Center for American Progress

There is a Student Loan Crisis for African American Borrowers

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Education provided the first-ever look at long-term outcomes for student loan borrowers, including results by race and ethnicity.

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7 Ways the Trump Administration Is Attacking Science at the EPA

The core mission of the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, "is to protect human health and the environment." As part of that mission, the agency works to ensure that "national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information."

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Vouchers Are Not a Viable Solution for Vast Swaths of America

President Donald Trump offered one major K-12 education proposal during the presidential campaign: a $20 billion plan that would reprioritize existing federal education funds to provide vouchers for private-school choice. And with his selection of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education, who has been referred to as the “four-star general of the pro-voucher movement,” he signaled the seriousness with which he intends to pursue this idea as a solution to what Trump has called “failing government schools” and DeVos has called a “dead end” public education system.

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4 Major Environmental Rules That the GOP Congress Is Overturning in Massive Gift to Polluters

In the 24 days since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Republican-controlled Congress has already moved to overturn four major rules that the oil, gas, and coal industries spent millions of dollars fighting during the Obama administration. First, Congress eliminated the Stream Protection Rule, which would prevent toxic mine waste from being dumped in streams. Then Congress voted to get rid of a rule that limited bribery and corruption in oil operations around the world. And in the coming days, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote to overturn a rule that limits methane pollution when oil and gas companies drill on public lands and to eliminate a rule that increases public input in public lands management decisions.

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Here Are the Oil and Gas Companies Responsible for the Most Methane Emissions in the U.S.

Methane is a supercharged global warming pollutant that is 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time scale. In the United States, the oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of methane pollution—releasing 33 percent of all methane emissions in 2014.

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5 Things to Know About Communities of Color and Environmental Justice

Environmental racism and failing infrastructure have plagued communities of color for decades. The environmental justice movement seeks to rectify the problems created from these issues by ensuring the fair treatment of all people from different races, ethnicities, and incomes with the laws, regulations, and policies that affect their environment.

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48 Million Americans Suffer From Food Insecurity - Here's What Needs to Happen

In recent months, the national dialogue on environmental justice has intensified, with the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, forcing the American public to consider how everything from lead exposure to poor air quality disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color. While environmental justice—which strives to include and involve all people in the institution of environmental protections, regardless of their backgrounds—is finally getting the attention it deserves, this issue extends beyond pollution hazards and exposure to toxic materials to include food environments as well. In particular, it includes the inequitable distribution of healthy food across socioeconomic and racial lines. In predominantly low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, this inequality often leads to food deserts: areas with limited access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.

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Race and Beyond: The Problem With the National Response to Police Racism

I don’t know what exactly to make of a report issued last week that described the Chicago Police Department as rife with racism. Is this news? Who didn’t know that cops in the Windy City and elsewhere have long declared open season on black residents?

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4 Ways Obama and Trudeau Can Partner to Curb Climate Change

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama should seize the opportunity to launch a new era of U.S.-Canadian cooperation to curb climate change, accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources and safeguard the Arctic. The United States and Canada share far more than borders; the two countries are close allies on key issues, including counterterrorism, the environment, the Arctic, law enforcement, and maritime safety. The two nations also trade more than $2 billion in goods and services daily.

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What's on Tap at the Historic Paris Climate Summit

After years of negotiations, world leaders are set to strike a new international climate agreement when they convene for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC. The conference, known as COP21, will be held in Paris from November 30 through December 11.

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How Climate Deniers Are Making Wildfires Worse for the Western U.S.

In the American West, catastrophic wildfires have grown increasingly frequent, damaging, and dangerous. In the first nine months of 2015, wildfires burned more than 9 million acres of land in the region — an area more than four times larger than Yellowstone National Park.

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Countdown to Paris: The New Geopolitics of Climate Change

The geopolitics of climate change is shifting. As a recent series of climate pledges from developing countries has clearly demonstrated, climate action is no longer in the purview of developed countries alone.

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5 Things You Need to Know About the U.S.-China Climate Announcements

On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded their bilateral summit with a suite of new climate commitments and a clearer common vision of how to achieve success at the upcoming Paris conference in December.

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The True Value of BP’s $18.7 Billion Settlement

On July 2, the U.S. Department of Justice and BP — one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies — announced that they had come to terms on a historic $18.7 billion settlement over damages from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. By any metric, this is an enormous sum of cash; for example, it is more than the gross domestic product of 83 countries, according to the World Bank. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced in a statement that, if ultimately approved, this restitution “would be the largest settlement with a single entity in American history”—appropriate considering that the spill was one of the worst environmental disasters to ever occur in the United States.

