PublicSquare Seminars

Natalie Wexler – October 2019 Closing the Knowledge Gap

Natalie Wexler – October 2019 Closing the Knowledge Gap

This seminar examines a largely overlooked reason for our failure to narrow the substantial gap in test scores between students at the top and bottom of the socioeconomic spectrum—and to raise overall achievement—over the past 50 years. Policymakers and reformers have viewed the problem as one of skills, leading educators to focus intensively on supposed reading comprehension skills like “finding the main idea” and marginalize social studies and science. Cognitive science, however, indicates the problem is fundamentally a lack of academic knowledge and vocabulary, especially among students from less educated families. As some schools are now discovering, the solution is to immerse all students in a rich, content-focused curriculum, beginning in the early elementary grades.

Leading education journalist, Natalie Wexler, is a senior contributor Forbes.com and the author of The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System—and How to Fix It (2019) which was deemed “essential reading for teachers, education administrators, and policymakers alike” by Library Journal. She is the coauthor, with Judith C. Hochman, of The Writing Revolution: A Guide to Advancing Thinking Through Writing in All Subjects and Grades (2017). Wexler has written articles and op-eds on education for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and other publications. Wexler blogs about education for Greater Greater Washington and on her own blog, DC Eduphile. She is a graduate Radcliffe College (A.B. 1976, magna cum laude), where she wrote for The Harvard Crimson. She also has degrees from the University of Sussex (M.A. 1977), and the University of Pennsylvania Law School (J.D. 1983), where she served as editor-in-chief of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. After graduating law school, she worked as a law clerk for Judge Alvin Benjamin Rubin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and then for Associate Justice Byron R. White of the United States Supreme Court. Following her clerkships, she practiced law with Bredhoff & Kaiser in Washington, D.C.

This event has been made possible through the generosity of Mitchell Kauffman and Joanne Moran.

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Seminar Readings

Natalie Wexler, “The Achievement Gap Hasn’t Budged in 50 Years. Now What?” Forbes.com (Mar 17, 2019)
Daniel T. Willingham, “How to Get Your Mind to Read,” The New York Times (November 11, 2015)
Natalie Wexler, “Elementary Education Has Gone Terribly Wrong,” The Atlantic (August 2019)
Rory Dollard, “England vs West Indies Result: Chris Jordan Skittles Caribbean Rivals for 45 to Claim Biggest T20 win,” Independent (March 9, 2019)

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Jeff Greenfield – April 2019 Big Money in Politics and the Election of 2020

Jeff Greenfield – April 2019 Big Money in Politics and the Election of 2020

More than four decades after a post-Watergate Congress tried to put serious limits on campaign spending, the flood of money into politics has become a tsunami. A series of Supreme Court decisions has eroded many if not most attempts to restrict campaign spending. The growth of PACs and Super PACS has brought funds into the process from an ever-wider range of sources, especially from people of great means. But the rise of the Internet has made it possible for campaigns to raise huge sums from small donors (Bernie Sanders’ campaign was and is the most dramatic example). With the 2020 money race in full stride, is there any realistic chance that an effective law limiting campaign spending can get through the Congress, or withstand constitutional scrutiny? Will money be the determining factor in who wins in 2020? And is there a chance that big money could actually be a weapon to reform the process?

Jeff Greenfield is a five-time Emmy-winning network correspondent and best-selling author who, during a career spanning more than three decades, has served as former senior political correspondent for CBS, senior analyst for CNN, political and media analyst for ABC News, and contributing correspondent for PBS’ “News Hour Weekend.” Best known for his coverage of domestic politics and media, he has been a floor reporter or anchor booth analyst for every national convention since 1988. He was formerly a columnist for Time, Yahoo! News, and the New York Observer and is currently one for Politico and The Daily Beast. Greenfield has authored or co-authored 14 books, including a national bestselling novel (The People’s Choice) and several alternate histories of American politics (Then Everything Changed, 43*: When Gore Beat Bush, and If Kennedy Lived).

This event has been made possible through the generosity of the Poomer Fund, Santa Barbara Foundation courtesy of Anne Smith Towbes.

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Seminar Readings

Scott Casleton, “It’s Time for Liberals to get over Citizens United,” Vox (May 7, 2018)
Karl Evers-Hillstrom, Raymond Arke, and Luke Robinson, “A Look at the Impact of Citizens United on its 9th Anniversary,” OpenSecrets News (January 21, 2019)
Rob Garver, “Why 2020 US Presidential Race Will Be Costliest in History,” RealClearPolitics (February 14, 2019)
Cokie Roberts, “Ask Cokie: Why Were Campaign Finance Laws Put in Place?” Interview by David Greene, NPR Morning Edition (September 5, 2018)

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Marc Rotenberg – March 2019 Protecting Privacy in the Digital Age

Marc Rotenberg – March 2019 Protecting Privacy in the Digital Age

This seminar explores the concept of privacy in the modern age, the significance of recent developments in Europe and California, and the prospects for federal legislation in the United States. Among the key concepts, we will discuss the General Data Protection Regulation, the California Consumer Privacy Act, the FTC consent orders concerning Facebook and Google, the need for a US data protection agency, and emerging challenges, including universal guidelines for Artificial Intelligence and limitations on facial recognition.

Marc Rotenberg serves as President of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington DC and teaches at Georgetown Law. He is the author or editor of several books including (with Anita Allen) Privacy Law and SocietyPrivacy in the Modern Age: The Search for SolutionsPrivacy and Human Rights: An International Survey of Privacy Laws and DevelopmentsInformation Privacy Law, and Privacy and Technology: The New Frontier. serves on many expert panels, including the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development AI expert group, and frequently testifies before Congress on emerging privacy issues.  He has appeared on Bloomberg TV, CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC, FoxNews, and National Public Radio and contributes to The EconomistThe New York Times, and USA Today.  He is a recipient of the ABA Cyberspace Law Excellence Award, World Technology Award for Law, and Berkeley Center for Law and Technology Award for Outstanding Contribution to Law and Technology. A graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School, he received an LL.M. in International and Comparative Law from Georgetown Law.

This event has been made possible through the generosity of Montecito Bank & Trust.

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Seminar Readings

Marc Rotenberg, “On International Privacy: A Path Forward for the US and Europe,” Harvard International Review (June 1, 2014)
Marc Rotenberg, “After Latest Facebook Fiasco, Focus Falls on Federal Commission,” Techonomy (December 21, 2018)
Marc Rotenberg, “Equifax, the Credit Reporting Industry, and What Congress Should Do Next,” Harvard Business Review (September 20, 2017)
Sue Halpern “Why the U.K. Condemned Facebook for Fuelling Fake News” The New Yorker (Feb. 22, 2019) 

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