Larry Abramson

Larry Abramson is NPR's National Security Correspondent. He covers the Pentagon, as well as issues relating to the thousands of vets returning home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Prior to his current role, Abramson was NPR's Education Correspondent covering a wide variety of issues related to education, from federal policy to testing to instructional techniques in the classroom. His reporting focused on the impact of for-profit colleges and universities, and on the role of technology in the classroom. He made a number of trips to New Orleans to chart the progress of school reform there since Hurricane Katrina. Abramson also covers a variety of news stories beyond the education beat.

In 2006, Abramson returned to the education beat after spending nine years covering national security and technology issues for NPR. Since 9/11, Abramson has covered telecommunications regulation, computer privacy, legal issues in cyberspace, and legal issues related to the war on terrorism.

During the late 1990s, Abramson was involved in several special projects related to education. He followed the efforts of a school in Fairfax County, Virginia, to include severely disabled students in regular classroom settings. He joined the National Desk reporting staff in 1997.

For seven years prior to his position as a reporter on the National Desk, Abramson was senior editor for NPR's National Desk. His department was responsible for approximately 25 staff reporters across the United States, five editors in Washington, and news bureaus in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. The National Desk also coordinated domestic news coverage with news departments at many of NPR's member stations. The desk doubled in size during Abramson's tenure. He oversaw the development of specialized beats in general business, high-technology, workplace issues, small business, education, and criminal justice.

Abramson joined NPR in 1985 as a production assistant with Morning Edition. He moved to the National Desk, where he served for two years as Western editor. From there, he became the deputy science editor with NPR's Science Unit, where he helped win a duPont-Columbia Award as editor of a special series on Black Americans and AIDS.

Prior to his work at NPR, Abramson was a freelance reporter in San Francisco and worked with Voice of America in California and in Washington, D.C.

He has a master's degree in comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley. Abramson also studied overseas at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and at the Free University in Berlin, Germany.

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All Tech Considered
11:46 am
Mon May 28, 2012

Vintage Spy Plane Gives High-Tech Drone A Run For Its Money

The Air Force's U-2 spy plane first took flight in August 1955 and has been in commission ever since.
USAF Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 28, 2012 2:01 pm

In the early days of the Cold War, the U-2 spy plane helped the U.S. collect intelligence on Soviet military operations. It was a relatively unknown aircraft until May 1, 1960, when U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers crashed one in the Soviet Union. (Powers spent nearly two years in Soviet prisons before he was released.)

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National Security
3:44 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Military Looks To Redefine PTSD, Without Stigma

The U.S. military is trying to encourage service members and veterans to seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. The military is also seeking to remove any sense of stigma for receiving treatment. Here, military personnel attend a presentation on PTSD at Fort Hamilton Army Garrison in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2009.
Chris Hondros Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 5:49 pm

The military and the Department of Veterans Affairs say they want more veterans and service members to get appropriate treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

That's why they're tweaking the way they define and treat PTSD. But if this approach works, it could add to the backlog of PTSD cases.

For years, the standard definition for post-traumatic stress disorder had a key feature that didn't fit for the military. It said that the standard victim responds to the trauma he or she has experienced with "helplessness and fear."

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National Security
11:53 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Bin Laden Papers Show Him Frustrated, Marginalized

Pakistanis walk past the rubble of bin Laden's demolished compound this week.
Sajjad Qayyum AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 12:50 pm

Documents found at Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan reveal an al-Qaida leader who had come to feel marginalized and frustrated with actions taken by affiliated terror groups he had helped inspire.

The man responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks is seen struggling to limit attacks that killed mostly Muslims, and to keep the international jihad movement focused on what he viewed as the main target: the United States.

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World
1:02 am
Wed April 25, 2012

VA Struggles To Provide Vets With Mental Health Care

A veteran of the Iraq War with post-traumatic stress disorder talks to physical therapist Nicole Bormann before a session in the VA Medical Center in St. Louis.
Chris Hondros Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 25, 2012 6:10 am

Over the past five years, the Department of Veterans Affairs says, the number of former service members seeking mental health services has climbed by a third. In response, the agency has boosted funding and tightened standards.

