Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Condition of Education 2008

The Condition of Education 2008 summarizes important developments and trends in education using the latest available data. The report presents 43 indicators on the status and condition of education. 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 2008 print edition includes 43 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: National Center for Education Statistics

Download full pdf report
| Link to NCES

The Program Officer: Negotiating the Politics of Philanthropy

As a part of a larger study on the relationship between private philanthropy and farmworker organizing and community development across California’s Central Valley, this paper concentrates on the central role of the foundation program officer in negotiating the process of grant making. The work of the program officer is revealed as both containing and opening up spaces for addressing political and economic inequity. It is argued that the work of the foundation program officer often limits the approach of granted organizations through professional processes and program frameworks that make poor people responsible for their own betterment while excluding the economic relationships that created the situations the programs seek to ameliorate. Yet findings also point to the role of the program officer as one of significant risk taking and advocacy during non-movement times. Data was gathered through in-depth interviews with foundation program officers, consultants, and grantees, review of foundation program materials, and participant observation at foundation gatherings and presentations. Source: Institute for the Study of Social Change. ISSC Fellows Working Papers. Paper ISSC_WP_27.

Download full pdf publication | Link to eScholarship repository

Monday, May 26, 2008

Using GPS-enabled cell phones to track the travel patterns of adolescents

Few tools exist to directly measure the microsocial and physical environments of adolescents in circumstances where participatory observation is not practical or ethical. Yet measuring these environments is important as they are significantly associated with adolescent health-risk. For example, health-related behaviors such as cigarette smoking often occur in specific places where smoking may be relatively surreptitious.

We assessed the feasibility of using GPS-enabled cell phones to track adolescent travel patterns and gather daily diary data. We enrolled 15 adolescent women from a clinic-based setting and asked them to carry the phones for 1 week. We found that these phones can accurately and reliably track participant locations, as well as record diary information on adolescent behaviors. Participants had variable paths extending beyond their immediate neighborhoods, and denied that GPS-tracking influenced their activity." Source: International Journal of Health Geographics

Download preliminary pdf | Link to International Journal of Health Geographics

OIG Special Report: Review of the FBI's Involvement in and Observations of Detainee Interrogations in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq

"Our report found that after FBI agents in GTMO and other military zones were confronted with interrogators from other agencies who used more aggressive interrogation techniques than the techniques that the FBI had successfully employed for many years, the FBI decided that it would not participate in joint interrogations of detainees with other agencies in which techniques not allowed by the BI were used." Source: U.S. Department of Justice

Download full pdf report

Community Foundation Giving Jumps 14 Percent,

The country's more than 72,000 grantmaking foundations increased their giving to $42.9 billion in 2007, an estimated 10 percent gain over 2006, according to Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates: Current Outlook (2008 Edition). Contributing to this rise was close to 12 percent growth in foundation assets in 2006 — the first double-digit gain in assets recorded since 1999. Source: Foundation Center

Download full pdf report | Link to the Foundation Center

The Internet and Consumer Choice

Online Americans use different search and purchase strategies for different goods

The internet plays an important role in how people conduct research for purchases, but it is just one among a variety of sources people use and usually not the key factor in final purchasing decisions.

A new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project tracks the decision-making processes for buying music, purchasing a cell phone, and buying or renting a home.

Download full pdf report | Download Questionnaire

Which States Have the Best (and Worst) High Courts?

"This paper ranks the high courts of the fifty states, based on their performance during the years 1998-2000, along three dimensions: opinion quality (or influence as measured by out-of-state citations), independence (or non-partisanship), and productivity (opinions written). We also discuss ways of aggregating these measures. California and Delaware had the most influential courts; Georgia and Mississippi had the most productive courts; and Rhode Island and New York had the most independent courts. If equal weight is given to each measure, then the top five states were: California, Arkansas, North Dakota, Montana, and Ohio. We compare our approach and results with those of other scholars and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose influential rankings are based on surveys of lawyers at big corporations." Source: University of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper (via SSRN)

Link to pdf download options

State-by-State costs of child Poverty in the U.S.

