(CNN Student News) -- March 16, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: I'm Carl Azuz and this is CNN Student News. Coming up in just a bit, a prom story we know you're gonna want to talk about. First up though, we're checking out some political headlines.
AZUZ: President Obama is pushing for a major overhaul of the No Child Left Behind law. The goal of the education law -- it was passed in 2002 -- was to improve math and reading scores and use standardized tests to measure the progress. Some folks, including President Obama, criticized how the law worked. When he was running for president, Obama said No Child Left Behind had the right goal, but also had significant flaws. Education Secretary Arne Duncan talked recently about what he thinks didn't work and what needs to be changed.
ARNE DUNCAN, U.S. EDUCATION SECRETARY: The previous law was too punitive, it was too prescriptive, it led to a lowering -- a dumbing down -- of standards that led to a narrowing of curriculum. We have to reverse all that. We have to have a high bar: college and career-ready standards for every single child. We have to reward success, reward growth. We have to make sure that local educators have the flexibility they need to do a great job educating. We have to raise the bar for every single child. We have to make sure we have a well-rounded curriculum and, most importantly, we have an unprecedented investment in education as part of the president's plan.
AZUZ: The way that the Obama administration wants to do all that is by revising some parts of the education law. Under the changes, high-performing schools would be rewarded. And low-performing schools -- the bottom 5 percent -- would have to take action to turn around their results. This proposal has its share of critics, too, including a couple of major teacher's groups. The president of the American Federation of Teachers says this proposal puts "100 percent of the responsibility on teachers and gives them zero percent authority."
Health Care Push
AZUZ: Health care is getting a hard push from the president this week. We mentioned yesterday that he postponed a trip overseas to work on getting Congress to pass a health care reform bill. Part of the president's plan is to rally public support. At an event in Ohio yesterday, the president talked about some of the individuals who've been affected by increasing health care costs and why he thinks it's time for his reform plan.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I'm here because of the countless others who have been forced to face the most terrifying challenges in their lives with the added burden of medical bills they can't pay. I don't think that's right. Neither do you. That's why we need health insurance right now. Health insurance reform right now.
AZUZ: Republicans argue that the president's plan won't do much to bring down medical costs, and that his ideas about reform are not the right ones.
REP. TOM PRICE, (R) GEORGIA: The phrases that he uses are often times the right ones, but when you get down into the details though, it means the government is going to control what's happening in health care. We don't believe that's what the American people want.
AZUZ: Finally, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. says the relationship between Israel and the U.S. is the worst it's been in 35 years! A lot has led up to that statement. Vice President Joe Biden went to Israel last week. He talked about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but he also emphasized the close ties between the U.S. and Israel. While the vice president was there, Israel announced that it was building new settlements in East Jerusalem. That is a disputed territory between Israelis and Palestinians, and these settlements are a big part of the tension between the two groups.
Vice President Biden spoke out harshly against Israel's decision to build the new settlements. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the timing of the settlement announcement, the fact that it happened while Biden was in Israel, was an insult to the U.S. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apologized for the incident. He says it was unintentional and shouldn't have occurred. Meanwhile, the U.S. has asked Israel to "do something significant" to show it's serious about moving forward in the peace process.
STAN CASE, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! "Prom" is short for what word? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Prominent, B) Promenade, C) Promulgate or D) Promise? You've got three seconds -- GO! A promenade is part of a formal ball, in other words, a prom. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: In the small town of Fulton, Mississippi, prom has been canceled at Itawamba Agricultural High School, and the school district is getting sued for it. Here's the story: 18-year-old Constance McMillen wanted to take her girlfriend to prom. School officials refused, saying the same-sex couple might make others uncomfortable.
CONSTANCE MCMILLEN, ITAWAMBA COUNTY AGRICULTURAL HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: For you to say that you can't bring someone of the same sex, well, for the gay people, that means they can't bring their date. That's really not fair to the people that are gay at the school.
