Rachel M. Cohen

If We Want Kids to Grow Up and Earn a Decent Living, Schools Should Teach Them to Organize Unions

How are millennials stereotyped as lazy, despite being a highly efficient and productive generation? Why are millennials characterized as spoiled and entitled, yet just 6 percent of them expect to one day receive Social Security benefits like those enjoyed by current retirees? In Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennialswriter Malcolm Harris explores these and other questions—unpacking the precarity, the economic pressures, and the contradictions surrounding those born between 1980 and 2000.

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Making the Case that Drug Addiction Is a Learning Disorder

For the past 30 years, Maia Szalavitz has researched and reported on science, drug policy, and health. Before that, in her early twenties, she herself became addicted to cocaine and heroin, sometimes injecting the drugs several times a day. Even after overdosing, after being suspended from Columbia University, and after getting arrested for dealing—facing a 15-years-to-life sentence under New York’s now-repealed Rockefeller drug laws—Szalavitz struggled to quit. In her latest book, Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding AddictionSzalavitz explores why getting off drugs is so difficult. She challenges the public to see addiction as a neurological learning disorder—much more like autism and ADHD than a moral failing, or a chronic illness.

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Lead Poisoning, a Persistent Sign of Poverty, Is Linked to School Suspensions and Lower Student Test Scores

Over the past several years, education advocates and civil rights groups have been sounding the alarm on the harms of exclusionary school discipline policies. Critics say these punishments—suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests—are increasingly doled out for minor infractions, and disproportionately given to students of color.

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Massachusetts Charter School Backs off Exclusionary Hair Policies - for Now

The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, a suburban Boston charter in Malden, Massachusetts, is under fire for its dress-code policy prohibiting hair extensions and afros, rules that critics say are racially discriminatory.

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The Pro-Charter Billionaires Vs. Bernie and the Progressives in the Priciest School Board Race in U.S. History

Just 20 percent of eligible Los Angeles voters turned out to the polls on March 7 to vote for their city’s next mayor and school board officials, and turnout is likely to be even lower for Tuesday’s school board runoffs. And yet, this race that barely anyone will vote in has turned into a high-stakes battleground, complete with record-setting amounts of political spending and bitter negative campaigning. It has pitted some of the richest men in American against none other than Bernie Sanders, in a brawl over the future of public education in the nation’s largest state.

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The American Parent Trap

Sarah LeVine and her husband Robert LeVine have spent decades traveling the world studying global parenting styles and surveying mothers and fathers. The Harvard anthropologists published their conclusions in Do Parents Matter? Why Japanese Babies Sleep Soundly, Mexican Siblings Don’t Fight, and American Families Should Just Relax. The LeVines found that despite significant advancements in public health and Western medicine, American parents remain the most anxious moms and dads in the world, in part, because they tend to muddy the traditional family hierarchy. In a political climate where policymakers worry about the so-called “decline of the American family”—a deeper understanding of family relationships in other cultures can contribute valuable insights to this national conversation. Rachel Cohen spoke with Sarah LeVine about their research. This conversation has been edited and condensed.

Rachel Cohen: Let’s start with the title of your bookDo Parents Matter?

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Will Maryland See a Big Victory for Those Fighting School Privatization and Over-Testing?

Politicians and policy experts have long debated how and whether to hold schools accountable for what students learn. For 13 years under the controversial Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the federal government required states to identify schools that were failing by the metric of standardized test scores, and dictated how schools should intervene. Critics said the law amounted to untenable and unacceptable levels of federal overreach, and ultimately did little to close academic achievement gaps. Defenders say the law, while imperfect, led to small yet significant gains in student achievement, particularly for black, Hispanic, and low-income children.

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The Hour of the Attorneys General

In a Tuesday night in early February, not three weeks after Donald Trump’s inauguration, three federal judges in San Francisco heard arguments about whether to halt his first major policy undertaking. Trump had issued an executive order banning hundreds of thousands of travelers from entering the country, including citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, and all refugees. As many as 60,000 individuals had their visas revoked. Almost immediately, a pair of Democratic attorneys general, Washington state’s Bob Ferguson and Minnesota’s Lori Swanson, brought suit against Trump’s executive order, arguing it violated the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law as well as the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, harmed all Washington and Minnesota businesses and communities, and was “undermining [their] sovereign interest” as welcoming destinations for immigrants and refugees.

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The War on Public Schools

On November 8, 2016, the man who vowed to be “the nation’s biggest cheerleader for school choice” won the presidential contest. About two weeks later he announced that Betsy DeVos, a billionaire Republican donor who has aggressively lobbied for private-school vouchers, online education, and for-profit charter schools, would serve as his education secretary. In early December, Jeb Bush told an audience of more than 1,000 education reformers in Washington, D.C., that he hoped “there’s an earthquake” in the next few years with respect to education funding and policy. “Be big, be bold, or go home,” he urged the crowd.

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Black Organizations Cast a Cold Eye on Privately Run Charter Schools

At its national convention in July, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one of the nation’s premier civil-rights organizations, passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools.

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