Friday, June 29, 2007

Iraq Dominates News Landscape in First Six Months of 2007

"In the first six months of 2007, the Iraq war has captivated the public's interest and eclipsed most of the year's other major news stories, including the 2008 presidential election, two major Washington political scandals, and news from other international trouble spots. Iraq has been the most closely followed news story in 18 of the 22 weeks that Pew has been tracking public attentiveness to the news.

The only stories this year that have drawn greater public interest than the war were the Virginia Tech shootings in April and rising gas prices at the end of May. In addition, the release in early April of 15 British sailors and marines who were held captive by the Iranian government drew slightly more interest than the war to become that week's most closely followed news story." Source: Pew Center for People and the Press

Download PDF Report | Link to online summary and tables

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Dropout Rates in the United States

"This report builds upon a series of National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports on high school dropout and completion rates that began in 1988. It presents estimates of rates for 2005, and provides data about trends in dropout and completion rates over the last three decades (1972-2005), including characteristics of dropouts and completers in these years. Among other findings, the report shows that in students living in low-income families were approximately six times more likely to drop out of high school between 2004 and 2005 than of their peers from high-income families." Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download PDF Report | Link to download site and access to more data

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Chron. of Higher Ed.: How to avoid being a Bad Author

From the Careers section, Rachel Toor writes a new column called "Page Proof" with advice for academics about writing and getting published. This week she offers advice for academics on communicating and maintaining good relationships with publishers, editors and agents.


Link to online column

Part-Time Undergraduates in Postsecondary Education:

"This report uses data from the 2003–04 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:2004) to profile part-time undergraduates enrolled in U.S. postsecondary institutions in 2003–04. About 49 percent of undergraduates were enrolled exclusively full time in the 2003–04 academic year, 35 percent were enrolled exclusively part time, and 16 percent had mixed enrollment intensity. Part-time undergraduates, especially exclusively part-time students, were at a distinct disadvantage relative to those who were enrolled full time: they came from minority and low-income family backgrounds; they were not as well-prepared for college as their full-time peers; they were highly concentrated in 2-year colleges and nondegree/certificate programs; and many of them worked full time while enrolled and were not enrolled continuously. Using longitudinal data from the 1996/01 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:96/01), the report also found that part-time enrollment was negatively associated with persistence and degree completion six years after beginning postsecondary education even after controlling for a wide range of factors related to these outcomes. This was the case even for the group of students with characteristics that fit the typical profile of a full-time student (i.e., age 23 or younger, financially dependent on parents, graduated from high school with a regular diploma, and received financial help from parents to pay for postsecondary education). Regardless of whether they resembled full-time students, part-time students (especially exclusively part-time students) lagged behind their full-time peers in terms of their postsecondary outcomes even after controlling for a variety of related factors.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download PDF Report
| Link to NCES Site

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

An Overview of Selected Legal Digital Libraries

"More and more digital libraries and repositories are coming into existence (see, e.g., NELLCO Legal Scholarship Repository, 2007). The purpose of this paper is to review ten digital libraries from the legal field. The major characteristics of each library are summarized. Guidance is given for the user who would access the library. Finally, some of the differences between the ten libraries are presented."

Link to online article and resources

Description and Employment Criteria of Instructional Paraprofessionals

"This Issue Brief (1) offers a descriptive portrait of the distribution of instructional paraprofessionals in all public elementary and secondary schools by instructional responsibility and selected school characteristics and (2) examines the educational attainment criteria used by school districts in hiring these paraprofessionals. Data for this analysis were drawn from the 2003–04 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). The findings from this analysis indicate that 91 percent of public elementary and secondary schools in the United States had at least one instructional paraprofessional on staff in 2003–04. A greater percentage of traditional public schools than charter schools had instructional paraprofessionals and a greater percentage of elementary schools than secondary schools report having instructional paraprofessionals. Overall, 93 percent of schools were in districts that required paraprofessionals to have a high school diploma or the equivalent. The results also indicate that a greater percentage of Title I schools than non-Title I schools were in districts that required instructional paraprofessionals to have a high school diploma or the equivalent." Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download PDF Report | Link to NCES

