ATLANTA (AP) — A child aid group says Georgia is among 21 states failing to meet standards for protecting kids during natural disasters.
Save the Children on Tuesday released its 2014 National Report Card on protecting Children in Disasters.
After Hurricane Katrina, the National Commission on Children and Disasters reviewed the nation's disaster preparation and made final recommendations in 2010. Save the Children boiled those down to four areas for child care providers: evacuation and relocation plans, family-child reunification plans, special needs student plans and a written emergency plan at all K-12 schools.
According to the study, Georgia met one of the criteria by requiring schools to have emergency plans. The study says a January storm that stranded some Atlanta-area students at schools or on buses overnight demonstrates why more preparation is needed.
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago children returned to school Tuesday walking past even more guards than last year, when concerns about safety prompted the city to line the streets with 1,200 adults every day.
Thanks to an infusion of $1 million from the city, another 100 "Safe Passage" workers were lining routes that students walk through crime-ridden neighborhoods to get to school. And after Gov. Pat Quinn pledged $10 million, officials said another 600 of the workers would be hired and on the streets over the next several weeks.
When they're all in place, said Jadine Chou, the chief safety and security officer for the Chicago Public Schools, more workers will be assigned along existing routes and some routes will be extended farther from schools. The district has added 27 schools to the 93 for which there will be Safe Passage workers.
"It was good last year, but I don't think it stopped the violence none," said mother Tiffany Davis, who was walking her 7-year-old son to Dulles School of Excellence on the city's South Side. "Maybe it calmed things down a little."
There is far less publicity about the first day of school than a year ago, when the closure of some 50 schools by Mayor Rahm Emanuel had parents and others worried that forcing children to walk through unfamiliar and dangerous neighborhoods to new schools would put them at greater risk of crossing gang boundaries and being caught in gang conflicts.
But the worst fears of violence against children walking to school never came to pass.
"It didn't happen, to the glory of God, and I think there were very few if anything happened to children on their way to and from school," said Bishop Larry Trotter of the Sweet Holy Spirit Church on the city's South Side, one of several pastors who had urged Emanuel to reconsider the closings. "The mayor and his team did a wonderful job."
Chou said not one student was seriously injured along a Safe Passage route during the hours that the guards were on duty last school year.
Since school ended in the spring, the city has witnessed spasms of violence such as one over the July 4 weekend that left 14 dead and dozens injured. In one tragic incident, an 11-year-old girl inside a house at a slumber party was killed when a bullet fired outside at someone else pierced a wall and struck her in the head.
Some worry that the city is not doing enough to keep students from harm, particularly high school students who are going to and from school for extracurricular activities before or after the Safe Passage workers are on duty.
Last December, a 15-year-old girl who left her home before dawn to get to a school on the city's North Side was beaten and raped less than a half block from a Safe Passage route.
"She had to get to school earlier than the Safe Passage (workers) were on duty," said state Rep. LaShawn Ford, who noted that Safe Passage workers were not on the street at 6 a.m. Ford has pushed for the hours of the guards to be expanded this year. Guards start less than an hour before classes begin and stay up to an hour after school ends, according to Chicago Public Schools.
There's also a political risk for Emanuel, who's up for re-election next year. His most-talked-about potential rival, Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis, has criticized Emanuel for closing neighborhood schools and dubbed him the "murder mayor" because of the city's violence.
Any violence that occurs on a student's walk to and from school could become fodder for Lewis — or any other opponent — to use against Emanuel, whose popularity has fallen over the last year.
U.S. stocks are ending mostly lower as energy companies fall and investors look ahead to central bank meetings later this week.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 30 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 17,067 on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged down one point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,002. The Nasdaq rose 17 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,598.
Five of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index fell, with energy stocks down the most.
Investors are looking ahead to central bank meetings this week in Europe and Japan, and waiting for key U.S. employment figures Friday.
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — A Justice Department lawyer has told a federal judge that a tough new Texas voter ID law was motivated by racial discrimination and should be struck down.
Opening arguments began Tuesday in a trial over the measure Republican Gov. Rick Perry signed into law in 2011. Opponents call it the most stringent voter ID measure of any adopted by conservative states in recent years.
Experts estimate that nearly 800,000 registered voters in Texas lack an acceptable form of ID under the law. Justice Department attorney Elizabeth Westfall says blacks and Hispanics make up a disproportionate number of those voters.
Texas is the first major test for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder since the Supreme Court last year struck down a key part of the federal Voting Rights Act.
BEULAH, Mich. (AP) — A northern Michigan woman accused of trying to kill her autistic daughter has pleaded guilty to first-degree child abuse.
Benzie County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Tang-Anderson says Kelli Stapleton entered the plea Tuesday morning. Stapleton had been scheduled to go on trial Wednesday on a charge of attempted murder.
Tang-Anderson says no sentencing date was set. The maximum punishment for the charge is life in prison.
The 46-year-old Stapleton is accused of trying to kill herself and her teenage daughter last year by carbon monoxide poisoning by igniting charcoal grills inside a van.
Isabelle was 14 at the time. She has severe autism and sometimes has violent outbursts.
Stapleton's blog had chronicled the challenges her family faced while caring for her.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Remember the polar vortex, the huge mass of Arctic air that can plunge much of the U.S. into the deep freeze? You might have to get used to it.
A new study says that as the world gets warmer, parts of North America, Europe and Asia could see more frequent and stronger visits of that cold air. Researchers say that's because of shrinkage in ice in the seas off Russia. Less ice would let more energy go from the ocean into the air, and that would weaken the atmospheric forces that usually keep cold air trapped in the Arctic.
The study was published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.