"In 2006, an estimated 13.3 million U.S. children were living in poverty, and at risk for such lifelong problems. But the individual hardships brought by poverty also exact a staggering financial toll on broader society. One recent estimate has suggested that growing up in poverty costs the United States $500 billion annually in lost potential earnings, involvement with the criminal justice system, and the costs associated with poor health outcomes.1

Taking its cue from that cost estimate, as well as campaigns in some states designed to reduce poverty, the KIDS COUNT project in Washington state (affiliated with the University of Washington's Human Services Poverty Center) has produced state-level estimates of the costs of child poverty. By taking the national estimate of child poverty costs and applying it to the estimated the number of poor children in each state in the 2006 American Community Survey, the study estimates the amount that each state would save annually if child poverty were eliminated." Population Reference Bureau

Link to online State-by-state reports

Marriage and Divorce since World War II: Analyzing the Role of Technological Progress on the Formation of Households

"Since World War II there has been: (i) a rise in the fraction of time that married households allocate to market work, (ii) an increase in the rate of divorce, and (iii) a decline in the rate of marriage. It is argued here that labor-saving technological progress in the household sector can explain these facts. This makes it more feasible for singles to maintain their own home, and for married women to work. To address this question, a search model of marriage and divorce, which incorporates household production, is developed. An extension looks back at the prewar era." Source: Population Studies Center (PSC Working Paper Series)

Download full pdf report | Link to online abstract

Churches and Campaign Activity: Analysis Under Tax and Campaign Finance Laws

Churches and other houses of worship qualify for tax-exempt status as Internal Revenue Code ? 501(c)(3) organizations. One qualification for ? 501(c)(3) status is that these organizations may not participate in political campaign activity. They are permitted under the tax laws to engage in other political activities (e.g., distribute voter guides and invite candidates to speak at church functions) so long as such activity does not support or oppose a candidate. Additionally, church leaders may engage in campaign activity in their capacity as private individuals without negative tax consequences to the church. The tax code's political campaign prohibition is sometimes referred to as the "Johnson Amendment," after then-Senator Lyndon Johnson, who introduced the provision as an amendment to the Revenue Act of 1954. While some have argued the prohibition violates churches' free exercise and free speech rights under the First Amendment, the two federal courts of appeals to address the issue have reached the opposite conclusion. Separate from the prohibition in the tax code, the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) may also restrict the ability of churches to engage in electioneering activities. Legislation introduced in the 110th Congress, H.R. 2275, would repeal the political campaign prohibition in the tax code. If this bill were enacted into law, churches could engage in campaign activities without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status, but they would still be subject to applicable campaign finance laws. This report examines the restrictions imposed on campaign activity by churches under tax and campaign finance laws, discusses recent IRS inquiries into such activity, and analyzes H.R. 2275. Source: Congressional Research Service

Download full pdf report | Link to online Summary

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Moral Intuitions and Organizational Culture

Abstract: Many efforts to understand and respond to a succession of corporate scandals over the last few years have underscored the importance of organizational culture in shaping the behavior of individuals. This focus reflects appreciation that even if an organization has adopted elaborate rules and policies designed to ensure legal compliance and ethical behavior, those pronouncements will be ineffective if other norms and incentives promote contrary conduct.

Responding to the call for creating and sustaining an ethical culture in organizations requires appreciating the subtle ways in which various characteristics of an organization may work in tandem or at cross-purposes in shaping behavior. The idea is to identify the influences likely to be most important, analyze how people are apt to respond to them, and revise them if necessary so that they create the right kinds of incentives when individuals are deciding how to act.

This can be a tall order even if we assume that most behavior is the result of a deliberative process that weighs multiple risks and rewards. It’s even more daunting if we accept the notion that conscious deliberation typically plays but a minor role in shaping behavior. A focus on what two scholars describe as “the unbearable automaticity of being” posits that most of a person’s everyday life is determined not by conscious intentions and deliberate choices but by mental processes outside of conscious awareness.

