Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

U.S. Citizenship: How Should It Distinguish Us From Others?

This subject was discussed on August 26, 2013.

The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights provide a series of protections that extend to U.S. citizens. But as we discuss how the U.S. should treat non-citizens (visitors to the U.S. and immigrants, targets of drone strikes outside the U.S., etc.) we have often concluded that many of the rights afforded to U.S. citizens should, in fact, be extended to everyone.

  • Which rights associated with citizenship, if any, should not be extended to non-citizens?
    • How should immigrants in the U.S. be treated?
    • What about others (outside the U.S.)?
  • To what degree should the U.S. impose its views on such rights on foreign governments?
    • “Jawbone” them to offer similar rights to their citizens?
    • Make foreign aid or cooperation contingent on extension of rights?
    • Intervene more aggressively?

College Education in the US

This topic was discussed on September 30, 2013.
Having spent some time discussing education in general and K-12 education, we plan to turn our attention to post-secondary education in the US.

  • US universities are considered among the world’s finest. Is that position stable or, as some believe, seriously at risk?
    • What should we do about it?
  • Does the post-secondary system serve its students well, or are students’ interests being sacrificed for research, professors’ interests and job security, facilities, sports, administrators?
    • What is the right balance for our universities?
  • Should there be different roles for public vs. private institutions, colleges vs. universities, four-year vs. two-year (or other format) undergraduate programs?
  • Why is a four-year degree getting so expensive? Should something be done to slow the rate of tuition inflation?
    • Should the current mix of financing (family funds, scholarships, work, loans, grants) be changed? Should other sources (Oregon model) be added to the mix?

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Related Materials:

As a registered Beyond Labels participant, consider the following resources:

A Debt-free College Education (WaPo 8-6-2013)

 

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K-12 Education in the US

This topic was discussed August 19, 2013

Following up on our discussion of August 5, this session will focus in on primary and secondary education.

  • Finland model?  There seemed to be lots of support for elements of the education model in Finland:
    • Higher educational, certification and training standards for teachers
    • Much higher teacher-to-administrative personnel ratio
    • Robust performance reviews from peers [and other sources?] determining pay
    • Higher “societal status” accorded to teachers by their communities
    • Far fewer standardized tests applied to the entire student population

    Can we/should we try to replicate that model in the US?

  • Changing teacher role.  How can we transition toward such a model?
    • End of teacher tenure?
    • Higher standards (how measured?) and pay/retain for performance?(/li>
    • More curriculum flexibility for teachers, relying on their professional judgment as to what to teach and when
  • College prep vs. vocational training.  Should the secondary curriculum be primarily focused on college prep, or should other paths to strong, middle-class employment opportunities (“trade” skills, etc.) also be encouraged? How might we mitigate the perceived stigma that many of these careers are only for those who failed at college prep?
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