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The New York Times writes in praise of universal pre-kindergarten:
The start of public school on Thursday in New York City should be the usual merry scramble of chattering children and stressed (or relieved) parents. There will also be something new: a fresh crop of 4-year-olds, more than 50,000, embarking on the first day of free, full-day, citywide, city-run prekindergarten.

It’s worth pausing to note what an accomplishment this is. Fifty thousand is a small city’s worth of children, each getting a head start on a lifetime of learning. It is so many families saving the cost of day care or private prekindergarten. It is a milestone of education reform.

Mike Rose over at The Los Angeles Times writes about the need to think about meaningful work for young adults:
In the midst of the economic analysis and political speeches on this Labor Day, we should stop and think about the personal meaning of work and whether we are providing enough opportunities for young people to discover that meaning for themselves. This is especially true for the many members of the younger generation who are planning to enter the workforce right out of high school or after attending community college.

We tend to view their relation to work in strictly functional, economic terms. Yet they, just like their peers headed toward the baccalaureate, are newly realizing how important work will be in their lives, how it will shape who they are and what they can do in the world. They are desperate to be somebody, to possess agency and competence.

For more on the day's top stories, head below the fold.

Eugene Robinson is a must-read, as always, this time on the topic of the "Republican wave":

Meanwhile, back at the ranch — as foreign events hog the spotlight — why haven’t Republicans sealed the deal on the coming election?

When summer began, the conventional wisdom was that the GOP sorta kinda probably maybe would take control of the Senate in November. As summer ends — and it hasn’t been great for President Obama, which means it also hasn’t been anything for the Democratic Party to write home about — that same equivocal assessment still holds. […]

So far, just ripples. Why could that be?

This time, the GOP managed not to nominate candidates whose views are so extreme — or so wacky — that they might effectively concede what ought to be safe seats. The party establishment made ideological concessions to the tea party wing, but managed to insist on nominees who have a chance of being elected. No Republican candidate has spoken of solving problems with “Second Amendment remedies,” as Sharron Angle did in 2010, or run a television ad to declare “I’m not a witch” a la Christine O’Donnell that same year.

Here's why midterm elections matter, from the USA Today editorial board:
People are fed up with congressional dysfunction, the slow pace of economic recovery, and the decline in America's ability to promote order in the world. And, in many key showdowns this fall, they dislike both major party candidates.

As usual for midterm elections, expectations are that most voters will tune out the candidates and stay home on Election Day, just nine weeks away. But that would be a bad idea. For at least these five reasons, voters should be paying attention during the post-Labor Day sprint to Nov. 4 …

You'll pay dearly for not voting. Politics are brutal to those who don't vote. At the federal level, the low participation of young voters has produced a government that, not coincidentally, borrows heavily and spends excessively on benefit programs for retirees.

Rose Hackman has a great piece up about how women are reshaping the face of small business in Detroit:
To little fanfare during the last 15 years, women have been setting up their own businesses in the thousands, government data show, making the rate of women-owned businesses in Detroit the highest among large cities in the nation.

Every other business in Detroit is owned by a woman, an anomaly in a nation where just 29% of businesses overall are women-owned, and in a state where the figure is just 30%.[…]

The growth in women-owned businesses is a relatively recent phenomenon.

In 1997, 31% of Detroit firms were registered under a woman’s name. A decade later that figure had jumped to 50%. And while 2012 data is only set for release in June 2015 — meaning an accurate up-to-date analysis is difficult — anecdotal evidence in Detroit suggests the trend is still growing.

Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, former commander of U.S. Army Europe, writes an important piece over at CNN reminding pundits that devising a strategy in Syria will take time:
determining the way in which the various means of national power are applied requires statecraft and coordination, an integrated comparison of potential options and an analysis of expected and unexpected outcomes, and a determination of the risks which face the nation in both the short and the long term.

Although it is always important to act quickly in developing strategies which address challenges to the nation's security, the informed strategist also knows he has to weigh options from those who represent all the elements of power -- diplomacy, information, economics, military -- before he "decides to decide," that is, makes a decision in the right time to affect the desired outcome.

Libby Nelson over at Vox interviews journalist Dana Goldstein, author of The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession:
Libby Nelson: We spend a lot of time talking about who should be a teacher, or why good teachers are important, in a way we don't about other professions — even professions that play critical roles, such as doctors. Why are teachers so central?

Dana Goldstein: The first reason has to do with the role that we expect teachers to play in our inequality debate. We're having this huge national conversation about socioeconomic inequality and to somewhat of a lesser extent about poverty, especially childhood poverty. And really we see teachers held up as people who can help us solve this problem.

Because we have a relatively weak social safety net, we're really asking them to close these gaps between life outcomes for middle-class kids and life outcomes for poor kids. We are in a way setting ourselves up to be somewhat disappointed. That's not to say that teachers don't make an impact. We know from the latest economic research that teachers do have a big impact on kids. But as big as the impact is, it is a secondary impact. The home, the parenting, the neighborhood and the socioeconomic status of the family are still the primary impact.

So that's one reason why teaching is controversial and embattled.

Do you watch Game of Thrones? Farah Stockman thinks there's a comparison to be made to American society:
IN THE 1960s, Americans who wanted to see a hero watched “Gunsmoke,’’ a show about a stoic marshal who ran rapists and murderers out of Dodge City. In the ’70s, we tuned into “Bionic Woman,’’ who saved the day with feminism and science. In the 1980s, we cheered on “The A-Team,’’ a multiracial band of brothers who vanquished the bad guys with weapons fashioned out of household items.

Today we watch “Game of Thrones,’’ a medieval magical world torn apart by politics. It’s fundamentally different from those other shows. For one thing, the good guys don’t always win. In fact, they often die. Megalomaniacs and liars get ahead.

How could a show so dark and cynical become one of the most popular in America? Some say it’s the sex. Others say it’s the violence. But I suspect it’s something else altogether: the complex, brutal, unforgiving world of Westeros looks an awful lot like our own.


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