Patt Morrison for August 23, 2010

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LA Times continues to school the LAUSD

Earlier this month the LA Times published an article examining 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, showing that teachers have greater impact on the success or failures of their students than anyone had previously acknowledged. On Sunday the Times published another installment in their education series – this time focusing on measuring student progress and the perhaps out-of-date focus on and so-called importance of the Academic Performance Index. Though many administrators in the district track the progress of students and teachers at their own schools there is no set standard to recognize and measure student growth. Is a school’s API scores an accurate representation of the level of education that school provides? Or should the focus be on how far a student improves over the course of the school year?
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The Tillman Story

You may remember the story of Pat Tillman, the bright, young professional football player from the Arizona Cardinals who chose to give up his career to join the Army Rangers shortly after 9/11. He was instantly lauded for his patriotism and willingness to sacrifice success at professional sports for the likes of a barracks and the desert of Afghanistan. Then, in 2004, Tillman was killed by friendly fire in the hills of Afghanistan, though the government initially claimed he and his unit had been ambushed by insurgent forces. A new documentary delves into the truth behind Pat Tillman's life, service and untimely death. Director Amir Bar-Lev is here to discuss the film and its themes of service, mourning, and true American heroism.
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Islamophobia in America

A new poll from TIME finds that 46% of Americans believe Islam is more likely than other faiths to encourage violence against nonbelievers. More head scratching, the same poll found that 24% of Americans believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim, which is actually an increase from his election year 2008. Is Islam a religion of hatred and war, as Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, says, or has a post 9/11 fear of anti-American violence stoked Islamophobia and brought it into the mainstream? We talk with TIME’s Deputy International Editor, Bobbie Ghosh, about the rising fear of Islam in this country.
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After the leaked photos of abused Abu Ghraib prisoners circulated throughout every media channel in 2004, a political scandal ensued with high-ranking officials denying the U.S. committed any sort of illegal torture in their interrogation tactics. Recent accusations include the army’s use of waterboarding on foreign prisoners. But while Karl Rove called waterboarding “appropriate” in the war on terrorism, the soldiers who worked at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have the psychological scars that say otherwise. Justine Sharrock’s Tortured: When Good Soldiers Do Bad Things reveals the inner torment of four American soldiers, who followed orders from the top to maintain an atmosphere of fear and to torture. They were told their actions were legal and for their country. So who is to blame for the torture? The soldiers who did as they were told or the politicians and top officials who orchestrated legal loopholes?
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