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Need to Know, April 15, 2011: The BP oil spill and the Grand Isle one year later, fixing American education

Nearly one year ago this week, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, causing one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history. How are residents of Grand Isle, La., faring one year after the incident? We revisit some of the families and business owners we met last year during the oil spill to find out. We also sit down with ecologist Carl Safina and ProPublica’s Abrahm Lustgarten to discuss BP’s regulatory failures and the accident’s impact on the environment, and speak with energy expert Lisa Margonelli about the U.S.’s post-oil spill energy policy.

Also: As a follow-up to our popular “Fixing America” series, we feature another series of “big thinkers” — educators, administrators and policy-makers — who share their thoughts on how to fix American education. Jon Meacham also sits down with Jim Simons, founder of Math for America and one of the richest men in the country, to talk about his dedication to improving American mathematics education.

And: Jon Meacham delivers an “In Perspective” essay on the Constitution framers’ decision that only native-born Americans may become President.

Watch the individual segments:

One year later, Grand Isle still struggles

On the one-year anniversary of the Gulf oil spill, Need to Know returns to the community of Grand Isle, La., to visit with families and business owners affected by the spill. At the time, their businesses were practically shuttered, and they were just beginning to file claims against BP. How are they faring now?

Health risks of spill remain uncertain

Residents and cleanup workers are still looking for answers about how the Gulf oil spill may have affected their health. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has launched the largest study ever into long- and short-term health effects from an oil spill. But for many those answers won’t come soon enough.

What have we learned from the BP spill?

Ecologist Carl Safina and investigative reporter Abrahm Lustgarten join Alison Stewart to discuss the regulatory failures that led to the BP oil spill and its impact on the environment.

Lisa Margonelli on energy policy after the spill

Author and energy policy expert Lisa Margonelli joins Alison Stewart to talk about America’s energy policy going forward in the post-BP spill era. Are we stuck on silver bullet solutions when small, incremental adjustments may be the game changer?

Big thinkers on fixing American education

In the latest installment of Need to Know’s “Fixing America” series, we asked educators, policymakers and other innovators how they would put the country’s education system on the path to straight A’s. Among the voices are Linda Darling-Hammond, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel and Asia Society CEO Vishakha Desai.

Jim Simons on improving math education

Jon Meacham sits down with Jim Simons, one of the richest men in the world and founder of Math for America, to find out why Simons has devoted so much of his time — and money — to improving math education in this country.

Meacham: Allow non-natives to run for president

Jon Meacham explains the reasoning behind the Founding Fathers” decision to allow only native Americans to serve as president, and argues that it’s time to change that.

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  • Phillip Wilson

    Wonder how the execs at Transocean are enjoying the million dollar bonuses?

  • Gulf Resident

    Filed in October…waited…send more info…waited…got approved over the phone….all information lost…waited….all information found…waited….got denied for lack of documentation…was asked to file for final or interim…waited…was asked for 2011 W2′s which were complete and received JAN 31. 2011…..waited….status changed to reviewed…..have been reviewed 3 times since Feb….waiting….status changed to final payment offer/ review….asked why and was told that that doesn’t mean I will get on offer….waiting…..193 days of waiting and hoping. 386 times of going online checking my status. Tomorrow I will cancel my families health insurance so I can buy food. We never received a penny! And don’t let me even start about the oil on the beaches and corexit in the water. Up to this day I am looking for a website where I can read independent weekly water sample tests. There seem none existent. So I need to trust BP that my kids go swimming every day??? Right!

  • Patricia Ware

    As a retired 4th grade teacher in Boise, ID, I found your speakers on education reform right on! In Idaho our education reform bills included required online classes for high school graduation, larger class size, ending renewable contracts, restricting negortiated agreements between teachers and local school boards, performance pay based on test scores, hard-to-fill positions, and leadership. The performance pay has no real budget in place due to budget cuts statewide. After being so frustrated with our legislators, it was refreshing to hear what I think education really needs.

  • Chris Chew

    The six Big thinkers talking about education are in fact very narrow minded in their perspective on education! In some ways their views are simply stereotypical: the head of the science museum would frame it as a science problem, the head of asia society would frame it as a cultural issue, etc… There doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive plan or proposal. And personally, i think no one is really addressing the elephant in the room…The students! That they have to be self-motivated, discipline, see the need for education. No amount of money / plan will work if the students don’t see the point of it or that their education is cushioned by all these external fluff. I remember watching a PBS documentary about how kids after Katrina hurricane had problems getting back to school and learning..and one major complain was that the kids didn’t have textbooks so that can’t learn…Come on! kids in third world nations earn to write with stick and sand and they listen and memorize stuff from teachers who has the knowledge without textbooks!