Dana Goldstein

Dana Goldstein, a former associate editor and writer at the Prospect and The Daily Beast, is a Spencer Fellow in education reporting at Columbia University. Her work on politics, women’s issues, and education has appeared in BusinessWeek, Slate, The New Republic, and The Nation.

Recent Articles

The Test Generation

What happens in the classroom when a state begins to evaluate all teachers, at every grade level, based on how well they "grow" their students' test scores? Colorado is about to find out.

(Flickr/Neighborhood Centers)
On exam day in Sabina Trombetta's Colorado Springs first-grade art class, the 6-year-olds were shown a slide of Picasso's "Weeping Woman," a 1937 cubist portrait of the artist's lover, Dora Maar, with tears streaming down her face. It is painted in vibrant -- almost neon -- greens, bluish purples, and yellows. Explaining the painting, Picasso once said, "Women are suffering machines." The test asked the first-graders to look at "Weeping Woman" and "write three colors Picasso used to show feeling or emotion." (Acceptable answers: blue, green, purple, and yellow.) Another question asked, "In each box below, draw three different shapes that Picasso used to show feeling or emotion." (Acceptable drawings: triangles, ovals, and rectangles.) A separate section of the exam asked students to write a full paragraph about a Matisse painting. Trombetta, 38, a 10-year teaching veteran and winner of distinguished teaching awards from both her school district, Harrison District 2, and Pikes Peak...

The Change Game

Obama's election showed how much the country has changed; his governing has shown how much it hasn't.

Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics , by Ari Berman, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 304 pages, $26.00 Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women , by Rebecca Traister, Free Press, 352 pages, $26.00 The urge to romanticize the 2008 presidential election is almost overpowering for progressives. Although the Democratic primaries were grueling, they seemed to validate the diversity of the party's coalition. Flooding the streets on election night, progressives could ecstatically celebrate America's achievement -- and their own -- in electing the first African American president. Now, just in time for Democrats' likely midterm drubbing, two new books by liberal journalists have arrived to indulge the impulse to relive the presidential election and perhaps even learn something from it. Rebecca Traister and Ari Berman both covered the 2008 campaign and have spent the past two years putting it in context...

The Innovation Administration

The White House assumes that newer ideas are always better, but that's not necessarily the case.

"Every single one of you has something you're good at," President Barack Obama told children in his Sept. 8 back-to-school address. He went on to list future occupations toward which students could strive -- doctor, teacher, police officer, architect, lawyer. Also included in that list was a career option no previous president had ever named: innovator. Indeed, the Obama administration has been promoting "innovation" to anyone who will listen. The stimulus package includes more than $100 billion for innovation efforts across fields as diverse as school reform, energy research, health care, and poverty alleviation. In July, first lady Michelle Obama spoke at two "innovation events" honoring architects and product designers. On Sept. 21, the president delivered a speech at Hudson Valley Community College in upstate New York on how innovation can create jobs. A search of WhiteHouse.gov turned up 531 documents mentioning the term. The most concrete definition of innovation is offered by...

Health Reform Should Regulate the Fertility Industry.

The Times is midway through a really great series on the financial, physical, and emotional wreckage often left in the wake of extreme fertility treatments. What hasn't been addressed -- at least, so far -- is how health reform would alter this landscape. As I reported in a piece for Double X , other countries highly regulate fertility clinics in order to tamp down on dangerous multiple births. Britain’s National Health Service pays for every infertile woman to undergo three IVF cycles. And, sure enough, in the United Kingdom, single embryo transfers are the norm, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is generally used only when the parents’ medical history suggests an increased risk for fetal genetic abnormalities. In the United States, however, we have a classic divide between haves and have-nots. For the poor, even basic prenatal genetic testing can be out of reach. Medicaid pays for 40 percent of American pregnancies—1.6 million annually. But while 46 states and the District...

The Charter Barter

On education -- and every other social policy issue -- the Obama administration must play referee among competing experts. Is it up to the task?

Students at The Promise Academy, a charter school in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
We liberals like to flatter ourselves by proclaiming our allegiance to fact. In the immortal words of Stephen Colbert, for us, mere "truthiness" will not suffice. We demand evidence, research, science -- Truth itself. But on so many of the social issues liberals care about, concrete fact is a rare commodity. Take education policy, a beat I've been covering for over two years. We know our schools aren't good enough: There is a dropout crisis among blacks and Latinos, colleges are forced to reteach algebra and basic essay writing, and classrooms are becoming more racially and socioecomically segregated. But beyond these observable trends, we can't agree on much. Liberals are in complete disagreement about how to fix American education, whether the topic is a national curriculum, standardized testing, or how to pay teachers. That's what has made this topic so maddening -- and fascinating -- to cover. Consider charter schools, for example. The White House and Education Secretary Arne...

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