Learn what Common Core is, where it came from, and why it’s become so controversial.