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Afghanistan
12:59 am
Tue April 17, 2012

After The U.S. Leaves, Who Pays For Afghan Forces?

Afghan Army soldiers stand during a security transition ceremony in Mazar-e-Sharif, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 23, 2011. The Afghan government officially took control of security in the capital of the peaceful northern province of Balkh on July 23, as part of an effort to begin handing over all security responsibilities to Afghan forces by 2014.
S. Sabawoon AP

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 3:14 am

This week, NATO Cabinet ministers, including U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, will try to tackle the problem of Afghan security. The basic plan for bringing American troops home from Afghanistan is to let Afghan security forces fight for their own country. But there's a hitch — finding a way to pay for the Afghan army.

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U.S.
1:25 am
Mon April 9, 2012

For-Profit Schools Under Fire For Targeting Veterans

Iraq war veteran Paul Rieckhoff (right), with Democratic Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Daniel Akaka of Hawaii and Patty Murray of Washington, introduces the GI benefit watchdog bill in Washington. Some lawmakers say for-profit schools are taking advantage of veterans and their educational benefits.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Tue April 10, 2012 11:27 am

Hundreds of thousands of veterans have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, eager to get an education under the new post-Sept. 11 GI Bill.

Many vets looking for a school find they are inundated by sales pitches from institutions hungry for their government benefits. Now, lawmakers are looking for ways to protect vets without narrowing their education choices.

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Mental Health
12:52 pm
Wed March 28, 2012

Staff Sgt. Bales Case Shows Stigma, Paradox Of PTSD

The U.S. military is trying to improve treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. But many veterans say they're still under pressure to deny they have problems. Here, military personnel attend a presentation on PTSD at Fort Hamilton Army Garrison in Brooklyn, N.Y., in December 2009.
Chris Hondros Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 12:14 pm

The case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier charged with killing 17 Afghan villagers, has led the Army to review how troops are screened for post-traumatic stress disorder. The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs say they have invested heavily in the treatment of PTSD to deal with a growing caseload.

But the stigma associated with the disorder continues to complicate efforts to treat it. It has also fueled serious misconceptions about its effects — such as the notion that PTSD causes acts of extreme violence.

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Education
2:53 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Detroit Schools' No. 1 Mission: Getting Kids To Class

George Eason, an attendance agent with Detroit Public Schools, sets out to visit homes and check in with parents about school attendance.
Larry Abramson NPR

Ask Detroit teachers about their biggest challenge and many will say, "You can't teach kids who don't come to class." Last year, the average Detroit public high school student missed at least 28 days of school.

Now, as part of its effort to get parents more involved, the district has launched a major initiative to improve attendance. The effort includes parent workshops and attendance agents charged with pushing parents to send their kids to school every day.

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Education
10:01 pm
Mon February 6, 2012

UC Students Propose Alternative To Tuition Increases

A student prepares to speak in opposition to proposed tuition increases at a University of California Board of Regents meeting in July 2011.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Chris LoCascio, a junior at UC Riverside, feared that there was no end in sight for tuition increases at the University of California. The state kept cutting subsidies, students kept protesting, but no one had any answers. So he and other students decided to turn the discussion on its head.

What if, he says, "instead of charging students upfront for their education, students would attend the UC with no upfront costs whatsoever"?

Under the Fix UC proposal, the bill would not come due until students graduate and start making money.

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All Tech Considered
2:19 pm
Mon February 6, 2012

Where Eye Care Is A Luxury, Technology Offers Access

A man from Liberia uses a pump to adjust his liquid silicon lens. Liquid-lens glasses are part of an effort to make eyewear more accessible in the developing world.
Courtesy of Centre for Vision in the Developing World

Originally published on Mon February 6, 2012 5:33 pm

For millions of people in the developing world, one thing stands between them and a job or an education: a good pair of glasses. Quality eye care is often a luxury in areas where health services are scarce. So researchers and entrepreneurs are looking for breakthrough technologies to bring the cost of glasses and eye exams way down.

