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

ON WRITING, WORTH A READ.

At the Times , Stanley Fish argues that college writing courses need to focus more on grammar, syntax, and rhetoric, and less on discussing, debating, and imitating popular writing on hot-button issues. I agree, but don't think higher education can solve the problem of poor writing ability. Far and away, the most useful class I took in college was called "Seminar in the Teaching of Writing." It was a required training course for my part-time job working as a peer writing tutor. It was also the only class I ever took -- in all my years of school -- that taught me methods for effectively structuring a persuasive essay, how to properly use a comma, and the difference between "that" and "which." The movement away from teaching grammar and rhetoric and toward "whole language" has deprived a lot of students of this kind of practical education. Grammar and syntax need to be part of the K-12 curriculum; for most people who aren't obsessive professional writers, university is way too late to...

BEHIND THE STORY: CIRCUMCISION AND HIV.

One of the great things about being a magazine writer is that it allows you to develop quirky areas of expertise. And indeed, as regular readers will know, I've been covering the HIV/circumcision story on and off for over two years, since I first wrote for In These Times about Mayor Bloomberg 's attempt to encourage circumcision among gay men of color in New York. (Incidentally, that article was my first for editor Phoebe Connelly . A few months later, we both joined the Prospect .) With the Times reporting this week that the CDC is considering recommending routine circumcision of American infants, the issue is gaining wider media pick-up. My boyfriend reports that he saw talking heads debating the topic on MSNBC. And this morning, I was a guest on the BBC/ Times NPR show " The Takeaway ," alongside Dr. Roy Gulick , chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Weill Cornell Medical College. You can listen to the segment, which is about 10 minutes long, here . It's a good...

MICHELLE RHEE DEFINES "GOOD TEACHING."

For the past year, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee has run into roadblocks in her effort to institute what would be the nation's most ambitious teacher merit pay scheme -- in part because of criticisms that D.C. simply didn't have a fair system for measuring good teaching. Now Rhee's department has responded with a document -- the " Teaching and Learning Framework " -- that lays out expectations for teachers, getting quite specific. For example, a teacher who loses three minutes or less per class period due to "poorly designed routines and procedures, poorly organized materials and space, or poorly executed transitions between activities" would score highest -- level four. A teacher who loses five minutes rates as level three, and so on and so forth. The document suggests that to maintain classroom order, teachers should "move close to a group of students who are whispering to each other," and that teachers must have "a system for passing out papers efficiently or for allowing...

Shaking Up Suburbia

The Obama administration has told affluent Westchester County it can't continue to segregate low-income and minority housing. Is it the end of the all-white suburb?

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During last year's endless Democratic presidential primary, wonks and activists who cared about integration usually preferred John Edwards to Barack Obama. Edwards' platform called for a million new housing vouchers to help poor families move to safer communities with better schools. And Edwards would have provided subsidies to suburban school districts willing to enroll low-income city kids. Obama, meanwhile, focused on "Promise Neighborhoods," an anti-poverty strategy based on the Harlem Children's Zone. Select inner-city neighborhoods would be flooded with resources meant to improve health, education, and quality of life. In New York, the strategy has yielded encouraging dividends, and the 2010 federal budget provides a modest $10 million to expand the project to other cities. But Promise Neighborhoods do not alleviate racial and socioeconomic isolation, one of the leading predictors of a child's academic achievement and ability to find a decent job after high school. Now Obama's...

AMERICAN JEWISH PHILANTHROPIST USES THE "A" WORD.

This is relatively huge: Jewish uber-philanthropist Edgar Bronfman -- one of the main funders behind the Birthright Israel program, which sends young American Jews to Israel to develop their Zionist sympathies -- has come out in the Huffington Post as a supporter of the Obama administration's call for the Israeli government to freeze all settlement growth. What's more, he uses the "a" word -- apartheid -- to describe the direction in which Israel is trending: [Former Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon became convinced that the demographic threat to Israel's existence outweighed his life's work of settlement construction. As Sharon understood clearly, there was no way to keep controlling the Palestinian people indefinitely and to simultaneously maintain Israel's Jewish and democratic character. At a certain point, there will be more Arabs than Jews living between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, thereby leading to one de facto apartheid state if no resolution to the conflict is...

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