Tonight, raw politics. A look at how Americans voted and what it means for the right, the left and independents. Plus, we're keeping them honest in California. A scathing report describes how authorities dropped the ball – big-time – and failed to keep track of accused rapist and kidnapper Philip Garrido while he was on parole. The missed opportunities and mistakes that may have cost Jaycee Dugard years of freedom.
Want to know what else we're covering? Read EVENING BUZZ
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Program Note: Don't miss Randi Kaye’s full report tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
Randi Kaye| BIO
So let me get this straight!
Schools across the country are lowering standards – actually dumbing down lesson plans – to avoid sanctions under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
That act was President George W. Bush’s signature education reform. It mandates that every child in school must be “proficient” in reading and math by 2014 and schools that fall short are subject to sanctions.
Now a new federal study shows that nearly a third of the states lowered academic standards in recent years. Fifteen states in all lowered proficiency standards in fourth and eighth-grade reading or math from 2005 to 2007. Three states – Maine, Oklahoma, and Wyoming – lowered standards in both subjects at both grade levels. Yikes!
On a positive note, though, the study found eight states actually raised their standards even though their funding was threatened.
Editor's Note: This article continues our series excerpted from AC360°'s contributor David Gewirtz's upcoming book, How To Save Jobs, which will be available in December. Over the next few months, we'll be excerpting the first section of the book, which answers the question, "How did we get here?". Last time, we looked at riots, massacres and the transactional nature of work This time, we'll look at our changing relationship with work. To learn more about the book, you should follow David on Twitter @DavidGewirtz.
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David Gewirtz | BIO
Editor-in-Chief, ZATZ Publishing
Our relation with work has changed as time passed. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, more and more people lived in cities and areas removed from the land. Individuals became more reliant on buying food and goods rather than growing their own.
America transformed from a tradesman-based economy to one based on the economies of scale factories and industry could produce. The shoemaker, for example, who'd spent years honing his craft and would take weeks to make a pair of shoes, couldn't compete with the industrial age shoe manufacturers that could crank out virtually identical shoes of equal (and sometimes better) quality in mere minutes, and at a fraction of the cost.
For a newly industrialized America, the Great Depression was a one-two punch. Farmers, who were normally relatively self-sufficient, were put out of work due to a man-made occurrence known as the Dust Bowl. But because of the worldwide economic downturn, there also weren't jobs in the cities. Farmers couldn't move to the city to find work, and city dwellers couldn't move to the non-arable open land.
Both of these problems (the economic downturn and the bad land) were man-made. Every school child has been taught about the 1929 stock market crash and the massive bank failures that led to the economic disaster that followed.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/10/01/iran.geneva.nuclear/art.obama.pool.jpg caption="Democrat Barack Obama campaigned in 2008 on a message of change."]
CNN Senior Political Contributor
The president didn't watch the election returns Tuesday night, according to his press secretary, Robert Gibbs. He watched his beloved Chicago Bulls instead.
At least in the NBA, his hometown basketball team won - by two points over the Bucks. If he'd watched the election returns, he would have seen that his team got clobbered.
He also would have realized a lot of angry voters are out there who aren't very satisfied with the direction of the country. In a word, Tuesday's election was anti-incumbent. The status quo isn't good enough.
I don't believe Tuesday's election was a referendum on President Obama, but it sure was a warning sign that he has to do more then show up in New Jersey and say "I need Gov. Corzine to help me in Washington."
Supporters of same-sex marriage are vowing to keep up their fight, after voters in Maine yesterday rejected a law allowing such unions.
Stunned and upset advocates of gay rights gathered on the steps of Portland's City Hall today for a news conference.
"It seems in the end Mainers are not ready to treat these families fairly," an emotional Betsy Smith, executive director of Maine Equality, told the crowd.
"Having the protections and the law, as well as the respect and dignity that comes only with marriage is a journey on which we will continue," Smith said.
With 87 percent of precincts reporting as of this morning, the campaign to overturn Maine's same-sex marriage law won with 53 percent of the vote versus 47 percent opposed to the ballot measure, according to unofficial results compiled by the Bangor Daily News.
"The institution of marriage has been preserved in Maine and across the nation," Frank Schubert, chief organizer for the winning side, Yes on 1/Stand for Marriage Maine said last night.
Maine now joins 30 other states where voters have rejected same-sex marriage.
Five states – Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Iowa – have legalized such unions. But all did so through the courts or legislation, not by popular vote.
What do you think of the vote in Maine and the future fight for same-sex marriage? Share your thoughts below.
Tonight on 360°, we'll look at what's next in the aftermath of the Maine vote.
We'll also look at the other election results. The GOP won the governorship in Virginia and New Jersey. Democrats were victorious in a bitter House race in upstate New York, taking a seat that had been in Republican-control since 1872, when Ulysses S. Grant was president. We'll look at why voters seemed to vote the way they did yesterday and what it says about politics in America.
Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. Eastern. See you then!
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/04/t1larg.mcdonnell.jpg caption="GOP candidate Bob McDonnell emerged victorious in the Virginia gubernatorial race."]
