National News

VIDEO: You Don't Know Jack-O'-Lanterns

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-30 04:25

Explore the guts and glory of pumpkin science with Skunk Bear's latest video.

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Angry Mob Sets Fire To Parliament In Burkina Faso

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-30 03:41

Angered at an impending vote to allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year-old rule, protesters also reportedly set fire to the ruling party's headquarters in the capital, Ouagadougou.

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Tunisia's Secularists Victorious In Parliamentary Vote

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-30 03:09

The Nidda Tounes (Tunisia Calls) party won just under 40 percent of the seats, beating out the ruling Islamist Ennahda party.

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PODCAST: Bring your own device

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-30 03:00

First, economic growth in America. GDP was quite solid as the summer wore on. More on that. And one of the most influential business tycoons in the world has come out publicly as gay: Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple. We spoke with actor and social justice advocate George Takei about the importance of Cook's Op-ed. Plus, passengers increasingly bring their own entertainment with them aboard flights...on their mobile devices. Now, airlines are responding, possibly with a policy of BYOD: bring your own device.

What midterm election results could mean for budgets

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-30 03:00

In five days, the polls will be open. And with gains for Republicans predicted but not assured, we turn to a person who tracks the future of the federal budget like a gearhead follows cars. 

Stan Collender contributes to Forbes, and once upon a time was a staffer for both the House and Senate Budget Committees. He joined host David Brancaccio to discuss what a Republican majority would mean for budget cuts in Washington.

Click the media player above to hear Stan Collender in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio.

Quiz: Bonuses not quick to bounce back

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-30 02:30

Signing bonuses for new college grads nearly disappeared after the recession but are slowly becoming more common, according to a Michigan State University survey of employers.

What percentage of employers offer signing bonuses to new college graduates?

In-flight entertainment's future may be on your tablet

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-30 02:00

Airlines have noticed that people increasingly bring their own entertainment with them onboard, on their mobile devices. That means the nature of in-flight entertainment is changing, too.

In fact, the future of in-flight entertainment could be BYOD: bring your own device.

Airline consultant Jay Sorensen sees a lot of people doing that already.  

“Before they get on the airplane, they’re gonna load up their device,” says Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks Company. “They’ll get caught up on all the past episodes of House of Cards onboard the airplane.”

That’s why airlines like Delta and United have invested in systems that stream in-flight entertainment straight to your mobile device. They see economy class passengers bypassing their seat-back screens. And they’re not alone.

Doing away with seat-back screens altogether would be lighter and cheaper for airlines, which Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research Group says already pay a lot for content.

“The movies and TV shows and music that we watch and listen to aren’t provided free,” he says. “Airlines license that. And it can cost them several millions of dollars a year, per airline.”

If all this TV-watching threatens to drain your battery, don’t worry. Harteveldt says airlines are also installing more plugs. 

The high cost of principal turnover

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-30 02:00

Heather Wolpert-Gawron has been teaching for eleven years at Jefferson Middle School in San Gabriel, Calif. During that time, she says, the school has had about ten principals.

“We had many years where the morale was low,” she says. “We just kind of felt abandoned.”

Some of those principals left on their own. Some were removed. According to a new report from the nonprofit School Leaders Network, half of new principals quit in their third year on the job.

The group, which provides training and support to principals, says the job has become too complex and isolating. Principals put in long hours overseeing teachers, meeting with parents and implementing one reform after another.

“It’s very demanding and you’re being pulled in different directions, so it really makes it difficult for you to focus on being an instructional leader,” says Connie Rodriguez, who left her position as a junior high school principal in San Antonio, Texas, after three years.

It costs about $75,000 to recruit and train each replacement, says Mariah Cone, vice president of knowledge with the School Leaders Network. The cost to student achievement is higher, she says, with studies showing that both math and English test scores drop when a principal leaves.

“It takes up to three to five years for the next principal to really be able to show gains,” Cone says.

If the next principal lasts that long. Cone says ongoing mentoring and training might help more of them stay longer.

