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

SHOULD THE CDC RECOMMEND CIRCUMCISION?

The New York Times reports that the CDC is weighing recommending routine circumcision of baby boys, and even adult circumcision for populations at high-risk of contracting HIV. As I've written before , this would be a curious and rather hasty move. While it's true that the World Health Organization recommends circumcision, the studies that showed the procedure significantly decreased the risk of HIV contraction are not easily applicable to the United States. The research was conducted entirely in Africa, among heterosexuals. But in America, half of all new HIV cases are among men having sex with men, compared to 33 percent among heterosexuals engaged in what the CDC calls "high risk" sex. And gay sex is simply much riskier than straight sex, meaning that any method short of a condom is unlikely to provide much protection against STIs. There's another interesting health policy link here: the American Academy of Pediatrics says circumcision of baby boys is "not essential," so in many...

THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, BILL GATES, AND "INNOVATION."

Maybe it's his pro-basketball-playing past, but Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sure does like competition. Yesterday he appeared before a group of superintendents and edu-wonks -- brought together by testing giant ACT -- to herald the launch of "i3." (Yes, it sounds like an Apple product.) Like Race to the Top, i3 is a competitive grant program intended to foster "innovation" and school reform. But while Race to the Top, at $4.3 billion, is targeted at states, i3 is intended for local districts, nonprofits, education "entrepreneurs," school "turnaround specialists," and colleges. The grants come in three categories: up to $5 million to seed "pure innovation," in Duncan's words; up to $30 million for existing programs that need to collect more data on effectiveness; and up to $50 million for scaling-up proven reforms. When all is said and done, i3, which is funded by the federal stimulus, will dole out $650 million to support efforts to boost student achievement, close achievement...

JOE KLEIN: GOP ENGAGED IN "DISINFORMATION JIHAD."

Today's must-read: A touching -- but hard-hitting -- column by Joe Klein on health care: In one of those awful collisions between public policy and real life, I was in the midst of an awkward conversation about end-of-life issues with my father when Sarah Palin raised the remarkable idea that the Obama Administration's attempt to include such issues in its health-care-reform proposal would lead to "death panels." Let me tell you something about my family situation, a common one these days, in order to illuminate the obscenity of Palin's formulation and the cowardice of those, like Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the lead Republican negotiator on the Senate Finance Committee, who have refused to contest her claim. Both my parents are 89 years old. They have been inseparable, with the exception of my father's service in World War II, since kindergarten. My mother has lost her sight and is quite frail. My father takes care of her and my aunt Rose, lovingly, with some — but not enough...

PUBLIC PLAN INVENTOR: GIVING UP IS "A TRULY UGLY IDEA."

On Tuesday, Mark offered a history of how the public option became the dominant progressive priority for health reform. This morning, with the future of the public option at risk, its inventor -- Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker -- and its chief political defender, Roger Hickey , co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future -- held a conference call to ask Congress not to vote for health reform that does not include a strong public plan. Sixty House Democrats have already made that commitment, including Progressive Caucus co-chairs Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva , who were on the call. But there are reports that some members of that group might consider non-profit health care co-operatives -- the Finance Committee's preferred alternative -- a "public option." Co-ops "are a political solution to a political problem," Hacker said, "unlike the public plan, which is a policy solution to a real world problem. That real world problem is the consolidation of our health system"...

BILL GATES AND FEDERAL EDU POLICY.

I've written before about the outsize influence of Bill Gates on national education policy. That influence is growing. According to Education Week , as the Department of Education prepares to dole out $4.3 billion in federal grants as part of the Race To the Top program -- an effort to foster education reform and innovation at the state level -- the Gates Foundation is offering 15 states up to $250,000 to hire consultants to fill out the complex application to the program, which the DOE estimates could take up to 642 hours. Those states are Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. During a time of state budget cuts and layoffs, the Gates funds could mean the difference between a barely completed application and one given enough attention to win the competition. According to the DOE's own standards, one of the Gates-supported states, New York, may not be eligible...

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