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The Attainment Agenda

State Policy Leadership in Higher Education

Laura W. Perna and Joni E. Finney foreword by Patrick M. Callan

Although the federal government invests substantial resources into student financial aid, states have the primary responsibility for policies that raise overall higher educational attainment and improve equity across groups. The importance of understanding how states may accomplish these goals has never been greater, as educational attainment is increasingly required for economic and social well-being of individuals and society. Drawing on data collected from case studies of the relationship between public policy and higher education performance in five states—Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Texas, and Washington—The Attainment Agenda offers a framework for understanding how state public policy can effectively promote educational attainment. Laura W. Perna and Joni E. Finney argue that there is no silver bullet to improve higher education attainment. Instead, achieving the required levels of attainment demands a comprehensive approach. State leaders must consider how performance in one area (such as degree completion) is connected to performance in other areas (such as preparation or affordability), how particular policies interact to produce expected and unexpected outcomes, and how policy approaches must be adapted to reflect their particular context. The authors call for greater attention to the state role in providing policy leadership and steering of higher education in order to advance a cohesive public agenda for higher education and adopting public policies that not only increase the demand for and supply of higher education but also level the playing field for higher educational opportunity. The insights offered in The Attainment Agenda have important implications for public policymakers, college and university leaders, and educational researchers interested in ensuring sustained higher education attainment.

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Audacious Kids

The Classic American Children's Story

Jerry Griswold

Outstanding Book of the Year Award, Children’s Literature Association Often called the Golden Age of Children’s Books, the years stretching from the Civil War to World War I were a remarkable epoch in juvenile literature, an era when the best authors on both sides of the Atlantic wrote some of their finest work primarily for children. In Audacious Kids, Jerry Griswold provides a groundbreaking and lucid study of twelve of these classic American children’s tales, including such time-honored stories as Little Women, Tom Sawyer, The Secret Garden, and The Wizard of Oz. Griswold’s most remarkable insight is that, fundamentally, these twelve books all tell essentially the same story: a child is orphaned, makes a journey, is adopted and harassed by adults, and eventually triumphs over them and comes into his or her own. Griswold, a leading figure in the study of children’s literature, also reveals that these tales emphasize motifs that are distinctly American, such as positive thinking, concern with health, and the concealment of sex and violence, and he shows how these secular parables replaced religion with psychology and preached gospels of emotional self-control and optimism. In this revised edition, which is aimed at students, scholars, and general readers, Griswold has updated the text throughout and added a new preface, introduction, and select bibliography.

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Austerity Blues

Fighting for the Soul of Public Higher Education

Michael Fabricant and Stephen Brier

Public higher education in the postwar era was a key economic and social driver in American life, making college available to millions of working men and women. Since the 1980s, however, government austerity policies and politics have severely reduced public investment in higher education, exacerbating inequality among poor and working-class students of color, as well as part-time faculty. In Austerity Blues, Michael Fabricant and Stephen Brier examine these devastating fiscal retrenchments nationally, focusing closely on New York and California, both of which were leaders in the historic expansion of public higher education in the postwar years and now are at the forefront of austerity measures.

Fabricant and Brier describe the extraordinary growth of public higher education after 1945, thanks largely to state investment, the alternative intellectual and political traditions that defined the 1960s, and the social and economic forces that produced austerity policies and inequality beginning in the late 1970s and 1980s. A provocative indictment of the negative impact neoliberal policies have visited on the public university, especially the growth of class, racial, and gender inequalities, Austerity Blues also analyzes the many changes currently sweeping public higher education, including the growing use of educational technology, online learning, and privatization, while exploring how these developments hurt students and teachers. In its final section, the book offers examples of oppositional and emancipatory struggles and practices that can help reimagine public higher education in the future.

The ways in which factors as diverse as online learning, privatization, and disinvestment cohere into a single powerful force driving deepening inequality is the central theme of the book. Incorporating the differing perspectives of students, faculty members, and administrators, the book reveals how public education has been redefined as a private benefit, often outsourced to for-profit vendors who "sell" education back to indebted undergraduates. Over the past twenty years, tuition and related student debt have climbed precipitously and degree completion rates have dropped. Not only has this new austerity threatened public universities’ ability to educate students, Fabricant and Brier argue, but it also threatens to undermine the very meaning and purpose of public higher education in offering poor and working-class students access to a quality education in a democracy. Synthesizing historical sources, social science research, and contemporary reportage, Austerity Blues will be of interest to readers concerned about rising inequality and the decline of public higher education.

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Authoritarianism Goes Global

The Challenge to Democracy

edited by Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner, and Christopher Walker

Over the past decade, illiberal powers have become emboldened and gained influence within the global arena. Leading authoritarian countries—including China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela—have developed new tools and strategies to contain the spread of democracy and challenge the liberal international political order. Meanwhile, the advanced democracies have retreated, failing to respond to the threat posed by the authoritarians.

