This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. The age of eight or nine, when kids complete third grade, represents a key turning point. Up until then, children are learning to read. Afterwards, they read to learn. Many educators believe that kids who can't read should be held back, and several states use standardized tests. Kids who don't pass are automatically held back, or retained.
Philadelphia's school district plans to close a quarter of its school buildings in coming years to eliminate a huge budget hole. But parents and activists don't trust the decision-makers. Many of them suspect the plan is a ruse to force charter schools and privatization on the district.
A study indicates just half of college graduates, from 2009 to 2011, are finding work within a year. In the meantime, most grads have student loans to replay. Tim Maurer, a financial adviser in Hunt Valley, Md., talks to David Greene about the high cost of getting a college degree.
It sounds like a typical American success story: A young boy becomes an academic standout, an Eagle Scout and high school valedictorian. Later, he attends college and then law school, all on full scholarships.
But Jose Godinez-Samperio's story is not typical. He's an undocumented immigrant from Mexico — and now he's fighting to be admitted to the Florida bar.
Godinez-Samperio was just 9 years old when he came to the U.S. with his parents. They entered the country legally, but overstayed their visas and settled in the Tampa area.
Clarise McCants and Patrick Johnson, both undergraduates at Howard University, are running late — they're on their way to join students from California and Ohio who've come to Capitol Hill to deliver a message to Congress: Don't let the interest rate on federal Stafford loans double in July.
The U.S. Senate took up the issue with competing proposals Tuesday. The Democratic proposal, which would have frozen interest rates at 3.4 percent, was blocked by a 52-45 vote.
Graduation is supposed to in part be about celebrating the future, but last year in Joplin, Mo., shortly after the high school graduation ceremony, an EF-5 tornado — the highest-strength rating — destroyed one-third of the city and killed 161 people, including one teen who had received his diploma that day.