100 Best Websites for Writers 2017

The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2017

What do you picture when you imagine yourself writing?

Are you quietly tapping away on your office desktop computer in the early morning hours? Maybe you’re scribbling new ideas and observations amidst the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop.

It’s likely that you imagined yourself alone. And that’s not surprising, because when it comes down to actually doing the work, you — the writer — are the one who has to put pen to paper.

But here’s the thing about great writing: it takes a village.

They may be your words, but the words you write are a culmination of years of practice, learning from mentors, emulating your favorite authors, workshopping with peers and supporting fellow writers.

 

blogging

1. Be a Freelance Blogger

Sophie Lizard teaches you how to take your freelance blogging skills to pro level. Through her blog posts, free community and jobs board, you’ll increase your blogging income and become an expert in your niche.

2. Beyond Your Blog

Are you working to grow your blog audience? Beyond Your Blog provides practical tips and resources for getting published on other blogs and and in digital publications, so you can tap into new groups of engaged fans.

3. Copyblogger

Take your content marketing, SEO and community building skills to the next level with Copyblogger’s library of free ebooks, blog posts, forums and more. It’s a leading resource for professional blogging from the creators of the Rainmaker Platform for digital marketing.

4. ProBlogger

Founder Darren Rowse and the ProBlogger team bring you the latest news and tips to build a better blog. This site offers extensive resources on how to monetize your blog, as well as a job board constantly updated with new blogging opportunities.

5. See Jane Write

At See Jane Write, founder Javacia Harris Bowser seeks to empower women to be “authors of their own lives and live a life worth writing about.” Consistently recommended by many of our readers, See Jane Write is a great place for bloggers who are looking to grow their platforms and turn their blogs into businesses.

6. Aliventures

Ali Luke provides both practical and motivational advice on writing books, blogging and building a business around your writing. Check out her Writer’s Huddle community and ebooks on blogging.

7. Ann Kroeker

Author and writing coach Ann Kroeker is on a mission to help writers reach their goals by maximizing curiosity, creativity and productivity. Her website is home to numerous blog posts, podcasts and resources for writers.

8. Australian Writers’ Centre

No matter what type of writing you enjoy, the Australian Writers’ Centre has a course for you. Along with a full blog archive, this site offers dozens of online and in-person courses on freelance writing, creativity, novel writing, business writing, blogging and more. Courses start at $97.

9. Bang2Write

If you’re a screenwriter, Bang2Write is for you. This site offers tons of advice on how to develop great stories and pitch your scripts, along with best practices for writing research.

10. Barely Hare Books

You are the hero of your own novel-writing adventure, and Rae Elliott of Barely Hare Books is here to help you defeat the monster keeping you from writing that fandom-worthy story. With blog posts, a podcast and several ebooks, this site has lots to explore.

100 best websites for writers 2017

11. C. S. Lakin’s Live Write Thrive

Author, editor and writing coach C. S. Lakin loves helping writers get their manuscripts ready for publication. At Live Write Thrive, she writes about proper scene structure, character development, editing and crafting a fantastic story.

12. DIY MFA

The folks at DIY MFA believe you can access the benefits of an Master in Fine Arts without having to go the traditional (expensive) route. It all comes down to a simple but powerful combination: writing with focus, reading with purpose and building your community.

13. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Prolific mystery author Elizabeth Spann Craig blogs about all things relevant to a writer’s life, including public speaking, productivity, gaining visibility and connecting with the wider author community. Her weekly roundup of writing articles is a reader favorite.

14. Eva Deverell

A passionate writer and creative writing teacher, Eva Deverell offers tons of resources for readers, writers, poets and people who just love learning. With worksheets, blog posts, writing prompts and ebooks, this site offers practical ways to deepen your craft.

15. Every Writer

At Every Writer, owner and editor Richard Edwards covers everything you can imagine about writing, including writing tools, website building, and how to overcome writer’s block. He even shares tips on starting a literary magazine. Check out his poetry and writing contests, too.

16. Fiction University

Janice Hardy understands there’s no “right” way to write. So instead of giving advice on what writers should do, she explains how to make industry rules work for you. With new articles and guest columns every day, you’ll gain valuable insight into the book-writing and publishing process.

17. How to Write a Book Now

At How to Write a Book Now, author Glen C. Strathy shares tips on everything about the writing and book publishing process, from where to start, to story model analysis, to creating compelling characters. Readers can also submit their questions about writing.

