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Educators value after-school program

WEST

Money to prep poor kids for college? Sorry, wrong size type

HELENA, Mont. (AP) Ð Dozens of universities and organizations that applied for federal grants to help young people from poor families prepare for college were turned down by the U.S. Education Department because of mistakes that consisted mostly of incorrect margins, the wrong size type or lack of double-spacing.

The rejections have triggered an outcry from members of both parties on Capitol Hill and thrown into jeopardy programs that help thousands of high school students a year.

Members of Congress have asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reconsider the applications for the Upward Bound program. But congressional aides tell The Associated Press that the department isn’t going to do it.

NORTHEAST

Don’t look down! NYPD unit does its work at dizzying heights

HELENA, Mont. (AP) Ð Dozens of universities and organizations that applied for federal grants to help young people from poor families prepare for college were turned down by the U.S. Education Department because of mistakes that consisted mostly of incorrect margins, the wrong size type or lack of double-spacing.

The rejections have triggered an outcry from members of both parties on Capitol Hill and thrown into jeopardy programs that help thousands of high school students a year.

Members of Congress have asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reconsider the applications for the Upward Bound program. But congressional aides tell The Associated Press that the department isn’t going to do it.

NEW YORK (AP) – Police Sgt. John Flynn didn’t even flinch as he started his descent from the top of the Brooklyn Bridge, briskly walking down a narrow suspension cable with only a safety harness between him and a possible 27-story fall to the glinting East River below.

“It becomes like second nature to you,” he said of the dizzying height. “Three stories is no different from 30 stories.”

Being part of the Manhattan skyline was just another day at the office for Flynn and other members of an elite unit that specializes in dangerous, often high-rise rescues. Training exercises like a recent climb up the iconic bridge are designed to get team members thinking beyond the risk to their own lives so they can help save someone else’s.

Successful rescues over the years have included window washers dangling 17 stories up the side of a skyscraper, distraught people threatening suicide on the Manhattan Bridge and a young thrill-seeker who used suction cups to climb the glass walls of Trump Tower.

They’ve even saved a paraglider who crashed into the torch of the Statue of Liberty.

“You’re working from the minute you get the call,” said Flynn, a rope rescue instructor.

SOUTHWEST

Science Says: Kimmel baby’s heart defect is common, fixable

Los Angeles (AP) – The hole-in-the-heart problem that plagues comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s newborn son is one of the most common heart-related birth defects, and it usually can be fixed with surgery.

Some people even live with it for several years before it’s detected although the Kimmel baby’s is the most severe form and was noticed just a few hours after his birth in Los Angeles on April 21.

On his show Monday night, the comedian tearfully described the emergency operation needed after his son, William John, was found to have tetralogy of Fallot (teh-TRALL-oh-jee of fall-OH.) A quick take on the condition.

Tetralogy means four, a cluster of that many defects. The main one is a hole or opening in the wall separating the two sides of the heart. In a normal heart, the right side pumps oxygen-depleted, or blue blood from other parts of the body to the lungs to get more oxygen. The left side then pumps this oxygen-rich, red blood to the rest of the body.

These types of blood should stay separated, but a hole in the heart wall lets them mix, so some blood without enough oxygen winds up getting pumped out into the body.

This can be complicated by a second problem the Kimmel baby has – pulmonary atresia, a severely blocked heart valve, which prevents enough blood from reaching the lungs.

Usually the cause isn’t known, although it is more common in children with certain conditions such as Down syndrome.

In some cases, genes may play a role. Or it may just be a fluke, the result of abnormal development in the womb.

Kimmel said the open-heart operation was to open the blocked valve so there’s better blood flow. It’s not known what else was done to address the other problems. Billy came home six days after that and is “doing great,” his father said. The baby will need a second surgery within six months to fix the hole. Doctors often place a patch to close the opening, although there are a couple other possible solutions.

“They are getting him bigger until he can do a more comprehensive repair,” explained Dr. Peace Madueme, a pediatric cardiologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. He has no knowledge of the Kimmel case and just discussed what’s usually done.

Kimmel said his son would need a third operation in his teens.

