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Opinion: Candidates, here's how to fix immigration
Undocumented immigrants line up to apply for the deferred deportation program this month in Los Angeles.
August 27th, 2012
05:30 PM ET

Opinion: Candidates, here's how to fix immigration

Editor's note: Ali Noorani is the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, an organization based in Washington that advocates for the value of immigrants. Follow him on Twitter.

By Ali Noorani, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Dear Barack Obama and Mitt Romney,

As much as America is looking forward to 10 more weeks of soothing campaign rhetoric (fingernails on the blackboard of America's psyche), I write to urge you to offer the nation a compelling vision for a common-sense immigration process. Your respective parties' conventions would be a great place to start.

First off, you should know that poll after poll shows a broad spectrum of Americans want a rational immigration process. In fact, a recent Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that immigration was one of only a few public policy issues where, as the Post put it, "rank-and-file Republicans and Democrats are less divided."

A creative approach to immigration may not play to your parties' fringes, but a clear majority of Americans want a pragmatic federal immigration policy.

Yet while the immigration solutions are simple, changing the conversation is not.

Read Ali Noorani's full column

Study: School vouchers have positive effect on college enrollment for African-Americans
August 27th, 2012
02:30 PM ET

Study: School vouchers have positive effect on college enrollment for African-Americans

By Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) – A recently released study by the Brookings Institution at Harvard has stirred up the debate over school choice and vouchers.

In some districts and states, parents can get vouchers to pay for their children’s education.  Parents may choose to send their children to religious or private schools using the vouchers as payment for tuition.  Much of the research surrounding the effectiveness of vouchers centers on more immediate outcomes, such as test scores.

The Brookings study was based on data collected on students who were recipients of vouchers from the privately funded New York School Choice Scholarships Foundation program.  In 1997, the foundation offered three-year scholarships of up to $1,400 per year to 1,000 low-income families whose children were either entering first grade or were already in public schools in second through fifth grades.  The Brookings study claims to be the first that used “a randomized experiment to measure the impact of school vouchers on college enrollment.”  It also claims to be one of only a few studies to track longer-term outcomes, years after students received their first vouchers.

Overall, the study found no effect on college enrollment, except among African-Americans, where there was significant impact.

“Our estimates indicate that using a voucher to attend private school increased the overall college enrollment rate among African-Americans by 24%,” say Matthew M. Chingos and Paul E. Peterson, the study’s authors.

The study also indicates that enrollment rates in “selective colleges” more than doubled among African-American students who received vouchers.

Read the full post on CNN's Schools of Thought blog

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Filed under: Black in America • Education • Race • Who we are
Opinion: Unfriendly to women? Not my GOP
Kay Bailey Hutchison says she's a Republican because she believes the best opportunities for all come from a thriving economy.
August 27th, 2012
11:28 AM ET

Opinion: Unfriendly to women? Not my GOP

Editor's note: Kay Bailey Hutchison is a Republican senator from Texas.

By Kay Bailey Hutchison, Special to CNN

(CNN) - In the run-up to the party conventions, new attention has been focused on women's issues in the political sphere. It has been accompanied by claims that the Republican Party is somehow unfriendly to women - which will be a surprise to the thousands of women attending the convention in Tampa, Florida.

The assertion is baseless. Having served 19 years in the Senate, and as a lifelong Republican, I have some perspective.

Much of the recent debate has focused on a narrow slice of what constitutes women's issues and how gender should direct women's views. But this is overly simplistic.

Women make up half of the most diverse country in the world. We are represented ethnically, socially, racially, economically, religiously and ideologically across the spectrum. To say that there is a set of concerns that can be labeled "women's issues" is absolutely true. To assume that we all feel the same way about them - or that we must feel the same way about them to represent our gender legitimately - is inherently sexist.

My experiences as a woman certainly inform my perspective, but they do not wholly define my political views. I am also guided by the values my family instilled and the educational opportunities I had growing up.

That we employ different methods and points of view does not mean that one or the other party is the natural place for women.

Read Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's full column

August 27th, 2012
08:08 AM ET

Court to hear challenge to voter ID law in South Carolina

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

Washington (CNN) - South Carolina officials head to federal court on Monday to defend a controversial new voter identification law, dismissing suggestions the requirement would deny tens of thousands of people, many of them minorities, access to the ballot.

A weeklong trial will kick off in Washington before a panel of three judges who will decide whether the law should take effect. It is one of several legal challenges to voter identification laws nationwide.

A key enforcement provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, gives the federal government open-ended oversight of states and communities with a history of voter discrimination. Any changes in voting laws and procedures in those areas must be "pre-cleared" with Washington.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has defended the law, saying it will not harm any potential voter.

"The changes have neither the purpose nor will they have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority," Wilson said.

The Justice Department blocked the measure from taking effect last year, concluding it was discriminatory.

Federal officials cited figures that registered minority voters were about 20 percent more likely than white voters to lack state-issued photo identification.

The Justice Department estimated that more than 80,000 people in South Carolina could be adversely impacted by the planned requirements.

Read the full post

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Filed under: Politics • Where we live