National / International News

Arne Duncan: 'Education beyond high school is absolutely necessary'

In an interview with Marketplace's Kai Ryssdal, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said new rules targeting vocational college programs that leave students with too much debt and too few job prospects were designed with "outcomes, not inputs" in mind.

"The worst-case scenario is when you go to college, accumulate debt, and then don't graduate," Duncan said. 

When asked if he thought everyone should go to college, Duncan said he believed everyone needed additional education beyond high school: "If young people drop out of high school today, they are basically condemned to poverty and social failure. There are no good jobs out there... the economy has changed." 

Duncan said the so-called "gainful employment rules" target middling-to-failing vocational education programs–most of which are offered by for-profit universities and community colleges–in order to provide meaningful post-secondary education across economic classes. 

The final draft of the rules released on Thursday relaxed some earlier provisions, drawing criticism from some education groups and for-profit education providers, who say their programs may be the only option for thousands of low-income students. Duncan said no programs will be shut down without "time to improve."

"We invest $22 billion each year in these programs,"  Duncan said referring to the federal financial aid that pays tuition for most students in for-profit programs. "We want to see strong programs grow, and expand and serve more students. And we want to see programs that aren't doing a good job either improve or cease to exist... Shutting them down is not our goal, but we will have that ability. It's when training is leading to jobs that don't exist, or where debt is unmanageable... that's what we're pushing back against."

The debt-load requirements in the new rules target only vocational training programs and schools. Duncan says the Obama administration has expanded investment in Pell Grants, pushed for broader state-led initiatives and encouraged universities themselves to fight higher tuition overall.  He - along with his boss - has also discussed a "more transparent" rating system, which, as one education official told the New York Times, should be a straightforward process, "like rating a blender." 

"I don't know whether that's the right analogy or not, but let me say this: We as taxpayers... we invest $150 billion in grants and loans each year to make grants and loans accessible. That's the right thing to do, if we are focused on outcomes.

You can listen to the interview on this evening's Marketplace, or on the audio player at the top of the page.

Nurse Kaci Hickox Takes A Bike Ride, Defying Maine's Quarantine

NPR News - 7 hours 24 min ago

Hickox, who returned to the U.S. after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, tested negative for Ebola upon her return, and she has no symptoms — so she says she poses no threat to the public.

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Obamas Head To Connecticut As Tight Governor's Race Nears Close

NPR News - 7 hours 25 min ago

Incumbent Dannel Malloy and Republican rival Tom Foley are neck and neck; the race is so close that both the president and first lady will visit the state in the next few days. NPR's Melissa Block talks to Hartford Courant political reporter Daniela Altimari about the race.

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The Campaign That Seems More Crime Drama Than Congressional Race

NPR News - 7 hours 30 min ago

When he was an undercover FBI agent, Michael Grimm adopted the persona of "Mikey Suits" to catch alleged mobsters. Now a congressman from Staten Island, Grimm is the target of tax evasion charges.

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Watchdog Says Feds Shouldn't Have Let Man Take Grenade Parts To Mexico

NPR News - 7 hours 31 min ago

The case, in which agents watched a man to go through with potentially illegal, is reminiscent of the gun-walking scandal that plagued the ATF for years.

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Watchdog Says ATF Shouldn't Have Let Man Take Grenade Parts To Mexico

NPR News - 7 hours 31 min ago

The case, in which agents allowed a man to go through with potentially illegal behavior to try to catch bigger fish, is reminiscent of the gun-walking scandal that plagued the ATF for years.

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Ebola aid ship docks in Sierra Leone

BBC - 7 hours 39 min ago
UK ship RFA Argus, which is carrying medical supplies, equipment and vehicles, arrives in Sierra Leone to help deal with the Ebola outbreak.

Hopes rise as RFA Argus arrives

BBC - 7 hours 47 min ago
The BBC's Africa correspondent Andrew Harding witnesses the arrival of the British ship RFA Argus carrying aid and supplies to Ebola-hit Sierra Leone.

Prince Harry supports poppy appeal

BBC - 8 hours 19 min ago
Prince Harry meets poppy sellers and celebrities at Buckingham Palace on the first stop of their tour of London in a classic 1960s Routemaster bus.

Medicare Concedes, Agrees To Pay For Woman's Home Health Care

NPR News - 8 hours 27 min ago

A 78-year-old Vermont woman has won the latest skirmish in her long-running battle with Medicare. The agency agreed to pay for home health care coverage even though she remains disabled.

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Long-serving Boston mayor dies

BBC - 8 hours 35 min ago
Thomas Menino, who served as mayor of Boston for more than 20 years, has died after a battle with cancer.

The Place Where Rutherford B. Hayes Is A Really Big Deal

NPR News - 8 hours 38 min ago

The 19th U.S. president didn't leave much of a legacy at home. But in Paraguay, he's a hero, credited with helping save the nation after a disastrous war with its South American neighbors.

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VIDEO: Tower poppies artist hails volunteers

BBC - 8 hours 55 min ago
The artist behind a project to place almost 900,000 ceramic poppies around the Tower of London says he is surprised and happy that so many people have "taken it to heart".