18. Inky Girl

Inky Girl is the place for children’s book writers and illustrators. Debbie Ridpath Ohi shares original comics, interviews with industry experts, and advice on telling unique stories. Her series on writing picture books is a reader favorite.

19. Journalist’s Resource

Run by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center, Journalist’s Resource offers write-ups on the latest scholarly studies, reports and data. This is a great place to find reliable research as well as inspiration for your next freelance article.

20. Knockin’ Books

The editors at Knockin’ Books are self-described “addicted” to reading, so they’ve created this site to help connect readers and authors. Whether you’re a reader looking for your next favorite book, or a writer looking for a beautiful cover design, you’ll find it at Knockin’ Books.

21. Lucy Flint and the Lionhearted Writing Life

After eight years of a love/hate relationship with writing, Lucy Flint went on a mission to explore how writing can be more enjoyable, easy and fulfilling. In her blog posts, she shares tips on how to be more courageous in your writing, stop being stuck and more. Her site is a mini dance party for your writing life.

22. Market Meditations

At Market Meditations, Charles Chu documents the experiments and lessons he’s learned in the pursuit of being more productive, successful and effective at the work he does. This is a great blog to follow if you’re looking to raise your potential at work.

23. Positive Writer

In the pursuit of creating work that matters, all writers get stuck from time to time. Doubts can creep in, and it’s sometimes hard to get back on track. Bryan Hutchinson offers motivating blog posts to help you move beyond writing paralysis and finish the work you set out to create.

24. PsychWriter

At PsychWriter, Tamar Sloan explores the intersection of psychology and writing, specifically as it pertains to character development and reader engagement. This blog covers the art of making your characters and story believable.

25. Re:Fiction

No matter what kind of fiction writer you are, Re:Fiction welcomes you. This site offers resources to help you at all stages, from getting better at writing, to publishing, to marketing and building your platform. It also offers multiple scholarships for professional editing and critiques each month, on manuscripts of up to 5,000 words.

26. The Write Practice

What do all successful writers have in common? Practice. At The Write Practice, Joe Bunting and his team help you develop your writing rhythm and grow into your voice and identity as a writer.

27. The Writing Kylie

Kylie Day’s blog is a great place for those who are in the midst of writing a novel. With tips on outlining and story structure, and a dose of inspirational posts about the writing life, this blog will help you on your path from story idea to complete manuscript.

28. Tweetspeak Poetry

Tweetspeak Poetry is the go-to site for “the best in poetry and poetic things.” Here, readers and writers alike can indulge in beautiful poetry, writing workshops, book clubs and more. This is also a great place to find resources for teaching poetry.

29. Write or Die

Writer Mandy Wallace believes that when it comes to writing, you can’t wait to become inspired or for luck to strike. Just “Show up, shut up, and write,” and sooner or later it will all come together. Wallace’s blog documents the writing lessons she’s learned and offers practical guides for upgrading your own writing.

30. Writerology

The one constant when it comes to writing? It all comes down to the people: you as a writer, your characters and their development, and the audience you seek to connect with. At Writerology, Faye Kirwin combines her expertise in writing and psychology to help you hone your craft, understand people, and write amazing stories.

31. Writers Helping Writers

Authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are dedicated to creating one-of-a-kind resources that writers will actually use. Their books and blog posts focus on helping writers become better storytellers, and their One Stop For Writers library is teeming with tools for planning, researching and writing your book.

32. Writers In The Storm

Just like their characters during perilous times, writers must weather the storm of their profession — and shifting industry tides. Run by a group of authors, the Writers In The Storm blog provides inspiration and tips for writers during all stages of the process.

33. Writer Unboxed

Frustrated their analytical articles about books and movies were rejected, founders Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton decided to create Writer Unboxed in 2006 so they could freely publish their observations. It has since grown into a thriving community where writers of all levels can contribute their thoughts on the craft of writing.

34. Write to Done

Write to Done is all about learning to write well. Founder Mary Jaksch brings the age-old advice to keep writing to a whole new level, noting that it’s not practice that makes you a better writer — it’s practice directed in a positive way.

35. Grammar Girl

You may speak English fluently, but the language can still be quite a mystery. Grammar Girl is the go-to guide for all things “grammar, punctuation, usage, and fun developments in the English language.” She has a popular podcast, too.

