February 13th: What's On Today's Show : Blog Of The Nation In the first hour of Talk of the Nation, how to close the achievement gap between rich and poor, and the opinion page looks at Syria. In the second hour, the U.S. Constitution, and remembering Whitney Houston.
NPR logo February 13th: What's On Today's Show

February 13th: What's On Today's Show

US Constitution replica arrangement with turkey feather quill pen and a golden scale below. James Benet/iStockphoto.com hide caption

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James Benet/iStockphoto.com

Income, More Than Race, Driving Achievement Gap
The gap between black and white students in the classroom that a generation of educators and policy makers worked to address, narrowed significantly over the past fifty years. That's the good news. The bad news: At the same time, the gulf between rich and poor students widened dramatically. Students from poor families are more likely to score lower on standardized tests, and less likely to finish college than students from families with more money. As wealthy parents spend more and more on their kids, several recent studies suggest that family income now serves as a better predictor of success in the classroom than race. The gap in test scores between rich and poor students now stands at double that of blacks and whites. Host Neal Conan talks with Amy Wilkins, of Education Trust, and with educators about what works and what doesn't to close the achievement gap between rich and poor.

The Opinion Page
Rebels in Syria today repelled an attack by government tanks after weekend fighting that activists said left nearly two dozen people dead. The Arab League on Sunday requested a joint Arab-U.N. peacekeeping mission for the country, which many experts say is rapidly heading toward civil war. But, U.N. intervention remains unlikely after Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for Assad to step down. While the U.N. remains divided, some are calling on the United States to take a more active role in stopping the violence. In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Daniel Byman asks: "Can we help Syria without making things worse?" Neal Conan talks with Byman on the Opinion Page.

Ginsburg: U.S. Constitution Bad Model
Last month, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told an Eyptian journalist that she "would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012." Her comments sparked controversy among legal scholars, which was further stoked by a new study that analyzed the constitutional provisions in 188 countries and found that the "U.S. Constitution appears to be losing its appeal as a model for constitutional drafters elsewhere." Host Neal Conan speaks with legal scholar Christina Murray, who was involved in writing the constitutions for South Africa and Kenya. Neal also speaks with two law professors about the ways in which the U.S. Constitution is or isn't an effective model for emerging democracies.

Whitney Houston--What Can We Learn From Her Life?
Whitney Houston "will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth," Mariah Carey said in a statement after the singer's death. The six-time Grammy Award winning singer was found dead Saturday afternoon at the age of 48. The cause of death is still under investigation. Houston's music topped the charts and inspired a generation of musicians, but in later years her personal life often generated more attention than her work. Host Neal Conan talks with bass player Matthew Garrison, who toured with Houston, about what it was like on that final tour, and with listeners about what we can learn from the life and death of Whitney Houston.