Unlikely Marriage Of Diseases: TB And Diabetes Form A 'Co-Epidemic'

NPR News - 9 hours 1 min ago

The risk of developing tuberculosis soars when someone has diabetes. The threat of a double pandemic is a challenge for the medical profession, where different docs typically treat each disease.

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VIDEO: On the buses with Prince Harry

BBC - 9 hours 3 min ago
Prince Harry meets supporters of the British Legion's London Poppy Day Appeal at Buckingham Palace.

The World Series MVP got a recently recalled truck

 In a classic "good news, bad news, good news" situation, the San Francisco Giants won the 2014 World Series, and pitcher Madison Bumgarner won the MVP award.

His prize was a 2015 Chevy Colorado truck, which was recalled a couple of weeks ago by GM for faulty airbags. GM caught most of them before they left the assembly plant.

So good news: Bumgarner is going to be fine.

Tim Cook and the diversity problem in the C-suite

Apple CEO Tim Cook became on Thursday the first Fortune 500 CEO to be out, in public, as gay.

"I'm proud to be gay," he wrote in a Bloomberg Businessweek op-ed, "and I consider being gay one of the greatest gifts God has given me."

"Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one’s sexuality, race, or gender,” he continued. 

But while we can see signs of that progress all around us, there's still a long way to go — especially when it comes to the C-suites of companies like Apple. 

Tim Cook is, after all, a white man — like more than 90 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and less than 35 percent of all Americans. 

"It does not reflect at all the population," says Vanessa Cárdenas, who focuses on changing demographics at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress.

By 2050, according to her projections, the majority of Americans will be people of color and the majority of the workforce will be women. Why don't we see that diversity among our corporate leadership? 

"We’d all like to know that answer," says Donna Dabney, executive director of the Governance Center at the Conference Board.  "I think we need to focus on what happens at the middle level: the middle management level."

Dabney says women make up 40 percent of the workforce, but only 15 percent of C-suite executives. One problem: "Men tend to get sponsored, and women get mentored," Dabney says. 

Advice is nice, but having someone actively advocate for you is more critical for advancement. 

Another problem is just getting on the ladder in the first place.

"We know that Fortune 500 companies often target their recruiting at elite colleges," says Alexandria Walton Radford, who directs the Transition to College program at RTI International. "And because we know that lower-income students are underrepresented at elite colleges as are Hispanic and African-American students, that just affects this pipeline."

The overriding theme is that altering the diversity picture requires stepping outside your comfort zone. 

"What really plays into this whole equation, and why I think we have such a huge gap, is because of unconscious bias," says Dr. Shirley Davis, president of SDS Global Enterprises. 

Even where explicit racism is absent, people tend to pick people like them--to hire and to help them advance. The vicious cycle has helped the top levels of corporations remain much less diverse than the country as a whole. 

"The typical profile of a corporate executive, CEO or board of director is a white male in his late 40s or 50s that’s straight," says Davis.

On that last score, at least, Tim Cook just shifted the needle.

The biggest smartphone maker you've never heard of

When it comes to the global smartphone market, everybody knows about Samsung and Apple. But do you know who number three is?

Xiaomi, an upstart Chinese company you’ve probably never heard of, has taken the smartphone bronze, based on sales this summer. It edged past players like LG on the way.

“So far, Samsung still remains number one. Number two is Apple. But now Xiaomi is number three,” says Linda Sui with the research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics.

Analysts say this growth is incredible, given that Xiaomi only sold its first phone three years ago. The Chinese company has passed Samsung and Apple in China, and sold between 17 and 18 million phones in Asia last quarter.

“Because it’s only within Asia, that’s a huge number,” says Ramon Llamas with IDC.

He adds that these phones are “feature-packed, easy to use and rather inexpensive. And that really appeals to millions and millions of users. And here’s the scary thing: It’s just getting started.”

Xiaomi is expanding in India, with an eye on Brazil, Mexico and more countries in Southeast Asia. But not the U.S. — yet.

“You cannot jump from the Chinese market straight to the U.S. markets,” says Boris Metodiev, a research manager with 451 Research.

Customers in emerging markets prioritize cost and value, he says, while customers in the U.S. tend to stay loyal to brands like Apple.

So Xiaomi has to keep growing.

“Conquering step by step the developing markets,” Metodiev says. “And once their name becomes more and more popular, then they will eventually move to the U.S. markets, to the West European markets, and so on and so forth.”

Even if Xiaomi continues to expand, it might not hold onto the number three spot. That’s because its competition just grew. Lenovo announced today it has completed its acquisition of Motorola Mobility.




Iraqi Kurd fighters 'enter Kobane'

BBC - 9 hours 5 min ago
An advance party of 10 Iraqi Kurd fighters have entered the Syrian border town of Kobane to join the battle against Islamic State militants, activists say.

What A Brush With SARS Taught A Doctor About Ebola

NPR News - 9 hours 13 min ago

A young doctor put on a protective suit so he could examine a man who might be sick with SARS. It was hard to tell who was more frightened: the doctor or the patient.

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