American Morning

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December 29th, 2009
06:30 AM ET

Educating America: The big business of the SAT

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The College Board says all revenues from its products are reinvested into improved or additional services that support its mission."]

By Carol Costello and Bob Ruff

During the 1950s, "What's My Line" was a popular television show featuring celebrity panelists trying to guess the occupation or identity of a real person. The panelists were given a hint and then asked the person a series of questions.

Imagine this. Had the panelists been asked to guess the name of an American organization based on the following hints, how many would have guessed correctly? And how many would have guessed that it's a nonprofit organization?

  • Its business is education.
  • Its president makes roughly $900,000 in salary, benefits, and perks.
  • 12 of its executives make more than $300,000 in salary and benefits.
  • Total yearly revenues hover near $600 million.
  • Students are its main consumers and it charges them $45 each time they use the featured product.
  • If a student wants the product faster, he gets charged more.
  • If a student wants detailed information on the product, he gets charged more.
  • And if if the student wants to buy by phone, that's extra too.

If you've followed our "American Morning" series this week you may have already guessed that we're talking about the College Board, which owns the SAT – a test required for entry into the nation's most competitive colleges. Critics say that that with its highly-paid executives and big business outlook, the College Board doesn't look or act very much like a nonprofit educational institution that earns tax benefits from the IRS.

Watch: SAT's big business Video

Fairtest is a consumer watchdog group that opposes most standardized tests. It has criticized the SAT as a test that isn't fair to students who can't afford college prep classes designed to "beat" the test. The group also says the College Board is placing more emphasis on making money than fulfilling its mission – to connect students "to college success and opportunity with a commitment to equity and access."


Filed under: Educating America • Education
December 29th, 2009
06:00 AM ET

We found Patient Zero; here's how

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Dr. Sanjay Gupta and crew found patient zero tucked away in this small mountain village in La Gloria, Mexico"]

By Danielle Dellorto, CNN

It was late April. I remember it being a somewhat quiet news day when I received the call. It was an editor on our international news desk alerting us that about 100 people had gotten very ill in Mexico City with severe flu-like symptoms.

They had no clue what was causing it at the time. The only thing health officials were telling us was that the patients had contracted a highly contagious virus that hadn’t been seen in humans before. The hunt was on: Dr. Sanjay Gupta and I hopped on the next flight out to Mexico City to track down the mystery virus that was getting so many people so sick.

Within 24 hours of arriving, the dense city of about 8 million people had literally turned into a ghost town. The mayor was urging people to stay inside; the hospitals were overcrowded; schools, public transportation, and restaurants closed their doors. At one point, I remember walking down the unusually empty streets of Mexico City in awe. It was an eerie feeling, but also a defining moment for me as a journalist. I realized that people, not just in Mexico City, were scared of this unknown killer virus. What was it? Would they be infected? What should they do? We didn't know it at the time, but H1N1 influenza was about to become a global epidemic and the world was already looking to us for answers.

Read the full story

Filed under: Health
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