Five by 8 – 4/30/10: Kayla’s story


1) Kayla VanDyke, a high school senior in Eagan, testified before a Senate committee in Washington yesterday. She’s recommending more support for students who are in the foster care system, recounting her story of living with nine different families, being homeless at one point, and missing fourth grade entirely. She’ll graduate next month with a 3.7 GPA and has been accepted to Hamline, where she intends to pursue a degree in psychology.

“One of the most difficult things I have faced while in foster care is displacement. Not having a place to call your own can cause a lot of doubt,” she said. “As soon as I would become adjusted, I was moved to a new home and sometimes a new school. I had to make friends at my new school while trying to hold on to my old ones.”

No doubt there are serious systemic problems in the American education system, but listening to her story provides another opportunity to pursue an age-old question about what makes us us? What is it about Kayla, faced with significant burdens, that allowed her to succeed while another person, with far less impediments to a good education, may not?

She provided a clue in her testimony. Somewhere out there, there’s an unnamed hero:

“Later in fifth grade, I started receiving help from a counselor who donated her time to the shelter where I lived. She helped me overcome a lot of the emotional pain I had been experiencing as a result of my homelessness and educational struggles. In turn, I began feeling more comfortable at school and became engaged in activities. Not only did she guide me, but she also helped me gain access to resources like scholarships for summer camp – I ended up going to the YMCA camp and for once just feeling normal.”

You can watch her entire story here. Scroll ahead to the 63:36 point. It’ll be an inspirational start to your day.

2) A new racial divide? African Americans are trusting “government” more at the same time whites appear to be trusting it less.

“It’s sort of the countertrend to what we’re seeing with a lot of the anti-government demonstrations,” says Pew Center Associate Director Carroll Doherty.

“It’s not that African-Americans are entirely content with government,” Doherty says, “but the way the trends are among whites, African-Americans stand out as having a less negative view of government currently than whites do certainly.”

So which “side” is it that knows something the other doesn’t?

3) The Minnesota Republican Party convention is underway. MPR live coverage begins at 9. The party’s platform can be found here. There’s not a lot there that hasn’t been well discussed before but this insertion (in bold) is relatively new.

The Republican Party of Minnesota believes that there should be real welfare reform,which would require all able-bodied recipients to work in order to receive benefits, stop the practice of offering cash incentives for unmarried recipients to bear children, and require proof of legal in-state residency and random drug tests as a condition of receiving aid.

How does that square with this statement earlier in the platform?

As Republicans, we respect personal privacy and personal property.


4) How does someone wake up in the morning, read the news and think, “hey, that stabbing of kindergarteners seems like a great idea. I think that’s what I’ll do today.”? That’s the situation in China, which is beset by copycat attacks on kindergarten kids. Yesterday, about two dozen of them were stabbed in one man’s attack. Today, the New York Times reports, a man broke into a primary school in eastern China and beat five preschool children with a hammer before setting himself afire.”

This would present a problem for the media, if China’s media weren’t already state-run. To cover these killings or keep them secret to prevent more copycats?

5) What sound screams Minnesota to you? MPR is about to offer an app that turns your iThingy into an audio recorder. We’ll be asking you to submit the sounds that best describe your world, and invite you to also record a short explanation of why you chose the sound. I can see the Duluth lift bridge siren, a ship’s horn in the canal in Duluth, a bald eagle flying over Red Wing, a tractor heading off for a day of plowing, a wind turbine.

Here’s mine. You’ll need headphones:

  1. Audio not found

I get up early, before dawn. The minute I stick a foot on the floor, I have to listen for the birds; it’s the only thing that makes getting up enjoyable. It’s not a sound you can’t find anywhere else — it’s just cardinals and chickadees and mourning doves — but it’s the only time when I get to subject my ears to something other than the cacophony of people.

Here’s more information on the app.

Bonus: A nasal spray can make men more sympathetic and cuddly.


The 2010 Minnesota Teacher of the Year will be named this Sunday. In your view, what qualities make a great teacher?


We’re trying to put together a News Cut quiz. Check back around mid-afternoon.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: GOP convention coverage.

Second hour: GOP convention coverage.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: GOP convention coverage.

Second hour: GOP convention coverage.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – It’s Science Friday. First hour: The Cape Cod wind project.

Second hour: A look at the cutting edge in biofuels and bioenergy, from milking green algae for oil to harvesting electricity from bacteria in the mud.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Another installment in the light-rail series from MPR’s Laura Yuen. If the project were being planned today under a more transit-friendly administration, would the project look any different? Find the series here.

Opponents of Arizona’s immigration reform measure rally via a multi-city caravan in southeast Minnesota today. Another rally will be held on Saturday in Minneapolis. MPR’s Elizabeth Baier will report.

Of course, throughout the day we’ll have the latest on the disaster on the Gulf Coast.