36. Kathy Steinemann

Kathy Steinemann loves words. On her blog, she shares master lists of adjectives and offers tips for avoiding overused words and being more descriptive and original in your writing.

37. Scribendi

Scribendi is focused on the art of editing and proofreading. Their resources for writers cover everything from grammar, to finding inspiration, to the mechanics of writing.

38. Comps & Calls

On the first of each month, Cathy Bryant posts an extensive list of competitions, contests and calls for submission. She notes whether they’re paid or not, for quick skimming. This site is a great one-stop shop for all recent writing opportunities.

39. Elna Cain

Elna Cain believes you don’t need experience to be a successful freelance writer — you just need a passion for writing. On her blog, she shares tips and strategies to help new freelance writers succeed.

40. Freelancer FAQs

You have questions, they have answers. Team members and guest contributors at Freelancer FAQs address all the things you’ve ever wanted to know about freelance life, including marketing, getting started, recommended resources, money management and more.

41. Freelance to Freedom

You love to write. But in order to be a successful freelancer, you need to work those business muscles. That’s where Freelance to Freedom comes in. Founder Leah Kalamakis offers articles and e-books that teach everything from client management to setting up your business website.

42. Freelance to Win

At Freelance to Win, Danny Margulies wants you to stop compromising and start living a life of freedom — all by building a freelance career. Danny is an expert at landing gigs on Upwork, and his blog shares all the latest tips on how to use this platform for ultimate success.

43. Freelance Writing

It’s been around since 1997 and is still going strong: Freelance Writing has an extensive archive of articles, tutorials, media and resources all geared to helping you build a successful career. Its jobs listings get updated daily, so you’re always in the know about new opportunities.

44. FundsforWriters

Hope Clark believes writing can be a realistic career for all writers. Her weekly newsletter lists the best competitions, grants and other well-paying markets, and her platform has grown to include a blog and a bi-weekly paid newsletter with even more high-paying opportunities per issue.

45. Horkey Handbook

Within six months of starting her freelance writing career, Gina Horkey was earning $4,000 a month. Now, she wants to help others achieve their dreams of making a real living off freelance writing. Check out her free five-day kickstart course.

46. LittleZotz Writing

Lauren Tharp has found a way to write as a freelancer full time and is dedicated to helping other writers do the same. With bi-monthly newsletters, a blog, and a podcast, LittleZotz is a great source of practical tips for your freelance life.

47. Make a Living Writing

At Make a Living Writing, Carol Tice helps writers move up from low-paying markets and earn more from their work. With her blog, e-books and paid community, you’ll find awesome advice, support and resources to grow as a freelance writer.

48. Pen & Pro$per

At Pen & Pro$per, Jennifer Brown Bank shares more than 15 years of professional writing experience to help others reach financial success with their writing. As one The Write Life reader said, “With an outstanding array of diverse topics, tips and tricks of the writing profession, this is a blog well worth bookmarking!”

49. Untamed Writing

“Your life is YOUR life. You should be able to do whatever you want with it.” So says Karen Marston, founder of Untamed Writing, her internet home for helping people build a freelance writing career they love without sacrificing their freedom. You’ll find a full archive of blog posts, resources and courses to develop your writing skills, fearlessly approach clients, and maintain a successful career.

best websites for writers

50. Writers in Charge

With over 600 posts in its archives, Writers in Charge is filled with resources and leads for freelance writers who are looking to be well-compensated for their work. Don’t miss founder Bamidele Onibalusi’s master list of 110 websites that pay writers.

51. Writers Weekly

Around since 1997, Writers Weekly is a tried-and-true resource for freelance writers. It offers regular updates on paying markets, as well as expert interviews and success stories.

52. Writing Revolt

At Writing Revolt, Jorden Roper is leading a revolution to help freelance writers and bloggers make serious money. Her site is filled with actionable articles, courses and resources that will help you become better at writing, pitching and landing great clients.

53. HubSpot

For business, sales and marketing-focused writers, HubSpot is a great place to stay on top of the latest research, insights, and strategies for connecting with your audience and making them fall in love with your brand.

54. Kikolani

Founder Kristi Hines brings you the latest strategies, trends and how-tos in digital marketing. Kikolani is a must-have resource for business and professional bloggers who want to make their brands stand out.

