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.
The US gets deeper into Middle East wars. What's the endgame? President Trump welcomed Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to the White House today… just one of the changes in America's approach to the Middle East since Barack Obama left office. We hear about that and the escalation of warfare as well as civilian casualties.
Nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula slowly coming to a head North Korea did not conduct a nuclear test this weekend, but it did show apparent progress in developing a missile that that could strike the United States. The Trump Administration says it has lost its "strategic patience." We hear what that might -- or might not -- mean for North Korea, China and the prospects for diplomacy.
Will the march for science politicize objective research? Protesters are gathering all over the country for tomorrow's Earth Day March for Science. Since President Trump has proposed massive cuts in basic scientific research, will the movement be perceived as partisan politics — whether scientists themselves like it or not?