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.

Diane Orson

The valedictorian of a New Haven high school has won a Gates-Millenium scholarship to college. The student is a teen mother who will attend a college that supports single moms in higher education.

"My name is Shayla McQueen. I’m 17 years old. And I’m valedictorian of James Hillhouse High School."

Shayla McQueen is also a mother.  Her son, Arlander Folson, turns two in August. 

Diane Orson

Two men have been arrested and charged in a massive 2010 theft of pharmaceuticals from a warehouse in Enfield, Connecticut. Virtually all the drugs have been recovered.

Here’s how US Attorney David Fein characterizes the audacious heist: 

"As far as we know, this brazen crime was the biggest theft in Connecticut history and in the history of the pharmaceutical industry countrywide."

A recent report by the US Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General finds inadequate enforcement of a federal law aimed at preventing alcohol and drug abuse on college campuses.   The review was requested by two state lawmakers on behalf of a Connecticut resident.

Deans from 21 top business schools around the world will gather today in New Haven. Yale University will host the first meeting of a new global network for business education.

The international focus of the Global Network for Advanced Management is something totally new in the business school world, says Edward Snyder, Dean of the Yale School of Management.  

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has signed a repeal of the state’s death penalty into law. The signing ceremony took place Wednesday -  just hours after a new poll showed state voters split over an appropriate punishment for murder.

Governor Malloy signed the bill abolishing capital punishment in a private ceremony with lawmakers, clergy and family members of victims. 

Joan Marcus, with permission

Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre have received the largest financial gift in their history.  The funds will support the creation of new plays and musicals for the American stage.

The $18 million gift will permanently endow Yale’s ongoing new plays program, says Yale Rep Artistic Director James Bundy. 

"To our knowledge, it’s the largest gift in the history of the American Theatre specifically for programming, which is to say that funds from the endowment will go to the commissioning, development and production of new plays."

Unless Congress acts, interest rates on certain college loans are set to double this summer.  WNPR looks at what that would mean for Connecticut students.

More than 84 thousand college and university students in Connecticut had subsidized Stafford student loans last year.  Their interest rate was 3.4% thanks to the College Cost Reduction and Access Act which locked in a low rate for four years. 

Lawmakers continue to work on a compromise education reform bill that they hope Governor Malloy and the legislature can agree on.  One key lawmaker believes the two sides are not that far apart.   

Administration officials have been meeting behind closed doors with top leaders to craft the next version of Governor Malloy’s education reform package.  In March, lawmakers made significant changes to the original proposal, including a delay in overhauling teacher evaluation and tenure.

A former Transportation Security Administration officer pleaded guilty in federal court in New Haven Tuesday  to participating  in a prescription-drug trafficking scheme.  Several law enforcement officers have admitted their roles in the case.

30-year old Jonathan Best pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to posses with intent to distribute the painkiller oxycodone.  

Diane Orson

Each month, about 100 people are released from prison and return to the city of New Haven. Many have a tough time finding work. Large employers often won’t hire ex-offenders. New Haven has passed a new ordinance that standardizes the procedure to get street vendor or food cart permits in the city.  

37-year old Harold Williams was discharged from prison in January after serving 2 ½ years for selling drugs.  

Diane Orson

Members of Connecticut’s House of Representatives are set to debate a bill to abolish the state’s death penalty.

Death penalty opponents, including families of murder victims, gathered at the Capitol this morning and urged lawmakers to pass the legislation.

Dawn Mancarella spoke on behalf of the more than 170 victims’ families in Connecticut who support a repeal of the state’s death penalty.

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.  

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