55. MarketingProfs

If you’re looking to grow your expertise in marketing communications, MarketingProfs is the place to go. It offers articles, podcasts, training events and more, so you can learn to use strategic, data-driven marketing.

56. Seth Godin

Seth Godin’s blog might not be specifically about writing, but his daily bits of wisdom on business, marketing and life will help you approach your work in new ways. His posts never fail to inspire an energy to “Go, make something happen.”

57. Shelley Hitz

Shelley Hitz believes everyone has a message, and she’s on a mission to help you reach your target audience and build your author platform. With her blog posts, podcast and Author Audience Academy, you’ll find tons of content on book writing, publishing and marketing.

58. The Creative Penn

Author Joanna Penn has built a best-selling writing career, and she wants to help you do it, too. Her site offers a wealth of resources on self-publishing and platform-building — from her articles and ebooks to her popular podcast library of author interviews.

59. Beautiful Writers Podcast

On the Beautiful Writers Podcast, host Linda Sivertsen features authors and thought leaders about their writing, business and publishing adventures. With a touch of spirituality, these conversations are great listens for those interested in creative contemplation.

60. Create If Writing

We all love writing, but sometimes platform building and promotion don’t feel as natural. That’s where Create If Writing comes in; host Kirsten Oliphant shares tips and tools on how to build an authentic platform for your creative brand.

61. I Should Be Writing

With author interviews and a huge archive, I Should Be Writing chronicles the journey to becoming a professional author. Conversations focus primarily on speculative fiction and traditional publishing.

62. Rocking Self Publishing

Looking to be a published indie author? This podcast is for you. Each week host Simon Whistler interviews some of the top names in self-publishing, so you can create success for yourself.

63. Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast

On the Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast, the hosts interview successful authors, engage in group discussions and dive deep into specific writing genres and niches. This is a smart listening option for those looking for solid discussion around the science fiction and fantasy markets.

64. Self Publishing Formula

Hosted by a writer who’s just starting out and another who is a best-selling author, the Self Publishing Formula podcast features interviews with some of the biggest names in the self-publishing game. Listen for tips on writing, publishing, marketing and more.

65. Story Geometry

Ben Hess is an award-winning producer, director and screenwriter. After hitting a creative wall, he decided to start Story Geometry, where he interviews esteemed writers on their craft.

66. Story Grid

On the Story Grid podcast, author Shawn Coyne and “struggling” writer Tim Grahl discuss the art and science of writing a story that resonates. There’s a blueprint for great novels — and these co-hosts seek to crack the code.

67. The Dead Robots’ Society

Throughout the nearly 400 episodes in its archive, the many hosts of The Dead Robots’ Society gather to discuss their writing journeys and offer tips on the writing process. They also  occasionally invite guests on the show.

68. The Worried Writer

On The Worried Writer podcast, Sarah Painter investigates how authors overcome anxiety, distractions and worried feelings on their way to publishing success. Listen to this podcast if you’re looking for practical advice on managing self doubt.

69. The Writer Files

On The Writer Files, host Kelton Reid uncovers the secrets of productivity and creativity of some of the most well-known writers. If you find yourself stuck, plagued with writer’s block or just need to get those writing gears turning again, this podcast is for you.

70. Writer 2.0

On Writer 2.0, A. C. Fuller sits down with bestselling authors and publishing experts like literary agents and book marketers. This show offers great content around both traditional and self-publishing, as well as the writing journey.

71. Writing Class Radio

This show brings you inside an actual writing class, where you can hear other people tell their stories, witness breakthroughs, and hear the ins and outs of learning to write well.

72. Writing Excuses

In these weekly 15-minute episodes, writers Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells talk about all things writing. They often have season-long themes — check out season 10 for a masterclass-type season on creating a story.

73. Your Creative Life

On the Your Creative Life podcast, co-hosts Vanessa Carnevale and Kimberley Foster help writers connect to their creativity. With discussions on publishing, platform building and different genres of writing, this is a choice place to find inspiration.

74. Anne R. Allen

Publishing veterans Anne R. Allen and Ruth Harris created this online space to offer wisdom and tips for navigating the increasingly complex (and sometimes predatory) publishing world. Whether you’re an indie author or looking to land a traditional publishing deal, check out their archives and resources.