Innovation and Learning by Public Discourse: Citigroup and the Rainforest Action Network

This paper presents the project finance controversy between Citigroup and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) from a moral learning and innovation perspective. Using Kohlberg’s framework for moral development and learning it shows, that Citigroup improved its moral organizational cognition and implemented innovative processes and standards. This case demonstrates that public criticism can trigger social innovations. Source: Center fo Responsible Business U.C. Berkeley

Download PDF publication | Link to online abstract [via eScholarship Repository]

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Are Women Asking for Low Wages? Gender Differences in Wage Bargaining Strategies and Ensuing Bargaining Success

"Men and women’s labor market outcomes differ along pay, promotion and competitiveness. This paper contributes by uncovering results in a related unexplored field using unique data on individual wage bargaining. We find striking gender differences. Women, like men, also bargain, but they submit lower wage bids and are offered lower wages than men. The adjusted gender wage gap is lower with posted-wage jobs than with individual bargaining, although less is ascribable to the term associated with discrimination. Both women and men use self-promoting, or competitive bargaining strategies, but women self-promote at lower levels. Employers reward self-promotion but the larger the self-promotion, the larger is the gender gap in bargaining success. Women therefore lack the incentives to self-promote, which helps to explain the gender disparities." Source: Swedish Institute for Social Research

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| Link to other SOFI Working papers

Amazon to Digitize books from University and Public libraries and offer them for sale.

"Amazon.com's BookSurge subsidiary announced Thursday that it has partnered with book digitization company Kirtas Technologies on a project to archive and distribute hard-to-find books. This new initiative involves collaboration with public and university libraries to provide their collections of "rare and inaccessible" books; the titles will be digitized through Kirtas and then reproductions will be sold through Amazon through the BookSurge print-on-demand service.

In return, the partner libraries--initially consisting of Emory University, University of Maine, and the public libraries in Toronto, Ont. and Cincinnati, Ohio--will receive a cut of the revenue to fund further book preservation efforts, provided the titles are in the public domain or the libraries own the rights to them." Source: C|Net

Link to Online Article

Missing in Action: News Coverage of Private Contract Forces in Iraq

"Exactly how many Americans are serving in Iraq and what they are doing there might not seem complicated questions. Stories in the media regularly talk about the 150,000 U.S. military personnel in the Iraq theater. Coverage of events inside Iraq, which includes the actions of U.S. troops there, was the third-biggest news story in the U.S. media for the first quarter of 2007, according to PEJ research.

But those numbers do not include coverage of some 30,000 employees of U.S. and European-based Private Security Companies (PSCs), who work in some of Iraq's most dangerous areas.

These PSC employees are not like other contractors in Iraq. Many of them carry weapons and are hired to protect important people, facilities and convoys. They have been involved in firefights and scores of them, the exact number is unclear, have perished. Yet there are many basic unanswered questions about these armed forces, which augment by 20% the number of foreign troops in the country. " Source: Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Download PDF Report | Link to online Summary

Network News is all the Same, Cable Networks more Distinct

"In spite of their general criticisms of the media, Americans have good things to say about the major broadcast and cable news networks. The public draws few distinctions among the news divisions of the big three broadcast networks. There is much less consensus about the major cable news networks. Nearly half of the public sees real differences among CNN, the Fox News Channel and MSNBC, but four-in ten say the cable news outlets are all pretty much the same. National Public Radio is less well known to the public, but receives generally positive evaluations from those who can rate it." Source: Pew Research for People and the Press

