Abby Rapoport

Abby Rapoport is a freelance journalist, and former staff writer at The American Prospect. She was previously a political reporter for the Texas Observer

Recent Articles

A Student-Loan Solution We Should Be Talking About

(Flickr/Philip Taylor PT)
Tuesday, Senate leaders said that they had reached a deal to freeze student-loan rates at 3.4 percent —rather than allowing them to double on July 1. It's welcome news for the millions of students in this country who rely on such subsidized loan rates to help pay for school. But the deal doesn't get at the overwhelming national problem of student debt, which, at more than $1 trillion, now exceeds credit-card debt in the country. Among the factors that contribute to those numbers is the problem of remedial coursework. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2007-2008, "approximately 36 percent of first-year undergraduate students reported that they had ever taken a remedial course." That spikes up to 42 percent among undergraduates at two-year institutions. In some states, the proportion of students needing those courses can be dramatically higher; in Colorado's community colleges, the remediation rate was 58 percent this year. That means students are taking extra...

Tom Corbett's Scary Plan for Pennsylvania Welfare

(Flickr/401K 2012)
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's first stab at a budget for this year left the education community shaking. The Republican had balanced the budget in part through deep cuts not only to the state's colleges and universities but also to school districts. That's terrifying news for a state where some districts are already considering ending kindergarten to balance budgets. Miraculously, thanks to unexpectedly high tax collections, the state's schools have been spared the chopping block. But Corbett's other proposal, major funding cuts for human services, still looks alive and kicking. State lawmakers only have until Saturday if they want to pass a budget on-time. Over the weekend, according to The Patriot News , the governor and GOP leadership agreed to spend $26.66 billion —$1.5 billion more than Corbett's initial draft. But the governor is pushing the legislature to approve a proposal that would combine several human services programs into single block grants. The change also come...

What the SCOTUS Ruling on SB 1070 Means for Other States

(Flickr/ Fibonacci Blue)
Two years ago, when the Arizona Legislature passed the controversial SB 1070, immigration rights activists feared it was only the beginning. The anti-immigrant measure put new and significant burdens on non-citizens while seemingly encouraging law enforcement officials to rely on racial profiling. Many worried similar laws would start cropping up around the country, perhaps even more extreme versions. It wasn't a pretty picture. Since today the Supreme Court struck down three of the four central pillars to SB 1070 , it's an occasion to note that this scary vision of the future has not come to pass. Since SB 1070 became law in Arizona, copy-cat laws have only appeared in five other states. In all of them—Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah—at least some provision of the law has been blocked by the courts. Consider also that, according to the National Council of La Raza, in 31 other states, efforts to pass such a law have gone nowhere —lawmakers have either voted the...

Why Perry Stands to Lose the Texas Senate Race, No Matter Who Wins

Friday night, after candidates David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz finished their debate on who would be best to fill Texas' Senate seat, Cruz fired off a shot at his opponent. He argued that Dewhurst's key supporter, Governor Rick Perry, only endorsed the lieutenant governor so that he could replace his number two . Perry, of course, quickly dismissed the allegation, but the exchange raised a good question—why has Rick Perry waded so far into a Senate primary from which he has little to gain? The race began simply enough, with the personally wealthy Dewhurst as a giant amidst a field of lesser-known and lesser-funded candidates. Few expected the race to go into a run-off at all. But thanks to a lengthy legal fight around the state's redistricting maps, the Texas primaries were postponed again and again. The extra time gave Cruz a chance to build a coalition of conservative backers. He's gotten major contributions from Grover Norquist's anti-tax group Club for Growth—national Tea Party...

School for Success

Capital Idea, an innovative long-term job-training program in Austin, helps lift the working poor out of poverty.

(Patrick Michels) Maria Mora discusses class and work options with a student preparing for summer term. S tudents trail into the Austin Community College classroom in ones and twos, taking seats in pale plastic chairs behind long narrow tables. Some wear scrubs, fresh from shifts at the hospital, while others are in street clothes. A few are middle-aged, but most are in their late twenties or early thirties. The only man in the room wears shoes so battered the soles have almost separated. It’s just days before spring exams begin, and a few of the students discuss an upcoming test. “What kind of math is it?” “It’s easy conversions. How many ounces in a cup and stuff like that.” “They don’t let you use calculators. The first time I didn’t pass for three points, because I didn’t have time to finish.” “If you study your stuff, you’ll get it.” It sounds like any pre-exam college conversation. But not long ago, many of these students could not do high school–level work. Now these working-...