Rachel Weber (University of Illinois at Chicago), Stephanie Farmer (Roosevelt University) and Mary Donoghue | In 2013 the City of Chicago undertook the largest mass school closure in recent history, declaring that the school district’s budget required shuttering 49 of its most underutilized buildings. The city erupted in protest, with the Chicago Teachers Union leading a charge of angry parents, students, and teachers. Read More
Amanda Kass, Martin J. Luby, and Rachel Weber | For most of the 20th century, the municipal securities market was a sleepy backwater where governments went to raise money for roads, bridges, and wastewater systems. Most cities financed their infrastructure with debt that relied on conservative or well-seasoned market structures. At the end of the century, however, local governments entered a period of “entrepreneurial” finance as federal support for urban development declined. In the years leading up to the global financial crisis, many US governments began utilizing new bond structures and riskier financial instruments to, potentially, lower borrowing costs. Read More
Melissa Arnold Lyon and Jeffrey R. Henig | On a chilly October morning in Buffalo, New York, the Executive Director of Say Yes Buffalo sits at a table in a high school library with a group of about 20 community leaders. The group includes two local foundation leaders, the president of the local teachers union, a top school official, the vice president of a parent advocacy group, a few local higher education representatives, and a representative from the County Department of Social Services, among others. They gather for these meetings once every three weeks. On the agenda today is a discussion about inviting a representative from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to join this group, known as the Operating Committee of Say Yes Buffalo, as well as an update on programmatic data for initiatives such as school-based legal clinics, mental health clinics, mobile health units, and summer camps. During these updates, implementation challenges are discussed and the participants volunteer or call upon each other to figure out solutions. Not every issue is resolved, but the Operating Committee works together, argues a little, and eventually determines what it can accomplish. Read More
Benjamin F. Teresa and Ryan M. Good | The Obama administration emphasized charter schools as a reform strategy; early indications from the Trump administration signal a wholesale drive toward expanded “choice” options. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is now the highest-profile advocate for school choice, arguing alongside other proponents for liberalized regulation and financing for the expansion of charter schools. In their estimation, when parents are empowered to choose the school that best meets their children’s needs, schools are compelled to compete for students, and this marketplace delivers education efficiently and effectively to the public. Read More
By David Imbroscio | Recent political developments in both the United States and Europe have been, to say the least, jarring. They should give us cause to begin a process of systematically re-evaluating many of our accepted orthodoxies in political strategy and policy development. Regarding the latter, the urban sphere is a critical, if not essential, place to start. For embodied in what we call urban policy lies a host of core values and assumptions regarding what has been the central political question since at least the time of Aristotle: Namely, what constitutes the nature of “the good society,” and how it might be achieved? Urban policy – properly understood – thus is best thought of as representational of all matters concerning the public interest, at least in the sphere of domestic affairs.
By Carla M. Flink and Angel Luis Molina, Jr. | Strike up a conversation about politics with a friend, relative, or colleague, and you’d be hard pressed to surprise them by noting the increasing diversity in the demographic face of the United States. You might also argue that this population shift is important because it is changing the political landscape—the presence of demographic change in America is well noted by political pundits and casual observers alike. The American public now finds itself inundated with a flood of election media coverage and, almost inescapably, claims about how the electoral prospects of one candidate or another hinge upon the voting choices of historically underrepresented groups. On the governance side, these claims are important because many believe (or certainly hope) that some policymakers, be they aspiring or incumbent, are more likely to support policies that can improve the outcomes of which minorities care about the most.
By Sarah Reckhow (Michigan State University), Jeffrey R. Henig (Columbia University), Rebecca Jacobsen (Michigan State University), Jamie Alter Litt (Columbia University) Read More