Cory Turner

This story was adapted from an episode from a Life Kit podcast, Parenting: Raising Awesome Kids.

Are humans born kind?

We both assumed, as parents of young children, that kindness is just something our kids would pick up by osmosis, because we love them. It's a common assumption.

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Ask Cookie Monster to demonstrate self-control? Sounds like the setup to a joke. The blue, furry monster we grew up with was pure id.

In the tiny town of Erwin, Tenn., history is the elephant in the room.

At the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce, Cathy Huskins remembers one particularly angry tourist "came barreling through the door, and came up to the counter here and slung her hands down. ... And she says, 'I cannot believe that you killed an elephant!' "

Librarian Angie Georgeff is used to the strange phone calls and unannounced visits from world travelers:

Nearly 2,300 teachers have just had a mountain of student loan debt lifted off their backs, according to previously unreleased figures from the U.S. Department of Education. The move follows reporting by NPR that exposed a nightmare for public school teachers across the country.

Six Democratic senators, including two presidential candidates, sent a letter to the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday demanding that the agency prove it is policing the companies, known as servicers, that the government pays to manage its trillion-dollar, federal student loan portfolio.

With Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty on one side and bulbous-headed Fart Ninjas on the other, the gender divide was impossible to avoid at the North American International Toy Fair in New York City back in February.

The light-up Barbie mermaids vying for space with Gatling-style foam-dart blasters in Manhattan's Javits Center raised a question: Have toys really progressed since our grandparents' days? And how do the toys we play with shape the people we grow up to be?

Death first visited me on a Thursday.

I had a brown 'n' serve roll in my hand and a Vesuvius of buttered mashed potatoes on my plate. It was Thanksgiving and my 7th birthday, 1983.

I know she died, but when is Grandma coming back?

Why is your skin darker than Mommy's?

Why do we live here but Daddy doesn't?

Are you the tooth fairy?

Anyone with kids in their life knows what it's like to be surprised by a tough question. It can come at any time, often when you least expect it: at breakfast, at bedtime or from the back seat.

Updated at 3:13 p.m. ET

A critical new report from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General finds the department's student loan unit failed to adequately supervise the companies it pays to manage the nation's trillion-dollar portfolio of federal student loans. The report also rebukes the department's office of Federal Student Aid for rarely penalizing companies that failed to follow the rules.

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

New guidance on TEACH Grant program

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education made good on its promise to map out how it would help thousands of public school teachers who have been hurt by the federal TEACH Grant program.

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For public school teacher Kaitlyn McCollum, even simple acts like washing dishes or taking a shower can fill her with dread.

"It will just hit me like a ton of bricks," McCollum says. " 'Oh my God, I owe all of that money.' And it's, like, a knee-buckling moment of panic all over again."

She and her family recently moved to a much smaller, older house. One big reason for the downsizing: a $24,000 loan that McCollum has been unfairly saddled with because of a paperwork debacle at the U.S. Department of Education.

"Thank YOU," writes Cara Christensen, a first-grade teacher in Washington state who read NPR's deep dive into the troubled Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF). The reporting, she says, "made me feel not so alone."

We received dozens of emails, tweets and Facebook comments from aggrieved borrowers responding to news that, over the past year, 99 percent of applications for the popular loan-forgiveness program have been denied.

Update: Many student borrowers have responded to this story by sharing stories of their struggles with PSLF. We've curated many of them here.

On the morning of Monday, Aug. 27, Seth Frotman told his two young daughters that he would likely be home early that day and could take them to the playground. They cheered.

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

A new education budget awaits approval

A new spending bill could add $581 million to the Department of Education's budget. The legislation would bolster career and technical training and programs that serve low-income students.

At midnight, Oct. 1, the rush begins.

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

Student loan forgiveness applicants largely denied

Seeking to "evaluate the independence and effectiveness" of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's student loan office, 15 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus sent a terse letter Thursday evening to Mick Mulvaney, the CFPB's acting director. The letter was first obtained by NPR.

To millions of parents and students, they're magical words: free college.

But is the idea pure fantasy?

More than a dozen states now offer grants, often called scholarships, promising to help qualifying students pay for some or all of their college education. In fact, that word, "promise," shows up again and again in these programs' official names: Nevada Promise, Oklahoma's Promise, Oregon Promise, Tennessee Promise ... you get the idea.

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