Bob Barrett

Host/Producer, The Best Of Our Knowledge

Bob has been a part of the WAMC family since 2001.  He currently produces and hosts National Production's The Best Of Our Knowledge.  Over the years, Bob has produced The Environment Show and The Health Show for National Productions and hosted weekend mornings on WAMC for a decade. He is currently a reporter and on air host at WUWF Public Radio at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. 

Ways to Connect

Bob Barrett

Remember when you got your first computer and had to make up a password for the first time? That was your introduction to the world of cybersecurity. That world has gotten a lot larger. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to a homeland security official about cybersecurity in and out of schools.

We’ll also hear about NY State’s trans gender bathroom policy…or lack thereof, find out if the water in the state’s schools is safe to drink…and spend an academic minute longing for your smart phone.

They always tell me not to start the show with number and I try to obey. But these numbers are pretty stark.  African American girls make up 16 percent of the school population in the US…but they are a third of all school related arrests in the country. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to a leader in the fight for justice for black girls in school.

We’ll also spend an academic minute looking at what the change in US-Cuban relations means for race relations on the island.

It’s been a while since we rang the bell and invited you into history class here at TBOOK University, and given the current atmosphere in the political world, why not talk about one of the most revered politicians in American history.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, Sidney Blumenthal talks about the first volume in his massive new project exploring the history of the man who some consider the greatest President of the United States.

Unless you’ve taken up residence under the proverbial rock you’ve heard that the rights of transgender students has become a huge topic of discussion and controversy over the past couple of months…especially when it comes to schools. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about a school in western New York where the students produced a tribute to a transgender classmate.

Then it’s off to the west coast, where a bay area high school is making history with a groundbreaking LGBT course.

Reporter tries on the Oculus Rift 3-D virtual reality goggles at Case Western University Medical Center
Bob Barrett

I said it before and it’s still true today: I love a good road trip. Earlier this year I took one to Cleveland, Ohio and got to see some amazing new technology at the medical college of Case Western Reserve University.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll see how virtual reality is saving lives today…and training students to save more in the future.

Reading is the core of the Common Core. For the most part, education cannot begin without a student first learning how to read.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the co-author of the new book Reading Reconsidered, which looks at the power of reading and how it is being taught on all levels…or at least, maybe, how it should be.

We’ll also spend an academic minute finding out what type of person is more likely to be part of the grammar police.

Elms College

If you spent any of your school years at all in a Catholic school, then you probably spent some time being taught by nuns. Over the years, more and more Catholic schools are turning to lay teachers as fewer women are called to a religious vocation. But there is at least one college in the northeast that is still run by someone called “sister”, not “mister”

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear a conversation with Sister Mary Reap, the President of Elms College in the Berkshires.

Every year, the Lumina Foundation, a national organization that monitors post-secondary education and works towards increasing the number of Americans with college degrees releases a report on just how many students have gotten that piece of paper. The report for 2016 has just been released.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the president of the Lumina Foundation about their goals, and how they plan to get there.

The Best of Our Knowledge host Bob Barrett chats with Ira Flatow
Michael Spooneybarger / CREO

Back in the early 1970s, a new network called National Public Radio hired a young producer out of college who had two special interests: baseball and science. And since the network didn’t plan on doing much sports coverage, he finally got on the air with that other topic.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, I sit down with Ira Flatow, the person who founded NPR’s Science Unit and the host of the weekly public radio program Science Friday.

We’ll also spend an academic minute with the millions of cells in your body that don’t really belong to your body…your microbiome.

So how should we tackle the subject of autism, as a health or medical issue or as an education issue? You could make an argument for either. April is Autism Awareness Month…and we’re going to look at it as something people live with. And there are stories about all of those lives.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the President and CEO of the Hospital for Special Care in Connecticut about their program called “Spectrum of Kindness”, which hopes to tell as many of those stores as possible.

Dr. James Krupa
Orion Magazine

It always strikes us as a little odd when someone talks about either believing or not believing in evolution. While we understand the theological arguments, and trust me we’re not getting into one today, the current scientific evidence shows evolution to be a fact, not a belief system. But still, about half the population of the US says they don’t believe that…and an article last year in Orion Magazine points to school systems as being the number one culprit.

Over the years we’ve heard about the importance of reading to our children from a very young age. Now, there’s research to show that just talking to children from the moment of birth can help their brains develop…and the number of words is extremely important.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll learn about the 30 Million Words Initiative, and how poverty may be affecting the way some parents speak to their children.

More schools around the country are emphasizing STEM education to help students get a head start in a world that is rapidly becoming more technology driven. But with all that science and math…is there any room for creativity?

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about a group where imagination is the key to the destination.

Then we’ll hear about some nursing students who are helping new refugees in the US navigate the health care system…and we’ll also spend an academic minute with Baby Boomers who are having a little too much fun.

