FROM Alex Molnar
Pineapplegate and Privatizing Public Schools On a standardized test this month, 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 they bet on it to win. But the hare wins — and the animals eat the pineapple. The moral is: pineapples don't have sleeves. That story and the questions kids were asked about it are so obviously stupid that education officials have announced they won't count in official scoring. Others see it as prime evidence of what's wrong with education reform. Are public schools being privatized at increased cost to taxpayers and the quality of education itself?
Public Education and Private Profit 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?
Should Business Provide the Messages Taught in Public Schools? Los Angeles County and San Francisco are among the California municipalities that have banned plastic bags on the grounds that they're bad for the environment. But an environmental curriculum used in some California public schools contains positive messages about plastic bags. They were inserted into a textbook at the request of the American Chemistry Council, which lobbied successfully against a statewide ban.
Will the Senate write a healthcare bill in secret? While Democrats and Republicans argue White House relations with Russia, another question is being decided behind closed doors: who gets help buying health insurance and who doesn't? We hear how the pros and cons are being shrouded in secrecy.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
What happens when America retreats from the world? Is President Trump taking his "America First" agenda to extremes, withdrawing the country from the international stage on trade and climate change, distancing America from its traditional allies across the Atlantic and even threatening to physically isolate the country through the building of a wall along its southern border? León Krauze guest hosts.