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6.29.16: Giving Students a Second Chance, Flocabulary, & The Bookshelf

Chris Ball via Flickr CC

Last year, President Obama toured a federal prison in Oklahoma - an unprecedented move for a sitting president and a clear sign of the administration's focus on criminal justice reform. Among its proposed reforms is a call to "ban the box" – which would move or remove questions about a job applicant's criminal history. Today, should the box also be banned from college applications?

Then, hip hop has been key to the runaway success of Hamilton...suddenly people are rapping about American history. Now, an educator and lyricist is applying that formula to the classroom. 

Listen to the full show. 

Giving Students a Second Chance

Last November, President Obama called for changes to the criminal justice system;  among the most discussed was to "ban the box" – requiring federal agencies to abstain from asking questions about criminal history until the end of the hiring process.

Now, the White House and Department of Education plan to ask US colleges and universities to take a similar approach. Juleyka Lantigua-Williams, who covers criminal justice for The Atlantic, is following the initiative.

Related: Giving Students a Second Chance

Giving Students a Second Chance


Teachers dream of getting kids excited about complicated, detailed curriculum. In other words, to achieve what the musical Hamilton has done for American history. The winner of eleven Tony Awards also wins praise for its smart, nuanced portrayal of man better remembered for a complex economic system than for battlefield heroics.  

History isn't the only subject that's getting the hip-hop treatment -  Flocabulary offers teachers songs teachers can use to teach math, language arts, current events, and science, among other topics. A former teacher and principal, Ike Ramosnow works at Flocabulary crafting rhymes to engage kids in the learning process.


(This isn't one of Ike's songs, but we still like it a lot!)

Why Indie Booksellers Need Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble stock has plunged nearly 40% in the past year. The book behemoth once blamed for putting local book sellers out of business is slowly crumbling under the weight of online mega-seller amazon. One would think that independent book stores would celebrate this news. But according to Alex Shepard, the collapse of the big box mainstay could spell disaster for the publishing industry. 

Alex Shephardis news editor at the New Republic where he recently wrote about the ailing book seller.

Why Indie Booksellers Need Barnes & Noble

StoryCorps: Sean Plasse and Blanche Podjaski

Finding a new book at the library or bookstore can feel like a treat. But for people with dyslexia, reading can be terrifying and humiliating. Sean Plasse sat down at StoryCorps with his friend Blanche Podjaski to talk about the learning disability he spent most of his life trying to hide.

You can listen to this story again at, and help archive your own stories using the StoryCorps app

The Bookshelf: Short Story Writer Eric Schaller

It's time to visit The Bookshelf podcast... a chance for NHPR's All Things Considered host, Peter Biello, to talk with authors from the around the region. 

In this episode, Peter is speaking with Eric Schaller. His debut collection of short stories is called Meet Me in the Middle of the Air.  You can listen to episodes from The Bookshelf on your own schedule when you subscribe to  The Bookshelf podcast on iTunes.

You can listen to this episode again here: The Bookshelf: Short Story Writer Eric Schaller

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