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How Well Are American Students Learning?
The Brown Center Report on American Education provides an accurate, nonpartisan, data-driven account of American elementary and secondary education. Its purpose is four-fold: to determine the direction of achievement in U.S. public schools; to gauge the significance of changes; to uncover the policies and practices influencing the direction of student achievement; and finally, to figure out whether the public is getting the full story on student learning. This year’s report tackles perennial questions of how to interpret trends in test scores, the distribution of achievement, school turnarounds, and charter schools. It examines national test data going back to 1971 from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, compares the 1989 and 2009 test scores of more than 1,000 schools, and compares the test scores of conversion charter schools from 1986 to those from 2008.
How Well Are American Students Learning?
An overarching theme of this year’s report is that events in the field of education are not always as they appear to be—and especially so with test scores. Whether commentators perpetrating myths of international testing, states winning races while evidencing only mediocre progress, or an eighth grade test dominated by content below the eighth grade, the story is rarely as simple as it appears on first blush. This report digs beneath the surface and uncover some of the complexities of these important issues.
Culture, Diplomacy, and Counterinsurgency
Fernando Gentilini served nearly two years as the civilian representative of NATO in Afghanistan, running a counterinsurgency campaign in the wartorn nation. Afghan Lessons is the fascinating story of his mission, a firsthand view of Afghanistan through a kaleidoscope. He explores Afghan history, literature, tradition, and culture to understand some of the most basic questions of Western involvement: What is the purpose? What does an international presence mean, and how can it help?
Highlights from Afghan Lessons
"This is a book about different worlds, different realities. The reality of everyday life in an unreal world. People that need to be looked after, jobs that need to be done, a country that needs to be restored, all from within the necessary confines of an armed camp. And this in the middle of another reality, which we do not understand, full of things forgotten under decades of war. The keys to this reality lie in the past, perhaps lost." from the Foreword by Robert Cooper
"To tempt me to explore their country, the Afghans kept repeating that there were three different Afghanistans: 'The first is the one you Westerners imagine; another coincides with the city of Kabul; the third is the country of remote provinces, far away from the cities, and of the three, this is the only real Afghanistan.'"
"'There can be no development without security and no security without development.' ... Everyone said it over and over again, both the civilians and the military, but depending on whether it was said by the former or the latter, the emphasis was placed on the first or second part of the slogan. In all honesty this seemingly obvious concept concealed two contrasting ways of seeing things."
The Future of Finance
As the global economy continues to weather the effects of the recession brought on by the financial crisis of 200708, perhaps no sector has been more affected and more under pressure to change than the industry that was the locus of that crisis: fi nancial services. But as policymakers, fi nancial experts, lobbyists, and others seek to rebuild this industry, certain questions loom large. For example, should the pay of fi nancial institution executives be regulated to control risk taking? That possibility certainly has been raised in offi cial circles, with spirited reactions from all corners. How will stepped-up regulation affect key parts of the fi nancial services industry? And what lies ahead for some of the key actors in both the United States and Japan?
In After the Crash, noted economists Yasuyuki Fuchita, Richard Herring, and Robert Litan bring together a distinguished group of experts from academia and the private sector to take a hard look at how the fi nancial industry and some of its practices are likely to change in the years ahead. Whether or not you agree with their conclusions, the authors of this volume the most recent collaboration between Brookings, the Wharton School, and the Nomura Institute of Capital Markets Research provide well-grounded insights that will be helpful to fi nancial practitioners, analysts, and policymakers.
How America Lost the Third World
In Alliance Curse, Hilton Root illustrates that recent U.S. foreign policy is too often misguided, resulting in misdirected foreign aid and alliances that stunt political and economic development among partner regimes, leaving America on the wrong side of change. Many alliances with third world dictators, ostensibly of mutual benefit, reduce incentives to govern for prosperity and produce instead political and social instability and economic failure. Yet again, in the war on terror and in the name of preserving global stability, America is backing authoritarian regimes that practice repression and plunder. It is as if the cold war never ended. While espousing freedom and democracy, the U.S. contradicts itself by aiding governments that do not share those values. In addition to undercutting its own stated goal of promoting freedom, America makes the developing world even more wary of its intentions. Yes, the democracy we preach arouses aspirations and attracts immigrants, but those same individuals become our sternest critics; having learned to admire American values, they end up deploring U.S. policies toward their own countries. Long-term U.S. security is jeopardized by a legacy of resentment and distrust. A lliance Curse proposes an analytical foundation for national security that challenges long-held assumptions about foreign affairs. It questions the wisdom of diplomacy that depends on questionable linkages or outdated suppositions. The end of the Soviet Union did not portend the demise of communism, for example. Democracy and socialism are not incompatible systems. Promoting democracy by linking it with free trade risks overemphasizing the latter goal at the expense of the former. The growing tendency to play China against India in an effort to retain American global supremacy will hamper relations with both an intolerable situation in today's interdependent world. Root buttresses his analysis with case studies of American foreign policy toward developing countries (e.g., Vietnam), efforts at state building, and nations growing in importance, such as China. He concludes with a series of recommendations designed to close the gap between security and economic development.
Roles and Contributions
Foundations play an essential part in the philanthropic activity that defines so much of American life. No other nation provides its foundations with so much autonomy and freedom of action as does the United States. Liberated both from the daily discipline of the market and from direct control by government, American foundations understandably attract great attention. As David Hammack and Helmut Anheier note in this volume, "Americans have criticized foundations for... their alleged conservatism, liberalism, elitism, radicalism, devotion to religious tradition, hostility to religion in short, for commitments to causes whose significance can be measured, in part, by the controversies they provoke. Americans have also criticized foundations for ineffectiveness and even foolishness."