As undemocratic regimes become more assertive, they are working together to repress civil society while tightening their grip on cyberspace and expanding their reach in international media. These political changes have fostered the emergence of new counternorms—such as the authoritarian subversion of credible election monitoring—that threaten to further erode the global standing of liberal democracy.

In Authoritarianism Goes Global, a distinguished group of contributors present fresh insights on the complicated issues surrounding the authoritarian resurgence and the implications of these systemic shifts for the international order. This collection of essays is critical for advancing our understanding of the emerging challenges to democratic development.

Contributors: Anne Applebaum, Anne-Marie Brady, Alexander Cooley, Javier Corrales, Ron Deibert, Larry Diamond, Patrick Merloe, Abbas Milani, Andrew Nathan, Marc F. Plattner, Peter Pomerantsev, Douglas Rutzen, Lilia Shevtsova, Alex Vatanka, Christopher Walker, and Frederic Wehrey

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Auto Mechanics

Technology and Expertise in Twentieth-Century America

Kevin L. Borg

The history of automobiles is not just the story of invention, manufacturing, and marketing; it is also a story of repair. Auto Mechanics opens the repair shop to historical study—for the first time—by tracing the emergence of a dirty, difficult, and important profession. Kevin L. Borg's study spans a century of automotive technology—from the horseless carriage of the late nineteenth century to the "check engine" light of the late twentieth. Drawing from a diverse body of source material, Borg explores how the mechanic’s occupation formed and evolved within the context of broad American fault lines of class, race, and gender and how vocational education entwined these tensions around the mechanic’s unique expertise. He further shows how aspects of the consumer rights and environmental movements, as well as the design of automotive electronics, reflected and challenged the social identity and expertise of the mechanic. In the history of the American auto mechanic, Borg finds the origins of a persistent anxiety that even today accompanies the prospect of taking one's car in for repair.

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Back on Track

American Railroad Accidents and Safety, 1965–2015

Mark Aldrich

Throughout the early twentieth century, railroad safety steadily improved across the United States. But by the 1960s, American railroads had fallen apart, the result of a regulatory straightjacket that eroded profitability and undermined safety. Collisions, derailments, worker fatalities, and grade crossing mishaps skyrocketed, while hazmat disasters exploded into newspaper headlines. In Back on Track, his sequel to Death Rode the Rails, Mark Aldrich traces the history of railroad accidents beginning in 1965, when Congress responded to bankrupt and scandal-ridden carriers by enacting a new safety regime. Aldrich details the federalization of rail safety and the implementation of a massive grade crossing program. He touches on post-1976 economic deregulation, which provided critical financing that underwrote better public safety. He also explores how the National Transportation Safety Board acted as a public scold to shine bright lights on private failings, while Federal Railroad Administration regulations reinforced market incentives for better safety. Ultimately, Aldrich concludes, the past 50 years have seen great strides in restoring railroad safety while enhancing industry profitability. Arguing that it was not inadequate safety regulation but rather stifling economic regulation that initially caused an uptick in train accidents, Back on Track is both a paen to the return of more competitive railroading and the only comprehensive history of the safety of modern American railroads. Praise for Death Rode the Rails "A masterful study of the complex evolution of railroad safety."—American Historical Review "Students of rail safety, and today's Class I railroad managers, need to read this volume."—Trains "Aldrich has created a masterpiece. His research is extensive, drawing on a rich variety of obscure yet relevant sources."—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society "One of the first large-scale scholarly studies of railroad safety in America."—Railroad History "A thought-provoking and well-grounded contribution to the history of American economic development."—Journal of American History "Pioneering . . . A central message of Aldrich's book is that 'little accidents' played a crucial though until now largely hidden role in the gradual evolution of a risk society."—Technology and Culture "A work of merit . . . essential reading for historians of transport safety, business, and technology."—Journal of Transport History "Impressive and thoroughly researched . . . Demonstrates how railroad safety evolved from the intersection of market pressures, technology, and public sentiment."—Journal of Southern History

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Bad Logic

Reasoning about Desire in the Victorian Novel

Daniel Wright

“Reader, I married him,” Jane Eyre famously says of her beloved Mr. Rochester near the end of Charlotte Brontë’s novel. But why does she do it, we might logically ask, after all he’s put her through? The Victorian realist novel privileges the marriage plot, in which love and desire are represented as formative social experiences. Yet how novelists depict their characters reasoning about that erotic desire—making something intelligible and ethically meaningful out of the aspect of interior life that would seem most essentially embodied, singular, and nonlinguistic—remains a difficult question. In Bad Logic, Daniel Wright addresses this paradox, investigating how the Victorian novel represented reasoning about desire without diluting its intensity or making it mechanical. Connecting problems of sexuality to questions of logic and language, Wright posits that forms of reasoning that seem fuzzy, opaque, difficult, or simply “bad” can function as surprisingly rich mechanisms for speaking and thinking about erotic desire. These forms of “bad logic” surrounding sexuality ought not be read as mistakes, fallacies, or symptoms of sexual repression, Wright asserts, but rather as useful forms through which novelists illustrate the complexities of erotic desire. Offering close readings of canonical writers Charlotte Brontë, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, and Henry James, Bad Logic contextualizes their work within the historical development of the philosophy of language and the theory of sexuality. This book will interest a range of scholars working in Victorian literature, gender and sexuality studies, and interdisciplinary approaches to literature and philosophy.

