America's Schools: 4 Big Questions

Autumn 2011

America's Schools: 4 Big Questions

America's Schools: 4 Big Questions Cover Image

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Much ink has been spilled in the last several decades over the issue of what to do about America's struggling schools. The nation has made only halting progress in public education, but a handful of key questions have come into focus.

More From This Issue

Table of Contents

In Essence

THE SOURCE: “9/11 in Retrospect” by Melvyn P. Leffler, in Foreign Affairs,Sept.–Oct. 2011.

THE SOURCE: “The Scum Solution” by Neil Savage, in Nature, June 23, 2011.

THE SOURCE: “Why Beethoven?” by Leon Botstein, in The Musical Quarterly, Fall–Winter 2010.

THE SOURCE: “Neurotrash” by Raymond Tallis, in Prospect, June 2011.

THE SOURCE: “America’s Revolution: Economic Disaster, Development, and Equality” by Peter H. Lindert and Jeffrey G. Williamson, in Vox EU (, July 15, 2011.

THE SOURCE: “The Jackie (and Jill) Robinson Effect: Why Do Congresswomen Outperform Congressmen?” by Sarah F. Anzia and Christopher R. Berry, in American Journal of Political Science, July 2011.

THE SOURCE: “Why the Gender Gap Won’t Go Away. Ever.” by Kay S. Hymowitz, in City Journal, Summer 2011.

THE SOURCE: “A Splendid Wickedness” by David Bentley Hart, in First Things, Aug.–Sept. 2011.

THE SOURCE: “The Secret History of Iraq’s Invisible War” by Noah Shachtman, at , June 14, 2011.

THE SOURCE: “Sex Offender Registries: Fear Without Function?” by Amanda Y. Agan, in Journal of Law and Economics , Feb. 2011

THE SOURCE: “The Potato’s Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence From a Historical Experiment” by Nathan Nunn and Nancy Qian, in The Quarterly Journal of Economics , May 2011.

THE SOURCE: “Air Pollution Around Schools Is Linked to Poorer Student Health and Academic Performance” by Paul Mohai, Byoung-Suk Kweon, Sangyun Lee, and Kerry Ard, in Health Affairs , May 2011.

THE SOURCE: “Friends of the Bureau: Personal Correspondence and the Cultivation of Journalist-Adjuncts by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI” by Matthew Cecil, in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly , Summer 2011.

THE SOURCE: “All the News You Want to Hear: The Impact of Partisan News Exposure on Political Participation” by Susanna Dilliplane, in Public Opinion Quarterly , Summer 2011.

THE SOURCE: “There Is No Progress in Philosophy” by Eric Dietrich, in Essays in Philosophy , July 2011.

THE SOURCE: “Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips” by Betsy Sparrow, Jenny Liu, and Daniel M. Wegner, in Sciencexpress , July 14, 2011.

THE SOURCE: “From Kama to Karma: The Resurgence of Puritanism in Contemporary India” by Wendy Doniger, in Social Research, Spring 2011.

THE SOURCE: “Missing the Third Wave: Islam, Institutions, and Democracy in the Middle East” by Ellen Lust, in Studies in Comparative International Development , June 2011.

THE SOURCE: “Drinking Games: Can Russia Admit It Has a Problem?” by Heidi Brown, in World Policy Journal, Summer 2011.

THE SOURCE: “Readers of the Pack: American Best-Selling” by Ruth Franklin, in Bookforum, Summer 2011.

THE SOURCES: “Countering Beijing in the South China Sea” by Dana Dillon, in Policy Review, June–July 2011; “The South China Sea Is the Future of Conflict” by Robert D. Kaplan, in Foreign Policy, Sept.–Oct. 2011; “Deep Danger: Competing Claims in the South China Sea” by Marvin C. Ott, in Current History, Sept. 2011.

Book Reviews

Animals Are Us  Image

Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today
By Rob Dunn.
Harper. 290 pp. $26.99

Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age.
By Randall J. Stephens and Karl W. Giberson.
Belknap/Harvard. 356 pp. $29.95

The Writers of Brooklyn and the Story of American City Life.
By Evan Hughes.
Holt. 337 pp. $17

China’s Great Leader  Image

By Ezra F. Vogel.
Belknap/Harvard. 876 pp. $39.95

The Natural  Image

A Memoir.
By Roger Ebert.
Grand Central. 435 pp. $27.99

Water Over the Bridge  Image

The Ohio-Mississippi Disaster of 1937.
By David Welky.
Univ. of Chicago Press. 355 pp. $27.50

By Adam Kirsch.
Yale Univ. Press. 185 pp. $24

A Singular Voice  Image

Essays by Christopher Hitchens.
Twelve. 788 pp. $30

The Enduring Dream of Self-Sufficiency in Modern America.
By Dona Brown.
Univ. of Wisconsin Press. 290 pp. $24.95

The Lunacy to Lead  Image

Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness.
By Nassir Ghaemi.
Penguin. 340 pp. $27.95

The Marriage Gap  Image

How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone.
By Ralph Richard Banks.
Dutton. 289 pp. $25.95

Peace on Earth  Image

Why Violence Has Declined.
By Steven Pinker.
Viking. 802 pp. $40


To see how the world will eventually right today’s massive trade imbalances, look to the Atlantic, not the Pacific.

Martin Walker

Thousands of soldiers are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with deep psychological scars. Posttraumatic stress disorder is a common diagnosis—but is it the right one?

Katherine N. Boone

The acclaimed biographer Michael Scammell discusses the peculiar challenges and delights of his craft.

Michael McDonald

The college-educated share of America’s population has barely increased in years. The key to reviving mass higher education may be to rethink the divide between high school and college.

Kevin Carey

The national drive for education reform has touched off many power struggles, but one has emerged as fundamental.

Thomas Toch

Most of the problems with testing have one surprising source: cheating by school administrators and teachers.

Richard P. Phelps

Today’s new austerity may have an upside if it prods schools to embrace new technologies that cut costs and improve learning.

Peter W. Cookson Jr.

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