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The Two-Way
10:20 am
Fri January 27, 2012

College Presidents Have Problems With Obama's Message On Tuition

President Obama making his case this morning at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 4:19 pm

Taking an issue he highlighted during his State of the Union address on the road, President Obama this morning told an audience at the University of Michigan that he is "putting colleges on notice" that the era of unabated tuition hikes is over, as The Associated Press reports.

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Education
2:02 pm
Mon January 16, 2012

Do Law Schools Cook Their Employment Numbers?

Many law school students say they were lured in by juicy job numbers upon graduation, but when they got out, all they ended up with is massive debt.
Dan Kite iStockPhoto.com

Originally published on Tue January 17, 2012 6:01 am

It's often assumed that even in tough times, lawyers can find good jobs. But that proposition is being overturned by a tight legal market, and by a glut of graduates.

The nation's law schools are facing growing pressure to be more upfront about their graduates' job prospects. Many students say they were lured in by juicy job numbers, but when they got out, all they ended up with is massive debt.

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Education
1:25 pm
Tue January 3, 2012

Online School Helps Grown-Ups Finish College

Sherrie Shackleford studies teaching at Western Governors University from her Indiana condo, where she lives with her daughters, Aubrey (left) and Alissa (right).
Larry Abramson NPR

There are an estimated 37 million Americans who have some college credit but no degree — and Western Governors University is trying to change that. The nonprofit online school is challenging many traditional concepts about higher education with a new approach aimed to help adult students finish college.

And after 15 years in existence, the school is catching on.

Reaching Out To Adult Learners

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Education
11:48 am
Fri December 30, 2011

Big Education Grants Threatened By Teacher Spats

Originally published on Fri December 30, 2011 4:58 pm

Teachers and school districts say they agree that better teacher evaluations are needed, but they can't agree on the details. Now, those disputes threaten federal grants meant to encourage education reform.

Take New York state, which has a lot of failing schools. Those schools got more than $100 million in federal School Improvement Grants. In exchange, districts promised to phase in new evaluation systems.

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Education
2:41 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Military Tuition Assistance Rules May Limit Options

Military advocates have warned that some schools see service men and women as walking dollar signs.
Dave Herriman iStockPhoto.com

Federal money for active duty students is particularly attractive to for-profit schools, which have been signing up members of the services in record numbers.

So, the Pentagon has developed new rules to ensure that service members are treated fairly when they use government money to attend college. Those rules are set to go into effect Jan. 1, but many of the nation's best-known schools say they cannot accept those requirements.

The dispute puts at risk millions of dollars in federal assistance.

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Education
11:47 am
Mon December 5, 2011

A Carrot for College Performance: More Money

This year, Tennessee Tech's $35 million in state funding will go up or down based solely on whether students are succeeding.
By Brian Stansberry Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Mon December 5, 2011 5:22 pm

For a long time, most public colleges and universities have gotten their funding based on how many students they enroll: More students mean more money.

But economic pressures have convinced states they should only reward results that help students — and the state's economy.

Tennessee is a leader among states trying to peg funding to the number of students who actually graduate.

Getting Education To Do More For The State

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Education
3:31 am
Sun November 27, 2011

In Tenn., A Possible Model For Higher Education

The typical college student today isn't "typical" anymore: Only 1 in 4 lives on campus and studies full time.

But part-timers and commuter students are much less likely to finish — most part-time students are still without a degree or a certificate after eight years. Higher education is desperately looking for strategies that improve those numbers. There might be one in Tennessee.

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Around the Nation
2:00 am
Wed November 23, 2011

13 More Students Charged In SAT Cheating Scandal

Originally published on Wed November 23, 2011 3:31 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

On Long Island in New York, a high school cheating scandal is widening. The local district attorney says 13 additional people now face charges for trying to cheat on college entrance exams. More from NPR's Larry Abramson.