In this article, I discuss a particular strand of research that is rooted in the study of non-conscious mental processes, and consider its implications for ethics and culture in the organizational setting. This is work on the process that we use to identify and respond to situations that raise what we think of as distinctly moral questions. A growing body of research suggests that a large portion of this process involves automatic non-conscious cognitive and emotional reactions rather than conscious deliberation. One way to think of these reactions is that they reflect reliance on moral intuitions. When such intuitions arise, we don’t engage in moral reasoning in order to arrive at a conclusion. Instead, we do so in order to justify a conclusion that we’ve already reached. In other words, moral conclusions precede, rather than follow, moral reasoning. Source: Mitt Regan Georgetown Law. Georgetown Law Faculty Working Papers. Paper 60.

Download full pdf report | Link to online abstract

Sunday, May 18, 2008

ore Older Americans are Poor than the Official Measure Suggests

Abstract: The number of poor adults age 65 and older has declined dramatically since the official poverty rate was designed back in the 1960s. Today the federal government considers fewer than 1 in 10 older adults to be poor, compared with about 1 in 3 in the 1960s. These estimates show the share of people with insufficient income to meet basic living expenses, such as food and housing. However, substantial research shows that the official poverty measure no longer reflects the true resources or needs of older adults.

The lack of an accurate poverty measure for older adults hampers efforts to reform Medicare and Social Security, which face significant revenue shortfalls. Reform proposals often aim to reduce costs by combining benefit cuts with increased cost sharing for older adults. To target any cuts or increased costs to older adults with the greatest ability to pay, an accurate measure of economic well-being is critical. Source: Urban Institute

Download pdf report | Link to Urban Institute

Women Speaking for Women: The Meaning of Motherhood in an Argentine Legislative Debate

"Do women matter for politics? Champions of women’s representation in the legislature believe that female politicians pass female-friendly policies. The research problem opposes essentialism to empirics. On the one hand, we cannot assume that female legislators represent universally-shared women’s interests. On the other hand, female legislators in the developing world are more likely to address children and families, gender equality, violence against women, and reproductive rights.

Argentina presents a most likely case for studying the effects of women’s presence. Women’s representation in the Congress has increased threefold since the implementation of mandatory gender quotas in 1991; women currently hold 36% of seats in the lower house and 43% of seats in the Senate. This paper uses an innovative approach to assess whether women matter, focusing on the entirety of the policymaking process." Source: UCLA Center for the Study of Women. Thinking Gender Papers. Paper TG08_Piscopo.

Download full pdf report | Link to online abstract

No Child Left Behind or Every Teacher under Surveillance?

"Revealing Patriarchal Ideologies of Surveillance and Control

This paper addresses how the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act uses patriarchal control to paper over issues of inequalities in education. While NCLB is set up to “save” public schools, I argue that it fails both students and teachers: it does not attend to the structural reasons why poor children and children of color are left behind or even center these children in its reforms; instead, it relies on and furthers the feminization of teaching, using teachers as convenient scapegoats, and it leaves class and race privilege intact. Its central focus on “high quality teachers,” in conjunction with centralized policies of curriculum and pedagogy, targets and blames predominantly female teachers as workers, ultimately reproducing patriarchal relations." Source: UCLA Center for the Study of Women. Thinking Gender Papers. Paper TG08_Pitzer.

Download full pdf publication | Link to online abstract

Human Rights Handbook for NGOs

"Working with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: a handbook for NGOs is a publication put out by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The purpose of the publication is to inform the general public about United Nations human rights work. It provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about the United Nations human rights programme as well as information on how to use the system to address human rights violations." Source: United Nations [via UN Pulse]

Download full pdf handbook

Favorability of Leading Figures

Opinion of Oprah More Politicized, Gore’s Ratings Improve

"Long one of America's best-known and best-liked media figures, Oprah Winfrey saw her popularity slip after her endorsement of Barack Obama last year. A new survey shows that her image has not recovered, and opinions about the talk show host have become increasingly divided along partisan political lines.

