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America’s “failing education system” has become a cliché of contemporary journalism—and it’s most often blamed on the teachers. Union rules are said to protect the worst, while low salaries, crowded classrooms and unequal resources make it hard to retain the best. Disputes about standardized testing and the Common Core Curriculum have teachers caught in the middle. As another school year gets under way across the country, we’ll hear how today’s controversies reflect the history of a crucial profession.

Also, ISIS reportedly beheads a second journalist, and a “perfect political marriage” goes on the rocks in a criminal courtroom as jury deliberations begin.

Banner Image: "Teacher" by the U.S. Census Bureau - the U.S. Census Bureau Facts for Feature Photos. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

ISIS Beheads Second Journalist According to Video 6 MIN, 29 SEC

The ultra-extremist Islamic State has released a video that appears to show the beheading of Steven Joel Sotloff, a 31-year-old American journalist. His life was threatened two weeks ago in the execution video of reporter James Foley. Aki Peritz is a former CIA counterterrorism analyst and co-author of Find, Fix, Finish: Inside the Counterterrorism Campaigns that Killed bin Laden and Devastated Al Qaeda.

Aki Peritz, George Washington University (@akiperitz)

Find, Fix, Finish

Aki Peritz

The Most Noble Profession of Teaching is Now the Most Embattled 35 MIN, 23 SEC

No institution is more important to the US economy—or America’s role in the world—than public education. But no profession is more of a battlefield than public school teaching. As another school year begins, are reforms desperately needed? Are teachers getting a bad rap? Public school teachers are on the firing line—not just in the classroom, but in public controversies about tenure and other job protections, standardized tests and, of course, the Common Core curriculum.

Dana Goldstein, The Marshall Project (@DanaGoldstein)
Eric Hanushek, Hoover Institution, Stanford University (@EricHanushek)
Lily Eskelsen Garcia, National Education Association (@Lily_NEA)
Carol Corbett Burris, South Side High School (@carolburris)

Recapping Virginia’s McDonnell Corruption Trial 8 MIN, 12 SEC

Jury deliberations got under way today in the case of The United States of America vs. Robert F. McDonnell and Maureen G. McDonnell—the first couple of the Commonwealth of Virginia until January of this year—now in the dock charged with trading the power of the Governor’s office for $177,000 in luxury gifts and loans. One political science professor who’s attended the trial every day says, “They had been the most publicly affectionate first couple I’d seen in 30 years.” Now their defense against federal corruption charges depends on persuading a jury of 7 men and 5 women that their marriage was so dysfunctional they could not possibly have conspired to violate the public trust. Larry Sabato is Director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Larry Sabato, University of Virginia Center for Politics (@larrysabato)

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