Harvard Political Review Does (Home) Education

11 04 2007

And Laura Derrick of NHEN helped! You just gotta love it. She’s amazing.
Even though they had her, there’s one HSLDA pander-piece “Lobbying From Home” (which in the table of contents is mistakenly called LOBBING from Home, Freudian you think?) but the rest of it is worth a long look, touching on everything from teacher unions and funding to sex education and the dangerous magic of accountability numbers . . .

HARVARD POLITICAL REVIEW Spring 2007

Cover Topics: Can Anyone Fix Education?


. . .Innovators in all sectors of society are generating ideas that could prove to be effective remedies for the education “crisis.” President Bush attempted to help American education by making the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 a central component of his domestic policy agenda. By most accounts, however, NCLB has fallen short of its lofty goals. Locally, states and school districts are experimenting with new funding allocation formulas to reduce discrepancies between rich and poor schools. Individual citizens’ involvement is increasing through participation in volunteer organizations like Teach For America, which tries to fix education on a student by student basis. And, in the grand tradition of American capitalism, market-based alternatives have emerged in the form of school vouchers and charter schools.

If one thing is clear, it’s that the question of education reform cannot be insulated from politics. From sex education to homeschooling to racial re-segregation to teachers’ unions, every group has their own idea of how education reform should be pursued. Some even question whether, considered in an international perspective, the American education system is doing as poorly as politicians would have us think.

Though many have tried, substantial improvement in the education system is not yet forthcoming. Please join the HPR as we ask, can anyone fix education?

Here’s the full topic contents list:
Can Anyone Fix Education?

No Law Left Behind? Why politics could trump policy in the debate over No Child Left Behind
BY JOEY MICHALAKES

Crunching Numbers Can changing school funding formulas close the achievement gap?
BY MARGOT EDELMAN AND JASON WONG

The Controversy of Competition The future of school choice
BY WILL LEITER AND WILL RUBEN

Desegregation Debunked
BY BRITTANY NORTHCROSS

Responsibility for Reform Are teachers’ unions part of the solution or the problem?
BY ZOEY OROL

Abstaining from Sex Education
BY RUSTY MASON AND TREMAYNE GIBSON

Lobbing from Home Homeschoolers are winning policymakers’ attention
BY MICHAEL LOVE

Tricks about Kids Are American students really so far behind?
BY AUDREY KIM

Classroom Inspiration or Failure? The role of Teach for America in today’s educational puzzle
BY BENJAMIN BELLER AND HILARY LEWIS


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12 04 2007
JJ

For Nance, Daryl, Dawn, COD et al —
Last term the HPR top cover topic was “Politics and Biology” which fits with the evolved homeschooler wiki thrust. Note that this is an undergraduate publication, so it’s interesting if for no other reason than to help gauge how well the next generation is analyzing these all-important issues. The Gardasil vaccine is here, and the effect of lobbying on science, and one I especially liked, about women politicians and biology!
A Woman’s Touch: Do “innate differences” affect politicians and their behavior?
BY MEREDITH STEUER

A Different War on Drugs: A promising new HPV vaccine gets caught up in the culture war
BY MATTHEW VALJI

Snuffing Out Smoking: Why the world wants smoking bans
BY RUSTY MASON

The Lobbyist Effect: Representatives of scientific interests may not be representative
BY ALEX LAVOIE AND RICHARD KELLEY

A Bitter Pill: A new drug raises questions about the biological nature of race
BY CARRIE ANDERSEN

Patients vs. Patents: The debate over pharmaceutical protections continues
BY TEJAS SATHIAN

Frankenfood Redux: Europe drags its feet on GMO regulation
BY REED MALIN

A Substitute for Oil?: Biotechnology’s role in the energy crisis
BY NICK BATTER

Failing the Test: The continuing effort to legislate against genetic discrimination
BY RACHEL MAK

Check it out here.

Advances in life science are presenting new political challenges

If the last century was defined by physics, they say, the coming one will be the century of biology. The advancement of science over the past hundred years has been the story of modernity, heralding the introduction of the automobile, commercial airplane, telephone, and countless other conveniences we now take for granted. No less significant is the expansion of our abstract understanding of the universe’s mechanics, from Einstein’s theory of relativity to nuclear fission and quantum mechanics.

But if the twentieth century truly harnessed the power of science, it also demonstrated its greatest and most terrible applications. On May 25th, 1961, President Kennedy pledged to put a man on the moon within the decade, challenging scientists to fulfill his promise—and they did. And on August 6th, 1945, President Truman unleashed what decades of abstract experimentation had given him: a weapon with unprecedented powers to destroy. Perhaps then the lesson of the era of physics is this: science can provide the power to profoundly change our lives, but politics must insure that it is for the better.

Nowhere is this awareness more prominent than in the divisive social issues of our day. From abortion and stem-cell research to gender roles (p. 15) and sexual health (p. 6), biology is the root of intense controversy. Worse than the unanswered questions posed by human development may be knowing too much about ourselves and opening the door to genetic (p. 16) and even racial (p. 10) discrimination. But while genetically modified foods and organisms may inspire a fear of the unknown (p. 13), new discoveries also bring hope for new solutions to obstacles such as the world’s energy crisis (p. 14).

In every sphere of government action, issues of biology are at the center of political discourse, but the political dimension itself often inspires more questions than answers. How far should the government go in regulating personal choices that may affect health (p. 7)? Who owns the benefits of science (p. 12)? And which research endeavors should be our highest priority? Please join the HPR as we examine these pressing questions.

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