 

@College Let me in! #prettyplease

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-30 02:00

It's college-tour season, and everyone is a reviewer on Twitter:

As much as I liked UIC, I probably had the worst and least informed tour guide imaginable. #Please #Learnyourschool #AndEtiquette

— Hayden T. Balduf (@HBalduf) October 15, 2014

Just witnessed the worst guided tour of Messiah College, all that was said in a few minute time span was "that is our green house"

— William Wical (@willwical) October 13, 2014

k so my college tour guide for UCSB was kind of like....the biggest babe ever to exist pic.twitter.com/quXGFrmxbR

— abbey (@AbbeyxBlanford) June 24, 2014

Be it bad or babealicious, college admissions officers are paying attention to all that sharing.

"Institutions of higher education are most definitely reviewing that to find out how they are being evaluated," says Jeff Fuller, director of student recruitment for the University of Houston and President of the National Association for College Admission Counseling

Fuller says if a kid has a bad experience on campus, an engaged admissions officer can respond fast; before a nasty tweet dings a school’s reputation.

"More and more colleges are hiring folks to manage their social media to make sure they remain current in what’s being discussed," Fuller says.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s admissions office has a small army working on social media.

"We have two blogs, we have multiple Facebook accounts, we have a Twitter account, we have an Instagram account," says Ashley Memory, an assistant director of admissions. 

There are three admissions officers and as many as four paid interns managing and creating content for those accounts.  

Memory says there is a little risk involved in having all these open forums—There will always be disappointed applicants.

More often than not, she says, negative comments are neutralized by the broader community of current UNC students or alumni.  

The main job of college admissions officers on social media is to communicate with potential students. First, they try to convince them to apply to their school. Then, if they are accepted, they convince them to attend.

Part of that job involves answering a lot of basic questions.

"Before they may have just picked up the phone and called our office, or may have sent our office an email, or they may have sought out the answer for themselves online," says Gabe Santi, from the admission office at Michigan State University. "Now, they may just post the question on Facebook or tweet at us." 

Can Michigan State tell me if I got accepted or not already #impatient

— sophia. (@samm_jamm) October 20, 2014

@samm_jamm Thanks for your patience!

— MSU Admissions (@msu_admissions) October 20, 2014

Keep On Drillin'? Santa Barbara Prepares To Vote On Oil Future

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-30 00:46

Measure P in California's Santa Barbara County asks voters to ban controversial oil and gas drilling methods such as hydraulic fracturing. To date, the oil industry has spent $7 million to defeat it.

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With Limited Gains, U.S. Bombing Campaign Faces Growing Criticism

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-30 00:46

U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State began nearly three months ago, yet there have been relatively few changes on the battlefield. Many analysts say the U.S. effort may not be sufficient.

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EU's New Competition Chief Could Shake Up Google Antitrust Case

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-30 00:46

Nearly 20 companies have filed antitrust complaints against Google in Europe since 2009. Under the new commissioner, the company could face more formal charges and billions of dollars in fines.

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World Series: Madison Bumgarner Carries Giants To 3rd Title In 5 Years

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-29 19:23

Madison Bumgarner won Game 1 of this World Series, throwing seven innings and giving up one run. He won Game 5 with a complete game shutout. On Wednesday night, on two days' rest, he finished the job.

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WATCH: On Sandy Anniversary, Gov. Chris Christie Faces Off With Heckler

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-29 16:36

Christie, known for fierce confrontations with detractors, finished this particular exchange by saying, "Sit down and shut up."

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Inventor Of 'Operation' Game Says He Can't Afford His Own Operation

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-29 15:32

John Spinello missed out on a lot of money, because he sold his patent for the legendary game for just $500. Over the past few years, things have been rough for Spinello.

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FTC Says AT&T Misled Customers About 'Unlimited' Data Plans

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-29 15:05

The Federal Trade Commission says AT&T slowed data speeds for 3.5 million customers, sometimes up to 90 percent.