Download PDF Report | Link to Online Summary

The Use of Profit by the Five Major Oil Companies

"The price of crude oil began to increase in the last quarter of 2003, and has led to the high prices observed from 2004 through 2007. The Iraq War, unexpectedly high demand growth in China, India, and the United States, and hurricanes Katrina and Rita, along with a number of other factors, all contributed to the rising price. An important result of these largely unexpected events was that the oil industry, as represented by the five major integrated oil companies doing business in the United States, experienced rapidly expanding revenues and profits. Some observers characterized these profits as "windfall" gains, while others pointed to the increasing scarcity and rising costs observable in the oil industry. Some saw "price gouging" in high gasoline prices, while others saw the market working to avoid physical supply shortages. The larger profits experienced by the oil industry and the five major integrated oil companies can be used in a variety of ways. Profits might be used to expand exploration and development of crude oil resources to expand the supply of oil. Refineries might be constructed, and technology improved at existing refineries, to expand the supply of petroleum products, most notably, gasoline. Profits might also be used to provide increased returns to the owners of the oil companies, the shareholders. This end might be accomplished through dividend payments and share repurchase plans." Source: Congressional Research Service

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United Nations World Economic and Social Survey 2007

"The 2007 Survey analyses the implications of population ageing for social and economic development around the world, while recognizing that it offers both challenges and opportunities. Among the most pressing issues is that arising from the prospect of a smaller labour force having to support an increasingly larger older population. Paralleling increased longevity are the changes in intergenerational relationships that may affect the provision of care and income security for older persons, particularly in developing countries where family transfers play a major role. At the same time, it is also necessary for societies to fully recognize and better harness the productive and social contributions that older persons can make but are in many instances prevented from making." Source: United Nations

Download PDF Report | Link to UN Download site

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Environmental Impacts of Electric Bikes in Chinese Cities

Abstract: "Electric bikes have captured a large share of trips in many Chinese cities. They provide high levels of mobility and use little energy, two things that Chinese cities need to optimize. However, these benefits come at a cost, particularly emissions from primarily coal power plants and increased lead waste from battery use. Chinese policy makers are struggling with developing appropriate policy that maximizes modal options and mobility and minimizes environmental impacts. Electric bikes use very little electricity and, as a result, emit low levels of pollution per vehicle (passenger) kilometer traveled, even compared to fully occupied buses. The most problematic issue with electric bikes is the use of lead acid batteries that have high lead loss rates during the production, manufacturing and recycling processes. Most other motorized modes also use lead acid batteries, but their rate of use is lower and thus they have lower lead emission rates per kilometer. This research investigates and quantifies the environmental implications of electric bike use in China; particularly energy use, air pollution, solid waste and water use. A framework for policy analysis is presented and potential regulatory mechanisms are discussed. This investigation can inform policy by quantifying environmental impacts so that problematic parts of the life cycle can be addressed, rather than banning electric bikes all together." Source: UC Berkeley Center for Future Urban Transport: A Volvo Center of Excellence. Paper vwp-2007-2.

Download full pdf report
| Link to online abstract

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Evolving Food Chain: Competitive Effects of Wal-Mart's Entry Into The Supermarket Industry

Abstract: "We analyze the effect of Wal-Mart's entry into the grocery market using a unique stor-level price panel data set. We use OLS and two IV specifications to estimate the effect of Wal-Mart's entry on competitors' prices of 24 grocery items across several categories. Wal-Mart's price advantage over competitors for these products averages approximately 10%. On average, competitors' response to Wal-Mart's entry is a price reduction of 1-1.2%, mostly due to smaller-scale competitors: the response of the "big three" supermarket chains (Alberson's, Safeway, and Kroger) is less than half that size. We confirm our results using a falsification exercises, in which we test for Wal-Mart's effect on prices of services that it does not provide, such as movie tickets and dry cleaning services." Source: Department of Economics, UCSD. Paper 2007-03.

