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Barack Obama has picked a secretary of education who’s endorsed both sides of the raging debate over how to improve American schools. Will he become an agent of change or will splitting the difference reinforce the status quo?  Why is Obama so focused on early childhood education? Also, the White House steps in to bail out automakers, and shipping nations worldwide are launching a military crackdown on Somali pirates, but the Pentagon says at least one more pirate band will get millions of dollars.

Banner image: Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan, framed by a book shelf. Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Whatever It Takes

Paul Tough

Making News White House Steps In to Bail Out Automakers 5 MIN, 59 SEC

Republicans stopped Congress from bailing out the Big Three. Today President Bush promised $17 billion if GM and Chrysler can meet certain conditions early next year. The President cautioned that "these conditions send a clear message to everyone involved in the future of American automakers: The time to make the hard decisions to become viable is now -- or the only option will be bankruptcy." David Lightman is White House correspondent for the McClatchy Newspapers.

David Lightman, McClatchy Newspapers (@LightmanDavid)

Main Topic Can Obama's Education Chief Save the Nation's Schools? 34 MIN, 46 SEC

Democrats are sharply divided between school  "reformers" and so-called "traditionalists." They circulated competing manifestos during the presidential campaign: one side wants charter schools, merit pay and accountability for teachers; the other says don't blame teachers for failing schools, provide flexibility and better resources. Barack Obama has chosen an education secretary who has endorsed both sides. Will that mean gridlock or will Chicago's Arne Duncan finally overcome the "tired… debates" that have stalled real education reform?  What about "No Child Left Behind?"

Paul Tough, Editor, New York Times Magazine
Joe Williams, Executive Director, Democrats for Education Reform
Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers (@rweingarten)
Rick Hess, American Enterprise Institute (@rickhess99)

Reporter's Notebook Piracy Pays Almost as Well as Working on Wall Street 7 MIN, 41 SEC

In the past year, no less than 100 ships have been attacked and 42 have been seized by Somali pirates, with their crews ransomed for tens of millions of dollars. The UN Security Council has authorized military action, and this week Germany and China said they would join Britain, India and other nations in an effort being coordinated by the United States. But today, the US military said it would ransom a Ukrainian ship full of tanks, grenade launchers, small arms and ammunition that's has been in pirates' hands for three months. Peter Chalk is a senior analyst of transnational security threats at RAND.

Peter Chalk, Senior Political Analyst, Rand Corporation

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