Blog Of The Nation
10:57 am
Thu March 22, 2012

March 22nd: What's On Today's Show

Originally published on Thu March 22, 2012 10:08 am

Six Words About Race
Nearly a month after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, the widespread shock and outrage has grown into a nationwide movement calling for justice. This week, the Justice Department announced it would conduct a federal investigation of the incident. But the Trayvon Martin story has also turned into a dialogue about race in America, a conversation that NPR's Michele Norris has been engaged in for over a year with her "Race Card Project". Through the project, Norris asks people to express their thoughts on race in six words or less. Host Neal Conan speaks with Norris about the submissions she's received in response to the Trayvon Martin story and what those frustrations, fears and hopes tell us about race in America today. NPR correspondent Kathy Lohr also joins the conversation, with the latest developments in the Trayvon Martin case.

A Promising Career Derailed By Parkinson's
Ben Petrick looked forward to a promising baseball career as a major league catcher with the Colorado Rockies. Then, at the age of 22, doctors told him he had young onset Parkinson's. Petrick kept the diagnosis a secret and struggled to hide the symptoms, but became frustrated by his shaking and growing lack of mobility. He retired from baseball in 2004, and publicly announced that he had been living with the incurable disease. Since then, Petrick has focused on channeling strength from his weakness, through coaching and giving motivational speeches. Neal Conan talks with Petrick about his Major League Baseball career and how he learned to cope with a disease that sidetracked his career.

Holding Colleges Accountable
Like many elementary and high schools, a growing number of universities are turning to standardized tests to measure students' educations. Several hundred colleges and universities require some freshmen and seniors to take the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) to measure critical thinking and communication skills. The CLA is an essay test that poses open-ended questions and asks for responses to specific scenarios. Advocates say it provides an important tool to gauge what students learn. Others insist no single exam can ever accurately measure the knowledge and skills imparted over four years of college. Host Neal Conan talks to Jeffrey Steedle of the Council on Aid for Education, which helped create the test, and Dan Berrett of The Chronicle of Higher Education. He also speaks with the Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page about the purpose of a college education, and his proposal for an alternative to a college degree.

Turkey's Power Struggle
While Turkey continues to gain influence and economic power in the region and the world, its government faces a political power struggle at home. A NATO ally with close ties to the West, Turkey's economy grew significantly in the past decade, as the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan took active roles in crises over Iraq, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan. In a recent piece in the New Yorker magazine, veteran reporter Dexter Filkins paints a very complicated picture — that of a prime minister trying to maintain power in the throes of "an ominous and increasingly bitter political battle." Filkins describes a persistent threat of a coup by Erdogan's enemies and explains that the prime minister's response reveals "a repressiveness and paranoia that belie his international reputation as a reliable moderate." Host Neal Conan speaks with Filkins about the internal politics of an increasingly influential country and what it could mean for Turkey's future as an ally to the West in a politically turbulent region.

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