Diane Orson

Managing Editor/Host

Diane Orson is WNPR's local host for Morning Edition.  She's also a reporter and managing editor for WNPR, as well as a contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories are heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now.  Diane began at WBUR in Boston and came to Connecticut in 1988 as a co-producer for Open Air New England.  She shared a Peabody Award with Faith Middleton for their piece of radio nostalgia about New Haven's Shubert Theater.  Her reporting has  been recognized by the Connecticut Society for Professional Journalists and the Associated Press, including the Ellen Abrams Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism and the Walt Dibble Award for Overall Excellence.

Diane is also an active professional musician. She lives in Hamden with her husband and two children.

The European Court of Human Rights has cleared the way for a British terror suspect, wanted in Connecticut, to be extradited.  

37-year old Babar Ahmad is accused of raising funds for terrorists through an internet service provider based in Trumbull, Connecticut. 

He was arrested as part of a larger investigation that led to the 2008 conviction of former Navy sailor Hassan Abu-Jihaad.  Abu-Jihaad leaked classified information through a website that Ahmad allegedly operated. 

The state senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill to end Connecticut’s death penalty.

A bill aimed a reducing the numbers of Connecticut students arrested at school passed a legislative committee this week. Supporters of the measure say too many kids are being arrested for low-level, non-violent offenses.

Connecticut Judicial Branch data show that nearly 20% of the cases that ended up in juvenile court during the first six months of the current academic year began when kids were arrested at school.  

"41% of those were for breach of peace or disorderly conduct."

That’s Hannah Benton, staff attorney with the Center for Children’s Advocacy.

The legislature’s Education Committee has passed a revised version of Governor Malloy’s proposed school reform bill.  

Speaking before last night’s vote, co-chair Andrew Fleischmann said members of the education committee respect the Governor’s broad vision on school reform and sought to fine tune and improve the measure.

Diane Orson

Governor Malloy was in New Haven last night for a Yale conference on the future of education. In contrast to recent town hall meetings, this time the Governor was met by a receptive audience.

Governor Malloy outlined key proposals in his school reform package to nearly 200 people at the Yale School of Management’s Education Leadership Conference.

On the highly-charged issues of teacher evaluation and tenure, the Governor said there needs to be honest and frank discussion.  

The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that Scholastic Book Clubs, Inc. must pay the state millions of dollars in taxes and penalties. The court found that teachers in the classroom act as local salespeople for the out-of-state bookseller. 

The Connecticut Supreme Court unanimously reversed a trial court judge’s decision, and ruled that Scholastic Book Clubs, Inc should pay the state more than 3 million dollars in sales tax, interest and penalties. 

The Connecticut chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They want DHS to release records about an enormous, though little understood immigration enforcement program.

Cody Wofsy says there’s not a lot known about the Criminal Alien Program, known as CAP.

Uma Ramiah

School board members held their annual Day on the Hill in Hartford Wednesday. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed cautious support for the Governor’s education proposals.

Democratic Representative and Education Committee co-chair Andrew Fleischmann outlined areas of agreement, including expansion of preschools.

"I expect we will have expansion of early childhood education. Not just the 500 additional slots the Governor’s talking about. I’m hopeful that we may be able to do more this year."

Brunosan, Flickr Creative Commons

As the brain ages, it becomes harder to know when its time to move from one task to the next. That’s according to a new study by Yale University researchers, who say understanding how the brain ages may help an older workforce.

The study is called Lost in Transition. Mark Laubach, an associate professor at the Yale School of Medicine, came up with the title after waiting to buy a ticket at the Washington, DC train station. He was anxious to get back to Connecticut to see his son play in his first Little League game.  

Officials from UConn and the Board of Regents meet this week with legislators and advocates for victims of sexual assault to discuss a bill that would change the way college campuses respond to sexual violence.  

The federal Clery Act spells out how colleges and universities nationwide are expected to respond to sexual violence on campus. The Connecticut bill would make changes to the way schools hold internal disciplinary hearings, and would require prevention programming for students and faculty.

A controversial plan to build a massive liquefied natural gas plant in the middle of Long Island Sound is over for good. Broadwater Pipeline LLC has asked to withdraw from its federal certificates.

Broadwater, a partnership of Royal Dutch Shell and TransCanda Corporation, wanted to construct a 20-story high floating LNG platform tethered to the bottom of Long Island Sound.

"It was four football fields long. It was going to have an accompanying 27-mile long pipeline."

Union leaders representing Connecticut teachers say they agree with many of Governor Malloy’s education reform proposals, but are concerned that new teacher evaluations be used fairly. 

Earlier this year, Connecticut teachers’ unions agreed to a process that evaluates teachers based, in part, on student performance. This plays a key role in Governor Malloy’s education proposals. 

Diane Orson

Connecticut lawmakers joined civil rights groups at the capitol Monday to call for an overhaul of the state’s racial profiling law.

This follows a federal investigation into discriminatory policing in East Haven, and a separate racial profiling report by the Hartford Courant.

TicketNetwork has pulled out of Connecticut’s First Five economic development program.  The news comes after the recent arrest of Don Vaccaro, CEO of the South Windsor-based company. Vaccaro has been charged with a hate crime and has taken an indefinite leave from TicketNetwork.

Meanwhile, Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection has just submitted to lawmakers its analysis of the ticket sales industry, and its view on a controversial proposal to change ticket sale laws in the state. 