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Andre Agassi’s pivot to education capitalist

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-10-29 14:44

Former tennis star Andre Agassi has spent the last few years building schools. Recently, he has stopped doing it out of pure generosity. After years of raising money for charter schools, Agassi has had a conversion. He teamed up with investors and joined the growing ranks of education capitalists.

Agassi has been touring some of his schools this fall, including a recent in Nashville.

The second graders in this Rocketship classroom were barely born when Agassi hung up his tennis racket. So they don’t really know much about the guy with the shaved head touring their new school, other than they should be grateful to him.

“What made you want to play tennis?” one student asks. “I never really wanted to,” Agassi says, explaining that his dad made him.

But turns out, he was pretty good.

“And then all of the sudden when I won, I had the chance to build my own school,” he says.

The irony is not lost on him, since Agassi dropped out of school himself. He has since raised $100 million to supplement public funding for a charter school in his hometown of Las Vegas.

But in the last few years, he teamed up with investors to start a hedge fund. They don’t run schools. They just buy the land, finance construction, then rent the school back to a charter, typically part of a national chain like KIPP Academy or Rocketship.

Critics of the charter movement have charged investors with lining their pockets on the backs of public education, and Agassi says he had his own hesitance before switching gears into profit-mode.

“I thought about it a thousand times going into this adventure,” Agassi says.

But given the struggle to finance his own charter school, Agassi says he’s decided charity has limitations.

“I don’t believe – personally – that philanthropy is scalable,” he says.

Agassi’s charter school real estate venture certainly satisfies a need. School founders almost universally struggle to find adequate facilities. Often school districts are reluctant to rent out vacant school buildings to charters, who are sometimes seen as competitors. They occasionally have to locate in less-than-ideal learning environments, like a renovated strip mall.

The pitch from Agassi’s investors is something like this: “Let us build you a school. You focus on teaching. And if you want to buy the building from us in a few years, great.”

 Santa Monica-based investor Bobby Turner helped get Agassi on board.

“If you want to treat a problem in society, philanthropy is fine,” Turner says. “But if you want to cure – really cure – you need to harness market forces to create a sustainable solution. That means making money, because only then is it scalable. And by the way, there’s no rulebook that says you can’t make money and societal change at the same time. They’re symbiotic.”

But some parents don’t buy the sales pitch.

“It kind of makes my stomach turn,” says Brett Bymaster, a parent in San Jose where the Agassi-Turner fund has been active.

He’s taken it upon himself to dig into their business model, though one can only dig so far. While they’re building public charter schools, there’s very little disclosure, including what they charge tenants.

“We need to partner with people outside, but I don’t think the solutions to problems in my community are one-percenters getting filthy rich,” he says.

Bymaster wonders what happens to one of these buildings if the charter has to shut down, and many do. So far, all 39 schools built by the fund are still up and running. A spokesman says if one closed, the building could be rented to another charter operator.

Even among charter school advocates, there is some quiet suspicion of partnering with hedge funds. First, there’s cost. One charter founder said a deal with Agassi was 25 percent above any other option.

Jessica Johnson leads the Colorado-based Charter Schools Facilities Initiative and doesn’t take a position on for-profit investors.

“I mean, I know of many instances where it’s worked out really well. I know of others where there have been challenges,” Johnson says.

Johnson says plenty of charter schools have had trouble working with non-profits too. That’s why she cautions everyone to read the fine print, no matter who is helping build their school. 

Close To 100,000 Hungarian Demonstrators Protest Internet Usage Tax

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-29 14:11

Critics of the tax said this is a government attempt to create a "digital iron curtain" around Hungary. The government said it was just extending taxes it places on phones.

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As Infrastructure Crumbles, Trillions Of Gallons Of Water Lost

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-29 14:06

The nation's aging pipes and water mains are springing expensive leaks, wasting more than 2 trillion gallons of drinking water nationally and 22 billion gallons in the Chicago area alone.

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After The Waves, Staten Island Homeowner Takes Sandy Buyout

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-29 14:03

Stephen Drimalas fled his home as the storm hit, and it was badly damaged. Now he and some of his neighbors are selling their property to the state, which hopes to get people out of flood-prone areas.

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