Patt Morrison for March 10, 2010

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U.S. Department of Education studies up on LAUSD

The federal government’s Office for Civil Rights is launching its first major investigation into the LAUSD to find out whether the second-largest school district in the nation provides adequate services to students learning English. ESL students make up more than 220,000 students—about a third of the LAUSD. From their investigation, the office seeks to uncover policies and practices that result in a "disparate outcome" between ESL and non-ESL students. LAUSD superintendent Ramon Cortines says he welcomes the investigation, but other education experts question what power the government will have to change any disparities they do uncover. Enforcement options could include withholding federal money; more than 23% of the district's $7.16 billion operating budget comes from the federal government—but with the current budget crisis at hand, what can that change?
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"The Power of Half"

The American Dream… that pervasive idea that everyone in America should own a big house with a white-picket fence, a couple of dogs, a mini-van and raise two perfect children. Some people work their entire lives and never even come close to the dream. But the Salwen family had achieved the dream and then some when they decided to give up their mansion in Atlanta and give half the sale price to charity. Inspired by their 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, the Salwens did what most wouldn’t do, especially in this economic climate, and they did it in the name of charity. Hannah and her dad Kevin co-authored the book The Power of Half. They talk with us a little about their decision to give and how it’s changed their outlook on life.
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Bank of America says goodbye to overdraft fees

Remember the overdraft protection program Bank of America (and other banks) automatically enrolled their customers in (as a courtesy)? You know the one--you buy a $3.00 coffee with your debit card but don’t have enough in your account, the bank fronts you the money and then hits you with a $30 or $40 dollar overdraft fee. Well, that “service” didn’t go over so well with customers. Congress stepped in and instituted some changes (which take effect July 1) but not before banks made billions off the program. Now Bank of America says that as of June 19 (weeks before the federal regulations go into effect), they will no longer charge overdraft fees. So come June, if you try to buy a coffee and don’t have the money, you’ll be……..DECLINED (and it won’t cost you a thing).
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The prevalence of laptops in college classrooms has been hailed as good and bad. Students love it. They can type faster than they can write, AND they can surf the web during class! Professors across the country have figured that out and have started banning laptops in the classroom. On the flip side, smart phones are here to stay, so what good will a ban on laptops really do when students can just pull out their phones and check their email? And how will professors enforce this rule in larger classrooms? We talk to two professors about their views on the issue.
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