Who’ll help the older worker? (5×8 – 5/6/13)

Out of a job and running out of time, the lost photos of Joplin, the out-of-school bully, how girls get a head start, and Charlie’s prom.

The Monday Morning Rouser:


The stock market is soaring and someone’s making money as the economy continues to recover, but a national tragedy is going nearly unmentioned — the stigma of long-term unemployed people. They’re caught in a trap: Companies won’t even consider them because they’ve been out of work so long. And they’ve been out of work so long because companies won’t even consider them. They are the older worker.

And few people in power seem to care about them, though they are the targets of a new form of job discrimination.

Watch Brutal Job Search Reality for Older Americans Out of Work on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

One in two unemployed older workers was out of work for six months or more in April, according to the latest job report. The duration of unemployment last month grew for older workers to 50.2 weeks from 49.2 weeks in March.



Two years ago this month, a tornado nearly wiped out Joplin, Missouri. Now, an effort is underway to reunite people with their photos that were literally scattered in the wind.

The Lost Photos of Joplin was organized by a church in the neighboring town of Carthage, where people have been collecting them, archiving them, and attempting to return them to their owners.

Thirty-five thousand photos have been found, some from as far as 350 miles away. They’ve been scanned and posted on the project’s website.

The blog, Permanent Record, says, “Some are professional portraits; others are amateurish snapshots; many were wet and dirty when they were found. But all have been treated like the precious family artifacts they are. As of mid-April, 15,563 of them had been claimed.”

(h/t: Joe Duea)

Related weather: On this date in 1965, a tornado struck Fridley. (h/t: Cathy Wurzer)


Some Minnesota legislators are taking another crack at toughening Minnesota’s relatively weak anti-bullying laws for school kids. The effort is running into opposition from others who think it’ll create another bureaucracy.

The proposal also raises questions that weren’t answered when the original bill was passed years ago — how can schools hand out discipline for things that occur outside of school — so-called “cyberbullying,” for example.

“When I contacted the school, they said they couldn’t do anything about it because it didn’t happen at school,” Gonzales said. “I took a picture of the comments and gave it to the police, but nothing could really be done. I just wanted that person to know I don’t tolerate harassment.”

“What concerns me is the reach that the climate center would have into the lives of families, particularly through social media,” Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker, tells the St. Cloud Times.

“When did the school replace the families? Where did this transition take place that says, now the school is there to protect your children?” he added. “I’m the first line of defense for my children, not the school.”

A lot of questions could’ve been raised – and answered – when the original legislation was passed. But they weren’t. In fact, on the day it passed the Minnesota Senate in 2007, not a single voice was raised in debate.

Related: Sometimes it’s the teacher who is bullied. (CBC)


In popular lore, NPR says today, parents spend more time with boys than girls. Fathers tend to spend more time with boys once they are older than age 4 or 5. So how come young girls do better on math and reading tests than young boys?

A couple of economists have released research showing that “young girls are more likely to be taken to libraries than are boys, are more likely to own books than are boys, and are more likely to be read to for longer periods of time than boy.”

Since parents say they spend the same amount of time overall with boys and girls, Baker’s analysis suggests that if parents are spending more time with girls on cognitive activities, they must be spending more time with boys on other kinds of activities. While it’s possible to speculate that those activities involve more active play, Baker says the surveys could not provide a definite answer.

The big question, of course, is why these disparities in parental investment come about at all. After all, as Baker notes, many parents are familiar with research showing that elementary school boys trail girls in test of vocabulary and math. And they’ve also likely heard about studies suggesting that early interventions might have a big impact on the lives of children.


Charlie Gainey, 18, a Menomonie High School student, had a lot of pressure on him since he was nominated for the prom court. He needed a date.

Danielle Hooper, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and the current Miss Minnesota USA – heard of Charlie’s story. One of her coworkers decided she should be his date, and she agreed.

Bonus I: The Canada Lynx is a rarity in Minnesota, but more have been migrating south. A couple were spotted last week. Bill Hansen of Sawbill Canoe Outfitters near Tofte shot the video. (Perfect Duluth Day)

Bonus II: Jeff Bauman at the Bruins game on Saturday.


A St. Paul Public Schools educator is Minnesota’s 2013 Teacher of the Year.

Megan Hall teaches high school biology and life sciences at Open World Learning Community in downtown St. Paul, and said Sunday that the achievement gap in education is the biggest issue facing her field.

Today’s Question: What’s one lesson a teacher taught you that matters today?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The competing tax proposals at the Legislature.

Second hour: The state of the U.S. auto industry.

Third hour: David Shields, author of “How Literature Saved My Life.”

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein, speaking at St. Olaf College about “How Washington Really Works.”

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The U.S. House will vote on legislation this week that could make a significant change to how hourly workers get paid. Second District Republican John Kline is one of the lawmakers behind the bill, called the Working Families Flexibility Act, which would let workers convert their overtime into time off at the same rate of pay. Some critics say all the flexibility is for the benefit of employers, and for workers, the plan would mean pay cuts. MPR’s Brett Neely will have the story.

Amanda is gay. Sixteen years ago on NPR, she talked about coming out. Now Amanda and her mother are part of NPR’s new series: Teenage Diaries Revisited.

  • Robert Moffitt

    #1) As an older worker, this issue is always in the back of my mind. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    Bonus: Those lynx make some crazy sounds!

  • Aaron

    Go Charlie!

  • Discrimination against older workers is definitely an issue. and one I’ve run into a lot since I was laid off a couple of years ago. The questions are never couched in terms of my age, it’s along the lines of whether my skills are current or am I able to learn new skills, etc. As if your brain locks up the minute you reach the age of 50. It’s especially an issue in journalism, where younger workers are cheaper and thought to have fewer “bad” habits learned during the pre-Internet days.

    I’ve had to create my own work and reinvent myself a bit, otherwise my only career path would be a greeter at Walmart.

  • JOe

    I’m so sick of hearing about books on the radio

  • Ben

    The gender reading gap has been a persistent problem. I have been lucky to be involved in the Guys Read program at Hennepin County Libraries which tries to help a bit or at leas provide some insight into the problem. It was interesting to learn the effect of having positive, male, reading role models for young men.