Space is hot. Yes, I do in fact know that outer space is icy cold… but here on planet earth, shows about the planets and exploration of the universe are turning some astrophysicists into rock stars. Well now there’s one who would rather be a star in interpretive dance. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to an astrophysicist who is putting together a multimedia presentation that’s out of this world.

Then we’ll hear about a unique program in Massachusetts that is helping high school students get a good start to the day.

University of West Florida

American needs more nurses…it’s one of the most in demand professions in the US today and it doesn’t look like the demand is going to go down anytime soon. So how much education do today’s nurses need…and has that changed over the past decade or so. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the Dean of the College of Health at a Florida university and find out her diagnosis on the state of nursing education.

We’ll also spend an academic minute staying healthy by keeping a nice house.

WUWF Radio

Bob  was kind of tempted to start today’s program with a rhyme, but decided he's not that talented or hokey. Poetry, the real stuff not anything he could come up with, is everywhere…if you know where to look.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll meet Jeff Newberry, an English Professor and Poet in Residence at an agricultural college in Georgia who is also a published poet that turned his love of his home along the Gulf Coast into verse.

Science has given us a way to have our individual genomes sequenced, opening up a vault of information about our genetic makeup and possibly our future health. But if information is generated…there will be people trying to get a hold of it.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, just how private are your genetic building blocks?

Next we’ll go from science to history and find out about a newly discovered letter that may shed light on the presidential election of 1876.

A couple of weeks ago we ran a segment talking about a new report on the state of charter schools in the US. The report was released by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and though it was factual it certainly highlighted the advantages of charters. I’ve been asked to give an opposing view and realized we already had.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, my talk with former US Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, who calls the privatization movement a Reign of Error.

C2 Education

Beginning March 5th, students around the country will sit and take the S.A.T….and it will be very different. In what some are calling the biggest overhaul to the exam in a century, it will look different, be scored differently and, hopefully, better measure a student’s chance for success in college.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to a national leader in SAT preparation about the new exam.

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

This is the 25th year that charter schools have been operating in the US, and new report says that, enrollment wise, they are doing better than ever. Hundreds of new charter schools have opened this year. However, a couple hundred have closed. And the head of a national charter school group says that’s fine with them.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll catch up with the charter school movement.

Nearly 75 years ago, a troubled young boy in Mississippi made history. He was the first person diagnosed with Autism. Since then, the scientific community has worked hard to understand the cause of the condition…while parents struggled even harder to have their children accepted in society.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the award winning journalists who wrote a comprehensive new history of Autism.

We’ll also spend an academic minute discovering a lost part of the human brain.

Facebook

Reaction has been coming in from all sides on President Obama’s State of the Union Address. The reaction from Republican presidential candidates was as negative as you’d expect. The other side of the aisle was more positive. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, a conversation with, Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.

The White House
The White House

He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient. That’s the line from Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution that has morphed into the president’s annual state of the union address. And most years, that address has a section devoted to education. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll review President Obama’s final state of the union.

Equator Network

It takes a long to time research and report findings in a scientific journal.

So after all that work, you’d like of think those scientists would be good at actually writing the reports. Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about STARD, a statement of standards for scientific reporting. And how they’re being updated.

We’ll also hear about the lights being used to study Lake Champlain, learn about efforts to save a dying language in the Northwest and spend an academic minute exploring your inner feelings about the United Nations.

Bob Barrett

Whether it’s done with pen and paper, computer, tablet, even stone and chisel, writing has been and will continue to be one of the signature means of communication. Teaching writing is as important as ever…as is getting teachers the tools and training to be effective writing mentors to students.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about the National Writing Project, and how it’s expanding into an area of the country that really needs it.

And another one bites the dust. Before we kick 2015 to the curb for good, let’s listen back to conversations with some really interesting people we had this year. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll listen again to Pat Bradley’s interview with Alan Alda when he came to Vermont to open an institute for scientific communication.

William L. Clements Library / University of Michigan

Happy holidays! This time of year we always look back and listen again to some stories about interesting people we met during the year.

UWF Historic trust

Quick, what’s the oldest city in the continental United States? If you said St. Augustine…bingo; you’re mostly right. That small city on Florida’s east coast is the oldest continuously occupied European-established community in the states. But the people who built that settlement weren’t the first to try to put down roots in what would become the Sunshine State.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, a look at how Florida is trying to preserve its history.

Do you remember the movie "Mean Girls"? The screenplay to the 2004 film was written by Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock star Tina Fey, who also had a role in the film. The movie was a worldwide hit and remains almost a cult favorite 10 years later. But did you know it was based on a non-fiction book called "Queenbees and Wannabees"?

In 2012, the New York Times Magazine published a detailed story about the sexual abuse of students at the Horace Mann School, an upscale private college preparatory school in the Bronx. As you might expect, the story got a lot of attention…but has prompted very little change.

Today on the Best of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the author of that article who has expanded the story into a new book called “Great Is The Truth:  Secrecy, Scandal, and the Quest for Justice at the Horace Mann School” .

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