Silver Lake Elementary School in Middletown, Del., has begun implementing the national Common Core State Standards for academics. The GOP largely backs the standards that are rolling out in 45 states, but Tea Party conservatives have been critical — and liberals increasingly have the same complaints. Steve Ruark/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Steve Ruark/AP

Students at the Oakland Military Institute took several courses offered by San Jose State and the online course provider Udacity this year. The university is now scaling back its relationship with Udacity. Laura A. Oda/MCT/Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Laura A. Oda/MCT/Landov

Hands-on science activities like making bubble mitts at the Mission Science Workshop teach students about things like surface tension. Justin Jach/Courtesy of Mission Science Workshop hide caption

itoggle caption Justin Jach/Courtesy of Mission Science Workshop

Students at Lowell High School in Michigan sit down for lunch. Shorter lunch breaks mean that many kids don't get enough time to eat and socialize. Emily Zoladz/Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Emily Zoladz/Landov

Shayna Terrell is the outreach coordinator at Simon Gratz Mastery Charter School in Philadelphia. Matt Stanley for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Matt Stanley for NPR

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, cut more than $1 billion from the state's K-12 budget, which hit the state-controlled Philadelphia district hardest. Matt Slocum/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Matt Slocum/AP

Students play tag at Ruby Bridges Elementary in Alameda, Calif. The school has expanded recess time with help from the nonprofit group Playworks. Eric Westervelt/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Eric Westervelt/NPR

Coachella Valley High School math teacher Eddie Simoneau uses iPads with his students. Matt Hamilton/Coachella Valley Unified School District hide caption

itoggle caption Matt Hamilton/Coachella Valley Unified School District

Students at Coachella Valley Unified School District use iPads during a lesson. The district's superintendent is promoting the tablet initiative as a way to individualize learning. Coachella Valley Unified School District hide caption

itoggle caption Coachella Valley Unified School District

Thousands of students apply to college each year using the online Common Application. But a flawed overhaul of the system has left many students and parents frustrated. iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto.com

Palo Alto middle school student Jennifer Munoz Tello (right) stands outside her family's trailer in Palo Alto with her mother, Sandra, and 2-year-old sister, Cynthia. Eric Westervelt/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Eric Westervelt/NPR

A worker on a newly constructed transmission tower near Buetzow, Germany, earlier this month. The German government plans to shut down nuclear power plants and is seeking to replace that production with power from renewable energy sources, especially wind turbines and solar parks. New power transmission lines will be needed. Sean Gallup/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Sean Gallup/Getty Images