Letters: Changes In The Military, Job Market

Listeners comment on past Talk of the Nation show topics, including their takes on changes coming to the U.S. military, like women serving on submarines. And other listeners shared their decisions about whether or not they plan to move for work.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

It's Tuesday, and time to read from your emails and Web comments.

Some big changes are on the way for the U.S. military. Women will soon serve on submarines, and the smoking lamp will be out permanently. We talked last week about the culture of the Armed Forces. Lieutenant Justin Grove wrote to tell us that some changes are harder to deal with than others. As a submarine officer of five years, I found that more sailors are upset about banning smoking than admitting women. It will be a tough cultural change just like it was with surface combatants, but the submarine force is extremely professional and will deal with this change as such. This move will open up recruiting to one of the most selective and hardest-to-man components of the military. And by man, we assume, he means women, too.

We know the job market remains tough. A week ago, we were reminded of just how tough. Joel Kotkin and Michael Shires shared their annual list of the best and worst cities for jobs. In 2009, only 13 metro areas showed any signs of growth. Many of you, recent grads and longtime workers alike, plan to move for work.

Judy(ph) emailed to tell us: We're on our 60s. My husband was in the midst of getting laid off when he received a very nice job offer in a small city in central New York. We're happy to both be employed and have health care. Never in a million years did I think at this time of life, I would be moving across country for employment.

Another listener, Kevin Vale(ph), plans to stick close to home - a lesson, he explained, he learned the hard way. In 2007, I relocated to take a job. In 2009, I was laid off. We were 1,800 miles from any family or friends who could help us in any way. This may have been our biggest lesson learned. We have never felt so helpless as we did when we were on an island by ourselves. From here on forward, we will not be taking any jobs that are not within reasonable driving distance of our support system.

One job, in particular, sits at ground zero in the debate over fixing America's schools: teachers. We talked with Doug Lemov last week about some of the techniques he uses to make great teachers. His book "Teach Like a Champion" focuses on classroom management.

Nancy Gray(ph) argued: That's not enough. I hear all the time that teachers don't have high-enough expectations of their students, and I agree. Some teachers do not. I had very high expectations, but I only saw my students for 47 minutes each day, 180 days out of the year. I had little control over the other, 23-plus hours in their lives. To judge teachers solely on the achievement of their students is not a fair measuring stick. There is so much more to student achievement than just their teachers.

Finally, after we geeked out yesterday with Glen Weldon, NPR's comic book blogger, Rebecca Crowe(ph) emailed from Gig Harbor, Washington, to tell us: That review of "Iron Man" has got to be the nerdiest thing I've ever heard on TOTN, and it made me laugh. Such enthusiasm and so much geeky comic book knowledge -you did do the disclaimer at the start; I'll give you that. Thanks for the grin that's still on my face.

Glad you enjoyed it. On Thursday, we'll talk with the writers of a new comic, "Kill Shakespeare." Tomorrow, by the way, is not only new comics day, but appointment listening with the Political Junkie. Four primaries and what may be two political funerals, you can follow me also on Twitter @NealConan, all one word. But the best way to reach us if you have comments, questions or corrections, is by email. The address is talk @npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from, and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

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