How rules and regulation can  shape opportunity.

Leonardo Aguiar / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Earlier this month, 17-year-old Meechaiel Khalil Criner was arrested by Austin police and charged with the murder of 18-year-old University of Texas student Haruka Weiger.

Criner ran away from a foster facility in Killeen, Texas on March 24, less than two weeks before he was arrested.

University of Salford Press Office / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Let's use our imaginations for a second.

Let's pretend my husband and I are the same age. We both have a bachelor's degree. The same amount of work experience. And we hold the same position at the same company.

Even with this identical background, imagine my surprise when my husband brings home a bigger paycheck.

This is the gender pay gap.

Tim Pierce / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Last month, lawmakers in North Carolina passed House Bill 2 - controversial legislation that blocks transgender people from using public bathrooms that match their gender identity, and stops cities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances to protect gay and transgender people.

surlygirl / flickr creative commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

When I had my youngest daughter in 2012, I stayed home for 10 weeks before returning to work.

And when it was time to go back, I definitely wasn't ready to leave her.

The only thing that made it easier was that I had family who could watch my newborn baby, so I didn't have to worry about whether I could trust who she was with while I was gone.

I also counted myself lucky because I got paid – well, partially paid – for six of those weeks. And my husband was able to make up for my lost wages so I could take off another month.

Lucelia Ribeiro / Flickr Creative Commons

Many low-income, black, and Hispanic students start kindergarten without the academic skills they need to succeed.

Compared to their white peers, African American and Hispanic kids are anywhere from 9 to 10 months behind in math and 7 to 12 months behind in reading when they enter kindergarten.

Isabelle Acatauassu Alves Almeida / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Working parents are often forced to decide between volunteering in their kid's class or chaperoning a field trip, and going to work.

The bills don't pay themselves. So work often wins, understandably.

And as a working parent, I know it's not an easy choice to make.

But one California lawmaker thinks parents shouldn't have to choose between being involved in their child's education and their paycheck.

Grand Canyon National Park's photostream / Flickr Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Less than two percent of the U.S. population identifies as Native American or Alaska Native.

woman in cap and gown
Schlüsselbein2007 / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

It was February 2006, almost exactly 10 years ago, when then-governor Jennifer Granholm used her weekly radio address to urge state lawmakers to pass a new set of rigorous high school curriculum requirements.

"We have to increase the skill level of our students," Granholm said. "We have to increase our efforts to give our children, who are our future workforce, the math and science education they need to succeed in the 21st century."

The Legislature acted, and the next school year, the Michigan Merit Curriculum went into effect.

Now, nearly 10 years later, we may finally have an answer on whether it worked. 

Thinking outside the box for families after prison

Nov 6, 2015
Michael Coghlan / Flickr Creative Commons

Each year, more than 600,000 adults are released from prison in the United States. Half of them return home to a child under the age of 18.  

When it comes to providing for a family after incarceration, having a criminal record is one of the biggest obstacles. It can be nearly impossible for formerly incarcerated parents to find a job or a place to live.

U.S. House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee

What you see above is a chart of all 80 federal programs that provide help to low-income families. This chart was prepared by the leaders of the U.S. House committee that oversees federal social service programs. Republican leaders on the committee put it together for a hearing a couple days ago.