Schools address racial gap between students

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that school segregation was unconstitutional.

Black students were free to attend the same schools as white students and learn the same lessons. But something unexpected has happened during these past 50 years. The lessons being taught to black and white students are the same, but an achievement gap between the two races remains.

Temps lack knowledge of benefits

Like most of us, Daryl McKenzie gets a lot of mail.

So when the Express Personnel Services temporary worker received a notice from his employment agency offering affordable health insurance, he didn’t realize it could reduce the cost of his premium by more than 40 percent.

Private schools set own teacher standards

Private schools abound in Columbia — each providing something a little different to its students.

One thing different from their public school counterparts is that each private school decides what qualifies its teachers.

War in Iraq takes toll on approval ratings

NEW YORK — War is hell on a presidency. And it plays havoc with presidential campaigns.

President Bush led the nation through the Sept. 11 attacks, against the Taliban and into Iraq — three defining moments that have brought his political fortunes full circle to the same middling job approval rating he had Sept. 10, 2001. At the opening of his nominating convention, supporters can’t help but wonder how much stronger Bush would be politically had he kept the war on terrorism out of Iraq.

Inside the shrine

The Imam Ali shrine contains the tomb of the father of Shiite Islam. It is also the physical center, where religious authority is interpreted and filtered out to Shiite mosques and madrassas all over the world. The shrine and the old city of Najaf are to Shiites what the Vatican is to Catholics.

My first night in the shrine, I moved through the courtyard fielding invitations to eat from the men circled in groups around large plates of rice with a bit of lentils. We talked, ate, slept and bathed with them. We were also under siege with them.

Fighting abuse with song

The sunshine was a welcome sign for the organizers of the Celebration of Women’s Song. The fund-raising event for The Shelter, a Columbia organization that helps victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, was washed out by the rain Saturday. But Sunday’s sunshine brought out a big crowd and more than 100 performers for the cause.

“It is something that involved community people do for us,” said Leigh Voltmer, the executive director of The Shelter.

High hopes for receivers

After running over its opponents last year for the sixth best rushing attack in the country, the Missouri football team is looking to go to the air.

The emphasis on improving the passing game has been evident in preseason scrimmages, with the offense running far more passing plays than rushing. The Tigers are relying on Sean Coffey, Brad Ekwerekwu and Thomson Omboga, three of the teams more experienced receivers, to produce for the first team offense.

Comeback Cardinal

His rise to the major leagues was as quick as his high-90s fastball, his fall more devastating than his disappearing curveball.

Rick Ankiel’s story was the mind-boggling sort; a rookie phenom with the talent to earn a start in Game 1 of the playoffs only to inexplicably split apart at the seams on one of baseball’s biggest stages.

Extra Points

The Missouri soccer team suffered its first loss of the season, falling to Illinois, 4-1 on Sunday in Champaign, Ill.

The Illini started their season opener with three goals in the first half. The Tigers scored in the second half with Jennifer Nobis earning her second goal of the season. The Illini capitalized on a cornerkick for their final goal.

Political bashing hurts human spirit

There doesn’t seem to be much difference these days between a job as a political reporter or a job cleaning out horse stalls. If anything, muckraking the stalls would be more productive.

Somehow, a political candidate’s position on the issues is far less important than any dirty secrets that can be discovered. Of course, the news organizations insist they are only telling the public what it wants to hear, and it is true that most of the time the candidate who slings the most dirt wins.

Rams awaken against ’Skins

Perhaps it took an embarrassing outing to get the St. Louis Rams’ attention. With one preseason game left for them, it couldn’t have come at a better time.Four days after a 24-7 loss at Kansas City, the Rams rolled out offensive firepower befitting the nickname “Greatest Show on Turf,” bowling past the Washington Redskins 28-3 on Friday night.

Swift boat vet speaks on Kerry’s behalf

Gene Thorson, a swift boat crewmate of Senator John Kerry’s during the Vietnam War, delivered a deeply personal account of what he called John Kerry’s “outstanding instincts and leadership skills under fire” at a press conference Sunday sponsored by the Kerry-Edwards campaign. Other local military veterans joined him in front of a crowd of approximately 50 people to deliver a scathing indictment of the Bush administra-tion for its handling of veterans’ affairs and for the recent attack ads by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.