America’s Nutritional Inequality

Just a week ago, I was in a van for roughly thirteen hours, driving from New York to South Carolina. My job entailed helping with navigation via Google Maps. Although we stayed mainly on highways and freeways, I couldn’t help but look at the rural, seemingly poor towns we passed. As I zoomed in closer on the map, I noticed the recurring presence of McDonald’s, Burger King, Hardee’s (once we reached Virginia), and other fast-food establishments. I thought about Whole Foods and a local health food store back home called Down to Earth, and the variety of fruits, vegetables, and health products one can choose from. Whole Foods and Down to Earth would be anomalies in most rural areas, where fast-food establishments dominate. Often we find ourselves so invested in the outcomes of major domestic and international events that we fail to think about issues like nutritional inequality, an issue that even one road trip can raise.

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The False Premise of America’s Education Reform

Although it is one of the strongest countries in the world, America has an education system that consistently underperforms compared with other developed countries. Standardized tests, which gauge basic skills such as math and reading, are a strong measure of national academic achievement. American students test far below those of countries like Singapore, China, Finland, and Japan that are known for scoring particularly well. Aware of their students’ underperformance in comparison with students in those countries, Americans mistakenly implement education reform initiatives that are expected to drive up test scores. Our frenzied focus on improving test scores results in a sort of tunnel vision that impairs education officials. They are so intent on improving a single indicator of educational quality that other, less obvious yet more important factors − teaching quality and the level of school resources, among others − are left out. Education reform efforts in America are inefficient. In attempting to improve standardized test performance, they tend to avoid  key issues that actually exacerbate larger problems.

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Europe’s Immigration Crisis: What We Can Learn From It

Coming into the school year, I was only somewhat aware of the immigration and refugee crisis spreading all over Europe. It was not until my Introduction to Public Policy class that I really got a grasp of the surrounding issues. The class focuses on immigration and refugee policy. A major group project in it is a policy brief on the immigration and refugee practices of a country of our choice. Many are part of the European Union (EU), which has an open borders policy. Open borders across Europe were enacted in 1985 as part of the Schengen Agreement, which did away with border checks. By now, 26 European countries have open borders. Although the idea was good in theory, EU countries could not have predicted its outcome in the years to come.

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