It was a major accomplishment in Chicago that teachers who used to walk out frequently had, for the past 25 years, managed to avoid a strike. But it's not surprising, many experts say, that things would fall apart now.
"I think it is a perfect storm," says Tim Knowles, head of the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute. He says issues in Chicago — of tying teacher pay to student test scores, job security, longer school days and expanding charter schools, for example — are not unlike issues unions have grappled with in other cities, from New York to Los Angeles.
The economy added only about 100,000 private sector jobs last month - far fewer than had been expected.
And as NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports, a close reading of the numbers reveals that many of those jobs are low wage.
WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: Some of the nation's job growth has been in places like this - a suburban mall near Seattle. While many shoppers aren't spending like they did before the economic crash, they are buying more than they did a couple of years ago.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. When a runner, originally from Sudan, ran the Sioux Falls Marathon and shattered the world record by 25 minutes, he was as shocked as everyone else. Maybe I'm lost. I don't know, Olok Nykew told a reporter at the finish. Turns out, he was correct. According to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, he had arrived late to the race. He ran the wrong route - the half marathon. I'm not cheating. I was just confused, he said. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
The presidential candidates are toning it down, we're told, on this 9/11. They'll stop their negative ads, they have said. But, of course, the campaigning will continue all fall. And Mitt Romney spent yesterday in Ohio. Over the weekend, Vice President Biden was there, as well. The Midwestern state is becoming like a second home to candidates in this presidential election season.
Our last word in business today is: soda diplomacy. The long isolated Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar, also known as Burma, is now undergoing dramatic political reform and opening up to the outside world. The U.S. recently lifted sanctions and sent an ambassador there. And what comes next? Coca-Cola.
Let's catch up now on a court case in Connecticut that involves a group of death row inmates. The trial centers on whether there has been race, gender and geographic bias in Connecticut's death penalty cases. Diane Orson of member station WNPR reports.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's proposal to overhaul the tax code continues to draw scrutiny.
Romney says it is possible to cut tax rates without driving the government deeper into the red, and that he can make up for the lost revenue by closing tax loopholes. But analysts have had a hard time testing Romney's claim because he hasn't offered many specifics.
When he was pressed by NBC's David Gregory this weekend to give an example of a loophole he would close, Romney didn't offer much detail.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and its musicians are at an impasse. The players' contract expired at the end of last month. The symphony is facing a $20 million budget deficit, and it's seeking millions in concessions from the musicians. Both sides say they want to reach an agreement, but they've left the bargaining table, putting the orchestra's 68th season in jeopardy.
To try to get a sense of what it really means to be the president of the United States, writer Michael Lewis spent six months in President Obama's shadow. Lewis hoped to find out just what it's like to be in the president's shoes — down to something as simple as how he decides what to wear every day.
Egyptians have been struggling economically since the revolution last year that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian pound has remained relatively stable, though, because the central bank shored it up through foreign reserves, which prevented food prices from skyrocketing.
But despite increasing political stability, concerns about the currency remain.
The market has been volatile since Mubarak was ousted, swinging up and down with Egypt's political unrest.
Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, but only 5 percent of all Hispanics attend a mainline Protestant church. The vast majority are Roman Catholic.
For the Episcopal Church, those numbers are an opportunity.
The denomination is seeing fast-growing pockets of new Latino congregants. Episcopal churches in Nevada and Washington, D.C., are seeing considerably higher attendance from Latinos. In Oregon, there were only 150 Latino Episcopalians 20 years ago. Now, there are more than 800.
Today in Washington, D.C. we got our first taste of fall. It was crisp and in the low 60s. And just as we slide into the last days of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published its summer 2012 recap.
It's exactly what you were expecting: It was really hot. In fact, 2012 was the third hottest on record.
It's human nature to hope for positive results after spending months or even years conducting a research study. In well-designed studies, however, scientists identify in advance the criteria for success, so their optimism won't color their conclusions when the study is completed.
Originally published on Mon September 10, 2012 4:15 pm
Many times what happens far away ends up coded in numbers and officialdom.
Like this weekend, a blast near NATO headquarters in Afghanistan killed at least six. NPR's Dana Farrington noted that a suicide bomber blew himself up near the entrance of Camp Eggers, where many children who work on the streets set up to sell trinkets.
Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 7:06 am
The strike that shut schools in Chicago on Monday illustrates a larger, national trend: Teachers unions are having a harder time getting what they want.
For decades, teachers unions have been among the most powerful lobbying groups in nearly every state — and have been arguably even more powerful at the local level, where they've often been able to unseat school board members and even mayors who crossed them.
These Nokia phones unveiled earlier this month are the first smartphones built for Windows 8.
Credit Spencer Platt / Getty Images
An employee holds Apple's iPhone 4S (left) and Samsung's Galaxy S III at an electronics store in Seoul, South Korea. Some U.S. phone designers are now conflicted over what a recent decision that Samsung infringed on Apple mobile phone patents will mean for their work.
For more than three decades, presidential candidates have talked tough about China during the campaign season, but opted for more moderate policies as president. Republican nominee Mitt Romney, shown speaking in Colorado in July, accuses China of manipulating its currency in order to export its goods cheaply to the US.
Credit Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images
China's growing economic might means that it has increasing power to push back against US policies that it does not like, according to analysts. This photo from August shows the construction on the Shanghai Tower, which will be the tallest building in Shanghai.
Dreamworks' animated movie Puss in Boots was a big deal. It won an Oscar, and its swashbuckling, sloe-eyed kitty was voiced by Antonio Banderas.
The meticulous computer-generated animation took four years and something like $130 million to make. But another cartoon, Puss In Boots: A Furry Tail, was hand-drawn in six months for less than $1 million. It went straight to DVD — one of the many low-budget productions riding the coattails of Hollywood blockbusters.
Each week, All Things Considered and Lenore Skenazy, author of the book and blog Free-Range Kids, bring you "Another Thing," an on-air puzzle to test your cleverness skills. We take a trend in the news and challenge you to help us satirize it with a song title, a movie name or something else wacky.
This week's challenge: A handful of private companies are taking reservations for space flights. That means that there may soon be a lot of tourists floating around — which, in turn, means a lot of mouths to feed.
Eight weeks before the presidential election, new laws passed by Republican legislatures that concern who can vote and when remain in the hands of federal and state judges.
Among the cases: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week will hear an appeal to overturn that state's new voter ID law. An appeal is expected in a case involving early voting in Ohio. And a federal court is still considering whether South Carolina can go ahead with its new voter ID law.
The Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio faces questions about its accreditation because of a course description that links homosexuality with crimes like murder, rape and robbery.
The university's social work program offers the course, called SWK 314 Deviant Behavior. The course description reads: "The behaviors that are primarily examined are murder, rape, robbery, prostitution, homosexuality, mental illness and drug use."
Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 2:09 pm
We've been giving a lot of virtual ink to the problem of food insecurity lately — the challenges people face when they frequently can't put enough food on the table. And sometimes it seems like an insurmountable problem.
Over the weekend, the United States Treasury said it has plans to sell $18 billion worth of American International Group stocks. During the financial crisis in 2008, the government pumped $182 billion into AIG stock to keep it from collapsing.
Reuters reports, this morning, that AIG shares fell 1.5 percent because of the news. Reuters adds:
"AIG itself will buy back $5 billion of its own shares in the upcoming stock sale, with the rest of the shares going to the broader public.
Originally published on Mon September 10, 2012 1:51 pm
After the terror attacks on 9/11, a public opinion survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs showed widespread support for increased spending on national security and counterterrorism. A decade later, a new survey shows that "Americans have become increasingly selective about how and where to engage in the world."