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How China Is Helping Reduce Pollution in the United States

When China’s double-digit economic growth rates first began to affect global oil markets in the early 2000s, the energy sector appeared on track to become a new source of U.S.-China strategic competition, distrust, and potential conflict. On the U.S. side, many observers feared that China’s rising oil demands would strain global resource supplies, make it harder and more expensive for the United States to secure its own supplies, and potentially undermine security in the Middle East. On the Chinese side, leaders in Beijing worried that their nation’s growing dependence on oil and gas imports would make the Chinese economy more vulnerable to a potential U.S. military blockade, a fear that pushed Chinese leaders to strengthen their own naval capabilities and sign energy supply contracts with rogue nations not subject to U.S. influence—two moves that irritated Washington.

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GOP Lawmakers Want to Kill America's Single Largest Conservation Funding Source

In 1965, Congress forged a compact that has guided American offshore drilling policy for half a century. Through what is known as a conservation royalty, U.S. law requires that a portion of oil and gas companies’ revenues from drilling in the federally owned Outer Continental Shelf be invested in parks, open space, trails, and historic preservation projects across the country.

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Can the World's Most Important Climate Meeting Save the Planet from Climate Change?

The parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, are meeting in Bonn, Germany, June 1 through June 11 to continue negotiating a new international climate agreement. They will reconvene in Paris in December to finalize it. A key aspect of the eventual agreement — which will apply to both developed and developing countries — will be a set of national targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Blue Economy: Can the U.S. and China Work Together to Protect and Exploit the Oceans?

As the world population balloons toward more than 9 billion people by 2050, nations will need new resources from a finite amount of space to meet soaring demand. And as more people move to coastal regions, their minds will inevitably be drawn to the sea. After all, more than two-thirds of our planet is covered with ocean, and the seas boast tremendous economic development, transportation corridors, sources of oil and gas, and cornucopias of seafood. Oceans also provide less-tangible benefits that are often difficult to quantify, including moderating the planet’s climate by absorbing roughly 90 percent of the heat trapped by a thickening atmospheric blanket of carbon pollution. They produce more than half of the oxygen we breathe. In coastal regions, healthy coral reefs and other wetlands ecosystems safeguard communities from storm surges and flooding events, sequester massive amounts of carbon, and filter out other pollution produced on land.

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The U.S. Govt. Must Commit to Net-Zero Energy Buildings

Commercial and residential buildings in the United States account for 39 percent of the nation’s carbon pollution through the consumption of fossil-fuel-generated electricity, natural gas, home heating oil, and propane. Therefore, to achieve deep carbon-pollution reductions, the nation’s buildings must become cleaner and more efficient. Fortunately, the technology exists today to eliminate the use of these fossil fuels in U.S. homes and workplaces. By adopting high energy efficiency and onsite renewable energy generation, buildings across the United States are demonstrating that fossil-fuel-generated electricity is no longer a necessity for every building. These buildings—called net-zero energy buildings—can be found in residential neighborhoods, among downtown office buildings, at commercial shopping centers, and in academic institutions.

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Carbon Pollution Has Fallen Since 2005, But Don't Pop the Champagne Just Yet

The U.S. Energy Information Administration, or EIA, recently released its Annual Energy Outlook 2015, which examines energy-market trends and makes forecasts up to 2040. Adam Sieminski, the EIA administrator, stated that “advanced technologies are reshaping the U.S. energy economy” and creating the potential for the United States to eliminate net energy imports by 2030.

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With Fossil Fuels the Focus of First 100 Days, New Congress Has No Results to Show

In the first 100 days of 2015, the new Congress has cast more roll call votes on energy and environmental issues than on any other legislative area, with the Senate casting 44 percent of its votes on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline; efforts to block action to reduce carbon pollution; proposals to sell America’s public lands; and other fossil-fuel and energy-related legislation. However, not one of the energy- or environment-related bills and amendments on which the new Congress has voted has become law.

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Koch Brothers Spending Big on State Supreme Court Races

In his 2010 dissent in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens warned that the majority had “unleashe[d] the floodgates of corporate and union general treasury spending” in judicial elections. Justice Stevens wrote, “States … after today, may no longer have the ability to place modest limits on corporate electioneering even if they believe such limits to be critical to maintaining the integrity of their judicial systems.” As if to underscore his concerns, judicial campaign cash set a record in 2012, and for the first time, the type of independent spending unleashed by Citizens United and other federal court rulings nearly exceeded the amount spent by the candidates.