AZUZ: This school memo, sent out in February, said that students' prom dates must be of the opposite sex. When McMillen and the American Civil Liberties Union tried to get school officials to change their minds, prom was canceled. Now, the ACLU is suing the school, saying it violated McMillen's right to free expression. It's also asking a court to reinstate the prom. The Itawamba County Board of Education says its decision to cancel prom was "due to distractions to the educational process caused by recent events. We feel it's in the best interest of the district after taking into consideration the education, safety, and well-being of our students." The school board also says it's hoping a private, outside group will host the prom instead.
AZUZ: Our blog is an excellent place for you to talk about stories like this. It's one of the many resources you'll find at our Web site. If you haven't been there yet, go to CNNStudentNews.com, scroll down the page. You will see our blog, "From A to Z." Tell us if you can see how the student feels. Tell us if you can see the school's position. Tell us with only your first name, and tell us on our blog!
Is this Legit?
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is This Legit? Japan's currency is the yuan. Not true! The yuan is China's currency; Japan's is the yen.
AZUZ: Advertising is one way that companies in Japan try to get people to spend those yen. But ads aren't an exact science. So, there's a new technology out that's studying consumers to try and make ads a little more personal. When you stop to look, the ad does too. Is this the future of advertising, or an invasion of privacy? Kyung Lah explores the answer.
KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, TOKYO: In the world of advertising, you look at the ads. But soon, they'll be watching you. It's a future imagined in the 2002 movie "Minority Report." Cameras capture and read Tom Cruise's face, then customized ads for his character pop up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, "MINORITY REPORT": John Anderton!
LAH: That future is now. This billboard sees you, scans your face, and then pulls up an ad you will like.
Here is how this works. When you walk up to the ad, a camera captures your image. The computer figures out if you are a man or a woman and your age. Meanwhile, an age and gender-specific ad rolls. This shows that I'm in my 30s and I like seasonal pasta. The computer then determines how interested you are, how long you stay. That data is then recorded for the company. NEC engineer Junko Amagai says the facial recognition technology is accurate to within 10 years of your actual age, and the next-gen system they are testing out is even more age accurate.
JUNKO AMAGAI, NEC ENGINEER [TRANSLATED]: This is a new age of advertising. We can learn something we never knew from marketing.
LAH: The new ads give real-time reactions to street signs, so marketing can be more targeted and more effective. At this retail event in Tokyo, it's capturing worldwide interest. Art Frickus is a consultant visiting from Holland.
ART FRICKUS, HOLLAND CONSULTANT: I believe in one-to-one communication, and all your messages must be relevant. So, that's why I believe in this kind of thing, technology.
LAH: Do you feel a little uneasy though?
LAH: Frickus brushes off privacy concerns or fears that this is Big Brother. NEC, which so far has only tested the digital ads in Japan, says signs warn passersby they are on camera, and images are not saved in the database. In the post 9/11 world, security cameras are everywhere on public streets and malls; facial recognition technology used by governments, even casinos. NEC believes the use of this technology in advertising is just the next step and will soon be common. Within two to three years, 10 percent of the ads will be like this.
KOSUKE YAMAUCHI, NEC SPOKESMAN: Ten percent of the digital signage.
LAH: Of digital signage will be like this? That's a global prediction. NEC says testing begins in the U.S. this spring, just weeks away to the arrival of the future. Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go, check out an unbelievable digital demonstration. In this case, the digits mean the guy's index fingers! Okay, it's kind of impressive, but can the dude do a full handstand? Nevermind. Before you even think about trying this at home -- which you shouldn't, ever, at all -- the caption helpfully points out that there's a risk of breaking your index fingers; you see right there. The way that he pulls this off is apparently through a deep state of meditation.
AZUZ: Just getting your mind and body to work together like that? It's one serious balancing act. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz. Tomorrow is Wednesday! Count us in.