75. Better Novel Project

Christine Frazier takes a scientific approach to writing a best-selling novel. She deconstructs popular books to pinpoint the common elements they share. These findings are then incorporated into the “master outline” for a better, research-backed novel. Follow along for insights on plot, word counts and character development.

76. Go Teen Writers

Stephanie Morrill knows a love of writing often starts at a young age. That’s why she created Go Teen Writers: to provide encouragement, community and wisdom to aspiring teen writers who want to learn more about how to finish a novel and get it published.

77. Helping Writers Become Authors

Consider K. M. Weiland your writing and publishing mentor. With hundreds of blog posts, instructional ebooks, and an exclusive e-letter, her website is the perfect place to find the answers to all your questions. She also responds to every email she receives (really!) about writing, publishing and marketing fiction.

78. Jane Friedman

Former publisher Jane Friedman explores the intersection of publishing, authorship and the digital age. With more than 15 years in the industry, Friedman knows her stuff — and her blog is a wealth of information on how to embrace “the future of authorship.”

79. Jenny Bravo Books

Author Jenny Bravo offers personal anecdotes and guidance for writers who want to take a leap into the publishing world. From her blog full of tips to her “Blots and Plots Party” Facebook group, to her Busy Writers Starter Kit, Jenny is here to help you realize your dream of writing a book.

80. My Story Doctor

At My Story Doctor, author David Farland offers tips and workshops on how to write your story and get it published. He offers strategic advice on the business of writing, covering topics like how to get great deals and make the most of your publishing opportunities.

81. Nail Your Novel

At Nail Your Novel, bestselling ghostwriter and book doctor Roz Morris shares her best traditional and self-publishing tips as well as musings on the writing process. Be sure to check out her radio show “So You Want to Be a Writer?”

82. Novel Publicity

The team at Novel Publicity believes every story should be told, and have its own platform and loyal fans. With that core belief in mind, it provides guidance on writing, marketing and publishing. Posts cover everything from social media strategy and book design to finances and author blogging.
Post you’ll like: Money, Money, Money: The Finances of Publishing

83. Self-Publishing School

Chandler Bolt believes everyone has a book inside them. With proven systems and strategies, the Self-Publishing School blog will walk you through writing and publishing your book, even if you don’t even know what you want to write about yet!

84. She’s Novel

It took Kristen Kieffer two and a half years to finish her first draft — then she realized she had made every mistake in the book. She vowed not to let these personal lessons go to waste, so she created She’s Novel, a blog and resource hub that helps writers more-easily navigate the journey of crafting brilliant novels.

85. Standoutbooks

You’ve written your book. Now what? Standoutbooks has tons of articles, templates, tools and resource recommendations for getting your book published and marketed to the max. While you’re there, grab your free Book Marketing Plan and Press Release templates.

86. The Book Designer

At The Book Designer, Joel Friedlander uses his experience in book design, advertising and graphic design to help writers “build better books” and get published. Along with his extensive blog archive, check out his book design templates and Book Launch Toolkit.

87. The Steve Laube Agency

What better way to get book publishing advice than from an agent himself? From resource recommendations to eight years (and counting!) of blog archives, The Steve Laube Agency website is full of advice for writers who are taking their first steps into the world of publishing.

88. Writer’s Digest Editor Blogs

Writer’s Digest is home to many resources, competitions, and communities. Their editor columns are quite popular, and we particularly like The Write Life contributor Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents, featuring all types of information on finding literary agents, sending query letters, building an author platform and marketing your book.

89. Writer’s Relief

For more than 20 years, Writer’s Relief has helped creatives successfully submit their writing to literary journals, book publishers, agents and more. The staff’s blog is full of publishing tips, and they also have a paid-subscriber-only classifieds section listing contests, conferences and residences.

90. Chronicles

Chronicles is a thriving community for science fiction and fantasy writers. Community members gather to discuss favorite books, authors and common themes in science fiction and fantasy writing.

91. Fiction Writing

The Fiction Writing Facebook group is a community of nearly 10,000 writers. Here, you can post your writing for critique or reviews, and veteran members can announce details about upcoming book releases and published pieces.

92. Inkitt

Inkitt is a data-driven book publisher and community where writers can share their work and find an audience for free, even if their novel is not yet finished. Inkitt’s algorithm analyzes reading behaviors to understand whether a novel has a strong potential to become a big success. If readers love your work, Inkitt will offer you a publishing deal.

93. Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Whether you’re just beginning to write or a best-selling pro, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is here to help you overcome whatever doubts and insecurities might keep you from being your best.

94. Now Novel

The Now Novel program offers a structured, straightforward way to get your book done. With a step-by-step process that takes the guessing out of what to do next, personalized mentorship and community groups for even more support, you’ll be an author in no time.

95. Prose

Prose is a social network platform for writers who want to focus on the work — not the superficiality of social media. This is a great place to publish your work, connect with other authors, and participate in writing challenges.

96. She Writes

Over 27,000 writers of all levels of expertise have joined this buzzing community, founded by author Kamy Wicoff. At She Writes, you can create your own profile, build your network, share your work, get expert advice and feedback and discuss all types of topics in the forum.

97. Talentville

Talentville is the online destination for screenwriters and storytellers. This community focuses on bringing together people across the industry — from novice script writers to top agents and producers — so high-quality work can be easily discovered.

98. The Masters Review

This community is focused on supporting emerging writers. They publish works from writers who don’t have published novels and haven’t been featured on larger platforms yet. Be on the lookout for their annual anthology, which features the 10 best emerging writers in the country.

99. Two Drops of Ink

Two Drops of ink is a literary blog accepting submissions from writers of almost any genre. The editors also post book reviews and blog posts about writing and the publishing industry.

100. Wattpad

At Wattpad, “Stories are made social.” Hailed as the world’s largest community of writers and readers, members are free to post and read original stories and engage in conversation with each other. This is a great platform to build buzz around your writing.

Untangling your organization’s decision making

It’s the best and worst of times for decision makers. Swelling stockpiles of data, advanced analytics, and intelligent algorithms are providing organizations with powerful new inputs and methods for making all manner of decisions. Corporate leaders also are much more aware today than they were 20 years ago of the cognitive biases—anchoring, loss aversion, confirmation bias, and many more—that undermine decision making without our knowing it. Some have already created formal processes—checklists, devil’s advocates, competing analytic teams, and the like—to shake up the debate and create healthier decision-making dynamics.

Now for the bad news. In many large global companies, growing organizational complexity, anchored in strong product, functional, and regional axes, has clouded accountabilities. That means leaders are less able to delegate decisions cleanly, and the number of decision makers has risen. The reduced cost of communications brought on by the digital age has compounded matters by bringing more people into the flow via email, Slack, and internal knowledge-sharing platforms, without clarifying decision-making authority. The result is too many meetings and email threads with too little high-quality dialogue as executives ricochet between boredom and disengagement, paralysis, and anxiety (Exhibit 1). All this is a recipe for poor decisions: 72 percent of senior-executive respondents to a McKinsey survey said they thought bad strategic decisions either were about as frequent as good ones or were the prevailing norm in their organization.

Growing organizational complexity and proliferating digital communications are a recipe for poor decisions.

The ultimate solution for many organizations looking to untangle their decision making is to become flatter and more agile, with decision authority and accountability going hand in hand. High-flying technology companies such as Google and Spotify are frequently the poster children for this approach, but it has also been adapted by more traditional ones such as ING (for more, see our recent McKinsey Quarterly interview “ING’s agile transformation”). As we’ve described elsewhere, agile organization models get decision making into the right hands, are faster in reacting to (or anticipating) shifts in the business environment, and often become magnets for top talent, who prefer working at companies with fewer layers of management and greater empowerment.

As we’ve worked with organizations seeking to become more agile, we’ve found that it’s possible to accelerate the improvement of decision making through the simple steps of categorizing the type of decision that’s being made and tailoring your approach accordingly. In our work, we’ve observed four types of decisions (Exhibit 2):

The ABCDs of categorizing decisions.
  • Big-bet decisions. These infrequent and high-risk decisions have the potential to shape the future of the company.
  • Cross-cutting decisions. In these frequent and high-risk decisions, a series of small, interconnected decisions are made by different groups as part of a collaborative, end-to-end decision process.
  • Delegated decisions. These frequent and low-risk decisions are effectively handled by an individual or working team, with limited input from others.
  • Ad hoc decisions. The organization’s infrequent, low-stakes decisions are deliberately ignored in this article, in order to sharpen our focus on the other three areas, where organizational ambiguity is most likely to undermine decision-making effectiveness.

