Richard Rothstein is a Prospect contributing editor, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, and senior fellow at the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at U.C. Berkeley School of Law.
Global labor standards may now become a mainstream public issue. NAFTA represents the first time a major trade agreement secures labor rights, albeit minimally. President Clinton may attend the 75th anniversary meeting of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva this June—a meeting that will consider endorsing the right of industrialized nations to bar imports from nations with little "social progress." Clinton and Jacques Delors, president of the European Union, have suggested that labor and social standards could be the subject of the next round of trade negotiations.
of Proposition 209, the California Civil Rights Initiative
(CCRI), has signaled to many the beginning of the end for affirmative
action [see Peter Schrag's "When Preferences Disappear"].
Evidence from California shows, however, that while
the gap between white and minority educational achievement has
narrowed, the gap between white and minority wages has continued
to increase. This evidence strongly suggests that, contrary to
the claims of many CCRI supporters, California's labor markets
have not outgrown the need for interventions to correct bias,
intentional or otherwise.
There's a conventional wisdom about public schools: Graduates don't have the skills needed for a technologically advanced economy. We've doubled funds for public education since the mid-1960s, but more money hasn't improved schools. Academic achievement is stagnant or declining. Public schools can't impprove because teachers are smothered by bureaucracy. To address this system failure, structural reforms such as school-based desision making or parental choice of schools are imperative.