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| Link to online abstract

Do Gasoline Prices Resond Asymmetrically to Cost Shocks? The Confounding Effect of Edgeworth Cycles

Abstract: "Asymmetric price cycles which look similar to Edgeworth Cycles are appearing in increasingly many retail gasoline markets in the U.S. and worldwide. The cycles can give the appearance of asymmetric prices responses to cost shocks under traditional methodologies. This article shows how to remove the confounding effect of the cycles and test for any true underlying asymmetry in price responses. Designing the correct counterfactual is key. The methodology is demonstrated for one strongly cycling market and some asymmetry to cost shocks is found. Covert collusion is unlikely, but the ability to coordinate cyclical price increases may play a role. Consumers can still reduce xpenditures on gasoline up to 7.7% with simple timing rules of thumb." Source: Department of Economics, UCSD. Paper 2007-04

Download PDF Report | Link to online paper

Numbers and Types of Public Elementary and Secondary Schools From the Common Core of Data

"This report presents national and state-level data about the number of regular, special education, vocational, alternative, and charter schools; average school size; and the numbers of schools in city, suburban, town, and rural locations." Source: National Center for Education Statistics


Download PDF Report | Link to download site

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Openness & Accountability: A Study of Transparency in Global Media Outlets

"The recent Libby case dramatically illustrated not only the hubris of Washington power politics, but the lack of commitment of mainstream media to journalistic transparency. “Here's the conflict in such situations,” wrote reporter Sydney Schanberg, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the fall of Cambodia. 'The press calls for transparency by government, corporations, and everyone else. But here the reporters reject transparency for themselves, and yet they say they are practicing good journalism. The public needs a fuller explanation, and that can only come from the reporters themselves.'" Source: "The International Center for Media and the Public Agenda, University of Maryland

Link to conclusions | Link to Study Methodology

The causes of civil war

"The dominant hypothesis in the literature that studies conflict is that poverty is the main cause of civil wars. We instead analyze the effect of institutions on civil war, controlling for income per capita. In our set up, institutions are endogenous and colonial origins affect civil wars through their legacy on institutions. Our results indicate that institutions, proxied by the protection of property rights, rule of law and the efficiency of the legal system, are a fundamental cause of civil war. In particular, an improvement in institutions from the median value in the sample to the 75th percentile is associated with a 38 percentage points' reduction in the incidence of civil wars. Moreover, once institutions are included as explaining civil wars, income does not have any effect on civil war, either directly or indirectly." Source: World Bank

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Inequality and Institutions in 20th Century America

"We provide a comprehensive view of widening income inequality in the United States contrasting conditions since 1980 with those in earlier postwar years. We argue that the income distribution in each period was strongly shaped by a set of economic institutions. The early postwar years were dominated by unions, a negotiating framework set in the Treaty of Detroit, progressive taxes, and a high minimum wage - all parts of a general government effort to broadly distribute the gains from growth. More recent years have been characterized by reversals in all these dimensions in an institutional pattern known as the Washington Consensus. Other explanations for income disparities including skill-biased technical change and international trade are seen as factors operating within this broader institutional story." Source: M.I.T. via Social Science Resource Network

Link to download site

Report on the hybrid operation in Darfur

A new report has been released by the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on the hybrid operation in Darfur. The report proposes a mandate and a structure for the operation and provides details on the various components of the proposed operation and their specific tasks. It also describes the ongoing efforts of the international community to support the peace process in Darfur and to strengthen the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS). Source: Unites Nations

Link to download site (report available in multiple languages)

Corruption in education: breaking the taboo

"Based on six years of research and the experience of over 60 countries, “Corrupt Schools, Corrupt Universities” analyses the problem, points the way forward and outlines anti-corruption strategies, illustrated by success stories." The report defines corruption, illustrates the hidden costs of corruption in education, provides the means of detecting it and suggests anti-corruptions strategies. Source: UNESCO

Download full pdf report | Link to press release

Point Systems for Immigrant Selection: Options and Issues

"Replacing or supplementing the current preference system for admitting legal permanent residents (LPRs) with a point system is garnering considerable interest for the first time in over a decade. Briefly, point systems such as those of Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand assign prospective immigrants with credits if they have specified attributes, most often based on educational attainment, skill sets used in shortage occupations, extent of work experience, language proficiency, and desirable age range. President George W. Bush has stated that comprehensive immigration reform is a top priority of his second term, and his principles of reform include increased border security and enforcement of immigration laws within the interior of the United States, as well as a major overhaul of temporary worker visas, expansion of permanent legal immigration, and revisions to the process of determining whether foreign workers are needed. The Bush Administration is reportedly among those advocating to replace or supplement the current legal immigration preference system with a point system that would assign prospective immigrants with credits if they have specified attributes. Proponents of point systems maintain that such merit-based approaches are clearly defined and based on the nation's economic needs and labor market objectives." Source: Congressional Research Services