“That usually is a pulmonary valve replacement,” which sometimes can be done through blood vessels rather than in an open-heart operation, Madueme said.

“Lifestyle-wise, kids with tetralogy do really well, normal daily activities,” Madueme said, citing Shaun White, the Olympic gold medal snowboarder with the same defect. White appeared on Kimmel’s show Monday night to talk about his case.

SOUTHEAST

Wildfire risk is above average for southeast

(AP) – Wildfires this summer are expected to be most severe in southwestern U.S. states, Florida, Georgia and in some parts of California and Nevada, forecasters said Monday.

The summer 2017 fire outlook issued by the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise also said heavy winter snow and spring rains that flooded many Western states will probably delay the onset of this season’s worst wildfires.

“In the broadest sense, some parts of the country with higher elevation could see a lighter fire year,” said Ed Delgado, the office’s head of predictive services. “In other parts, there may not be a huge risk right now but things could dry out really quickly.”

Wildfires have already broken out in Florida, southeastern Georgia, Arizona and New Mexico. Ten new large wildfires were reported as of last week, burning more than 300 square miles (780 square kilometers). Eight of those fires are currently burning in Florida.

“Heavy growth of fine fuels across southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico have led to above normal fire potential along the Mexican border that should persist through June before the monsoonal rains arrive in early July,” forecasters wrote in the report.

Delgado said too many factors are involved in predicting fire seasons to make direct comparisons to various years.

Last year, 8,600 square miles (22,300 square kilometers) were scorched across the U.S., mostly in western states. Six fires burned more than 156 square miles (400 square kilometers) each.

The cost suppressing last year’s wildfire season was $1.97 billion.

MIDWEST

Educators value after-school program

CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (AP) — As one group of squealing, chanting students smack a ball into the pavement in a heated game of four square, another finishes an after-school writing lesson inside Circleville Elementary School.

Later in the library, an instructor guides other students in a role-playing activity on how to handle criticism from a sassy friend.

The children already snacked on breakfast bars and apple juice. And there will be more study time before buses take them home, some to the small city down the road and others to farther parts of these Ohio hills.

This after-school enrichment is funded largely by the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers, a $1.2 billion program serving about 1.6 million low-income students nationwide.

A 2016 report from the Education Department, issued when Barack Obama was president, credited the funding with aiding state efforts to close the achievement gap and found the program “touches students’ lives in ways that will have far-reaching academic impact.”

Fourth-grade teacher Jennifer Walters said she sees that in Circleville, the heart of a county that solidly backed Trump in November.

“It shows drastically even in the amount of homework we get returned,” Walters said.

The funding program was created in 1994 as part of federal education legislation and then expanded under the 2001 No Child Left Behind legislation, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. Schools, community groups and faith-based organizations get funding through a competitive process, and the programs typically offer targeted academic intervention and other activities.

The Education Department overview of 2014-2015 program data showed just under half of the regular participants for whom data were reported improved their math and English grades between fall and spring. Teachers reported that two-thirds of those students showed improvement in completing homework and class participation, and over half showed behavioral improvements.

More than a quarter of the elementary students who regularly participated moved from not proficient to at least proficient on state assessments in reading, and a least one in five regulars from middle- and high-school programs improved to proficiency in state math testing.

But some say that isn’t the full picture.

A report last month from the U.S. Government Accountability Office calls for better oversight of the 21st Century program. Available research comparing participants and non-participants indicates the program is effective in improving students’ behavior more frequently than their academic outcomes, but the Education Department doesn’t have enough data to know whether the program meets goals such as increasing school attendance and lowering disciplinary problems, the report said.

In Ohio alone, about 270 programs received six-figure, multi-year 21st Century grants over the past five years. In Circleville, the sessions serve over 160 third- through 12th-graders, many of whom struggle academically.

After-school support was a driving factor in raising the district’s graduation rate from 79 percent in 2008 to about 94 percent last year, Circleville Superintendent Jonathan Davis said.

Some of the Circleville funding is nearing the end of its grant cycle, and organizers hoped to apply again if it survives Federal budget cuts. Without a shot at 21st Century grants, continuing after-school sessions would be “virtually impossible,” Davis said.

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