Currently, 68% of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of Winfrey, which is largely unchanged from a Gallup survey in October 2007 (66%). At that time, Gallup found that positive views of Winfrey had declined by eight points, from 74%, since January 2007."

"Former vice president Al Gore's favorability has improved since 2002. Currently, 53% have a favorable opinion of Gore while 36% express an unfavorable view. In December 2002, opinions about Gore were evenly split (44% favorable vs. 46% unfavorable)." Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

Download full pdf report | Download topline Questionnaire | Link to online Summary

Berkman Center Publius Project

"This project brings together a distinguished collection of Internet observers, scholars, innovators, entrepreneurs, activists, technologists and still other experts, to write short essays, to foster an on-going public dialogue, and to create a durable record of how the rules of cyberspace are being formed, potentially impacting their future incarnation."

"This collection will highlight asynchronous moments occurring in high profile settings and at the edges of cyberspace that link to formulate the norms and realities of decision-making on the web. Through this series of essays, we hope to generate a discussion among global stakeholders and netizens regarding rule-making and governance on the net, and in the process, to envision the net of the future." Source: Publius Project - Berkman Center at Harvard

Link to Publius Project

Friday, May 16, 2008

Participation of Mothers in Government Assistance Programs

Fewer Mothers With a Recent Birth Rely On Government Assistance Than in 1996

"The report, Participation of Mothers in Government Assistance Programs: 2004, analyzes the socioeconomic characteristics of mothers participating in six different public assistance programs. These include Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF); food stamps; Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); Medicaid; housing assistance; and other assistance. It shows that in 1996, 42 percent of mothers with a birth in the previous year were participants in at least one of these programs. The rate dipped to 29 percent in 2001 before climbing to 34 percent in 2004. The corresponding number, 1.6 million in 1996, dipped to 1.2 million in 2001 before rising to 1.4 million in 2004 .

Overall, 7.5 million mothers of childbearing age (15 to 44), or 22 percent, participated in one or more of these programs in 2004. Those with infants were more likely participants than those with older children (34 percent compared with 20 percent).

Mothers were also more likely to receive public assistance if they were younger than 25, living with either no other adult or with an unmarried partner, a minority, did not work in the past month, never attended college, or did not receive child support.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Download pdf report | Link to detailed tables

California Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage

From Press Release: "The court concluded that permitting opposite-sex couples to marry while affording same-sex couples access only to the novel and less-recognized status of domestic partnership improperly infringes a same-sex couple’s constitutional rights to marry and to the equal protection of the laws as guaranteed by the California Constitution.

The decision directs state officials who supervise the enforcement of the state’s marriage laws to ensure that local officials comply with the court’s ruling and permit same-sex couples to marry. The decision becomes final in 30 days unless that period is extended by court order. " Source: California Courts

Download full opinion (pdf)

The Norton Online Living Report

Parents, Get a Clue!
Norton Online Living Report Reveals What Your Cyber-Savvy Children Know That You Don't

"The Norton Online Living Report gives a snapshot of how different cultures and different countries approach the Internet and provides insight into how their daily lives are affected by the online world. All the data is constantly changing and will be updated in further iterations of this first bi-annual report."

"...makers of Norton security software, wanted to know how Internet users and their families spent their time online, so we commissioned Harris Interactive to ask thousands of children and adults across the globe about their online behaviors. Specifically, we surveyed Internet users in the U.S., UK, Australia, Germany, France, Brazil, China and Japan about anything and everything "Internet" (yes, we even asked adults about porn sites). We catalogued the feedback in our first-ever Norton Online Living Report." Source: Symantec/Harris Interactive.

Link to the site provides access to country reports, topline data sheets, and numerous ways to view the survey data.

