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.


12:21 pm
Fri November 11, 2011

School Superintendents Call For Education Overhaul

School superintendents say the public education system in Connecticut needs an overhaul. The superintendents have unveiled a bold plan to transform schooling in the state.

It's not enough anymore to give kids an opportunity to learn, says Joseph Cirasuolo, executive director of the CT Association of Public School Superintendents. He says schools have to insure that all kids achieve at high levels.

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No Child Left Behind
12:10 pm
Fri November 11, 2011

Connecticut Expected to Apply for No Child Left Behind Waiver in 2012

The first round of applications for relief from the federal No Child Left Behind Act are due on Monday. But Connecticut will wait until the next year to apply.

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9:02 am
Fri November 4, 2011

Snowstorm Disrupts School Calendars

School closures due last weekend’s snowstorm have created a scheduling headache for education leaders.  We visited the town of Cheshire on Thursday, where students have already missed five days of classes, and winter hasn’t even begun.

"Grades were supposed to close this week, so this is one of the critical weeks in school."

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Emergency Services
6:44 pm
Tue November 1, 2011

Seymour Residents Stay Warm At Emergency Shelter

Diane Orson

Many Connecticut towns remain in the dark after last weekend’s early snowstorm knocked out power to a record number of state residents. WNPR’s Diane Orson reports that in the town of Seymour, stores are closed and people are heading to shelters to stay warm.

Drive through Seymour and you see businesses locked up, one after the other. Then you reach the Shop Smart Convenience Store.

The door is wide open and customers move in and out, though its pretty dark inside. Clerk Mohammed Aquel says a generator is keeping things operating.

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War on Terror
3:40 pm
Fri October 28, 2011

Petition Aims To Stop Extradition Of British Terror Suspect

More than 50,000 people have signed an e-petition to stop a British terror suspect from being extradited to the U.S.  Babar Ahmad is accused of raising funds for terrorists through a Connecticut-based internet service provider.

Computer expert Babar Ahmad has been fighting extradition to the US since his arrest in 2004.  He is Britain’s longest-held prisoner detained without trial. He's been held there under a controversial 2003 treaty between the United States and the U.K.

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State Education Authority
10:28 am
Fri October 28, 2011

CT Supreme Court Hears Arguments In Bridgeport Schools Case

The Connecticut Supreme Court heard arguments on Thursday challenging the state’s takeover of Bridgeport’s troubled public schools.  Much of the debate centered on whether officials followed proper steps before replacing local school board members with state appointees.

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Education Reform
10:23 am
Fri October 28, 2011

CT Supreme Court To Hear Arguments In Bridgeport Schools Case

The Connecticut Supreme Court will hear arguments on Thursday challenging the state’s takeover of the Bridgeport Board of Education. The plaintiffs argue that the state cannot deny residents the right to vote for their local school board.

Last summer, most of the members of Bridgeport’s Board of Ed, along with the city’s superintendent and mayor asked the State Board to intervene in the city’s schools.  Within weeks, Connecticut’s Acting Education Commissioner had replaced Bridgeport’s elected school board with a state-appointed panel. 

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Education Reform
6:43 am
Thu October 20, 2011

Senator Blumenthal To Introduce No Child Left Behind Amendment

Lawmakers in Washington are considering a bill to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act.   Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal plans to introduce an amendment that raises similar concerns as his 2005 lawsuit over the education reform law.

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Early Childhood Education
9:47 am
Wed October 19, 2011

Connecticut Submits Third Bid For Race To The Top Grant

Connecticut submits its third bid for Race to the Top federal education grants on Wednesday.  The focus this time around is early learning. 

Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge Grants are targeted to states that want to better coordinate their early care and education systems. Right now, Connecticut has a patchwork of programs for young children overseen by five different state agencies.

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Higher Education
10:47 am
Fri October 14, 2011

First Niagara Bank Donation To Support Manchester Community College Expansion

First Niagara Bank has announced a $1.3 million donation to Manchester Community College and the town of Manchester. The funds will be used to support the college’s expansion into downtown.

A merger between New Alliance and First Niagara Banks led to the layoff of more than 90 workers in downtown Manchester earlier this year. At the same time, Manchester Community College needed to expand. First Niagara’s $1.3 million donation includes the value of a downtown building for the college, and a cash donation to the foundation that will operate the facility. 

