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HKS in the News April 6, 2012

1. Obama’s education grade left behind by Bush’s (Peterson) The Washington Times

2. Tapping into feds' desire to serve (Kelman) Federal Computer Week

3. A Yelp to let us compare cities, towns (Glaeser) The Boston Globe

4. The FPI and the effectiveness of social sanctions (Anwar) The Jakarta Post (Indonesia)


Obama’s education grade left behind by Bush’s

The Washington Times

April 5

Commentary by: Paul Peterson, Program on Education Policy and Governance

Topic: Measuring improvements in American schools

Just as gross domestic product (GDP) growth is said to be a good measure of a president’s economic management skills, so the nation’s official report card, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), provides an objective indicator of the success a president has had at strengthening the American school.

According to this measure, George W. Bush beats Barack Obama by a wide margin. Overall, the annual growth rate in fourth- and eighth-grade math was twice as rapid under the Bush administration as under his successor’s. In reading, the Bush record in fourth grade is infinitely better, as no gains have been recorded under Mr. Obama’s leadership. Even in eighth-grade reading, the Obama administration can hardly be pleased with a 1-point gain over the course of two years…

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Tapping into feds' desire to serve

Federal Computer Week

April 5

Commentary by: Steven Kelman

Topic: Public Service

I have long argued that the most underused tool in the government manager’s arsenal is appealing to what scholars call the public service motivation of many civil servants — the desire to help others, make a difference and support the mission of the organization. In fact, I have written that it often seems managers at Frito-Lay are more successful at getting employees to believe in the importance of what they do than many government managers are.

Research has established that there typically are differences between government and private-sector employees in the strength of the desire to serve others and make a difference through one’s job. For example, civil servants are more likely to donate blood than employees of big private firms. Scholars are now investigating whether the presence of public service motivation makes a difference in performance…

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A Yelp to let us compare cities, towns

The Boston Globe

April 6

Commentary by: Edward Glaeser, Taubman Center, Rappaport Institute

Topic: Information technology and state government

Before the Internet age, when my car had some minor problem, I would choose a car shop at random and walk out with a whopping bill for some possibly unnecessary service. Today, the Internet provides me with abundant warnings about unscrupulous mechanics and helpful hints about automotive ailments. Reams of reviews help us choose books and hotel rooms, and harder data help us to select cars and refrigerators.

Yet when it comes to local governments, which provide the very services we need to keep our communities healthy and safe, we often seem stuck in an age that is closer to James Michael Curley than Steve Jobs. And even as individual municipalities, including Boston, move toward greater openness, a single community’s information is of limited use on its own...

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The FPI and the effectiveness of social sanctions

The Jakarta Post (Indonesia)

April 5

Commentary by: M. Syafi’i Anwar, Ash Center

Topic: The Islam Defenders Front

Despite facing protests and rejection, the FPI (Islam Defenders Front) seems to continue its violent actions. However, Aboeprijadi Santoso’s article titled “Muslim ‘jago’ FPI will never die, but fade away” (The Jakarta Post, Feb. 27) is not only interesting, but also challenging.

In his profound analysis, Santoso suggests that the FPI is a typically urban jago that uses religious mantras, physical skills to send tough messages by pretending to protect society. Surprisingly, he also has an optimistic prediction: This group will decline and finally fade away or, alternatively, find another “projects” to survive...

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This selection of media appearances is compiled by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

To submit an item please email Jane Finn-Foley

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