HKS in the News February 22, 2012

1. Superstar teachers (Friedman) Harvard Gazette

2. In Din Over Iran, Rattling Sabers Echo (Allison) The New York Times

3. Obama's recovery? (Frankel) CNN

4. Drive-by interventionism: Does Libya's fate hold lessons for Syria? (Walt) Foreign Policy

Superstar teachers
Harvard Gazette

February 21
Quoted: John Friedman
Topic: Importance of teachers in elementary schools

As leaders in government and business search for ways to strengthen the U.S. recovery, new research from faculty at Harvard and Columbia indicates that elementary school teachers have an impact on how much their students earn as adults and, by extension, on the nation’s economy.

“If an elementary school student has an excellent teacher even for a single year, it boosts their income by an average of about 2 percent per year,” says Raj Chetty, professor of economics at Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and a co-author of the study with Harvard Kennedy School’s John Friedman and Columbia Business School’s Jonah Rockoff. …

Friedman says that the study’s findings are extremely robust, and apply both to rich and poor school districts. In fact, he says that teacher quality may be the key to improving underperforming schools — and living standards — in poor neighborhoods.

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In Din Over Iran, Rattling Sabers Echo
The New York Times

February 21
Quoted: Graham Allison, Belfer Center
Topic: Iran’s nuclear program

WASHINGTON — The United States has now endured what by some measures is the longest period of war in its history, with more than 6,300 American troops killed and 46,000 wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan and the ultimate costs estimated at $3 trillion. Both wars lasted far longer than predicted. The outcomes seem disappointing and uncertain. …

Still, unforeseen events can create their own momentum. Graham Allison, a leading expert on nuclear strategy at Harvard University, has long compared the evolving conflict over Iran’s nuclear program to a “slow-motion Cuban missile crisis,” in which each side has only murky intelligence, tempers run high and there is the danger of a devastating outcome.

“As a student of history, I’m certainly conscious that when you have heated politics and incomplete control of events, it’s possible to stumble into a war,” Mr. Allison said. Watching Iran, Israel and the United States, he said, “you can see the parties, slowly but almost inexorably, moving to a collision.”

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Obama's recovery?
CNN World

February 18
Commentary by: Jeffrey Frankel
Topic: US economy

With November’s election in the United States fast approaching, the Republican candidates seeking to challenge President Barack Obama claim that his policies have done nothing to support recovery from the recession that he inherited in January 2009. If anything, they claim, his fiscal stimulus, the bank bailouts, and US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s aggressive monetary policy made matters worse.

Obama’s Democratic defenders counter that his policies staved off a second Great Depression, and that the US economy has been steadily working its way out of a deep hole ever since. Middle-ground observers, meanwhile, typically conclude that one cannot settle the debate, because one cannot know what would have happened otherwise.

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Drive-by interventionism: Does Libya's fate hold lessons for Syria?
Foreign Policy

February 21
Commentary by: Stephen Walt, Belfer Center
Topic: Middle East conflict

 The Libyan revolution celebrated its first anniversary last week, and though there were a few news stories and blog posts about it, the milestone didn't attract as much attention as one might have expected. Instead, the focus of debate has moved on to the grim tragedy unfolding in Syria, and the perpetual sabre-rattling over Iran, not to mention vital issues such as whether 1) Santorum or Romney will win Michigan, 2) Jeremy Lin is a fluke or a phenom, and 3) Bobby Brown was treated badly by the security team at ex-wife Whitney Houston's funeral.

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In the HKS TV Studio

Lawrence Summers, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government
ABC “World News,” 2/21
Topic: Affirmative action in higher education

This selection of media appearances is compiled by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. To submit an item please email Bryan Galcik

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