Their size alone conveys some sense of the significance of American foundations, whose assets amounted to over $530 billion in 2008 despite a dramatic decline of almost 22 percent in the previous year. And in 2008 foundation grants totaled over $45 billion. But what roles have foundations actually played over time, and what distinctive roles do they fill today? How have they shaped American society, how much difference do they make? What roles are foundations likely to play in the future?
This comprehensive volume, the product of a three-year project supported by the Aspen Institute's program on the Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy, provides the most thorough effort ever to assess the impact and significance of the nation's large foundations. In it, leading researchers explore how foundations have shaped or failed to shape each of the key fields of foundation work.
American Foundations takes the reader on a wide-ranging tour, evaluating foundation efforts in education, scientific and medical research, health care, social welfare, international relations, arts and culture, religion, and social change.
The West's Mediterranean Challenge
For every pithy conceptualization of complex events, there are additional lenses through which to examine them. One of the several virtues of this book is precisely that it brings different perspectives to bear on the complexity, diversity, and uncertainty of recent and current events in the Arab world. The thirteen authors concentrate on the critical social forces shaping the region demography, religion, gender, telecommunication connectivity, and economic structures and they are painstakingly analyzed and evaluated. from the foreword by Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution
The Arab Spring will be remembered as a period of great change for the Arab states of North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. Facing fundamental transitions in governance, these countries are also undergoing profound social, cultural, and religious changes. The European Union and the United States, caught unprepared by the uprisings, now must address the inescapable challenges of those changes. How will the West respond to these new realities, particularly in light of international economic uncertainty, EU ambivalence toward a "cohesive foreign policy," and declining U.S. influence abroad? Arab Society in Revolt explains and interprets the societal transformations occurring in the Arab Muslim world, their ramifications for the West, and possible policy options for dealing with this new world.
Arab Society in Revolt examines areas of change particularly relevant in the southern Mediterranean: demography and migration, Islamic revival and democracy, rapidly changing roles of women in Arab society, the Internet in Arab societies, commercial and social entrepreneurship as change factors, and the economics of Arab transitions. The book then looks at those cultural and religious as well as political and economic factors that have influenced the Western response, or lack of it, to the Arab Spring as well as the policy options that remain open.
India's Military Modernization
India has long been motivated to modernize its military, and it now has the resources. But so far, the drive to rebuild has lacked a critical component—strategic military planning. India's approach of arming without strategic purpose remains viable, however, as it seeks great-power accommodation of its rise and does not want to appear threatening. What should we anticipate from this effort in the future, and what are the likely ramifications? Stephen Cohen and Sunil Dasgupta answer those crucial questions in a book so timely that it reached number two on the nonfiction bestseller list in India.
"Two years after the publication of Arming without Aiming, our view is that India's strategic restraint and its consequent institutional arrangement remain in place. We do not want to predict that India's military-strategic restraint will last forever, but we do expect that the deeper problems in Indian defense policy will continue to slow down military modernization."—from the preface to the paperback edition
The Slow Pace of Economic Reform
In the late 1980s, Japan's strong economic performance put it on a the verge of becoming a major player in regional and global affairs. But nearly a decade of economic stagnation, a mounting of bad debts, and a continuing stream of scandals have tarnished the country's distinctive economic model. At the turn of the millennium, the Japanese economy remained mired in a pattern of stagnation. As this disappointing condition dragged on, the government pursued policies to restore economic health. Yet Japan has been slow to embrace the systemic reform on which a robust economic recovery depends. In Arthritic Japan, Edward J. Lincoln examines the causes and implications of this weak response. Concluding that Japan is unlikely to pursue the vigorous reform necessary for economic growth, Lincoln warns of serious consequences: a stumbling economy bedeviled by recession and financial crisis, eroding leadership in economic and security issues, a continued defensive trade posture, and a disgruntled population that could turn a more nationalistic stance in foreign policy.
In this collaboration between the Brookings Institution and the Asian Development Bank Institute, eminent international economists examine the increased influence of Asian nations in the governance of global economic affairs, from the changing role of the G-20 to the reform of multilateral organizations such as the International Monetary Fund.
Established in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis at the ministerial level, the G-20 has served as a high-level platform for discussing economic analyses and policy responses since 1999. During the current global financial crisis, however, the G-20's role moved toward that of a global crisis management committee at the leadership level. The challenge now for the G-20 is to succeed in fostering ongoing and increasing cooperation among its members while being supportive of, rather than trying to replace, more universal institutions.
After analyzing the dynamics of growth in Asia comparatively and historically, the volume appraises the scope for policy coordination among key economies. The contributors analyze financial stability in emerging Asia and then assess the implications of Asia's increasing role within the newly emerging system of global economic governance, focusing especially on reform of the international monetary structure.
Contributors: Dony Alex (ICRIER, New Delhi), Kemal Dervis¸ (Brookings), Hasan Ersel (Sabanci University), Karim Foda (Brookings), Yiping Huang (Peking University), Masahiro Kawai (ADBI), Rajiv Kumar (FICCI, New Delhi), Domenico Lombardi (Oxford University and Brookings), José Antonio Ocampo (Columbia University), Jim O'Neill (Goldman Sachs)