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"No Confidence" Votes and Other Forms of Congressional Censure of Public Officials

"S.J.Res. 14 of the 110th Congress, submitted on May 24, 2007, has been described as proposing a vote of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. This report discusses the possible significance of action by Congress or either House to adopt a resolution expressing "no confidence" in a cabinet official or other official in the executive branch of the federal government. It examines the legal issues that could be raised by resolutions of this kind and discusses the relation of such action both to votes of no confidence in systems of parliamentary government and to congressional action to censure or otherwise express disapprobation of public officials. It also describes known instances in which action to express a lack of confidence in, or impose another form of censure on, public officials have been attempted in Congress" Source: Congressional Research Service

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| Link to online Summary

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Immigration Fees and Adjudication Costs

The FY2008 Adjustments and Historical Context

The charging of fees for government services or benefits has long been practice in the United States by the federal government. Such fees have usually been charged as a service cost recovery only to those individuals who have used the service or benefit--so called user fees. More recently, this question has focused on the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), which adjudicates immigration benefit applications. As immigration services grow in complexity, questions have emerged concerning what users of feebased services should be obligated to pay for. As related to immigration, the current debate tends to produce two answers to the funding question: (1) an agency should either recover all of its costs through user fees, or (2) an agency should only charge user fees that recover the costs directly associated with providing services or benefits. Source: Congressional Research Service

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Govs' speeches send grads on their way

"This year at least 22 governors — 15 Democrats and seven Republicans — made the commencement rounds to laud graduates.

Governors and their speechwriters largely adhered to commencement clich├ęs: They congratulated grads, encouraged them to reach for the stars, and cited cartoonist Garry Trudeau’s quote that commencement speeches were invented largely in the belief that graduates “should never be released into the world until they have been properly sedated.” To which Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) added, “If I cannot be transcendentally inspirational, I at least hope not to sedate you.”

But one governor strayed from the usual script. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) used the University of Massachusetts-Boston podium to unveil an ambitious, 10-year education plan that includes universal preschool, all-day kindergarten, extending the school day and year, plus free community college." Source: Pew | Stateline.org

Link to online article

'No Child Left Behind' Gets Mixed Grades

"As Congress prepares to debate reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, Americans express mixed views about the nation's signature education law. Among those who have heard about the law, 34% say the law has made schools better; 26% say it has made schools worse; and 32% say it has had no impact.

Parents of public school children have relatively positive views of No Child Left Behind, which uses annual testing to measure school progress and requires schools to raise reading and math test scores. More than four-in-ten public school parents (42%) who have heard a lot or a little about the law say it has made schools in the country better (compared with 34% of the public). However, just 30% of public school parents say that No Child Left Behind has made their children's schools better." Source: Pew Center for People and the Press.

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| Download PDF Questionnaire | Link to online summary

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Excess Burden of Government Indecision

"Governments are known for procrastinating when it comes to resolving painful policy problems. Whatever the political motives for waiting to decide, procrastination distorts economic decisions relative to what would arise with early policy resolution. In so doing, they engender excess burden. This paper posits, calibrates, and simulates a life cycle model with earnings, lifespan, investment return, and future policy uncertainty. It then measures the excess burden from delayed resolution of policy uncertainty. The first uncertain policy we consider concerns the level of future Social Security benefits. Specifically, we examine how an agent would respond to learning in advance whether she will experience a major Social Security benefit cut starting at age 65. We show that having to wait to learn materially affects consumption, saving, and portfolio decisions. It also reduces welfare. Indeed, we show that the excess burden of government indecision can, in this instance, range as large as 0.6 percent of the agent’s economic resources. This is a significant distortion in and of itself. It’s also significant when compared to other distortions measured in the literature. The second uncertain policy we consider concerns marginal tax rates. We obtain similar results once we adjust for the impact of tax rates on income." Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

