Over the years we've done stories about CPS, focusing primarily on failure and frustration. But when Rev. Meeks announced his intent to bus a bunch of kids from Chicago to a public school district just to the north, New Trier High School, the story became personal. I have two kids at New Trier this year. The school consists of two campuses, one strictly for freshman, the other for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. There is a football field, track, tennis courts, soccer field, and swimming pool used for PE and for athletics. Helping my kids decided what to take each year is like revisiting my college years. The courses offered include zoology, marine biology, advanced automotives, Hebrew, Chinese, sports and entertainment marketing, sequential art and animation. You get the idea.
What Rev. Meeks wanted to do is to point out what some kids in Illinois have access to, not to suggest they have to much rather to say other kids deserve more. He chose New Trier because it spends $17,000 a year per student – compared to $10,000 a year per student in Chicago just a few miles south.
If you're like me, you'll be shocked to hear that there are thousands of high-paying jobs out there – and no one qualified to fill them. Even more surprising: They are in the manufacturing sector! America's manufacturers are screaming to anyone who will listen that their obituary was written too soon.
While it's true nearly 5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost over the past three decades – nearly 3 million just since 2001 – the economic devastation caused by those jobs losses is huge; at the same time the higher-paying, highskill manufacturing sector has grown 37 percent. Seven million of these workers are nearing retirement, and amazingly, 90 percent of America's manufacturers say they are short qualified workers.
How can this be?
Midwest Teen Sex Show is meant to shock — and I was shocked by the blunt, breezy talk about teenage sex.
The podcast takes a subject most parents aren't real comfortable with and makes it "just another" part of growing up.
The three-to-five minute show tackles masturbation, homosexuality, and even changing in the locker room.
The statistics are pretty horrifying, 17% of Americans overweight or obese. And that's just the kids. Back in the 1960's it was only 4%. And since 80% of overweight kids grow up to be overweight adults, those kids' chances of ever being slim are, well, slim.
Forty years ago Dr. Kenneth Cooper introduced America to the idea of aerobics. Today the 79-year-old is banking his future reputation on saving America's kids. He just helped convince lawmakers in the 12th fattest state, Texas, to adopt his plan, which is called the Fitnessgram. It involves a series of tests to determine a kid's level of fitness, then calls for an exercise program to be put in place.
The call to introduce the Fitnessgram to Texas schools was backed by Senator Jane Nelson. The former school teacher says she was horrified by statistics that suggest 48% of Texans will be overweight by 2025. Her research found that Texas businesses are already shelling out $3.3 billion a year on obesity-related illness.
The Canadian dollar with its funny nickname, the loonie, used to seem like such an earnest currency -- trying hard but never able to muster much of a threat to the mighty U.S. dollar. And when the U.S. dollar was worth a dollar-forty Canadian, trips across the border were fun and a bargain. I came home with books, make-up, and clothes.
Now that the loonie has caught up with the U.S. dollar, everything has changed. The traffic that used to be travelling from the U.S. to Canada for bargains is now travelling to the U.S. from Canada. It's a proud moment for the even Greater White North, and a bruising moment for America's ego. In the last five years the dollar has fallen 37% against the Canadian looney, 23% against the British pound, and 30% against the upstart Euro.
The blame goes primarily to America's $580 billion trade deficit. Economist Martin Eichbaum of Northwestern University says that for years the US has been buying "real cool stuff" from other countries and paying for it with "pieces of paper with pictures of dead presidents." There is so much of our 'paper' out there it's becoming less desirable and therefore less valuable. The world markets want America to sell less and buy more. And lowering the value of the dollar against other currencies will do. Already foreign tourists are enjoying bargains at American malls and vacation resorts. This winter and next summer many American families will opt to vacation here at home.
Over time, experts say, the cost of imported products such as TVs and foreign cars will go up-- and we'll buy fewer of them. And with our dollar worth less on the world market our stuff- everything from tractors to planes to automobiles- will be easier to sell overseas. That's good news for beleaguered American manufacturers. The battering of the once almighty dollar might hurt our pride and feel like punishment but it will help our pocketbooks.
Sure I'd heard about Hannah Montana, what parent of a 'tween or even teenage girl hasn't? Her show is on TV and my teenage daughter watches, just like all her friends.
The phenomenon wasn't something I gave much thought to until my daughter came to me last week and told me tickets for the December Hannah Montana show were going for more than a thousand dollars on Stub Hub. She was hoping I had some pull to help find cheaper tickets. What? Tickets to a concert featuring a TV character?