These decision categories often get overlooked, in our experience, because organizational complexity, murky accountabilities, and information overload have conspired to create messy decision-making processes in many companies. In this article, we’ll describe how to vary your decision-making methods according to the circumstances. We’ll also offer some tools that individuals can use to pinpoint problems in the moment and to take corrective action that should improve both the decision in question and, over time, the organization’s decision-making norms.

Before we begin, we should emphasize that even though the examples we describe focus on enterprise-level decisions, the application of this framework will depend on the reader’s perspective and location in the organization. For example, what might be a delegated decision for the enterprise as a whole could be a big-bet decision for an individual business unit. Regardless, any fundamental change in decision-making culture needs to involve the senior leaders in the organization or business unit. The top team will decide what decisions are big bets, where to appoint process leaders for cross-cutting decisions, and to whom to delegate. Senior executives also serve the critical functions of role-modeling a culture of collaboration and of making sure junior leaders take ownership of the delegated decisions.

Big bets

Bet-the-company decisions—from major acquisitions to game-changing capital investments—are inherently the most risky. Efforts to mitigate the impact of cognitive biases on decision making have, rightly, often focused on big bets. And that’s not the only special attention big bets need. In our experience, steps such as these are invaluable for big bets:

  • Appoint an executive sponsor. Each initiative should have a sponsor, who will work with a project lead to frame the important decisions for senior leaders to weigh in on—starting with a clear, one-sentence problem statement.
  • Break things down, and connect them up. Large, complex decisions often have multiple parts; you should explicitly break them down into bite-size chunks, with decision meetings at each stage. Big bets also frequently have interdependencies with other decisions. To avoid unintended consequences, step back to connect the dots.
  • Deploy a standard decision-making approach. The most important way to get big-bet decisions right is to have the right kind of interaction and discussion, including quality debate, competing scenarios, and devil’s advocates. Critical requirements are to create a clear agenda that focuses on debating the solution (instead of endlessly elaborating the problem), to require robust prework, and to assemble the right people, with diverse perspectives.
  • Move faster without losing commitment. Fast-but-good decision making also requires bringing the available facts to the table and committing to the outcome of the decision. Executives have to get comfortable living with imperfect data and being clear about what “good enough” looks like. Then, once a decision is made, they have to be willing to commit to it and take a gamble, even if they were opposed during the debate. Make sure, at the conclusion of every meeting, that it is clear who will communicate the decision and who owns the actions to begin carrying it out.

An example of a company that does much of this really well is a semiconductor company that believes so much in the importance of getting big bets right that it built a whole management system around decision making. The company never has more than one person accountable for decisions, and it has a standard set of facts that need to be brought into any meeting where a decision is to be made (such as a problem statement, recommendation, net present value, risks, and alternatives). If this information isn’t provided, then a discussion is not even entertained. The CEO leads by example, and to date, the company has a very good track record of investment performance and industry-changing moves.

It’s also important to develop tracking and feedback mechanisms to judge the success of decisions and, as needed, to course correct for both the decision and the decision-making process. One technique a regional energy provider uses is to create a one-page self-evaluation tool that allows each member of the team to assess how effectively decisions are being made and how well the team is adhering to its norms. Members of key decision-making bodies complete such evaluations at regular intervals (after every fifth or tenth meeting). Decision makers also agree, before leaving a meeting where a decision has been made, how they will track project success, and they set a follow-up date to review progress against expectations.

Big-bet decisions often are easy to recognize, but not always (Exhibit 3). Sometimes a series of decisions that might appear small in isolation represent a big bet when taken as a whole. A global technology company we know missed several opportunities that it could have seized through big-bet investments, because it was making technology-development decisions independently across each of its product lines, which reduced its ability to recognize far-reaching shifts in the industry. The solution can be as simple as a mechanism for periodically categorizing important decisions that are being made across the organization, looking for patterns, and then deciding whether it’s worthwhile to convene a big-bet-style process with executive sponsorship. None of this is possible, though, if companies aren’t in the habit of isolating major bets and paying them special attention.

A belated heads-up means you are not recognizing big bets.

