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FROM THIS EPISODE

Standardized test questions about a pineapple and a hare have been ridiculed by students, teachers and critics of education reform. Are public schools being privatized at increased cost to taxpayers and the quality of education itself? Also, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng leaves the US Embassy, and open questions after President Obama's surprise trip to Afghanistan.

Banner image: A young student in looks closely at a math exam in Chicago. Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Producers:
Caitlin Shamberg
Anna Scott
Lata Pandya

Reporter's Notebook Obama's New Pact with Afghanistan 5 MIN, 33 SEC

President Obama made a surprise visit to Kabul yesterday, where he meet with Hamid Karzai. After signing the latest security agreement with the Afghan President, Obama listed ten year's worth of American achievements in the region. So, role will the United States and NATO play after most foreign troops leave in 2014?  Alissa Rubin is Kabul Bureau Chief for the New York Times.

 

 

Guests:
Alissa Johannsen Rubin, New York Times (@alissanyt)

Making News Chinese Dissident Leaves Embassy 7 MIN, 36 SEC

The US says China guaranteed humane treatment for the blind dissident Chen Guangcheng, and he was released from diplomatic refuge to a hospital in Beijing. But activists are telling overseas human rights groups a different story. Barbara Demick is Beijing correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.

Guests:
Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times (@BarbaraDemick)

Main Topic Public Education and Private Profit 37 MIN, 51 SEC

In six or seven states, kids were asked ridiculous questions on a standardized test. Then, New York's 8th graders were asked about a pineapple that challenges a hare to a race. Since the pineapple can't move, forest animals suspect it has a trick up its sleeve and bet on it to win. But the hare wins and the animals eat the pineapple. The moral is: pineapples don't have sleeves. The story — and the four questions kids were asked about it -- are so obviously stupid that education officials have announced they won't count in official scoring. The resulting ridicule helped fuel the growing backlash against No Child Left Behind and other education "reforms" based on tests devised by private corporations. Parents' and teachers' groups, and some churches, are among those complaining that education is being sacrificed to the profit motive at public expense. What are the consequences for taxpayers and — more important — for students?

Guests:
Diane Ravitch, New York University (@DianeRavitch)
Kathleen Porter-Magee, Thomas B. Fordham Institute (@kportermagee)
Alex Molnar, National Education Policy Center
Dru Stevenson, South Texas College of Law

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