National / International News

Clegg outlines budget 'red line'

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-28 00:28
The Liberal Democrats will not enter into another coalition government unless an emergency "stability budget" is held within 50 days of the 7 May election, Nick Clegg has said.

How one high school is closing the AP gap

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-28 00:12
If anyone knows the halls and classrooms of Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Eastvale, California, it's Adan Esperza.

He’s been the head custodian at Roosevelt for nine years. Esperza's son and daughter know these halls, too. They're students at the high school — good students. Esperza, who was born in Mexico and didn't finish college, has big ambitions for them.

Earlier this year, he received some unexpected letters from the school.

"They said, 'Congratulations, your kid has been chosen to take AP courses at Roosevelt for next year,'" he says.

Esperza says the Advanced Placement courses students can take for college credit hadn't really been on his radar before then.

“I was actually proud to have two of my kids nominated for the program,” he says.

The letters were part of a broader effort by the school district to get more students into AP courses, especially overlooked low-income and minority students who have the skills to succeed.

Esperza has been at the school for many years, walks past AP classes every day and has kids with good grades. And yet, it took a letter from the school letting him know his kids were AP material.

Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Eastvale, California is working with Equal Opportunity Schools to reflect their diverse student body in their AP courses. (Courtesy of Eleanor Roosevelt High School)

Here’s how Jeremy Goins, the principal at Roosevelt explains that discrepancy:

“What it showed me," he says, "Is, 'wow,' even our own families, we don't necessarily advise them properly all the time. We look past that because our systems are in place, and that's the way it's always been done.

About 3,800 attend Roosevelt High. About half of them are Hispanic. But when it comes to AP classes, there are more white and Asian students than there are Hispanic and black students. Those groups are under-represented.

“Sometimes, we don't have systems to catch those kids that have a lot of potential, that aren't necessarily in the group of kids that typically take those high-achieving classes," Goins says.

To start catching those kids, Goin’s district brought in Equal Opportunity Schools, a non-profit that works with schools to help identify kids who are being left behind and help close the so-called participation gap.

"There are about two-thirds of a million missing students per year, who are low income, African American students, Latino students, who could be successful in AP classes, IB classes — the toughest classes in their school, if given that chance,” says Reid Saaris, EOS executive director.

But parents, like Esperza, aren't always aware of AP opportunities. Teachers don't think of some kids as "AP material." And many low-income and minority kids don't see themselves as AP kids.

“They may take a look in an AP class and say, 'That doesn't look like there's anyone who looks like me in there, I don't really belong,'" Saaris says.

EOS uses data to help change those perceptions, without trying to point fingers.

Federal Way school district in Washington increased the number of low-income and minority students taking advanced classes, while keeping exam pass rates stable. (Courtesy of EOS Schools)

"The conversations around race and class and assumptions, aren’t as hard as [you] might expect when you bring data to the table,” Saaris says. “Because it can be less about assumptions and more about what the data says.”

To get that data at Roosevelt, EOS staff surveyed all the students in the school, about their hopes and ambitions, and about whether they feel challenged in their classes.

They were asked questions about grit and perseverance. Teachers were asked which students they thought could succeed. Then EOS bundled up all that information, along with grades and test scores, and created a profile for each eligible student It looks almost like a baseball card, with a picture and performance stats.

Joelle Carreon is a 10th grade student at Roosevelt. Her card, she says, had five stars, "which meant that five teachers from this campus were encouraging me to take an AP class.”

Before he got his card, 11th grader Christian Esplana was already very involved in extracurricular activities. He had good grades and was planning for college, but he had never taken an AP class.

“It felt good knowing that I'm at a level that AP students are,” he says. “I have doubted myself before, but now I feel confident."

That's EOS's goal — to build that confidence, because research shows kids who take rigorous courses in high school have a better shot at getting into college, and a better chance of succeeding once they get there.

