Pema Levy

Pema Levy is an assistant editor at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Getting It Wrong on Education

Dana Goldstein points to recent studies indicating that the Obama administration and prominent education reformers who are pushing high-stakes testing and teacher accountability-oriented reforms may have reform all wrong: Last week the National Academies of Science published a synthesis of 10 years worth of research on 15 American test-based incentive programs, finding they demonstrated few good results and a lot of negative unintended consequences. Meanwhile, the National Center on Education and the Economy reported that high-achieving nations have focused on reforming their teacher education and professional development pipelines, not on efforts to measure student "growth" and tie such numbers to individual teachers. What's so disheartening about education reform right now is that there's little political will or money for the kinds of reforms these studies suggest. And if you think Democrats have it wrong, Republican strategies are similar but worse. Republicans haven't given up on...

In the Name of Capitalism

The New Yorker 's James Surowiecki argues that Elizabeth Warren is in fact a friend of capitalism: The core principle of Warren’s work is also a cornerstone of economic theory: well-informed consumers make for vigorous competition and efficient markets. That idea is embodied in the design of the new agency, which focuses on improving the information that consumers get from banks and other financial institutions, so that they can do the kind of comparison shopping that makes the markets for other consumer products work so well. When you look at the rash of subprime loans that triggered the financial crisis, the theme was financial institutions competing with each other to dupe the most customers, not provide the best product. And not just home-buyers but also the other banks and consumers who bought the securities made up of these bad loans. Though at first the financial industry seemed to have no idea what they were doing was dangerous, even once banks knew that they were selling bad...

John Edwards' Crimes

John Edwards was indicted today on charges that he used almost $1 million in campaign funds to hide his mistress and their child during his 2008 presidential campaign. The best way to understand Edwards' alleged crimes is to combine the cases of Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Ensign. The former fathered a child during an affair with an employee, hid it from the public, and supported the child financially, but has not been charged with breaking any laws; the latter had an affair, sans love child, but illegally paid significant amounts of hush money to keep his mistress quiet. Put these together and you get a pretty accurate picture of Edwards' misconduct. Edwards contends that the money was not campaign money so he didn't break any campaign finance laws. There may well be a trial. Edwards's sexual misconduct has been well-documented by the media, and it's a terrible kind of betrayal to destroy your family over an affair. It's another kind of betrayal to not be the good, humble person...

Administration to Indiana: Fund Planned Parenthood

Efforts to defund Planned Parenthood on the state level took a big hit yesterday when the administration finally weighed in and deemed Indiana's effort to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funding illegal. A letter from Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) head Donald Berwick made clear that "Medicaid programs may not exclude qualified health care providers from providing services that are funded under the program because of a provider's scope of practice. Such a restriction would have a particular effect on beneficiaries ' ability to access family planning providers." Indiana was the first to sign a funding ban into law, but it's not the only state considering it. To those states HHS also issued a memo re-iterating the point that denying Medicaid funding because of the services a clinic provides violates the Social Security Act. On the one hand, it's good to see the administration taking a stand on the issue after what seems like months of reproductive...

Texas Goes Too Far

Texas may soon demonstrate what it looks like to drastically cut both access to family planning and abortion. Earlier this week, I wrote about the imminent loss of Texas's Medicaid Women's Health Program, which provides poor women with things like birth control and cancer screenings. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. As budget negotiations wrap up this week, family-planning funds are being gutted, so much so that family-planning clinics like Planned Parenthood could receive no money at all from the state government. For poor women, especially in rural areas, clinics closing because of the budget cuts could leave them without access to contraception. If any of those women get pregnant and decide to get an abortion, they'll find cuts for those services, too. The Texas House passed a measure, currently on its way to becoming law, that will deny funding to all hospitals and health-care clinics that provide abortion or "abortion related services," whatever that means. So, even women...

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