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Link to online summary

Shortage of Public Health Physicians a Concern

"To attract physicians to public health careers and adequately prepare them for current and emerging challenges, more funding is needed to strengthen and sustain public health training programs and to offer financial incentives to keep these professionals in the field, says a new Institute of Medicine report. The estimated number of practicing physicians in public health is about half of what may be needed in the near future." Source: The National Academies

Link to read report online

Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB): Quarantine and Isolation

"The recent international saga of a traveler with XDR-TB, a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis, has placed a spotlight on existing mechanisms to contain contagious disease threats and raised numerous legal and public-health issues. This report will briefly address the existing law relating to quarantine and isolation, with an emphasis on the interaction of state and federal laws and international agreements." Source:Congressional Research Service, Libary of Congress

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Local Authority or Local Autonomy?: A Revisionist History of Urban Renewal in San Francisco's Mission District, 1955-1973

"During the period of the federal urban renewal program (roughly 1949-1973) cities across the country engaged in massive “slum clearance”—the physical destruction of existing urban fabric for the purpose of redevelopment. Such clearance was undertaken almost exclusively in poor, minority neighborhoods. In the mid-1960s, residents of San Francisco’s primarily Latino Mission District organized to keep the local redevelopment agency from applying for federal urban renewal funding for their neighborhood. Existing literature gives the impression that the neighborhood groups defeated the redevelopment agency, thereby avoiding the imminent clearance of the Mission. Through an analysis of the preliminary plans drawn up for the neighborhood and other historical sources, this paper demonstrates that such clearance was not imminent because the redevelopment agency had recommended a mix of “spot clearance” and rehabilitation. After the initial application for federal funding was stopped, the neighborhood groups themselves took up the mantle of renewal, acting on many of the agency’s plans. The neighborhood groups did not defeat the redevelopment agency, but rather forced the redevelopment agency into collaboration. This paper argues that neighborhood/city collaborations are a part of the legacy of urban renewal which has been overlooked by scholars who emphasize the many abuses of the program. Existing histories of urban renewal have thereby (and in many cases inadvertently) provided fuel for privatization arguments, and a broadly anti-government agenda. While existing literature argues that community mobilization achieved neighborhood autonomy from public authority, this paper argues that community mobilization made the neighborhood a locus of public authority." Source: Institute for the Study of Social Change. ISSC Fellows Working Papers U.C. Berkeley

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| Link to online abstract

Gendered Resource Returns: African American Institutions and Political Engagement

"While numerous studies discuss the importance of black churches and race-based organizations to African American political participation, few of them systematically analyze the gendered nature of such engagement. Employing data from the 1994 National Black Politics Survey, this study compares the influence of church-based activities and race-based organizational participation on African American men's and women's electoral and non-electoral political participation, and finds that 1) African American women participate less than African-American men; 2) in spite of black institutional participation the gender gap remains; 3) a liberal political orientation or households with union members mediates the gendered black institution effect; and, 4) Black institutional involvement enhances male more than female political participation. These findings have important implications for our theoretical understanding of institutional resource returns." Source: Center for the Study of Democracy, U.C. Irvine

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| link to online summary via eScholarship repository

Classics at Berkeley: The First Century 1869-1970

"During retirement, the late Joseph Fontenrose (1903-1986) conducted research in the departmental and university archives to compile this account of the Department of Classics at the University of California, Berkeley (and its predecessor departments) during the first hundred years of the university. It contains biographies and bibliographies of the long-term professors and lists of other teachers, and also tells of the development of the curriculum in different periods." Source: U.C. Berkeley

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Small Civil War Letters Archive at Baylor

"Love letters written by a Civil War soldier in the early 1860s have crossed into the digital age, thanks to a local physician and the Baylor University Electronic Library.

