March 11, 2009

Pt 1: Justice Brownstone - Earlier this week, a teenager stood up in a courtroom in Brampton, Ontario and asked a judge to let him take charge of his two younger brothers. He said he wanted to get his brothers out of the middle of a decade-long war between his mother and father.

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Pt 2: Happy Birthday Osama Bin Laden - The most wanted man in the world turns fifty-two years old this week.

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Pt 3: Pay For Brains - If you're a parent or a teacher, you've probably struggled with how to motivate your children to do well in school. Praise is nice. Encouragement certainly helps. And the promise of future rewards never hurts. But how about cold, hard cash right now. In the face of high drop out rates, low literacy levels and a growing gap in achievement between rich and poor families, a growing number of schools in the United States have begun paying their students for good grades. They say it's an innovate approach that is showing good results. And educators across North America - including Canada - are paying attention.

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It's Wednesday March 11th.

The Dalai Lama told Taiwanese television that he would not seek reincarnation after his death.

Currently, insurance giant AIG promised not to pay on his insurance policy unless he gives it the old college try.

This is The Current.

Justice Brownstone -- Family Court

Earlier this week, a teenager stood up in a courtroom in Brampton, Ontario and asked a judge to let him take charge of his two younger brothers. He said he wanted to get his brothers out of the middle of a decade-long war between his mother and father.

Observers have described a case of warring parents using their children as weapons against each other. It's about as nasty a family dispute as you could imagine. But it may be that it's just an extreme version of what Harvey Brownstone sees every week.

He's a provincial court judge at the North Toronto Family Court. So he sees more than his fair share of family disputes. They can be toxic experiences, especially for children. And that's why Justice Brownstone has decided to speak out about what he's seen from behind the bench. His new book is, Tug of War: A Judge's Verdict on Separation, Custody Battles and the Bitter Realities of Family Court. And proceeds from the sale of his book are going to the Children's Wish Foundation and other children's charities. He joined Anna Maria in Toronto.

 

Happy Birthday Osama Bin Laden

The most wanted man in the world turns fifty-two years old this week.

Ever since the attacks of 9/11, Osama bin Laden's birthday has been greeted with a complicated mix of anger, frustration, and embarrassment - along with the occasional note of glee from those who continue to support him. But this year -- as Osama bin Laden settles into middle age -- the reactions have been more muted. And it turns out that Osama bin Laden's standing among Muslims around the world is slipping.

Steven Kull is the Director of WorldPublicOpinion.org at the University of Maryland. Every year, he helps conduct a series of surveys and focus groups in a number of predominantly Muslim countries. Among other things, the surveys measure attitudes to terrorism, the United States, Al-Qaeda and the birthday boy himself. The group's latest findings were released late last month. Steven Kull joined us from Bethesda, Maryland.

And Osama bin Laden is viewed with a lot less ambiguity in the West. But according to Moustafa Bayoumi, Bin Laden has played a significant and problematic role in shaping the way Americans think about Arabs and Muslims. He's an English professor at the City University of New York's Brooklyn College. He's also the author of, How Does It Feel To Be A Problem? -- Being Young and Arab in America. Moustafa Bayoumi was in New York City.

 

Pay For Brains

If you're a parent or a teacher, you've probably struggled with how to motivate your children to do well in school. Praise is nice. Encouragement certainly helps. And the promise of future rewards never hurts. But how about cold, hard cash right now. In the face of high drop out rates, low literacy levels and a growing gap in achievement between rich and poor families, a growing number of schools in the United States have begun paying their students for good grades. They say it's an innovate approach that is showing good results. And educators across North America - including Canada - are paying attention.

Manley Career Academy High School in Chicago is one of the schools offering cash for good marks. Sean Stalling is the school's principal and he's in Chicago. Good morning!

Here in Canada, only a few communities have embraced the idea of money as a motivator. Last year the Long Plain Reserve -- about an hour west of Winnipeg -- decided to pilot a program that would pay high school students 50-dollars-a-month for good attendance. Students will also get a thousand dollars when they graduate. And the money comes from First Nations businesses, not the school budget.
So we asked some of the high school students what they think of the program.

But there are people who think that cash incentives for students are a bad idea. David Langford is among them. He's a former teacher and the co-author of "Orchestrating Learning with Quality." He was in Molt, Montana.

Sasha Sidorkin thinks that paying kids to learn is a great approach. He's the Director of the School of Teacher Education at the University of Northern Colorado. He's also the author of, Labor of Learning: Market and the Next Generation of Education Reform. He was in Greeley, Colorado.

Last Word - Lawyer Doc Promo


In the days ahead on the Current, we will delve further into the issue of self-representation - going to court without a lawyer. We ended the show with a preview of a documentary Ian Clayton is working on. It's called Last Lawyer Standing.

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