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Baltimore

A Political History

Matthew A. Crenson

Charm City or Mobtown? People from Baltimore glory in its eccentric charm, small-town character, and North-cum-South culture. But for much of the nineteenth century, violence and disorder plagued the city. More recently, the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody has prompted Baltimoreans—and the entire nation—to focus critically on the rich and tangled narrative of black–white relations in Baltimore, where slavery once existed alongside the largest community of free blacks in the United States.

Matthew A. Crenson, a distinguished political scientist and Baltimore native, examines the role of politics and race throughout Baltimore’s history. From its founding in 1729 up through the recent past, Crenson follows Baltimore’s political evolution from an empty expanse of marsh and hills to a complicated city with distinct ways of doing business. Revealing how residents at large engage (and disengage) with one another across an expansive agenda of issues and conflicts, Crenson shows how politics helped form this complex city’s personality.

Crenson provocatively argues that Baltimore’s many quirks are likely symptoms of urban underdevelopment. The city’s longtime domination by the general assembly—and the corresponding weakness of its municipal authority—forced residents to adopt the private and extra-governmental institutions that shaped early Baltimore. On the one hand, Baltimore was resolutely parochial, split by curious political quarrels over issues as minor as loose pigs. On the other, it was keenly attuned to national politics: during the Revolution, for instance, Baltimoreans were known for their comparative radicalism. Crenson describes how, as Baltimore and the nation grew, whites competed with blacks, slave and free, for menial and low-skill work. He also explores how the urban elite thrived by avoiding, wherever possible, questions of slavery vs. freedom—just as, long after the Civil War and emancipation, wealthier Baltimoreans preferred to sidestep racial controversy.

Peering into the city’s 300-odd neighborhoods, this fascinating account holds up a mirror to Baltimore, asking whites in particular to re-examine the past and accept due responsibility for future racial progress.

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The Baltimore Elite Giants

Sport and Society in the Age of Negro League Baseball

Bob Luke

One of the best-known teams in the old Negro Leagues, the Elite Giants of Baltimore featured some of the outstanding African American players of the day. Sociologist and baseball writer Bob Luke narrates the untold story of the team and its interaction with the city and its people during the long years of segregation. To convey a sense of the action on the field and the major events in the team’s history, Luke highlights important games, relives the standout performances of individual players, and discusses key decisions made by management. He introduces the team’s eventual major league stars: Roy Campanella, who went on to a ten-year Hall of Fame career with the Brooklyn Dodgers; Joe Black, the first African American pitcher to win a World Series game; and James “Junior” Gilliam, a player and coach with the Dodgers for twenty-five years. Luke also describes the often contentious relationship between the team and major league baseball before, during, and after the major leagues were integrated. The Elite Giants did more than provide entertainment for Baltimore’s black residents; the team and its star players broke the color barrier in the major leagues, giving hope to an African American community still oppressed by Jim Crow. In recounting the history of the Elite Giants, Luke reveals how the team, its personalities, and its fans raised public awareness of the larger issues faced by blacks in segregation-era Baltimore. Based on interviews with former players and Baltimore residents, articles from the black press of the time, and archival documents, and illustrated with previously unpublished photographs, The Baltimore Elite Giants recounts a barrier-breaking team’s successes, failures, and eventual demise.

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The Baptism of Early Virginia

How Christianity Created Race

Rebecca Anne Goetz

In The Baptism of Early Virginia, Rebecca Anne Goetz examines the construction of race through the religious beliefs and practices of English Virginians. She argues that the seventeenth century was a critical time for the development and articulation of racial ideologies. Paramount was the idea of “hereditary heathenism,” the notion that Africans and Indians were incapable of genuine Christian conversion. In Virginia in particular, English settlers initially believed that native people would quickly become Christian and would form a vibrant partnership with English people. After those hopes were dashed by vicious Anglo-Indian violence, English Virginians used Christian rituals like marriage and baptism to exclude first Indians and then Africans from the privileges enjoyed by English Christians—including freedom. Resistance to hereditary heathenism was not uncommon, however. Enslaved people and many Anglican ministers fought against planters’ racial ideologies, setting the stage for Christian abolitionism in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Using court records, letters, and pamphlets, Goetz suggests new ways of approaching and understanding the deeply entwined relationship between Christianity and race in early America.

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