Thirty-two letters were loaned to the Electronic Library by Dr. Douglas Guthrie, a Mexia podiatrist and self-affirmed Civil War buff, for the purpose of digitization, transcription and placement in the online database called The Baylor Digital Collections. Written 140 years ago from towns such as Mechanicsburg, Okolona, Queens Hill and North Duck River, the letters by a Confederate officer from East Texas are helping history come alive and reach a new audience."

Link to archive at Baylor

Mixed Views on Immigration Bill

"The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted May 30-June 3 among 1,503 adults, finds a growing majority of Americans saying increased employer sanctions, as opposed to more border fences and patrols, can best reduce illegal immigration from Mexico. A 55% majority sees increased penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants as the most effective way to stem cross-border immigration, up from 49% a year ago. By comparison, just 25% say increasing the number of border patrol agents is the best solution, and even fewer (7%) see more border fences as the most effective solution." Source: Pew Center for People and the Press

Download pdf report | Download topline questionnaire | Link to online summary

Thompson Demonstrates Broad Potential Appeal

Bush Approval Falls to 29% -- Lowest Ever

"Former Sen. Fred Thompson has broad potential appeal among Republican voters even before his expected entrance into the presidential race. Thompson is not nearly as well known as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani or the other leading GOP candidates. But 37% of the Republican and Republican-leaning voters who have heard of Thompson say there is a "good chance" they will support him. This is equal to the level of support Giuliani receives from GOP voters who have heard of him, and reflects far more enthusiasm than any of the other Republican candidates garner." Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

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| Link to pdf topline questionnaire | link to online summary

How Far Behind in Math and Reading are English Language Learners?

"As Congress considers the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law an analysis of recent data from standardized testing around the country shows that the fast growing number of students designated as English language learners are among those farthest behind.

The results of national testing conducted in 2005 shows that nearly half (46%) of 4th grade students in the English language learner (ELL) category scored "below basic" in mathematics in 2005--the lowest level possible. Nearly three quarters (73%) scored below basic in reading. In middle school achievement in mathematics was lower still, with more than two-thirds (71%) of 8th grade ELL students scoring below basic. Meanwhile, the same share (71%) of 8th grade ELL students scored below basic in reading." Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Download PDF report | Link to online summary | Supporting materials

Monday, June 04, 2007

Census Bureau Submits Subjects for 2010 Census to Congress

"The U.S. Census Bureau submitted to Congress the subjects it plans to address in the 2010 Census, which include gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship and whether you own or rent your home. Estimated to take less than 10 minutes to complete, the 2010 Census would be one of the shortest and easiest to complete since the nation's first census in 1790." Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Download American Community Survey (ACS) Subjects Notebook (.pdf format)

Report on the State of American Education Shows High School Students Taking More Advanced Coursework

"High school students in the United States are taking more courses in mathematics and science, as well as social studies, the arts, and foreign languages, according to The Condition of Education 2007 report released by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The general increases in credits earned since the early 1980s are, in large part, a product of more graduates taking more advanced courses."

"The Condition of Education 2007 summarizes important developments and trends in education using the latest available data. The report presents 48 indicators on the status and condition of education and a special analysis on high school coursetaking. The indicators represent a consensus of professional judgment on the most significant national measures of the condition and progress of education for which accurate data are available. The 2007 print edition includes 48 indicators in five main areas: (1) participation in education; (2) learner outcomes; (3) student effort and educational progress; (4) the contexts of elementary and secondary education; and (5) the contexts of postsecondary education."


