If you’re like me, you need to distract yourself from the hype surrounding the release of “Avengers: Endgame” this week. The Marvel cinematic universe is great, but the education universe has more going on.

In case you, too, need the distraction, we’re sharing the “What We’re Reading” section from our weekly Education Lab newsletter right here.

Subscribe to the newsletter to see our favorite education stories from around the country in your inbox first, plus our best features from the week and Seattle-area education events. The newsletter also includes opportunities for readers to join the conversation.

Here’s what we’re reading this week.

Education Lab is a Seattle Times project that spotlights promising approaches to persistent challenges in public education. It is produced in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network and is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Amazon and City University of Seattle. Learn more about Ed Lab

School lunch debt is a problem for countless American families, and it’s keeping students from experiencing school freely. Schools are struggling “as they attempt to strike a balance between accommodating those who can’t pay for lunch and balancing their books,” The New Food Economy reports. But students are made to pay in often-punitive ways, as in the case of one high-schooler who can’t attend homecoming or prom because of an unpaid lunch balance — from middle school.

A school district in Houston is facing criticism for imposing a dress code on parents. “James Madison High School will turn away parents if they show up at the school wearing bonnets, pajamas, hair rollers or leggings, among other clothing items,” The San Antonio Express-News reports. One school even called the police on a mother who was trying to enroll her daughter while wearing a T-shirt dress and headscarf. Many parents say the new code is tied to deeper issues about class, gender and race, and one teacher called it “belittling” and “dismissive.”

One of just two all-women historically black colleges in the U.S. could be on the verge of closure. Bennett College in North Carolina is like other small historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) struggling with enrollment declines and financial woes, but this school is different in that it’s specifically for women. “I love this campus and these people,” one student told The Los Angeles Times. “But the issues this school faces could hurt my future.… I have to move on.”


Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to cancel your student-loan debt. Politicians from both parties agree that they need to tackle ballooning student debt, but there’s no consensus on how. The 2020 presidential candidate’s plan would cancel student debt up to $50,000 for borrowers who make less than $100,000 a year, and also targets aid to HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions. The Atlantic has more details.