5 x 8: A report card of failure


The National Council on Teacher Quality released its report on the way we train people to be teachers in this country, an evaluation of more than 1,100 colleges and universities that train elementary and secondary teachers. It’s not good and for this, the report says, future teachers are spending an average of $116,000 to obtain their degrees.

Fewer than one in nine programs are preparing elementary teachers for state standards.

Says APM’s Marketplace:

Kate Walsh, president of The National Council of Teacher Quality, says one of the biggest problems is programs instructing would-be teachers to base their future curriculum on personal philosophy. These programs do not emphasize teaching methods based on known research and best practices.

“It’s almost like we were asking doctors to enter the operating room and come up with their own methods for the best appendectomy,” she says.

Steve Rivkin, a professor of economics at the University of Illinois, says the results of the report are not surprising. There is a long running debate over whether traditional teaching degrees make better teachers.

“There’s not rigorous evidence that those who’ve taken the traditional route, out perform those who don’t,” he says.

There at least 16 different groups that are partially responsible for or involved with the standards, accreditation, program content, and program approval of teacher preparation, says the Center for American Progress.

Gustavus, University of Minnesota Morris, University of Minnesota Duluth, and St. Thomas get three stars (out of four) in the report. The University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities gets only one star.

Twenty-five institutions in the country withheld their syllabi for examination by the group. Six of them were public colleges or universities in Minnesota.


Lanny Martinson, a Two Harbors-area native, was 24 when he was on patrol as a Marine Corps sergeant near Khe Sanh, Vietnam in 1968. His group got stuck in a minefield, two detonated, killing six and leaving Martinson wounded and missing a leg.

He was flown to California. His belongings, including his dog tags, were left behind.

Now, he’s getting his dog tags back, thanks to an Australian who didn’t give up looking for Martinson, and a well-connected motorcycle club.


Photo/Carleton College

Roy Grow has passed away and if you were a fan of the old MPR Midday program, you probably recognize the name. Grow, a Carleton College professor, died on Sunday. He was a frequent guest on Gary Eichten’s show. He specialized in Chinese and Japanese politics, but was a master historian of Asia.

He had retired just this spring.

Here’s a sample of the sort of quality analysis he provided during his many appearances on Midday. I believe this was his last appearance shortly before Eichten’s retirement.

“Roy was the real deal,” Gary Eichten told me last night in an e-mail. “He was a genuine expert on China and Asia but also, with his background in military intelligence, an expert on intelligence and military issues, especially guerrilla war, counterinsurgency, etc. More than his expertise, however, Roy will be remembered as a wonderful person: kind, generous, a man of great integrity with a marvelous sense of humor. One of the nicest people I have ever known.”


Why do men die sooner than women?

It’s no secret that women tend to outlive men, but NPR’s Robert Krulwich wonders why more men die in almost every age group.

Women, it turns out, don’t just win in the end. It seems that women consistently outlive men in every age cohort. Fetal boys die more often than fetal girls. Baby boys die more often than baby girls. Little boys die more often than little girls. Teenage boys, 20-something boys, 30-something boys — in every age group, the rate of death for guys is higher than for women. The difference widens when we hit our 50s and 60s. Men gallop ahead, then the dying differential narrows, but death keeps favoring males right to the end.

Is being a guy more dangerous? Not necessarily. He writes that it might come down to this fact: Males are weaker than females.


How did Amazon get to be Amazon? It created the “affiliates” (now known as “associates”) model in which the tiny company offered a piece of the action to bloggers and website owners who’d sell books on their site. The rest is history. Amazon got big, Jeff Bezos got filthy rich, and today Amazon said “goodbye” to the little people.

The company is upset with Minnesota for requiring online sellers to collect Minnesota’s sales tax. It sent emails to “associates” this morning canceling the program.

We are writing from the Amazon Associates Program to notify you that your Associates account will be closed and your Amazon Services LLC Associates Program Operating Agreement will be terminated effective June 30, 2013. This is a direct result of the unconstitutional Minnesota state tax collection legislation passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Dayton on May 23, 2013, with an effective date of July 1, 2013. As a result, we will no longer pay any advertising fees for customers referred to an Amazon Site after June 30 nor will we accept new applications for the Associates Program from Minnesota residents.

Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned prior to July 1, 2013, will be processed and paid in full in accordance with your regular advertising fee schedule. Based on your account closure date of June 30, 2013, any final payments will be paid by August 30, 2013.

While we oppose this unconstitutional state legislation, we strongly support the federal Marketplace Fairness Act now pending before Congress. Congressional legislation is the only way to create a simplified, constitutional framework to resolve interstate sales tax issues and it would allow us to re-open our Associates program to Minnesota residents.

We thank you for being part of the Amazon Associates Program, and look forward to re-opening our program when Congress passes the Marketplace Fairness Act.

Here’s an explanation of what it all means.

Bonus I: We’ve all seen it at stoplights. The car ahead of us rolls down the window and tosses the cigarette. Check out any intersection; they’re all there.

What to do about it? On Sunday, a group in Vancouver ran a pilot project that gave up to 10 cents per butt or $20 a pound to people who turned them in. Within half an hour, they gave away more than $200 in refunds. One organizer collected 300 butts in just 5 minutes and thinks a butt deposit is an idea with considering.

It takes 10 years for a cigarette butt to compost.

Bonus II: The Department of Small World. Kayak explorer Daniel Alvarez runs into a son of International Falls (Predictably Lost)

Bonus III: Twenty-four hours of Rock the Garden in 5 minutes.

Was the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan worth fighting?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Surveillance history and the law.

Second hour: A recent NYTimes article asked a number of authors to talk about the summer reading that changed their lives, and we wanted to bring our listeners and two great guests on to expand on the theme. Summer reading can often be the most memorable – long, hot afternoons reading a great novel in the backyard, or on the beach. What summer reading has stuck with you years after the fact, and why?

Third hour: Changing notions of masculinity.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): The lasting influence of JFK’s 1963 Berlin Wall speech. Speech excerpts and panel discussion from the JFK Library.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – TBA