Source: Naional Center for Education Statistics

Link to website (contains various documents and data tables from the report)
Download pdf report analysis
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Research Universities: Core of the US Science and Technology System

Abstract: "This paper traces the historical development of the American research and technology enterprise from its origins in the post-Civil War period to its current international dominance in the discovery and dissemination of scientific knowledge. U.S. research universities have become the vital center of this enterprise over the past 60 years. But competitors in Europe and Asia, many of them looking to the American research university as a model, are beginning to challenge U.S. leadership in science and technology. The paper analyzes the nature of this challenge and the problems research universities must address to continue their remarkable record of success." Source: Center for Studies in Higher Education [via California Digital Repository]

Download full pdf publication | link to online abstract

Grants Information for Constituents

This report describes key sources of information on government and private grants for state and community projects. For federal grants, loans, or nonfinancial help, constituents, who often know their projects best, can search the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) [http://www.cfda.gov] by keyword and by browsable indexes such as subject, department or agency, program title, beneficiary, and applicant eligibility. The website Grants.gov [http://www.grants.gov] enables grant seekers to search for federal funding opportunities, to sign up for e-mail notification, to apply electronically for grants through a uniform process for all agencies, and to track submitted applications. Federal department and agency websites provide additional information and guidance, as well as agency contacts. Websites such as the Foundation Center [http://foundationcenter.org] identify possible sources of private, corporate, and community foundations, and offer guides to writing grant proposals. Source: Congressional Research Service

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| Link to online summary

Terrorist Precursor Crimes: Issues and Options for Congress

"As Congress conducts oversight of the federal agencies engaged in terrorist precursor crime investigations and intelligence efforts, this phenomenon and U.S. efforts to identify, investigate, and counter it may be of particular concern. One such issue is how these agencies coordinate with one another on the issue of terrorist precursor crimes and whether there is an across-agency strategy on how to deal with such activity. Beyond the federal government agencies, there are numerous state, local, and tribal (SLT) agencies that are well positioned to assist in the identification and investigation of terrorist precursor crimes, but it is often unclear, and at the very least inconsistent, how these agencies are incorporated into existing efforts. In addition to oversight, there are potential budgetary and legislative issues related to terrorist precursor crimes that are of interest to Congress." Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

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Veterans Benefits: Federal Employment Assistance

"There are federal employment and training programs and policies specifically targeted to help veterans seeking employment in the civilian economy. Transition assistance programs are operated by the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Labor (DOL) to assist servicemembers as they prepare to leave the military. DOL operates grant programs to states to provide outreach and assistance to veterans in finding civilian employment. In addition, the federal government has policies that assist veterans in obtaining jobs with the federal government and federal contractors. This report provides a brief overview of these federal programs and policies." Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

Download full pdf report | Link to online summary

40th Anniversary of the Summer of Love

Online presentation of the San Francisco Chronicle's special report on the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love. Photos, essays, and video illustrate the season that had an impact on American life. Source: SF Gate

Link to online presentation

Pew Results: Public Wants More Coverage on Issues, Less on Fundraising

"At this early stage of the 2008 campaign, about half of the public believes that press coverage of the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates has been fair. But there are sizable partisan differences in evaluations of campaign coverage. Notably, a plurality of Republicans believes the press has gone too easy on Democratic candidates."

Link to online summary
| Download full pdf report | Download topline questionnaire

Indicators Suggest a Recent Slowing of Migration across the U.S. Border

"While short-term changes in immigration flows are difficult to measure, several indicators suggest a possible slackening in migration from Mexico since mid- 2006. The Mexican-born population in the United States has continued to increase, but the rate of growth appears to have slowed in recent months.

This assessment is based on data that indirectly reflect the pace of migration over time and are subject to statistical fluctuations, survey effects and other phenomena that limit the ability to accurately measure changes in immigration flows across short periods of time. No data offer specific measures of the number of foreign-born individuals entering the country at a given point in time." Source: Pew Hispanic Center Major Report

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| Download full pdf report

Stateline report: Civil unions spread, but gays want to wed

"Although gay rights activists say they are grateful for the legal protections that come with civil unions — including hospital visitation and burial rights, inheritance without a will and access to a partner’s health-insurance benefits — they stridently object to the notion that civil unions are the same as marriage." Source: Stateline.org


Link to online report | Download pdf of state-by-state policies on same-sex marriage