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Posts Tagged ‘middle class’

More About What Makes a Middle Class School

September 21st, 2011

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The goal of our recent report “Incomplete: How Middle-Class Schools Aren’t Making the Grade” was to jumpstart a national conversation around the state of middle-class schools. Given the response, it looks like we’re off to a good start.

We’ve received a wide range of feedback from educators, policymakers, and thought leaders who share a common purpose—getting our kids ready to succeed in the 21st century. Since a portion of the response has focused on our definition of “middle-class” or our approach to school-by-school data, we wanted to take a moment to tackle some of the issues that have been raised.

It seems that the main point of contention that some have with our report has to do with how we define a middle-class school.

To sum up their argument, they find our use of eligibility statistics for free or reduced school lunch to be either arbitrary or too sweeping. Let us be clear: Our decision to use this criteria was a deliberate choice, grounded in established procedures and data.

With the current education reform debate almost entirely focused on low-income schools and students, we wanted to shed light on the schools in the middle that serve a majority of Americans. We paralleled the U.S. Department of Education’s definition of high poverty schools and districts as those with more than 75% of students qualifying for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Schools and districts with 25% or less of their students eligible for free or reduced lunch are the upper-end of the income spectrum. In essence, the middle two quartiles of schools are middle-class schools.  Read the rest of this entry »

How the Democrats can stay relevant

November 4th, 2010

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This piece was originally published in Politico.

After sweeping to congressional majorities in 2006 and electing a president in 2008 with the largest Democratic percentage of the popular vote since Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrats are now in danger of becoming an irrelevant party.

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Now that we’re focused on debt, let’s make some difficult choices

September 28th, 2010

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This piece was originally published in The Hill.

It took America 193 years to run up its first trillion dollars of debt; it took us 10 months to run up our most recent.

For much of the 20th century, the United States was a production giant. We produced much of the world’s goods; we led in innovation; our service sector exploded; our middle class became the envy of the world and we became the most powerful economy on earth.  Slowly, however, we became a consumption giant. We now power the world’s economy as much by what we consume as what we make. We’ve become, in the words of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), “the kid with the cake mustache on his face.”

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A Message That Actually Works — Until It’s Scrambled

September 23rd, 2010

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This piece was originally posted on The Huffington Post.

In “A Message That Actually Works,” Mike Lux laments efforts by Democrats to frame the upcoming election as a choice between going back to the Bush economic plan or moving forward with President Obama’s. He used the poor performance of what he referred to as a “Third Way-style” message in a recent Democracy Corps poll as evidence that the approach is a dud. With all due respect to Mr. Lux, calling the polled message “Third Way-style” is like calling a soufflé an omelet because they both contain eggs. Even though there’s a common ingredient, different combinations produce wildly different dishes. We think ours is the winning recipe.

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To keep the 2010 midterms from repeating 1994, Democrats can learn from Reagan

September 20th, 2010

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This piece was originally published in The Washington Post.

“We are going to lose the House and the Senate.”

Those were the opening words of a memo that I faxed to my then-boss, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), on Labor Day in 1994. Schumer was still in the House, I was his legislative director, and my prediction was based on one overarching idea: The Democratic Party had lost its way. Our national agenda had been hijacked by the parochial agendas of aggrieved special interest groups. And as a result, we were badly misfiring with the middle class.

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For energy reform advocates, lessons from health care

August 2nd, 2010

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This piece was originally published in The Washington Post.

With the United States struggling to recover from a job-killing recession, a Democratic president asks a Democratic Congress to pass sweeping reform of a major sector of the economy. “We can no longer afford to continue to ignore what is wrong,” he explains. “We must fix this system, and it has to begin with congressional action.” The public, however, rejects this plea. The proposal dies in Congress, and recriminations begin. Chastened and disappointed, advocates regroup and seek a new path forward.

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