Dehumanization of the Black American Female: An American/Hawaiian Experience

"The dehumanization of Blackness and its effects on Black females are rooted in the harsh history of slavery in America. Attributes such as race and gender impact their life and educational experiences. Examining the historical implications of dehumanization through the lens of Critical Race and Black Radical Feminist Theories provides a foundation for understanding issues surrounding gender, race, and identities of black females in society. This article uses data from 72 Black female students in Hawaii along with the author’s personal experiences to investigate the implications of being Black and female in Hawaiian society." Author: Kimetta R. Hairston, Penn State University Source: Spaces for Difference: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Download pdf paper
| Link to eScholarship Repository

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Worst of the Worst: The World’s Most Repressive Societies 2008,

"Worst of the Worst examines civil liberties and political rights in 17 countries and three territories. The report is taken from excerpts of the upcoming Freedom in the World 2008 report, which assesses the state of freedom in 2007 in every country in the world."
Source: Freedom House

Download full pdf report | Link to press release

Psychology of Intelligence Analysis

"The articles are based on reviewing cognitive psychology literature concerning how people process information to make judgments on incomplete and ambiguous information. I selected the experiments and findings that seem most relevant to intelligence analysis and most in need of communication to intelligence analysts. I then translated the technical reports into language that intelligence analysts can understand and interpreted the relevance of these findings to the problems intelligence analysts face.

The result is a compromise that may not be wholly satisfactory to either research psychologists or intelligence analysts. Cognitive psychologists and decision analysts may complain of oversimplification, while the non-psychologist reader may have to absorb some new terminology. Unfortunately, mental processes are so complex that discussion of them does require some specialized vocabulary. Intelligence analysts who have read and thought seriously about the nature of their craft should have no difficulty with this book. Those who are plowing virgin ground may require serious effort." Author: Richards J. Heuer, Jr. Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency

Download full pdf publication | Link to online chapter download site

Quick Health Facts 2008: A Compilation of Selected State Data

"This publication provides a snapshot of each state’s health care landscape by providing comparable state-level and national data for over 30 indicators. Data are presented for each state and the District of Columbia in regard to demographics, Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance coverage. Limited data are presented for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This publication is adapted from the State Profiles series that was published annually from 1990 to 2000 and biennially from 2001 to 2005 by the AARP Public Policy Institute. Quick Health Facts is not a continuation of the State Profiles series; therefore, comparisons should not be made with information contained in past editions of State Profiles." Source: AARP

Download full pdf report | Link to online summary

2008-2009 Presidential Transition: National Security Considerations and Options

"A presidential transition is a unique time in America and holds the promise of opportunity, as well as a possible risk to the nation's security interests. The 20082009 election marks the first presidential transition in the post-9/11 era, and is of concern to many national security observers. While changes in administration during U.S. involvement in national security related activities are not unique to the 20082009 election, many observers suggest that the current security climate and recent acts of terrorism by individuals wishing to influence national elections and change foreign policies portend a time of increased risk to the current presidential transition period. Whether the enemies of the United States choose to undertake action that may harm the nation's security interests during the 2008-2009 election, or the new President experiences a relatively peaceful period during the transition, many foreign and domestic policy and security challenges will await the new Administration. How the new President recognizes and responds to these challenges will depend heavily on the planning and learning that occurs prior to the inauguration. Actions can be taken by the outgoing President and President-elect that may ameliorate decisionmaking activities in the new administration. Whether an incident of national security significance occurs just before or soon after the presidential transition, the actions or inactions of the outgoing Administration may have a long-lasting effect on the new President's ability to effectively safeguard U.S. interests and may affect the legacy of the outgoing President. This report discusses historical national-security related presidential transition activities, provides a representative sampling of national security issues the next administration may encounter, and offers considerations and options relevant to each of the five phases of the presidential transition period. Each phase has distinct challenges and opportunities for the incoming administration, the outgoing administration, and Congress." Source: Congressional Research Service

