5 x 8: Pay to play for public education


As schools face budget cuts, schools are asking more of parents, American Public Media’s Marketplace reports. It brings up the obvious question: Can K-12 education be free if kids — their parents, really — are required to pay up front?

Joanna Crane organizes a school supply drive for needy families at the Red Rock Area Community Action Program south of Des Moines. She says the bumped-up supply lists are starting in preschool now.

“Paper plates, and cups, and Clorox wipes and sanitizer,” Crane says.

Crane says it’s just too much for some families — like Christina Dale’s. The 29-year-old mother of three recently came in to the center to pick up free backpacks, pencils, and notebooks. Dale works full-time, but she says her children’s back-to-school needs can add up to hundreds of dollars she doesn’t have.

“Once you factor in the new school clothes, new shoes, the fact that they have to have a separate pair of shoes just for gym, and regular shoes to wear — it gets very expensive,” Dale says.

It’s high-tech, expensive stuff, too. Troy Harcey, associate superintendent of instruction for the La Crosse School District, tells the La Crosse Tribune the lists these days include flash drives or a pair of head phones to use on computers and iPads.

More education: Country Music Legend Dolly Parton's New Role: 'Book Lady' (PBS NewsHour)


Is it possible to predict who is at risk of suicide by keywords in what they post on social networks? Mashable is looking at the Durkheim Project, which is developing an opt-in system.

Currently, in the data collection phase, the process consists of passive observation. The project has to wait for clinical approval in order to actually intervene and signal that someone might need help — adding the “human in the loop,” Poulin said.

In the project’s next phase, he envisions automated intervention: “If they have a clinician, then the clinician will get the risk alerts for that individual.” For those who don’t have a clinician, the system would, in theory, alert a trusted family member or designated buddy.

“The buddy standing next to them is also the one that’s looking out for them digitally,” said Poulin, in a nod to the project’s military participants.

As a third option, if a person is alone, there may be a safety plan to remind him or her of factors to consider.

In addition to providing real-time analysis of who might be at risk, Poulin said he hopes the project can better inform the clinical community about the risks and language of suicide.


The controversy over the NPR ombudsman’s takedown of an NPR investigation into Native American children being removed from their homes, allegedly for monetary gain by South Dakota officials, is expanding.

Once Edward Schumacher-Matos released his 80-page report on NPR’s award-winning series, both sides stopped talking.

Yesterday, however, Richard Wexler, the former executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, blasted Schumacher-Matos work in his own 25-page report:

Over and over Schumacher-Matos assumes that keeping families together is risky and foster care is safe. He assumes that child safety and development and family preservation are at odds and must be “balanced.” It’s a common assumption among journalists when they first begin reporting about child welfare, and it is exactly the framework that agencies taking a lot of children prefer. But it is a false framework, reinforced whenever a high-profile death of a child “known to the system” makes headlines. Indeed, it used to be the near-exclusive framework at NPR – something discussed in more detail at the end of this report – until Laura Sullivan and Amy Walters set the record straight.

The framework is false. There is a wealth of evidence that in the overwhelming majority of cases seen by child protective services workers, including many in which those workers now resort to foster care, family preservation is the safer option – and the option that leads to significantly better outcomes for children.

Schumacher-Matos addressed similar concerns last week:

I received a phone call from Janice Howe, the determined grandmother who provides the , the part that I found so problematic. She was concerned that I was dismissing the ability of grandmothers to take in neglected grandchildren. Some state social workers, she said, did not give sufficient weight to the cultural role of grandmothers, or were duped by corrupt tribal officials, among other alleged complaints. She was insistent on Indian sovereignty on the reservation, but said that she, too, often called in state social workers to help in child welfare cases in which the extended family was not enough. She was nuanced in her comments to me. She was afraid that my report might undermine everything for which she has fought, and even gone to jail for.

I told her what I repeated often in my review and will say again here. I do not know the full truth about what is happening on the ground in South Dakota. My investigation focused on NPR’s adherence to its own journalism standards, not on the state, or the Indian Child Welfare Act, or government policy concerning Native Americans.


Shaina Briscoe's Facebook page

It’s been more than a month since Shaina Briscoe was badly injured in a collision with a car while bicycle racing through downtown Minneapolis. She’s still in a coma.

After weeks at Hennepin County Medical Center, she was transferred to a rehab hospital. Now, her father reports in an update on her Caring Bridge site, she’s ready to move to a nursing facility.

Progress: This has been a tough week – the waiting has been weighing on me and I find the end of the day arriving long before I’ve done the one thing I was supposed to have accomplished. (I’m grateful for people’s patience.)

If you’ve talked to me you know that I’m the skeptic in Shaina’s corner. Where other people see‘hopeful signs’ in her movements I see inconclusiveness. All this week we’ve been seeing tiny increments of wakefulness, but not responsiveness. Today I finally saw what I’ve been waiting for. This morning during PT Shaina squinted one eye shut and looked around with the other. The therapist & I wondered if she was trying to correct some double vision when both eyes don’t point in the same direction. This afternoon while sitting in her chair, Shaina opened both her eyes and looked at me. Her eyes followed me as I moved side-to-side.When I told her to look at the dog she looked down, and around, until she found Phoebe then followed her as she moved around the chair. At that moment the nurse came in the room, Shaina looked up both eyes wide, and tracked her for several minutes shifting her gaze on command. I call that responsiveness. “Awww yiss!”


Pioneer Press photographer Ben Garvin has an Internet hit on his hands with this video of him playing with his beard. It took, apparently, an incredible amount of time and attention to detail. Not just anyone can be an Internet sensation, despite what you may have heard.

Bonus I:Always Go to the Funeral (NPR)

Bonus II: ‘Miraculous community effort’ saves La Crosse man after heart attack.

Bonus III:
The Pioneer Press reports a Little Canada man is being ordered to stand trial for filming police and ambulance crews. It’s a growing “problem” for cops. It’s also a constitutional right, the ACLU says.

Bonus IV: How would you describe your town?

Bonus V:Marian McPartland, 'Piano Jazz' Host, Has Died (NPR)

Bonus VI: What’s it like to almost drown in space?

What is your best advice for people attending the Minnesota State Fair?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: How should people accused of low-level drug crimes be treated?

Second hour: The respectful conversation on guns.

Third hour: What really happened at Tim Russert’s funeral? Networking and ego stroking implies Mark Leibovich in his new book, “This Town”. Leibovich, a national correspondent for The New York Times, dishes on the politicking and the characters seen in Washington, D.C.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): From the Aspen Ideas Festival: David Rubenstein talks about the historical context for Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech– given 50 years ago next week.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – Diagnosing the annual medical checkup.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The civil rights movement in the 1960s left a legacy not just for African-Americans, but for today’s young, undocumented immigrants. Some Latino immigration activists see their reflection in images of the non-violent struggle from decades ago. NPR will report on a civil rights inspiration for a new generation.

One of the rural Minnesota places where residents are taking action to create a new sense of rural community is Milan, near the South Dakota border. The good news is an influx of immigrants is shoring up businesses and schools and keeping the playgrounds active. The bad news is it’s really hard to get health care. MPR’s Dan Olson will tell the story.