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November 18, 2013 / Christian Clansky

Billionaire believes education reform can be America’s next moonshot

EDUCATION/PHILANTHROPY | Forbes has released its second annual issue focused on philanthropy. There are a bunch of good articles about domestic and international giving, but the most interesting one (methinks) is about billionaire hedge fund manager and Robin Hood Foundation head Paul Tudor Jones’ goal to fix the American education system (Forbes, 11/18):

“The U.S. is in the bottom quartile for developed countries in terms of educational outcomes for kids. What’s going on with low-income kids and education is about the highest expression of racism that we’ve ever probably experienced as a country, with the possible exception of slavery. For whatever reason, we are desensitized to it now.”

Jones likens this to John F. Kennedy’s call to land a man on the moon. “Common Core [a set of national educational standards] was our Sputnik moment, when we found out that our kids aren’t measuring up to kids in other developed countries,” he says. “We are losing the space race. This time the space is between our kids’ ears.” Jones says his goal is to get the U.S. educational system in the top quartile of developed countries in the next ten years. Twenty years from now he wants the U.S. at number one.

Related opinion: Silly Season at the US Department of Education by Patricia McGuire (HuffPo, 11/17)

POVERTY/HOUSING | According to the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute’s Ed Lazere, the District’s poverty rate is actually worse than anyone realized. The reason? High housing costs (DCFPI, 11/18):

An alternate poverty measure developed by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 22,000 more DC residents live in poverty than the number officially considered poor. Some 141,000 residents—23 percent of the District’s population — were poor between 2010 and 2012, under the “supplemental poverty measure,” while 119,000 were poor under the standard poverty measure.

The difference is most likely due to the District’s high housing costs and its effect on the ability of residents to meet their basic needs. Of the 12 states with higher poverty rates under the supplemental measure, most have high costs of living, including New York and California.

Related: Tax plan may help pay for Arlington housing (WaPo, 11/18)

WORKFORCE | Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are part of a regional collaboration to raise the minimum wage. Bill Turque reports that the Maryland jurisdictions are at a crossroads, “with uncertainties that could complicate” wage hikes. (WaPo, 11/18)

FOOD | A new report from Pew finds that most Americans believe that obesity is a serious public health issue, but they have mixed opinions on what role the government should play in regulating what we eat. Building on this, Pew looks at the demographics of obesity – particularly around income. (Pew, 11/15)

– With demand quickly rising at food pantries, Capital Area Food Bank is focusing on healthy food as a key component of its services. (WaPo, 11/16)

Opinion: New York Times commentator Joseph Stiglitz says, “American food policy has long been rife with head-scratching illogic.” (NYT, 11/18) You could play Mad Libs with the word “food” and it would probably still be true!

HEALTHCARE | D.C. insurance commissioner fired a day after questioning Obamacare fix (WaPo, 11/18)

DISTRICT | The Home Rule Act, which was passed 40 years ago, took a significant amount of control away from Congress and gave it to the District’s mayor and legislature. WAMU looks back at the law and how it has affected the city since. (WAMU, 11/15)

– Is there a connection between the District’s height restrictions and Northern Virginia’s shifting political composition? (New Republic, 11/14)

– Are hipsters driving out the District’s aging residents from their long-time neighborhoods? (WaPo, 11/17)

Find out next week. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel! Sorry, I feel obligated to do that whenever I write two questions in a row. I also don’t have any answers to the questions beyond what’s in the articles. Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah Batman!

Speaking of Batman, I’m sure you all have heard what the good people of San Francisco did for a 5 year-old cancer patient. In case you haven’t, it’s a heartwarming story that might actually make you tear up at your desk.

Apologies for not running a Friday edition of the Daily. We’re in crunch mode gearing up for our annual meeting this Thursday! To make up for it, here are TWO bonus items. First, a series of beautiful, surreal photographs of an abandoned desert house filled with sand (but not fog).

Second, as NASA gets ready to launch a new Mars mission today, check out this video showing what the Red Planet might have looked like before it was red.

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