Download full pdf report | link to online summary

Transportation Fuel Taxes: Impacts of a Repeal or Moratorium

Legislation that would repeal or otherwise provide for a summer-long moratorium of federal transportation fuel taxes has been introduced in the 110th Congress. Simultaneously, Senators McCain and Clinton are proposing a summer fuel tax collection moratorium as part of their Presidential campaigns. Fuel prices have risen rapidly in 2008 for a variety of reasons. Those seeking to alter federal fuel tax collection are doing so in the belief that a reduction in fuel taxes would give Americans a modest level of economic relief from high pump prices. Current market conditions and the marginal amount of tax relief incorporated in most proposals, however, raise uncertainty as to whether prices to individuals and businesses would fall and whether any price decline would be meaningful to consumers in economic terms. Also of concern is the possible impact of any repeal or moratorium on the overall federal budget deficit. A reduction in transportation fuel taxes would result in a decrease in spending for Highway Trust Fund-supported federal programs, unless Congress designated alternate sources of funding for these programs. As a result of the structure of the federal programs, the effects of a fuel tax repeal on federal transportation programs would not necessarily be immediate, but depending on the length and scope of the repeal or suspension, they could be substantial. Source: Congressional Research Service

Download full pdf report | Link to online abstract

Foreign Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean 2007

Latin America and the Caribbean received record levels of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2007, with inflows surpassing the US$ 100 billion mark for the first time ever. This development is all the more significant because the previous record was set in 1999 in the context of one-off privatizations. The upsurge in investment was fuelled mainly by market-seeking transnational corporations (TNCs) intent on taking advantage of growth in local demand for goods and services and by natural-resource-seeking companies against a backdrop of buoyant global demand. Meanwhile, despite lower levels of outward FDI from the regions' transnationals (trans-Latins), new companies in different industries are investing outside their home countries, while some of the traditional trans-Latins are taking their foreign investments to new levels.

This report provides an overview of FDI flows to and from the region in 2007 and of the recent activities of transnationals in the region and of trans-Latins outside their home countries (chapter I). It further explores three topics: investment in hardware for information and communication technologies (ICTs) (chapter II); investment in telecommunications services (chapter III); and Canadian investment in Latin America and the Caribbean (chapter IV). Chapters II and III describe the evolution of ICT hardware and telecommunications services industries in the context of the technological changes that have generated convergence among ICT services and have had impacts both on the industrial organization of manufacturing and on the market structure and incentives for telecommunications operators. Source: United Nations

Download full pdf report | link to online abstract

Hispanic Women in the United States

There are 30.1 million Hispanic adults in the United States and 14.4 million of them--or 48%--are women, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau estimates. This fact sheet describes the demographic, employment and income characteristics of Hispanic women in the U.S. using data from the 2007 Current Population Survey and the 2006 American Community Survey. The findings reveal striking differences between Hispanic and non-Hispanic women, and native-born and immigrant Hispanic women from different countries of origin. Pew Hispanic Center

Download pdf factsheet | link to online summary

A Deeper Partisan Divide Over Global Warming

The proportion of Americans who say that the earth is getting warmer has decreased modestly since January 2007, mostly because of a decline among Republicans. Republicans are increasingly skeptical that there is solid evidence that the earth has been warming over the past few decades: just 49% of Republicans say there is evidence that the earth's average temperature has been rising, down 13 points since January 2007.
Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

Download full pdf report | Link to online summary

Friday, May 09, 2008

Changes in Preadolescent and Early Adolescent Children's Time

"The present study found a small decline in preadolescent and early adolescent children?s discretionary time between 1997 and 2002, primarily resulting from continued increases in maternal employment outside the home and increased time in school and child care. Studying and reading increased over the period, whereas participation in sports declined, suggesting that the increased emphasis on academics at the school level has altered children?s behavior at home as well. Increased participation in religious and youth activities and declines in outdoor activities may reflect changes in parental values and concerns. The results suggest continuation of the upward trend in reading and studying from the 1980s and early 1990s, but increased religious attendance and youth group participation rather than increased participation in sports characterized this recent period." Source: California Center for Population Research

Download full pdf paper
| Link to online abstract

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Philanthropy Annual

"The Foundation Center has just released Philanthropy Annual: 2007 Review, a new yearly publication that highlights the news, issues, people, organizations, and giving trends that are shaping the philanthropic field.

