Patt Morrison for August 16, 2010

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After the L.A. Times obtained test score data from the LAUSD on elementary school classes throughout the district and ran their analysis of how students performed under various teachers, the results were shockingly definitive: more than the socioeconomic background of the students, more than the quality of the school, more than the surrounding neighborhoods, more than even the English language skills of the students themselves; more than any other factor in predicting a student’s success in school, the quality of the teacher was the main determinant of whether a student will develop or regress. The L.A. Times examined the performance of more than 6,000 third-through-fifth grade teachers using “value-added” analysis that used standardized tests as the measure of achievement, a measuring stick that is not without its own controversies. If the results are to be believed it shows that teachers have greater impact on the success of failures of their students than anyone had previously acknowledged, which is sure to drive the debate on major school reforms.
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South Carolina helps you stomach the cost

Attention: are you obese, and do you work in a government job and live in South Carolina? Well if you said yes to those questions, do we have a surprise for you, courtesy of the good tax-payers of the Palmetto State. In an attempt to curb the state’s growing obesity problems, starting in January, South Carolina will cover gastric-bypass surgery through its state health plan. As of now, they will only be covering 100 people statewide, on a first-come first-served basis, but many people think that this will only scratch the surface. Obesity rates in South Carolina have doubled since 1990 with 30 percent of adults being defined as overweight. Has the obesity epidemic expanded to the point that we'd rather use an invasive procedure than take small steps earlier for prevention? And is obesity becoming the new alcoholism, a problem once associated with morals that’s now being pathologized?
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The 99er club

What do you do when you’ve been out of work so long that you’ve maxed out your unemployment benefits? You become a member of the “99er” club. It’s what a growing number of the jobless are calling themselves now that they have exhausted their 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. Many of their members, once gainfully employed and enjoying a middle-class lifestyle, are now confronting their bleak and often hopeless economic realities. Some are pushing Congress for help, but the political landscape—Republicans are reluctant to extend benefits for fear of increasing the national debt—makes the likelihood of getting federal assistance seem slim to none. So what are the options and the real-world ramifications of long-term unemployment? And what is the psychological toll one pays for membership in the 99er club?
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Rosanne Cash 'composes' her musical life in memoir

With Johnny Cash as her father and over 14 albums under her belt, it’s no doubt that music runs through Rosanne Cash’s veins. In her new memoir Composed, Cash recounts her childhood, marred by her famous father’s routine absence and drug use, and her rise to country music fame. “Composed” is a collection of memories that highlight her life, constantly surrounded by music, and her relationship with her father and his second wife, June Carter Cash. Patt talks with Rosanne about her transition from “Johnny Cash’s daughter” to a country music star. *Rosanne will be speaking tonight at 7:30 at The Saban Theater as part of the American Voices Series. She will also be signing copies of her book tomorrow night at 7 at the Borders in Torrance.
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