I told my daughter that I don't have that kind of pull—and even if I did, I wouldn't/couldn't use it. Secondly, I wondered, isn't she a little old for Hannah Montana? Apparently not. She and her friends are fifteen - which is definitely the upper edge of the fan spectrum. Most of the gaga girls are between eight and 13. All but the very youngest know the real name of the singer - a term I use loosely - is Miley Cyrus; that she is 14-years-old and the real life daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus. Remember "Achy Breaky Heart"? But the girls still insist on calling her Hannah Montana; which is probably why Cyrus is singing part of her show as Hannah, the other part as Miley Cyrus.
All of the sudden I started noticing all the merchandise being sold with Hannah Montana's picture on it. There are t-shirts, purses, jeans, and PJs. Every year American tweens, there are 20 million of them, spend about 40 billion dollars. And help their families decide how to spend 110 billion more. This economic engine is bigger than most countries. Today's kids, perhaps more than any other generation, are the target audience. If you can hook a kid young, you can keep him for life. I may only buy a couple of dozen more pair of jeans. My daughter on the other hand will likely buy hundreds over the course of her life.
So, is it any wonder that big corporations want to tap into the "wealth" of little kids? I understand that, but that doesn't mean I'm going to buy my daughter tickets to Hannah Montana.
For months now financial experts have been warning us that the hot housing market was a critical component of the American economy, and we're finding out the hard way they were right.
A little over a year ago I was living in the house of my dreams. We borrowed 90% of the money needed to buy the house; 80% was a 10-year adjustable rate (ARM), and the remaining 10% was an adjustable rate that could go up at any time. For a while we were okay.
Then that Fed rate started going up, and so did our ARM. Over a five-month period it increased the cost of our monthly mortgage by nearly 40%! In retrospect we were lucky that we got in trouble making a monthly note back then and were able to get out without any permanent damage.
We rented a house while we sorted out our finances, and found a smaller house a bit further away from Lake Michigan, and we will try again. We still believe in the American dream -- but we realized that scaling back our dream makes it much easier to sleep at night.
When I was growing up they were called "weekend warriors." And one weekend a month I would see the National Guard tanks and trucks travel up and down the Alabama highway. The troops waved and I waved back.
When the Bravo Company of the Minnesota National Guard touched down at the Volk Field at Wisconsin's Fort McCoy, I got tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. This group of a 150 or so, that included students, teachers, local cops, and even a chiropractor, were coming home after 22 months of active duty. That's a long way from being a weekend warrior.
Waiting on the tarmac for them was one of their own, Sgt. John Kriesel. He stood determinedly on two artificial legs; his own were blown off in December when an IED hit his armored humvee outside Fallujah. Kriesel lost two buddies that day, 20-year-old Corey Rystad and 22-year-old Bryan McDonough, but he didn't lose his spirit. He came all the way from Walter Reed to greet his buddies and as each one walked by, they stopped to grip him. In so many ways he represents the heart and soul of each -and all- of the 2,600 Minnesota guardsmen who left so long ago, back in fall of 2005.
For the last year or so, I've become particularly attune to stories about teenagers killed in traffic accidents. Maybe it was because I have a teenage daughter or maybe it was because, for a while here in Chicago, it seemed every weekend there was another deadly crash. One accident that really got to me involved four high school boys who had sneaked out for a joy-ride. The four were spending the night together and borrowed the family car without the parents' knowledge. Police believe they were speeding when they hit a concrete light pole killing two of them. The parents had no way of knowing the teens had even left the house—until police showed up on their doorstep.
And that December night in 2005, 17-year-old Dan Noble and 16-year-old Robert Oakes became two of the 5,288 teenagers to die that year in car crashes. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety the risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16-to-19-year-olds than any other group. Per mile driving, teen drivers ages 16-to-19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash (IIHS 2006). Risk is highest at age 16. In fact, the crash rate per mile driven is twice as high for 16-year-olds as it is for 18-19-year-olds.
In one of life's grand coincidences I was asked to put together this piece on teenage driving on the very day my own teenage daughter began drivers' ed classes. Although she's driving very carefully so far, it's impossible to know what she will do when she turns 16 and gets her license --and I'm not in the car with her. Will she talk on the phone, or God forbid, try and text while driving? Or might she pick up friends without my knowledge? It's scary to even contemplate.
Our piece, produced by Mark Hooper, shows what happens when a pilot project put cameras into teenagers' cars-- cameras that took pictures looking out the windshield and back at the driver. Every time the teenager made a mistake such as slamming on the brakes, taking a turn too fast, or having an accident, the camera made a recording of it and the videos were then sent to parents who watched them with their kids. Parents were able to see if their kids were paying attention to the road and teens were able to see exactly "what went wrong." CBS News viewers can watch as well. Teenagers who participated say what they learned in the study proved to be eye-opening, and possibly life-saving. A few who were involved in accidents say having a video record actually served to help prove they weren't at fault.