Kay Steiger

Kay Steiger is managing editor at Raw Story and a former Prospect editorial assistant.

Recent Articles

PRISON SPENDING NEARLY EQUAL TO HIGHER ED SPENDING.

Yesterday Dana and Kate wrote about a NYT article on the increase in the prison population in the United States. Naturally, then this Inside Higher Ed piece about how prison spending is also up isn't too surprising. What is interesting is how they compared prison spending to the amount spent on higher education by state. For states like Connecticut, Vermont, Michigan, Delaware and Oregon, the spending is nearly one to one. Twenty years ago we spent 32 cents on prisons for every dollar we spent on higher ed, today, it's 60 cents. This is due in large part to the crunch on state budgets--the first thing to be trimmed from the budget is usually colleges and universities. The reasoning is that students can pay higher tuition rates to make up the difference, but with prisons, an increased population must be supported by the state. -- Kay Steiger

Democracy Versus Debt

Students are getting serious about organizing to change the rules of the game that leave young adults burdened with college and credit-card debt.

Anthony Daniels is the chairperson of the National Education Association's student program but is saddled with nearly $58,000 of debt in student loans from his undergraduate and master's programs. He's considering getting out of teaching. With payments of roughly $600 a month and an interest rate of 11.71 percent, he just can' t afford the payments on a teacher's salary, typically starting at less than $30,000. "The passion is here," Daniels said, "but I just can't afford it." Daniels, in a way, is lucky. At least he managed to get a degree. About one in five students at a four-year college or university end up dropping out, and financial stress is a prime cause. At community colleges, that number is one in four. The drop-out rate among white students at 43 percent is high, but the rate is even higher among Hispanics (56 percent) and blacks (61 percent). Debt burdens hit hardest at those with the steepest climbs into the middle class. Without a degree, there's little hope of earning...

WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION REDUX.

Today the Supreme Court will hear arguments on one of the major discrimination cases this year, CBOCS West v. Humphries . The case concerns Hedrick Humphries , an African-American assistant manager at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Humphries says he was fired when he complained about racially discriminatory behavior by a white supervisor. Unlike in the Ledbetter v. Goodyear discrimination case of last year , in which Goodyear Tire basically admitted that sex discrimination in pay and promotions may have taken place, but said it was beyond the two year time limit for awarding back pay, in this case Cracker Barrel is defending its decision to fire Humphries. The company argues that the very definition of retaliatory termination is based on the employee's behavior and therefore couldn't possibly be based on racial discrimination. The problem, of course, is that Humphries was fired because he complained about racial discrimination. As Emily Bazelon points out in Slate , there wouldn't be...

VET BENEFITS AS A TOOL?

This Boston Globe article highlights something I observed in a House committee hearing a few weeks ago: The Department of Defense seems to be well aware that the National Guard and Reserve are getting something of a raw deal on education benefits. The buying power of the GI Bill has depreciated greatly over the years, influencing some vets to go for the cheapest, rather than the best choice when it comes to higher education. Guard and Reserve face special challenges because they get a lesser benefit that is only accessible as long as they are enlisted, but with the increasing time and frequency of deployments, collecting on education benefits becomes next to impossible. The thing is, the DoD isn't really interested in making the benefit comparable to what regular troops get because they view it as a retention tool. The reasoning is that if Guard and Reserve can access their education benefit after they leave, the incentive is to leave. This was reflected in testimony I heard by Thomas...

CLINTON REDUX.

Not to dredge up old posts (I've been on vacation and spending time with my family for the past several days), but my post on Hilary Clinton 's first lady experience brought about exactly the reaction I might have expected: the assumption that I desire Clinton to win the candidacy and the presidency because my vote as a feminist means I will throw my support behind whatever woman approaches spitting distance. Let's just be clear about one thing: I do no such thing. Clinton's politics are not ideal for many progressives, and this is one of many reasons I don't throw my support behind Clinton. When I wrote the post, I simply wanted to point out the fact that men and women are judged differently when it comes to experience as politicians. But Patrick Healy 's article did have address a question that's been bubbling below the surface throughout the primary season: When you are a woman married to a politician, do you count? How much? Does it matter? I don't expect female candidates for...

Pages