Connecticut education officials are finalizing the state’s waiver application for relief from the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Applications for the second round of waivers are due on Tuesday.

Chion Wolf

The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that many of the nation’s fastest-growing and highest paid jobs require training in science, technology, engineering and math, also known as the STEM fields. But in Connecticut,  an estimated 1,000 manufacturing jobs remain unfilled because applicants lack the skills they need. 

Many middle and high school students seem to lose interest in studying STEM subjects. For our second report in a week-long series, we explore why.

16-year old Charlotte Harrison says she’s always liked math.  

A Connecticut nun, chosen to lead a wide-ranging Vatican investigation of women’s religious orders in the United States, has submitted her final report to Church officials.  

Mother Mary Clare Millea, Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Hamden, was appointed in 2008 to oversee the probe, called an “Apostolic Visitation”. The goal of this first-ever inquiry by the Vatican of American religious sisters was to evaluate their quality of life and learn why the numbers of women entering religious life have declined so dramatically.

In his State of the State address, Governor Dannel Malloy called on legislators to take bold steps to reform Connecticut’s public schools. He addressed the highly-charged issue of teacher tenure, and called for an overhaul of the system.

"Today tenure is too easy to get and too hard to take away."

Governor Malloy outlined six principles for education reform, but devoted the most time to teacher tenure. 

Diane Orson

The number of Chinese students at American colleges and universities jumped 43% in 2011 over 2010, according to the Institute of International Education. And now, more and more Chinese students are enrolling in American high schools. The trend is helping to stabilize Connecticut's private schools that have been grappling with declining enrollment in a weak economy.

When Christian Heritage School in Trumbull first starting accepting foreign students, Director of Admissions Martha Olson says most were from South Korea.  

Diane Orson

Qualified students in a New Haven engineering and science magnet school will be able to attend the University of New Haven for half price or free, under a program announced on Monday. The goal is to encourage students to pursue serious study in the “STEM” areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

Speaking at Monday’s announcement, UNH President Steven Kaplan said America is lagging behind other developed nations in math and science.  

Sheff And School Reform

Jan 23, 2012

Members of the Sheff Movement Coalition are calling on Governor Malloy to make school diversity a core educational priority for the state. 

Philip Tegeler, a member of the coalition and one of the original lawyers in Connecticut’s landmark Sheff vs. O’Neill school desegregation case, says more attention should be paid to integrating the state’s schools.

Senator Ed Meyer introduced a bill on Tuesday to repeal the death penalty in Connecticut. He says the future of capital punishment in the state may depend on two key lawmakers.

Last year – just as Connecticut was poised to repeal the death penalty, and as jury selection was underway in the Cheshire triple murder case  -  Senator Ed Meyer received a phone call from his son. 

A spokesman for the New Haven Public Schools is leaving his post following an incident in which he grabbed a reporter’s camera while she was on assignment and insisted that she stop filming. More and more school districts are employing public relations professionals. We take a look at the field, at a time when people want more information about what’s going on in their local schools.

Diane Orson

Parents packed into an elementary school gymnasium in Middletown last night to hear from local education officials, and to voice their concerns over so-called “scream rooms.” Teachers at the school use a time-out room to discipline disruptive students.

Diane Orson

Homicides in New Haven reached a near-record high in 2011. The city’s new police chief spoke to WNPR about what it will take to stop the violence.

There were 34 homicides in New Haven last year. Police Chief Dean Esserman says the face of violence in the city reflects other cities across the nation.  

"This country of ours is not at war on the streets of America. Providence kills Providence. Hartford, Hartford. New Haven, New Haven. These are our own children killing each other. And it needs to stop."

Diane Orson

Connecticut’s largest teachers union added its voice on Tuesday to a growing chorus of proposals for school reform.  The union’s plan addresses the controversial issue of teacher tenure.

Connecticut Education Association Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine says teachers are proposing to replace tenure with a streamlined dismissal process, "...to remove underperforming teachers and also allow for due process. We want teachers to be evaluated."

But she says, a teacher’s performance should not be judged solely by test scores.

A program that serves families in a distressed, low-income neighborhood in Meriden has been awarded federal money to expand. The Meriden Family Zone ties together services and supports to improve the lives of families and young children.

Families who are part of the Meriden Family Zone tend be disconnected from life in the larger city, says David Radcliffe, director of Meriden Children First.  

Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor describes new figures on high school graduation rates in Connecticut as “unacceptable”. Students in poverty and students are color are far less likely to finish high school in four years.

Overall, nearly one in five Connecticut students fails to graduate high school in four years according to new data from the State Department of Education. But for kids who live at or below the poverty level, are Hispanic or black, in special ed or are English language learners -  it's one in three.

A lawyer representing the town of East Haven says findings in a federal racial profiling investigation must still be substantiated. He’s cautioning against a quick rush to judgment.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights’ Division found that East Haven Police intentionally target Latinos for traffic stops, and use excessive force against those taken into custody.  

"Charges like these are easily made. They’re not so easily proven."

Hugh Keefe is a trial lawyer for the town of East Haven.

Diane Orson

A U.S. Department of Justice investigation finds that police in East Haven engage in a pattern of discrimination against Latinos. The DOJ's Office for Civil Rights launched its investigation in 2009 after Latinos described a pattern of race-based violence, harassment and intimidation by East Haven police. 

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin announced the probe’s findings.  

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