Kay Steiger

Kay Steiger is managing editor at Raw Story and a former Prospect editorial assistant.

Recent Articles

The Reality of Our Race-Based Achievement Gap

A new study finds that drops in white student achievement often lead to the passage of "teacher quality" bills. Not so much when it comes to dips in black student achievement.

AP Images/Barry Batchelor
In much of recent memory, battles over education reform have been portrayed as pitting Republican governors against teachers’ unions. Lately, though, we’ve also seen hard-line, reform-minded Democrats going against the party’s traditional base of labor liberals, exemplified by the Chicago Teachers Union's two-week strike to oppose (among other things) Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to tie compensation to student improvement. But new research shows that there might be something else going on than simple union-versus-education reform infighting. Instead, battles over education may be tied to a much deeper issue: race . A new paper published in the academic journal American Politics Research found that policymakers are far more likely to enact “teacher quality” bills when white student achievement drops—but not when graduation rates are poor among African American students. The authors, University of Notre Dame doctoral candidate Michael T. Hartney and Baylor assistant professor of political...

We Blinded Her from Science

Why are there so few women in STEM fields? Hint: The problem is not just about "lifestyle choices."

(Flickr/Argonne National Laboratory)
As an undergraduate at Stanford, Debbie Sterling once ran out of a mechanical drafting course, crying. Sterling was one of about five women in the class, and even though she loved drawing, she was having trouble with her final assignment. “I couldn’t get it quite right,” she admitted. But she never thought a struggle with one assignment would lead to what happened next. During a critique, the two male teaching assistants asked the class, “OK, who thinks that Debbie should pass this class?” The room remained silent. “Nobody raised their hands. I was mortified,” she said. “That’s the moment where I was really considering just giving up and thinking I didn’t have what it takes.” Sterling experienced other, more subtle instances of gender bias throughout her undergraduate career. “I often felt like the guys didn’t take me seriously. It was hard to contribute or I would get ignored,” she says. “But I’ve heard Stanford is better than other places.” Surrounded by men in her science and...

Class Struggle

As levels of student debt continue to rise, regulators have an opportunity to reform higher education.

AP Photo/Steven Senne
O n November 28, hundreds of students from Brauch College linked arms and protested outside a City College of New York board meeting in which members authorized, by a 15-to-1 vote, a $300 annual tuition increase until at least 2015. The protest was so disruptive that, according to The New York Times, Brauch canceled classes after 3 p.m. and stopped regular foot traffic going in and out of the building where the meeting was taking place. Three people were arrested. Occupy CUNY, the group of students that staged the protest, announced on its Facebook page that it aimed to make public education “accessible” and “fair.” The City University of New York’s (CUNY) tuition is already more than $5,000 per year and with the new rates, will be more than $6,000 for the 2015—2016 school year. The students’ demonstration lined up with the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has focused on one of the facets of economic injustice increasingly affecting the “99 percent”—student debt. It’s no wonder. The...

Mind the Gap

Community colleges are making strides in promoting gender equity -- and that's good news for women in science.

(Flickr/World Bank)
Judith Ackerman, a mathematics Ph.D., went on the academic job market when the Army transferred her husband to the Washington, D.C., area in the 1970s. She interviewed at many places, both four- and two-year schools, but ultimately landed at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland. "I hadn't planned to have a career at a two-year college," she said, reflecting a common preference among Ph.Ds. to obtain tenure-track positions at four-year institutions with large research budgets. "But here there was an opportunity to innovate, to try new projects." At first there seemed little chance her career there would last. The man who had first interviewed her insisted the mathematics department was half women; it turned out only about a quarter of the faculty were women. After she and several of her female colleagues realized that they were getting paid less than men in similar positions, Ackerman participated in the fight to unionize the college. Thirty years later, the school now boasts near...

The Student Parent Trap

As more parents attend college, the need for schools to accommodate them grows.

(Flickr/heraldpost)
Each morning, Sherita Rooney wakes up around 6 a.m. She gets her 14-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son ready for the day. She makes breakfast and gets her children to school before driving an hour to West Chester University outside of Philadelphia, where she recently transferred after graduating from Montgomery County Community College. Every day is difficult, but Tuesdays are especially so. She works from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. before class from 2 to 7. She picks up her kids, then brings them home and puts them to bed. As a math education major, she takes challenging classes that keep her up late studying. She goes to sleep around 2 each night. The next day, she gets up and does it over again. Without the child-care scholarship she found through the Philadelphia-based nonprofit, Family Care Solutions, Rooney says, she's not sure what she would do. She'll find out this summer, when she's signed up for classes but won't have the scholarship. Student parents like Rooney make up about a...

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