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

Hawaii's Race Back to the Top

Welcome to Hawaiia, Department of Ed! (Flic/jerine)
Friday, Hawaiian education officials can bid farewell to officials from the U.S. Department of Education. For now, anyways. The four-day visit was part of an evaluation to see how the Aloha state has fared in implementing the changes it promised when it won a lucrative Race to the Top grant for $75 million. The state set high goals : Officials said they would eliminate achievement gaps by 2018 and begin measuring teacher effectiveness. Since then, however, the state has struggled to make the necessary changes, and the feds have taken note. At the end of 2011, the U.S. Department of Education labeled the state's grant "high risk," limiting its access to the grant money. It may be in jeopardy of losing the funding entirely. While the state legislature is considering bills to reduce teacher contract protections like tenure , the state's teachers have been reticent about making changes, and earlier this year, voted down a proposed contract that would have included more performance-based...

Anti-Abortion Measures Die with a Whimper

(Flickr/World Can't Wait)
Women's health and abortion access have dominated state legislatures across the country and, until recently, dominated the headlines as well. But as legislative sessions are wrapping up and final decisions get made, there's been less focus on the issues. Perhaps it's because, in several cases, the bills are dying with whimpers instead of bangs. This week, many of the measures look doomed. Idaho's pre-abortion sonogram bill died Tuesday, with pro-life activists accepting defeat—at least for this year. According to the Spokesman-Review , House State Affairs Chair Tom Loertscher worried that the controversy around the sonogram could threaten the state's other anti-abortion measures. The bill did not have any exemptions for rape or incest and would likely have required invasive, transvaginal sonograms—the kind that got Virginia so much attention. Right to Life of Idaho has said it plans to bring the bill back next year. In Pennsylvania, a similar sonogram measure has stalled after...

Tennessee Travels Back to 1925

By the end of this week, teachers in Tennessee will likely have new protections if they teach creationism alongside evolution or rely on dubious reports that climate change is a myth. A measure awaiting gubernatorial approval explicitly protects teachers who give countering theories to evolution, climate change, and the like, in an effort to foster critical-thinking skills. The bill received overwhelming legislative support, and the governor is expected to approve it. "It's a really sad state of affairs," says Steven Newton, policy director at the California-based National Center for Science Education. "In an era where other countries are pushing forward … the United States is passing anti-science bills in some of its states." As I wrote last week , the measure create any requirements, and, as the Times Free Press reports , its sponsor has been adamant that it "does not endorse, promote or allow the teaching of any nonscientific, nonconventional theories in the scientific classroom."...

Brown vs. Mandel

A poll today from Rasmussen brought big news for those in Ohio, where Senator Sherrod Brown is fighting for his political life against state Treasurer Josh Mandel. The new results show the two men tied, each with 43 percent. The survey asked 500 likely voters and had a 4.5 point margin of error. This is the first poll to show Brown without a sizable lead; a poll from NBC earlier in March had the incumbent ahead 47-37. It's hardly time to panic though. While the race is on many watch lists, The Cook Report , a favorite of political prognosticators, has Brown with the advantage, labeling it "Leans Democrat." Furthermore, Rasmussen polls often seem to tilt Republican. A couple years ago, Nate Silver addressed the pattern directly, calling Rasmussen polls "biased and inaccurate." Still the news will likely bring more attention to the Senate race. Brown is one of the most vocal and visible liberals in D.C., with The Washington Post calling him a "modern-day Paul Wellstone." (For the record...

Drug Tests for Everyone!

Right this way Representative... (Flickr/Francis Storr)
Drug testing is in these days. Already, Arizona and Missouri test anyone receiving government aid who's suspected of drug use. (In other words, leave your Bob Marley shirt at home.) In Florida, meanwhile, the humiliating process is guaranteed—everyone getting aid must also pee in a cup. 23 states are considering such laws this year, according to USA Today. On Monday alone, a panel in Oklahoma approved one drug-testing measure , while Utah's governor signed a measure into law. If tax dollars are heading in your direction, the thinking goes, we have to make sure you're not some junkie. Many frame the issue as one of fiscal responsibility—if you can afford to do drugs, you should not receive aid. (The extra dose of humiliation recipients face is just a side benefit, I guess.) It's not just those receiving aid who are suspect. Florida beefed up its laws this year with a measure requiring random drug tests for those receiving a state paycheck. Governor Rick Scott just signed it into law a...