"Supporting the Foundation Center's goal to build wide public understanding of philanthropy, this volume will benefit anyone with an interest in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector," says Sara Engelhardt, the Center's president, in the Annual's introduction.

The new compendium provides a full overview of organized philanthropy in all its forms, illustrating philanthropy's important role in society and its national and global impact. Its contents are drawn in part from Philanthropy News Digest (PND), the Center's daily online news service, as well as selected research findings in the annual Foundations Today Series and other Center sources." Source: The foundation center

Download full pdf report | Link to online summary

Wiretap Report 2007

The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 requires the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO) to report to Congress the number and nature of federal and state applications for orders authorizing or approving the interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications. The statute requires that specific information be provided to the AO, including the offense(s) under investigation, the location of the intercept, the cost of the surveillance, and the number of arrests, trials, and convictions that directly result from the surveillance. This report covers intercepts concluded between January 1, 2007, and December 1, 2007, and provides supplementary information on arrests and convictions resulting from intercepts concluded in prior years. Source: U.S. Courts

Download full pdf report | Link to U.S. Courts download site

A Nation Accountable: Twenty-five Years after A Nation at Risk

"In 1983, Swatch introduced its first watch, Microsoft Word was released, and Michael Jackson's Thriller video hit the airwaves. We also learned that our supposedly world-class system of education was not keeping pace with the progress of other nations.

That same year, the landmark U.S. Department of Education report, A Nation at Risk, found that about 13 percent of 17-year-olds were functionally illiterate, SAT scores were dropping, and students needed an increased array of remedial courses in college. Such trends threatened both our children's opportunities and our collective future.

Twenty-five years later, it's time to review the progress we have made since the report's release. We remain a nation at risk but are also now a nation informed, a nation accountable, and a nation that recognizes there is much work to be done." Source: U.S. Department of Education

Download full pdf report | link to online summary

Rational Judicial Behavior: A Statistical Study

"This paper analyzes the connection between ideology and voting of judges using a large sample of court of appeals cases decided since 1925 and Supreme Court cases decided since 1937. The ideological classifications of votes (e.g., liberal or conservative) are dependent variables in our empirical analysis and the independent variables include the party of the appointing President, the relative number of Republican and Democratic Senators at the time of the judge's confirmation, the appointment year, characteristics of the judge (e.g., gender, race and prior experience), and the ideological make-up of the judges on the court in which the judge sits as measured by the relative number of judges appointed by Republican and Democratic Presidents. We have a number of interesting results, including how a judge's voting's is affected by the voting of the other judges he serves with. We find a a political-polarization effect among Justices appointed by Democratic but not by Republican Presidents; that is, the fewer the judges appointed by Democratic Presidents, the more liberally they vote. With regard to court of appeals judges, we find a conformity effect: if the number of judges appointed by Republican Presidents increases (decreases) relative to the number appointed by Democratic Presidents, all judges in the circuit tend to vote more conservatively (more liberally)." Source: Social Science Resource network.

Link to online abstract | Download full pdf report

Parents turn to states for autism help

"One of the toughest problems facing autism patients, their families and policymakers is paying for treatment. Families are increasingly relying on states to help them cope with the financial, medical and educational needs.

Governors and lawmakers have tried to ease those costs with two different approaches: by requiring private insurers to pick up the tab for more services or by creating or expanding public health programs, such as Medicaid, to cover autism treatment." Source:

Link to online article

Squeezed: How Costs for Insuring Families are Outpacing Income

"This article reveals how the cost of family health insurance nationwide is increasing dramatically for employees without anywhere near an equivalent increase in family income. If this trend continues, more workers are likely to become uninsured because of the expense.