To get the word out, Roosevelt also held presentations about AP and “AP Rush Days" where potential students could talk to current students about the work load and other questions.

When it came time for registration? Counselor David Sánchez says it all paid off.

“I think because of their awareness, the conversations we're having with them, is much more, 'I've heard of these AP classes, I want to try it, I want to push for it,'" he says.

Next fall at Roosevelt, there will be 700 new spots in AP classes, and a 15 percent increase in the number of Hispanic and black students who registered for AP courses.

And, one of those students will be the daughter of Adan Esperza, the school’s head custodian.

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Interactive by Dan Hill and Cindy Santini

Asean concern over land reclamation

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-28 00:12
Land reclamation in the South China Sea, where China is building artificial islands, risks undermining peace regional leaders say.

Fan struck by flying baseball bat

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-28 00:09
A baseball fan was struck in the face by a flying bat and carried from the stands on a stretcher on Monday night.

VIDEO: New York turns lights off for birds

BBC - Tue, 2015-04-28 00:07
The state of New York is to turn off non-essential lights in state-run buildings to help migrating birds navigate routes in spring and autumn.

Gallery's 'fake' painting revealed

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-27 23:54
The identity of a replica painting, which was hung at Dulwich Picture Gallery as a challenge to visitors, is revealed.

On Their Own, The Afghan Army Takes The Fight To The Taliban

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 23:53

The Afghan army is now fully in charge of combat operations. NPR's Tom Bowman heads out on a mission with troops as they engage the Taliban in one of its strongholds near the Pakistani border.

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Miliband visits Brand 'for interview'

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-27 23:52
Labour says leader Ed Miliband was interviewed by Russell Brand - after he was spotted visiting the comedian and political campaigner's home.

Two Days Before Operation Babylift, 57 Children Were Evacuated To The U.S.

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 23:52

Despite controversy, a flight attendant and passenger say taking children out of Vietnam before the fall of Saigon in April, 1975, was the right thing to do.

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The Past Haunts The Present For Japan's Shinzo Abe

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 23:51

As Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to strengthen ties with America, he's facing tense times in his own neighborhood, mainly because of his views on World War II.

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'Ashley's War' Details Vital Work Of Female Soldiers In Afghanistan

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 23:49

A new book looks at the female soldiers who served alongside elite special operations units in Afghanistan in order to connect with a population that was off-limits to male soldiers: Afghan women.

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Emmy-Nominated Actress Jayne Meadows Dies At 95

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 23:32

Though best known as the wife of the beloved TV host Steve Allen — and the sister of Honeymooners star Audrey Meadows — Jayne Meadows had a solid career in her own right.

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Murder suspect due before judge

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-27 23:28
A man is due to appear in crown court charged with murdering a woman whose body was found dismembered in a flat.

'Fattest man' ready for operation

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-27 23:27
A man once dubbed the world's fattest speaks of his new "responsibility" as he awaits life-changing weight loss surgery.

Rings cinematographer Lesnie dies

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-27 23:16
Andrew Lesnie, Oscar-winning Australian cinematographer of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, has died at the age of 59.

VIDEO: Tiny village becomes Everest rescue hub

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-27 23:05
The small village of Lukla at the base of Mount Everest has become the centre for the rescue effort, following avalanches after the massive Nepal earthquake.

Three rescued from fire at flats

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-27 22:56
Three people are rescued from a fire at flats in Knocknagoney in east Belfast after they were trapped on balconies.

BP sees profit fall sharply to $2.1bn

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-27 22:54
Oil giant BP reports a sharp fall in profit to $2.13bn (£1.39bn) for the first quarter as the dramatic fall in oil prices takes its toll.

VIDEO: The $50,000 a night Las Vegas hotel

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-27 22:50
The richest fight in the history of boxing takes place on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Sewol captain sentenced for murder

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-27 22:33
An appeals court in South Korea finds the captain of the sunken Sewol ferry guilty of homicide and increases his sentence to life in jail.