By The Editors | Apr 21, 2017
Today, the Prospect is posting Ben Adler’s long-form piece, which also appears in the spring issue of our print magazine, on how states and cities are moving ahead on policies that limit climate change, and what they’re doing to counter the Trump administration’s policies that will make climate change even more severe.
As Ben points out, the regulations and standards for utility companies are set by states and in some cases, by municipalities. In the coastal states with Democratic governments—extending from Massachusetts to Maryland in the east, and California to Washington (with Hawaii thrown in for good measure) in the west—governments have set Renewable Portfolio Standards for their utilities that mandate transitions away from the use of coal and conversion to entirely renewable forms of energy over the next couple of decades. California and Washington have required new buildings to meet energy efficiency standards, through the use, for instance, of rooftop solar panels.
For their part, cities with progressive governments (which far outnumber states with such governments) have in recent years appropriated funds for light rail lines, bike paths, and other forms of transportation that provide alternatives to autos. And following the pattern set by new EPA chief Scott Pruitt when he was the much-beloved-by-oil-companies attorney general of Oklahoma, such enviro-conscious state attorneys general as New York’s Eric Schneiderman have announced they’ll be suing the federal government when it moves to undo long established environmental protections and climate-change legislation.
By The Editors | Apr 19, 2017
Today, The American Prospect published a feature story by Rachel Cohen on D.C. school reform. The District of Columbia has been cast as one of the nation’s most successful examples of education reform. Over the last decade, the city has significantly expanded charter schooling and implemented a new teacher evaluation system based in part on student test scores. The Obama administration repeatedly touted D.C.’s new school policies, and states across the country looked to the nation’s capital as a model to emulate.
Proponents of D.C.’s new school policies say there is clear evidence that the reforms are working, but critics say the success narratives have been blown way out of proportion. Here are other key takeaways from Cohen's story:
- Racial achievement gaps have narrowed in D.C. since 2003, but they remain large, and socioeconomic achievement gaps have widened.
- Researchers say that accessing data to study the effectiveness of D.C. school reform has been quite difficult. City leaders and DCPS officials have often been resistant to the idea of rigorous, independent evaluations, and the lack of transparency has created confusion over how effective or ineffective D.C.’s school reforms have actually been.
- Some local researchers and education advocates want to see the government establish an agency—similar to the Congressional Budget Office—that could offer independent, objective analysis of D.C. education policy. But whether local politicians could be persuaded to fund a think tank that might possibly reveal less-than-flattering information about DCPS remains to be seen.
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