Friday, September 2, 2011

Patt Morrison for Monday, Memorial Day, September 5, 2011


LABOR DAY, Monday, September 5, 2011

1-3 p.m.



1:06 – 1:19

Life in 9/12 America:  has the Constitution become a victim in the war on terrorism?

It’s relatively easy to look around the world and see how the attacks of September 11, 2011 have changed various countries.  Afghanistan has an ostensibly democratically elected government but has also endured 10-years of guerilla warfare and occupation by NATO forces; Iraq underwent a bloody invasion, a bloodier civil war and insurgency and now struggles with reduced violence but higher levels of uncertainty; Pakistan has become a very unstable and dangerous place.  But take a look around here at home and it’s harder to define the “war on terrorism” era that dawned after 9/11.  Preoccupation with terrorism and the possibility of new terror attacks on American soil has obviously been the most major consequence of 9/11.  But, as our guest Brian Michael Jenkins writes, “terrorism also provided a lightening rod for America’s broader anxieties and it has held a mirror to many of America’s enduring characteristics.”  The notion of the American rule of law has been repeatedly challenged in the way we have dealt with terrorism suspects, including American citizens.  The right to privacy has been challenged in the way the government eavesdrops on huge volumes of electronic communications, in the name of monitoring future threats.  American spirituality has undergone some tests, grappling with the sizable Muslim population in this country and arguments over Judeo-Christian ideals that govern the country’s laws.  All of the post 9/11 challenges deal directly with the perseverance and interpretation of the American Constitution and how the document has changed since the war on terrorism began.  Have we stayed true to American ideals in our new post-9/11 world?



Brian Michael Jenkins, senior advisor to the president of the RAND Corporation; author of the essay “The land of the fearful, or the home of the brave?”





1:21:30 – 1:39

Life in 9/12 America: have 10 years of war in Afghanistan, Iraq & Pakistan been worth it?

A development over the weekend in Pakistan seems to underscore the progress made in our decade-long war against al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001.  Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, al Qaeda’s top operational planner, was killed by an American aerial drone in the remote mountains of Pakistan, yet another elimination of a top al Qaeda member as the U.S. appears to be inflicting devastating losses on its nemesis since killing Osama bin Laden.  In 2001, the US military sent a limited number of personnel into the deserts of Afghanistan to cooperate with indigenous groups from across the region.  Within the year, they successfully toppled the Taliban and severely weakened al Qaeda’s presence. Having accomplished these victories, American forces turned in 2002 to another strategy, which would prove far less successful in the long term: reforming the “Graveyard of Empires” from the top-down, through stabilizing its central government institutions. From then on, the situation worsened: Afghanistan’s own police forces collapsed, al Qaeda grew again in strength, American casualties escalated, and billions more dollars were spent on the war as the months went by. Military advisor and future RAND scientist Seth Jones observed it all while on duty in Afghanistan, while also watching Pakistan become increasingly unstable and the painful lessons from the 9/11-inspired invasion of Iraq.  There have been unquestionable victories:  first elections in generations in Iraq and Afghanistan; the killing of bin Laden and the erosion of al Qaeda’s operational capabilities; the demonstrated incredible dexterity of the American military that’s been asked to perform every imaginable operation, from nation building to city destroying, since 9/11.  But have the immense costs been worth the victories?  As we continue to look at the post-9/11 world we ask whether our decade of warfare was ultimately worth all of the sacrifices.



Seth Jones, senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation; former representative & advisor for the commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations




1:41:30 – 1:58:30

Life in 9/12 America: does the quest for “absolute safety” from terrorism undermine long-term security?

In our first part of a week-long series examining the decade since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 we look at the quest for “absolute safety” in the wake of the biggest attacks on American soil in the history of the country.  Understandably in the years since 9/11 the public and political leadership have demanded action and urgency in building up a robust defense against future terror attacks.  Government agencies were reorganized, huge amounts of money and resources were put into action, large security projects were moved quickly from conception to implementation in an effort to protect the country as quickly as possible.  As our guest, RAND scientist Brian Jackson writes, “Fear drove action, and political rhetoric frequently stoked rather than cooled the flames of urgency.”  But short term concerns and fears are usually not the best circumstances under which long-term, complicated decisions should be made—from the formation of the Department of Homeland Security, that brought together various disparate security arms of the government, to the screening strategies of the Transportation Security Administration (also a brand new agency formed after 9/11), there’s been a lot of waste and questionable policy decisions made in the name of absolute safety in the decade since 9/11.  We examine the responses to 9/11 and ask if another 10 years of distance might cool emotions enough to craft more thoughtful anti-terrorism policies in the future.