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School Administration
8:28 am
Fri October 14, 2011

Bridgeport To Conduct National Search For Next School Superintendent

Bridgeport officials will conduct a national search for the city’s next school superintendent.  A state-appointed Board of Education has fired Bridgeport’s current superintendent as part of its takeover of the troubled school system.

Bridgeport’s state-appointed board of education will part ways with Superintendent John Ramos at the end of December.   An interim superintendent will come in to serve while education officials conduct a national search for the city’s next school leader. 

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6:41 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Teachers Involved In Waterbury Cheating Scandal Return To School

Eleven teachers involved in a cheating scandal at a Waterbury elementary school returned to work on Tuesday. The teachers will lose 20 days of pay and must perform community service as after-school tutors.

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Artifact Recovery
8:41 am
Fri October 7, 2011

International Center For The Study Of Machu Picchu And Inca Culture Opens In Peru

Diane Orson

The International Center for the Study of Machu Picchu and Inca Culture opened yesterday in the city of Cusco, Peru. The event marks the end of a long-running dispute over a collection of antiquities taken from Machu Picchu by Yale explorer Hiram Bingham nearly 100 years ago. It's also the beginning of a collaborative partnership between Yale and the National University of San Antonio Abad del Cusco .  

Speaking to reporters in Cusco, Yale researcher Lucy Salazar explained that museum is housed in a historic Inca palace called the Casa Concha.  

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8:18 am
Wed September 28, 2011

Harp Guitar Gathering In Connecticut

Musicians from Europe, Canada and across the U.S. will meet in Connecticut on October 8th & 9th for the 9th annual Harp Guitar Gathering. What’s a harp guitar?   

Think of an acoustic guitar – either nylon or steel string - sitting on your lap. Between your chin and the guitar, half of a harp springs out from the top shoulder of the instrument. It's a sight to behold!  There are no frets on the additional strings. They’re either plucked or resonate as you play, but they expand the instrument’s range down as low as a grand piano.

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9:29 am
Mon September 26, 2011

When Talking About Weight, Words Matter

Doctors may want to think carefully about the language they use when talking with parents about a child’s weight.  A new study by Yale University researchers finds that certain words reinforce negative stigma and may undermine important discussions about health.

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Drug Control
4:27 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

UNH Forensic Biologist Develops Marijuana DNA Databank

A forensic biologist at the University of New Haven is developing a DNA databank that will help federal authorities track where marijuana originates.  It’s aimed at assisting law enforcement with drug busts, but it could also be used to protect against bio-terrorism.

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5:58 pm
Tue September 20, 2011

Linda McMahon Announces Bid For U.S. Senate

Diane Orson

Former WWE CEO Linda McMahon announced today she’ll run again for the U-S Senate in 2012.  McMahon stressed her business background at the top of the professional wrestling world.

Linda McMahon declared her candidacy for US Senate at a small family-run manufacturing company in Southington, CT.  "Ladies and gentlemen, I am a proven job creator and today I’m announcing that I’m a candidate for United States Senate"

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Higher Education
1:19 pm
Sun September 18, 2011

Air Force ROTC Returns To Yale University

The Secretary of the U.S. Air Force was in New Haven on Monday.  He joined Yale University officials to announce a new Reserve Officer Training Corps unit on campus. Air Force ROTC is the second military detachment to agree to return to Yale this year.  The university announced in May that it would also reinstate a Naval ROTC unit. 

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Disaster Relief
1:15 pm
Sun September 18, 2011

S.T.O.R.M. Irene Panel

Governor Malloy has appointed a panel to review how the state, municipalities and utilities responded to Tropical Storm Irene.  The group will also take a broader look at Connecticut’s disaster preparedness.

Members of the S.T.O.R.M. Irene Panel include leaders from the military, disaster relief, non-profit agencies and municipal governments.  They’ll examine response to the storm - what worked and what didn’t.

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Artifact Recovery
1:11 pm
Sun September 18, 2011

Peru Bestows Award On Yale University President

The government of Peru has presented Yale University’s President with its highest civilian award. The honor was bestowed in recognition of an agreement ending a nearly century-long dispute over ancient artifacts from the Incan site of Machu Picchu.

In a ceremony at the Peruvian Embassy in Washington, DC on Thursday, Yale President Richard Levin was awarded the Order of “The Sun of Peru” in the Grade of “Great Cross”.  

