Weekly Roundup 8/6/2012

Huffington Post, Aug. 1, 2012

Synopsis: Some school districts are using charter schools, many run by for-profit school-management companies, to replace public schools that haven't been able to pull up their lagging test scores. But one school in Minneapolis has reneged on a promise to accept special-needs students, casting doubt on whether the charter could succeed if it served the same student population the old public school did.

Takeaway: Diane Ravitch, an education historian at New York University who once supported charter schools and now questions them, says it's clear that the school is ousting the students to improve its test scores. "Is this what 'no child left behind' means? Does it mean pushing out the most vulnerable children to inflate the school’s scores?" she asks.

For related material, see our April 29, 2011, report “School Reform” and our Dec. 20, 2002, report on “Charter Schools”.

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer

Interview with Isobel Coleman, a senior fellow and director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative at the Council on Foreign Relations. Aug. 2, 2012

Synopsis:  The drought affecting about 80 percent of the U.S. corn crop and more than 10 percent of the soybean crop could trigger a rise in global food prices and political instability in developing countries, Coleman says. Emerging middle classes across the globe are increasingly demanding meat and protein in their diets, but meat producers in those countries have become dependent on "relatively inexpensive” corn and soybean feed stocks from the United States, she explains.

Takeaway: "When you see a crop failure of the magnitude you have seen this summer, it flows through the whole food chain," says Coleman. She recommends rescinding Congress’ mandate that corn-based ethanol make up at least 10 percent of U.S. transportation fuel and building "more resilience into the global food system."

For background, see CQ Global Researcher’s coverage in “Rising Food Prices,” Oct. 18, 2011, and “Farm Subsidies,” May 1, 2012.

--Kathy Koch, Managing Editor, CQ Global Researcher