As part of Cover the Uninsured Week (April 27–May 3), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation commissioned the University of Minnesota to prepare this comprehensive state-by-state analysis on the cost of family health insurance premiums as compared to income. The researchers used data from ongoing federal surveys of individuals and employers to examine trends in employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, premiums and offer rates across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. They collected additional data on offer rates from the federal Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Insurance Component." Source: Univ. of Minnesota sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Download full pdf report | Link to press release
"The Foundation for Child Development's Special Focus Report, "Trends in Infancy/Early Childhood and Middle Childhood Well-Being, 1994-2006," presents the first wide-ranging picture of how children in their first decade of life are faring the the U.S. It is the first report to look comprehensively at the overall health, well-being, and quality of life of America's youngest children - from birth through eleven years old, using the FCD Child Well-Being Index (CWI), and to track and compare child well-being across three primary stages of development - early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence." Source: Foundation for Child Development

Download full pdf report | Link to online abstract

Obama's Image Slips, His Lead Over Clinton Disappears

Democratic voters are not as positive about Barack Obama as they were a month ago. Somewhat smaller percentages of Democrats describe Obama in favorable terms, and he has lost his lead over Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination. Nationally, Democratic voters are about evenly divided between Obama and Clinton; Obama holds a slight 47% to 45% edge. In late March, the Illinois senator held a 49% to 39% lead over his New York rival.

Source: Pew Research for People and the Press

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

Social Security Reform: Possible Effects on the Elderly Poor and Mitigation Options

Social Security has significantly reduced elderly poverty. The elderly poverty rate has fallen from 35% in 1959 to an all-time low of 9% in 2006, in large part because of Social Security. If Social Security benefits did not exist, an estimated 44% the elderly would be poor today assuming no changes in behavior. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, also provides benefits to the poorest elderly, many of whom do not qualify for Social Security benefits. However, despite these programs, about 3.4 million elderly individuals remained in poverty in 2006. The Social Security system faces a long-term financing problem. The Social Security Trustees project cash-flow deficits beginning in 2017 and trust fund insolvency in 2041. Many recent proposals to improve system solvency would reduce Social Security benefits in the future. Benefit reductions could affect the lowincome elderly, many of whom rely on Social Security benefits for almost all of their income. Such potential benefit reductions could lead to higher rates of poverty among the elderly compared to those projected under the current benefit formula. Because the low-income elderly are especially vulnerable to benefit reductions, many recent Social Security reform proposals have included minimum benefits or other provisions that would mitigate the effect of benefit cuts on the elderly poor. This report analyzes the projected effects of four possible approaches to mitigating the effects of Social Security benefit reductions on elderly poverty in 2042, the first full year of projected trust fund insolvency. The options are compared to a payable baseline, which assumes current-law benefits would need to be cut across the board to balance Social Security's annual income and spending at the point of insolvency. The four options examined are (1) a poverty-line Social Security minimum benefit; (2) a sliding-scale Social Security minimum benefit; (3) a povertyline SSI benefit; and (4) a poverty-line SSI benefit with liberalized eligibility. Source: Congressional Research Service

Download full pdf report | Link to online summary

Thursday, May 01, 2008

America's Rental Housing: The Key to a Balanced National Policy

This report"...examines recent mortgage market events in the context of long-standing affordability problems that plague millions of renters. Fueled by record foreclosures and sluggish home sales, the share of households owning a home is declining, while the number of renter households jumped by nearly one million last year, or more than four times the pace of renter growth over the 2003 to 2006 period. Despite the growing signs of economic weakness, monthly rents last year reached a record high of $775.

The report also observes that rising foreclosures and the resulting turmoil in credit markets raises the costs of financing rental housing construction and preservation. Last year, completions of multifamily units for rent fell to 169,000 units – just two thirds of the 2002 figure and only one-third of the 1986 record high. The blighting influence of vacant and foreclosed properties also will accelerate the abandonment of low-cost rental properties in distressed neighborhoods, further limiting the supply of affordable housing." Source: Harvard University, Joint Center for Housing Studies

Download full pdf report | Link to online site and chapter downloads.