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10:57 am
Fri September 9, 2011

Teaching About 9/11

Diane Orson

As the nation prepares to commemorate the tenth anniversary of September 11th,  Connecticut schools are holding special assemblies and classroom discussions. We report on some of the challenges facing educators who teach students about 9/11, and the larger issues that surround the historic event.

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5:59 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Independent Colleges And Economic Development

Governor Malloy visited Wesleyan University in Middletown on Monday.  He met with leaders of Connecticut’s private colleges and universities to talk jobs.

The Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges represents 16 schools that employ over 22,000 people.  

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3:53 pm
Fri August 5, 2011

Teachers And Staff Suspected Of Cheating At A Waterbury Elementary School

An investigator for the State Department of Education has begun to question teachers and staff at a Waterbury elementary school about suspected cheating on the 2011 Connecticut Mastery Tests.  This is the latest in a string of cheating scandals nationwide.

17 teachers and other employees at Hopeville School in Waterbury have been placed on leave as an investigator looks into possible test tampering.  A preliminary review showed many wrong answers on this year’s CMTS had been erased and corrected.  

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Consumer Protection
4:01 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Online Ticket Resale Market Entangled In Controversy, Looking For Respect

Mattia Luigi Nappi via WikiMedia Commons

The online ticket resale market is one of the fastest growing areas in business today.  

Governor Malloy recently announced that Connecticut-based TicketNetwork would be eligible for state incentives if the company adds jobs in the next two years. But the industry has been entangled in controversy and is now on a quest for respect.  

Googling Yankees tickets...ok...StubHub.com, NewYorkYankees.ticketsnow.com...Yankees.mlb.com...

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Higher Education
4:52 pm
Thu July 21, 2011

New Haven Promise Awards Scholarships

Diane Orson

More than 100 students were honored on Thursday as the first class of New Haven Promise.  That’s the new scholarship program that provides college tuition for city students. 

Wearing caps and gowns, New Haven public high school graduates filed into Sprague Hall on the Yale University campus.  Parents beamed.  City and state officials told the students that the Promise scholarship program was an expression of confidence in their promise for a brighter future.   

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School Resources
9:36 am
Wed July 20, 2011

CT Resident Is New National School Boards Association President

The National School Boards Association represents state boards of education across the country, and their 90 thousand members.  The Association’s new president is a school board member from Connecticut.

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Achievement Gap
3:12 pm
Mon July 18, 2011

Achievement Gap Between Hispanic And White Students Found In Every School District

For the past two decades, the achievement gap between Hispanic students and their white classmates nationwide has remained largely unchanged. Hispanic students perform about two grade levels below their white peers in math and reading.

Connecticut has one of the largest gaps in the nation, and a new study finds the problem exists in every school district in the state.

White students in Connecticut are two to three times more likely than Hispanic students to achieve at or above goal on the Connecticut Mastery Tests. 

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1:46 pm
Fri July 15, 2011

Training Program Helps Low-Income Parents Help Kids

Diane Orson

A special summer program has just wrapped up at a New Haven elementary school.  But  in this class the students are parents. 

It’s the final day of his year’s parent training program at Lincoln-Bassett School in New Haven.  Brenda Whitfield is telling the class of about 20 parents, what she’s learned. "I found out a lot of stuff about the math I can tell my granddaughter and my grandson. And I learned a lot about the science. I just learned so much while I was here at the training."

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Mayoral Race
1:38 pm
Thu July 14, 2011

Ganim? Seriously? Maybe.

Cloe Poisson photo courtesy of The Hartford Courant

Former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim has not announced whether he’ll jump into the mayoral race this year, but a poll finds that if he does, it could change the landscape of the election.

Joe Ganim was released from prison one year ago after serving six years for a massive municipal corruption scandal. The former Bridgeport mayor was convicted on 16 counts, including steering city contracts in return for hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks.

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State Intervention
10:18 am
Mon July 11, 2011

Quick Takeover Of Bridgeport Public Schools

A former Bridgeport Board of Education president says he and many city residents were surprised by the state’s quick takeover of the troubled school system.  

Max Medina Jr. says in 16 years serving on Bridgeport’s Board of Education he’s never seen anything quite as speedy as the recent decision by the state to intervene in the city’s schools.

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