This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. The age of eight or nine, when kids complete third grade, represents a key turning point. Up until then, children are learning to read. Afterwards, they read to learn. Many educators believe that kids who can't read should be held back, and several states use standardized tests. Kids who don't pass are automatically held back, or retained.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Every politician knows that a drunk driving charge or a secret lover can come back to haunt come campaign time, but so can an unfortunate turn of phrase in an interview decades-old, a now-outdated policy position, a master's thesis or even, as Mitt Romney learned this past weekend, high school pranks that may have gone too far.
Amid allegations of corruption and misconduct in college football programs, critics have questioned whether the schools are exploiting student-athletes in an attempt to make millions of dollars. And alarms have been raised about the risks of repeated head injuries.
But football supporters say the sport is unifying, it teaches life lessons to players and it offers chances to young men that they may not get elsewhere.