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4 Easily Doable Policy Changes to Protect Women from Gun Violence

Violence against women looks very different than violence against men. Whether in the context of sexual assault on college campuses or in the military, violence by an intimate partner, or other types of violent victimization, women’s experiences of violence in this country are unique from those of men. One key difference in the violence committed against women in the United States is who commits it: Women are much more likely to be victimized by people they know, while men are more likely to be victims of violent crime at the hands of strangers. Between 2003 and 2012, 65 percent of female violent crime victims were targeted by someone they knew; only 34 percent of male violent crime victims knew their attackers. Intimate partners make up the majority of known assailants: During the same time period, 34 percent of all women murdered were killed by a male intimate partner, compared to the only 2.5 percent of male murder victims killed by a female intimate partner.

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5 Things You Need to Know About the Child Refugee Crisis

The number of children fleeing violence by themselves to the United States from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador has skyrocketed over the past few months. No less than 47,017 children have arrived so far in 2014—a 92 percent increase from 2013—and as many as 90,000 children are expected by year’s end. These children are escaping danger in their homelands and running for safety not only to the United States, but also to neighboring nations including Panama, Belize, and Costa Rica.

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How Women of Color Are Driving Entrepreneurship

Women of color are a principal force behind one of the most important components of America’s current marketplace and our nation’s future economy: entrepreneurship. Today, women of color are the majority owners of close to one-third of all women-owned firms in the nation. Increased access to business capital—including microenterprises, venture-capital-funded firms, and crowd funding—has helped the number of women entrepreneurs grow substantially. But women of color face significant obstacles in starting their own businesses, leading to the question of why so many of them turn to entrepreneurship. The growth of women of color as business owners is part of a long-term trend, but the question of why this trend is occurring is often left unanswered. Looking at the alternative to entrepreneurship—the traditional workplace—sheds light on some of the reasons.

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Why Too Many Schools Live in an Analog World - and What We Can Do About It

This summer, President Barack Obama asked a simple question: “In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, why wouldn’t we have it in our schools?”

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What Does Value Look Like in Higher Education?

Students and families paid more than $154 billion in tuition and fees to attend public, private, and for-profit colleges, universities, and trade and technical schools in the 2011-12 academic year, borrowing more than $106 billion to attend those institutions under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. When writing those checks and taking out those loans, few people realize that only 38 percent of students who enter a four-year degree program and 21 percent of students who enter a two-year degree program graduate on time.

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ACLU Sues Michigan Over Poor Educational Outcomes

The research is irrefutable: Children who don’t learn to read proficiently by the third grade face nearly insurmountable challenges not only in their next decade of schooling but also into their adult lives. The mounting evidence clearly linking the ability to read well in the early grades to future success has, over the past few years, prompted a number of states to consider and enact legislation to require the retention of students who cannot read at grade level in the third grade and the intervention of special instruction and support to raise their reading achievement. Earlier this year, Arizona enacted a new law requiring any student not proficient in reading at the end of the third grade, as measured by the state reading test, to be retained in the third grade (though there are exceptions for English language learners and students with disabilities). For the most part, the new laws addressing reading proficiency target the third grade as the make-or-break year for reading, though some laws specify remediation in the fourth or fifth grades.

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Closing the School-Readiness Gap: The Benefits of Preschool for Children of Color

The majority of children under age 1 in the United States today are children of color; that one simple fact means that our future will be very different from our current reality. Before we reach the end of this decade, more than half of all youth in this country will be of color. Today, Hispanics are 17 percent of the population, and African Americans make up another 13 percent. But by 2043, the United States’ population will be majority people of color. A large portion of this growth will come from the Hispanic community, which will grow to 28 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. Because we know where the United States is headed, we have a unique opportunity to make the most of this knowledge and prepare today for tomorrow’s future. As the face of our nation changes, our nation’s policies will need to change as well. And while change is never easy, we know the place to start is where the change is already happening—and that means investing in our nation’s youngest citizens.

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Why Are Poor Kids Being Shut Out of Top Universities?

“Why are academically gifted students from poor families less likely to attend top-ranked colleges and universities than equally smart kids from wealthy families?”

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