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Pitches of the week: Businesses and public education, polling transparency, epigenomes and the food supply

Education has proven to be a popular issue among Need to Know fans — the Pitch Room conversation over the economics of higher education sparked a lengthy, intriguing conversation, and the NTK staff has been keeping up with some of the uncertain new frontiers in the country’s educational system (Alison Stewart weighed in on Tuesday’s primary results and their potential effect on school reform, and we offered a rundown of free online courses currently being offered in the new trend toward providing free, publicly accessible college classes on the Internet). This week’s story ideas from our audience tackle some more questions about schooling in the U.S, along with other hefty topics that question the structures and operations of national institutions. Let us know what issues you’re burning to hear more about, and you can always send us your story ideas at

Businesses and public education

“I’d like to see stories on how business/profit affects public education … tracking the money. Look at testing companies and textbook publishers and the relationship to state required testing and other education laws and policies. (Florida might be an interesting place to start.)”

Transparency in polling

“I would like a story about history of corruption in polling. I’d like a historian and a media analyst interview with Chomsky. If you want, you could feature role of internet in providing transparency in polling:,, etc.”

Dismantling of higher education

“Please do a story on the systematic, global dismantling of higher education. This is especially evident in California, where less and less of the state’s general fund is allotted to the three higher education systems (community colleges, state universities, and University of California campuses), despite the “Master Plan for Higher Education”, which guarantees a tuition-free college education for ANYONE who qualifies. This is also happening in Europe (where they are getting rid of tenure), along with the rise of for-profit online degrees.”

Jobs moved overseas

“Why not do a story listing the names of American companies that have moved jobs overseas and also disclose their political contributions. Include the number of jobs involved.”

Epigenomes and the food supply

“Stress, poor environment, and toxic chemicals in the environment can cause epigenome changes in how our genes are expressed. I’m wondering how animals that are being raised in large farms with very restrictive and very stressful environments and with modified food that is not natural to the species in nature are reacting to this situation.  We know that these animals frequently have to be given antibiotics to keep them from getting infections and getting sick. These antibiotics come through the process into our food.  What about the epigenome chemicals?  How will they affect us?  Is our meat coming from large production farms feeding us and our children with epigenomes chemical compounds that are influencing our genes? I’d like to learn more.”


  • Anonymous

    Please take a few minutes and define the term “small business”. What comes to mind is businesses with few employees and a comparatively small gross incomes. However, “small business” is defined by a company’s tax filing status. A “small business” can be a multimillion dollar business with hundreds of employees. Most people don’t know this and they need to know the truth!
    Norm Ferguson Taos, NM

  • Anonymous

    Please interview Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett authors of “The Spirit Level–Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger”. The authors show that health quality, education quality, teen preganancy, incarceration rates, obesity rates and numerous other socail factors are strongly associated with income inequality in the U.S. and in other industrialized nations. These problems get resolved when income inequaity is reduced. We all need to know this.