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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.
A Personal Account
Internal conflicts, dictatorship, and economic disintegration characterized the first twenty-five years of Uganda's independence from British colonial rule, which culminated in the reign of Idi Amin and a violent civil war. The country has since achieved an astounding turnaround of stability and growth. Advancing the Ugandan Economy is a first-hand look at the remarkable policy changes that took place from 1986 to 2012 and their effect in contrast with the turbulent events after independence.
Ezra Suruma held several key positions in the Ugandan government during the nation's transition period, including minister of finance. His insightful recounting of those times demonstrates that African countries can achieve economic stability and sustain rapid growth when they meet at least two interdependent conditions: establishing a stable and secure political framework and unleashing entrepreneurialism. Suruma also highlights the strategic areas that still require fundamental reform if Uganda is to become a modern state and shares his vision for the future of his country.
Rarely in African history has so much positive political and economic transformation of a country been achieved in such a short time. Suruma's account of the commitment, determination, vision, and dexterity of the Ugandan government holds invaluable lessons in managing the still complex policy challenges facing the African continent.
The Singapore Healthcare Story
This is the story of the Singapore healthcare system: how it works, how it is financed, its history, where it is going, and what lessons it may hold for national health systems around the world. Singapore ranks sixth in the world in healthcare outcomes, yet spends proportionally less on healthcare than any other high-income country. This is the first book to set out a comprehensive system-level description of healthcare in Singapore, with a view to understanding what can be learned from its unique system design and development path.
The lessons from Singapore will be of interest to those currently planning the future of healthcare in emerging economies, as well as those engaged in the urgent debates on healthcare in the wealthier countries faced with serious long-term challenges in healthcare financing. Policymakers, legislators, public health officials responsible for healthcare systems planning, finance and operations, as well as those working on healthcare issues in universities and think tanks should understand how the Singapore system works to achieve affordable excellence.
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.
The Formulation and Implementation of Contemporary Health Policy
American Federalism in Practice is an original and important contribution to our understanding of contemporary health policy. It also illustrates how contentious public policy is debated, formulated, and implemented in today's overheated political environment.
Health care reform is perhaps the most divisive public policy issue facing the United States today. Michael Doonan provides a unique perspective on health policy in explaining how intergovernmental relations shape public policy. He tracks federal-state relations through the creation, formulation, and implementation of three of the most important health policy initiatives since the Great Society: the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), both passed by the U.S. Congress, and the Massachusetts health care reform program as it was developed and implemented under federal government waiver authority. He applies lessons learned from these cases to implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
"Health policymaking is entangled in a complex web of shared, overlapping, and/or competing power relationships among different levels of government," the author notes. Understanding federal-state interactions, the ways in which they vary, and the reasons for such variation is essential to grasping the ultimate impact of federalism on programs and policy. Doonan reveals how federalism can shift as the sausage of public policy is made while providing a new framework for comprehending one of the most polarizing debates of our time.
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.
Continuity and Change Over Ten Presidential Elections
From party polarization, elections, and internal party politics, to the evolution of the U.S. presidency, John S. Jackson's new book has something for everyone interested in American politics. Beginning with a discussion of the creation of the U.S. government to the formation of today's political powerhouses, Jackson provides a narrative sweep of American party history like none other.
Unique to this book is a detailed breakdown of the evolution of political parties from 1832 to the current era. Jackson explains how the reform era came to be, as well as how it produced the polarized party era we have today. In doing so, he guides the reader to an appreciation of where U.S. party politics originated and the aspirations of those who helped create the current system.
Jackson also examines the internal mechanisms and personalities of the Democratic and Republican parties. He compares multiple presidential elections, thus telling a broader story of the unfolding of today's party polarization and gridlock. He also explores the theoretical meaning of the changes observed in the parties from the responsible party model perspective.
The themes of continuity and change are set in the context of group-think versus rational decisionmaking. Specific focus is given to political elites who are sophisticated about politics and who make strategic decisions, but are also bound by their humanity and occasionally fail to see the right deci-sion due to their own personal biases.
This book will be particularly useful for those who want to explore polarization, the responsible parties model, the rational actor model, and anyone who wants to better understand elections, party politics, and the evolution of the presidency.