Tuesday's off-year election may not have had the high stakes of the 2008 presidential election, but several races are significant on the national level:
• New York's 23rd Congressional District: Owens to win vacant U.S. House seat, CNN projects
Democratic candidate Bill Owens will be elected to a vacant U.S. House seat in upstate New York.
The race garnered national attention as local Republican leaders picked Dede Scozzafava because of her appeal to centrist Republicans, independents and even some Democrats. However, the decision sparked a revolt among conservative activists in the GOP.
Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman outpolled Scozzafava, forcing her to withdraw. Scozzafava has since endorsed Owens.
• Virginia governor: McDonnell is projected winner
CNN has projected that Republican Bob McDonnell will be elected Virginia governor. The 55-year-old former state attorney general will be the first Republican to win the state's highest office in 12 years.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, McDonnell was leading Democratic opponent Creigh Deeds 59 percent to 41 percent.
The race was seen as an early referendum on voters' attitudes toward President Obama and his policies and an opportunity for Republicans to turn back recent Democratic gains.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
Al Gore attends the launch party for his new book 'OUR CHOICE: A Plan To Solve The Climate Crisis' at the American Museum of Natural History on November 3, 2009 in New York City. (Getty Images)
UPDATE BEAT 360º WINNERS
"Having won every other award, Al Gore goes for an Emmy as a TV weatherman."
Richard E. D., Greensboro, NC
"Al Gore poses for Madame Tussaud's, then promptly melts from the effects of global warming."
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
Editor's Note: A new federal study shows that nearly one-third of states may have lowered their academic proficiency standards in recent years – a move that helps schools stay immune from sanctions under the No Child Left Behind law. The Department of Education study found that 15 states lowered their proficiency standards at the middle school level in basic subjects from 2005 to 2007. Were schools allowed to lower standards? And why? Randi Kaye is keeping them honest tonight. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute
The tests that states use to measure academic progress under the No Child Left Behind Act are creating a false impression of success, especially in reading and especially in the early grades.
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute did an evaluation of the tests.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/10/12/john.king.monday.memo/art.traders.gi.jpg caption="Federal Reserve policymakers voted again to keep the central bank's key interest rate near zero, just one week after the government reported that the economy grew in the third quarter."]
CNN Financial News Producer
Federal Reserve policymakers voted once again today to keep the central bank’s key interest rate near zero. Ben Bernanke and Co. added in a statement that although the economy continues to improve, the Fed intends to stay the course – at least for a while.
The central bank’s decision came just one week after the government reported that the economy grew in the third quarter, the first gain in more than a year
While it was widely assumed that the Fed would leave rates in a range of 0% to 0.25%, economists and investors were eager to see how it described the economy in its statement.
And the Fed repeated language from earlier statements that economic conditions are “likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period.”
The federal funds rate is a benchmark used to set the rates paid on a wide range of business and consumer loans, such as home equity lines and credit cards. It has been near zero since December 2008.
Also in focus, the nation's employment picture continued to deteriorate last month, although the rate of decline continued to slow, according to two reports out today.
Payroll-processing firm ADP said private-sector employers cut 203,000 jobs in October. It was the seventh month in a row that the number of job cuts fell from the month before.
In a separate report, the pace of announced job cuts slowed, but the number of cuts announced in 2009 will soon exceed last year's total.
Job cut announcements by employers fell to 55,679 in October, 16% fewer than in September, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. It was the third consecutive monthly decline.
We’ll get the government’s official snapshot of the labor market on Friday with the October employment report. Consensus estimates are for a loss of 175,000 jobs and the unemployment rate ticking up to 9.9%.
Meanwhile, the number of Americans filing personal bankruptcies surged 9% in October, and we are now on target for the highest annual total in four years, according to a report issued today.
The American Bankruptcy Institute, an industry research firm that relies on data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center, said 135,914 consumers filed for bankruptcy last month. Almost a third of the bankruptcies were filed under Chapter 13, in which consumers are put on a repayment plan of up to five years.
The group is also forecasting total bankruptcies will exceed 1.4 million in 2009, which would be the highest since 2005. It would also be an increase of at least 30% from last year.
Follow the money… on Twitter: @AndrewTorganCNN
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/06/30/colorado/art.colorado.afp.gi.jpg caption="Denver, Colorado, hosted the 2008 Democratic National Convention."]
Kevin Bohn and Jessica Yellin
The western United States, with its independent streak and growing population, is the terrain both political parties are hoping to mine for electoral gains in the coming years.
With Denver hosting the 2008 Democratic Convention and a more concentrated effort in the region, the Obama campaign was able to capture Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada in last year's presidential election. Some Democrats hoped those results foretold a transformation, but a year later, political experts are saying not so fast.
The West gives President Obama his lowest approval ratings, and the Democratic Party has a 45 percent approval rating in the area - the only region in the country in which it gets under 50 percent, according to an October 16-18 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.
"It's not as though people are lining up at the Republican Party headquarters. It's just that the bloom is off," said William Chaloupka, a long-time observer of Western politics and a professor at Colorado State University.