Tennessee

Recently, Vanderbilt studied the effect of teacher bonus pay in Tennessee. It found that awarding bonuses to teachers who produce high results did not improve performance. Opponents of performance pay have been crowing that this shows performance pay doesn't work -- teachers, they say, are already doing their best, so you can't wring better results out of them by dangling bonuses. Of course, the point of performance pay isn't to wring better results out of the same teaching pool. It's to change the composition of the teaching pool.

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Yesterday I noted that only one Republican running for a Senate seat this year believed in climate change. That was Delaware's Mike Castle, who got ousted in his state's primary last night by Christine O'Donnell. And what's O'Donnell's deal? Well, she doesn't believe in the greenhouse effect. But she also doesn't believe in evolution.

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With the national debt posing a fundamental threat to America's way of life, as so many Tea Parties have explained, another Obama initiative is being held up by Republicans due to concerns about big spending: Obama has pledged to spend $80 billion over a decade to modernize the nuclear weapons complex, roughly a $10 billion increase in funding.

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Activists at last week’s Netroots Nation talked about disappointment and disillusionment. The polls show a slow, steady decline in support for the president among Democrats. Neither sample captures perfectly the state of the liberal mind this summer, but you’d have to be pretty oblivious not to see that President Obama, and the Democrats, are losing the love of their base. It’s a somewhat predictable decline, given lofty expectations for the Obama presidency and the stubbornly slow recovery.

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When President Obama speaks to the National Urban League on Thursday about education reform, he’ll be on the defensive. On Monday, the league and six other civil rights groups—including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Rainbow Push Coalition—released a document outlining what they see as the most pressing priorities for U.S. public schools. In it, the groups issue strident criticisms of some of Obama’s key reform efforts. Their chief complaint? That Obama’s could further disadvantage minority students.

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Enviro-types don't have much to be cheery about these days. Climate legislation has sputtered out. Jay Rockefeller is trying to delay the federal government's ability to rein in greenhouse gases. And the party of climate denialism is poised to grab a bunch of seats in Congress next year. So that means carbon emissions are just going to keep rising without end, right? Well, not necessarily.

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The United States may have missed its chance to play Spain in the World Cup final Sunday (and the Netherlands in the semifinal, and Uruguay in the quarterfinal), but similar battles take place every day on American turf, where the world meets for pick-up soccer games. There’s weekdays outside an MIT building in Cambridge, weekend mornings behind the White House, and barefoot on the beach in Fort Lauderdale. There are, in fact, times when the U.S.

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The New York Times reported today that Democratic governors are worried the White House's decision to sue Arizona over its controversial new immigration law could threaten their already-vulnerable party in November's elections. "It is such a toxic subject," Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen said of immigration, which is emerging as a key issue in this year's mid-terms. So what do the numbers show? Since Arizona passed its law in April, polls have consistently found that a majority of Americans support it.

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Recession 101

[Guest Post by John B. Judis] Want to make me happy? Read carefully James Galbraith’s essay, “Scare the Hell out of Bankers,”  on our web site.  And read it all the way through because the argument isn’t clear until the end.  It’s one of the best things I’ve read on the role of finance in the recession and the recovery. It goes beyond the debates liberals had 18 months ago about finance.  First, on the question of nationalization of the banks. At the time, some of us held out for nationalization of the big banks as the only way to forestall a depression.

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Louis D. Brandeis: A Life By Melvin I. Urofsky (Pantheon, 955 pp., $40) I. In 1916, Herbert Croly, the founder and editor of The New Republic, wrote to Willard Straight, the owner of the magazine, about the Supreme Court nomination of Louis Brandeis. Croly enclosed a draft editorial called “The Motive of Class Consciousness,” and also a chart prepared by a lawyer in Brandeis’s office showing the overlapping financial interests, social and business connections, and directorships of fifty-two prominent Bostonians who had signed a petition opposing Brandeis’s nomination.

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