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Education
12:34 pm
Wed October 19, 2011

Why Is College So Expensive?

Sproul Plaza at the University of California, Berkeley. Tuition at U.C. Berkeley was about $700 a year in the 1970s. Today, families pay over $15,000 per year to attend.

Eric Risberg AP

Originally published on Wed October 19, 2011 4:16 pm

Many of the protesters occupying Wall Street and other places say they are upset about the rising price of going to college. Tuition and other costs have been going up faster than inflation, and family incomes can't keep up. Despite public outrage about the problem, there's little sign these costs will drop anytime soon.

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Education
12:55 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

No Child Left Behind Waivers Worry Some Advocates

Mill Creek Middle School Principal Rebecca Bowen says her school is "by no way, shape or form a failing school." But it is according to federal and state standards because its low-income, special education students were about 10 points behind the goals set on standardized tests.

Larry Abramson NPR

Originally published on Tue October 11, 2011 5:02 pm

The Obama administration wants states to focus more of their attention on the lowest-performing schools, where large numbers of students are failing state tests year after year.

So the Department of Education is inviting all states to apply for waivers from the No Child Left Behind law.

The waivers could win relief for schools where a small number of students are falling short of federal requirements.

But advocates for minority and special education students worry their students will be ignored.

The 'Failing School' Stigma

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Education
3:22 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

Too Much GI Bill Money Going To For-Profit Schools?

The nation's for-profit colleges and universities have reaped a windfall from the new post-Sept. 11 GI bill.

The top for-profit companies brought in around a billion dollars in benefits in the last year alone.

Some lawmakers say federal regulations encourage these schools to target current and former members of the military.

At a Senate hearing Thursday, lawmakers and witnesses praised the two-year post-Sept.11 GI bill, saying it had helped many vets and active-duty service personnel go to college.

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All Tech Considered
11:44 am
Mon September 12, 2011

Comcast Offers A Digital Lifeline To The Disconnected

Comcast has started offering Internet access for $9.95 per month for low-income families, in addition to an optional voucher to let families buy a computer for $150.
iStockphoto.com

Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator, has launched a new program aimed at reducing the digital divide, or the gap between high- and low-income communities in Internet accessibility and digital literacy.

The company says low-income families will now be able to get a fast Internet connection for $9.95 per month; the question now is whether the effort can overcome the many barriers that keep the poor from getting online.

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Education
9:20 am
Tue August 30, 2011

Former GM Exec Hopes To Kick-Start Detroit Schools

Roy Roberts, emergency manager of the Detroit Public Schools, speaks at Amelia Earhart Elementary-Middle School. Roberts, a former General Motors executive, came out of retirement to try to fix the school system.
Larry Abramson NPR

Originally published on Tue August 30, 2011 8:31 pm

If there were an award for the "most challenged" school district in the United States, the Detroit public school system would have good reason to claim the title.

The system is wrestling with crumbling buildings, low achievement and a decline in enrollment that just won't stop. But this year, the system has added some new faces and plans to the mix in an attempt to revive it.

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U.S.
2:15 pm
Mon August 29, 2011

Irene Disrupts Power, Commutes, Travel Plans

Irene knocked out power to millions and threatened transportation systems up and down the east coast. The restoration of most subway and bus lines in New York City helped avoid the commuting nightmare that some had feared, but the storm will leave many without power for days.

Hurricane Irene caused havoc for many rail lines, forcing crews to face a maze of downed trees and branches on the tracks and restoring power to some lines.

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Education
5:19 am
Sun August 28, 2011

States Search For Answers To Cheating Scandals

Students leave Atlanta's Emma Hutchinson School in July. Hutchinson is a year-round school that has been identified as one of 44 schools involved in a test cheating scandal.
John Bazemore AP

Originally published on Sun August 28, 2011 6:28 pm

Cheating scandals have rocked a number of school districts across the country this year. The publicity is pushing states to look for better ways to detect and prevent tampering with the test results, and some say constant vigilance is required to guard against cheating.

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