Brian Jackson, senior physical scientist at RAND focusing on homeland security & terrorism preparedness





2:06 – 2:58:30

Education Summit: The Way Forward for Your Child’s Education and the LAUSD

Tough times and tough questions face the Los Angeles Unified School District: slashed budgets have caused teacher and staff layoffs, increased class sizes, and cancellation of arts and career training courses; test scores are low and drop-out rates high; conflict over evaluations threatens the relationship between teachers and the district; and it’s a constant challenge to reach parents who want to be involved but struggle with busy schedules or language barriers. With nearly 700,000 K-12 students in the second largest school district in the nation, all parties involved are feeling the urgent need for reform, though new measures under Superintendent John Deasy’s purview have bolstered confidence in the district’s seriousness about change. Officials, teachers, parents and students will face these challenges head-on as kids file into the classroom for the new academic year.


One issue likely to raises hackles and concerns on all sides will be the state of LAUSD’s delicate negotiations with UTLA over teacher contracts, evaluation, and rehiring. The statewide budget crisis led to sharp cuts in the beleaguered school district’s funding for next year, which in turn led to the layoffs of more than 3,000 teachers, furlough days and scrapped summer and extracurricular programs. Supt. Deasy has proposed a series of changes to existing employment contracts and is piloting a teacher evaluation program with more than 1,000 educators and 104 schools participating, in the hopes that its new procedures will yield more accurate indications of teaching quality and get the green light for implementation in the 2012-2013 school year. UTLA, which sought an injunction against the pilot program that fell through earlier this year, has yet to agree to the suggestions. Many of the teachers the union represents are especially opposed to the “value-added” evaluative approach, which incorporates student test scores into assessments of teacher quality. LAUSD and UTLA are also locked in a dispute over rehiring practices, which have been somewhat complicated by the mandates of a state bill called AB 114 and the expected loss of $100 million revenue that the district will sustain due to declining enrollment.


Obstacles to parental involvement in the school system will probably remain a cause for dissension too. The challenge of dealing with a prodigious bureaucracy and of communication between teachers and parents for whom English is not a primary language has limited parents’ engagement in their kids’ education and put some minorities at a disadvantage, advocacy groups say. Many parents are also upset over the transient nature of the various reforms that the district has put into effect over the years, wondering whether any of those steps truly improved their children’s education. And LAUSD’s students themselves, who face over-crowded classrooms and limited educational resources on a daily basis, cite bad teaching, ineffective disciplinary procedure, and the infrequency of communication between school staff, parents and teachers as further barriers to effective learning. With all of these conflicting views about what to change and how to change it, agreement seems like a distant possibility.


But despite the bleak situation, a few laudable improvements have brightened prospects for change in other sectors. The district has made some surprising gains in student achievement over the past year, with modest increases in standardized test scores and graduation rates that have left parents pleased and charter school reformists bewildered. Though LAUSD’s test scores still lag behind the statewide averages, a recent analysis conducted by the Los Angeles Times revealed that LAUSD schools’ results significantly superseded those of many underperforming schools that had been recently taken over by charter operations. Eight underperforming schools have been overhauled since Deasy became superintendent in April, while successful agreements with various employee unions over increased furlough days prevented about half of the layoffs expected for this year. The district has also revamped its school menu by banning sugary milk and introducing more vegetarian options in an effort to combat the nation-wide obesity epidemic, much to the approval of many parents and health organizations. Parents of LAUSD students scored a victory as well in the recent passage of the “parent trigger law,” which gives parents the power to petition for changes in staff and management at schools that consistently underperform. Since all of these changes taking place over the past year, could next year be packed with similar advances, or will district officials become mired in endless disagreement? With so many conflicting efforts for reform steep budget cuts in the mix, what does the future have in store for the nations second-largest school district? Which changes will be made first, and how will they satisfy those invested in Los Angeles public education system?




John Deasy, superintendent, Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD)



Monica Garcia, president, LAUSD Board of Education



Warren Fletcher, president, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA)



Pilar Buelna, former director of the Parent Information and Resource Center with the educational non-profit sector at Families In Schools, where she worked in partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District to promote parental involvement for increase student achievement.



Esthefanie Solano, 2011 graduate of Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, where she was in the School of Law and Government.



Jonathan Serviss
Senior Producer, Patt Morrison
Southern California Public Radio
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