Cross-cutting decisions

Far more frequent than big-bet decisions are cross-cutting ones—think pricing, sales, and operations planning processes or new-product launches—that demand input from a wide range of constituents. Collaborative efforts such as these are not actually single-point decisions, but instead comprise a series of decisions made over time by different groups as part of an end-to-end process. The challenge is not the decisions themselves but rather the choreography needed to bring multiple parties together to provide the right input, at the right time, without breeding bureaucracy that slows down the process and can diminish the decision quality. This is why the common advice to focus on “who has the decision” (or, “the D”) isn’t the right starting point; you should worry more about where the key points of collaboration and coordination are.

It’s easy to err by having too little or too much choreography. For an example of the former, consider the global pension fund that found itself in a major cash crunch because of uncoordinated decision making and limited transparency across its various business units. A perfect storm erupted when different business units’ decisions simultaneously increased the demand for cash while reducing its supply. In contrast, a specialty-chemicals company experienced the pain of excess choreography when it opened membership on each of its six governance committees to all senior leaders without clarifying the actual decision makers. All participants felt they had a right (and the need) to express an opinion on everything, even where they had little knowledge or expertise. The purpose of the meetings morphed into information sharing and unstructured debate, which stymied productive action (Exhibit 4).

Too many cooks get involved in the absence of processes for cross-cutting decisions.

Whichever end of the spectrum a company is on with cross-cutting decisions, the solution is likely to be similar: defining roles and decision rights along each step of the process. That’s what the specialty-chemicals company did. Similarly, the pension fund identified its CFO as the key decision maker in a host of cash-focused decisions, and then it mapped out the decision rights and steps in each of the contributing processes. For most companies seeking enhanced coordination, priorities include:

  • Map out the decision-making process, and then pressure-test it. Identify decisions that involve a cross-cutting group of leaders, and work with the stakeholders of each to agree on what the main steps in the process entail. Lay out a simple, plain-English playbook for the process to define the calendar, cadence, handoffs, and decisions. Too often, companies find themselves building complex process diagrams that are rarely read or used beyond the team that created them. Keep it simple.
  • Run water through the pipes. Then work through a set of real-life scenarios to pressure-test the system in collaboration with the people who will be running the process. We call this process “running water through the pipes,” because the first several times you do it, you will find where the “leaks” are. Then you can improve the process, train people to work within (and, when necessary, around) it, and confront, when the stakes are relatively low, leadership tensions or stresses in organizational dynamics.
  • Establish governance and decision-making bodies. Limit the number of decision-making bodies, and clarify for each its mandate, standing membership, roles (decision makers or critical “informers”), decision-making protocols, key points of collaboration, and standing agenda. Emphasize to the members that committees are not meetings but decision-making bodies, and they can make decisions outside of their standard meeting times. Encourage them to be flexible about when and where they make decisions, and to focus always on accelerating action.
  • Create shared objectives, metrics, and collaboration targets. These will help the persons involved feel responsible not just for their individual contributions in the process, but also for the process’s overall effectiveness. Team members should be encouraged to regularly seek improvements in the underlying process that is giving rise to their decisions.

Getting effective at cross-cutting decision making can be a great way to tackle other organizational problems, such as siloed working (Exhibit 5). Take, for example, a global finance company with a matrix of operations across markets and regions that struggled with cross-business-unit decision making. Product launches often cannibalized the products of other market groups. When the revenue shifts associated with one such decision caught the attention of senior management, company leaders formalized a new council for senior executives to come together and make several types of cross-cutting decisions, which yielded significant benefits.

When you are locked in silos, you are unlikely to collaborate effectively on cross-cutting decisions.

Delegated decisions

Delegated decisions are far narrower in scope than big-bet decisions or cross-cutting ones. They are frequent and relatively routine elements of day-to-day management, typically in areas such as hiring, marketing, and purchasing. The value at stake for delegated decisions is in the multiplier effect they can have because of the frequency of their occurrence across the organization. Placing the responsibility for these decisions in the hands of those closest to the work typically delivers faster, better, and more efficiently executed decisions, while also enhancing engagement and accountability at all levels of the organization.

In today’s world, there is the added complexity that many decisions (or parts of them) can be “delegated” to smart algorithms enabled by artificial intelligence. Identifying the parts of your decisions that can be entrusted to intelligent machines will speed up decisions and create greater consistency and transparency, but it requires setting clear thresholds for when those systems should escalate to a person, as well as being clear with people about how to leverage the tools effectively.

It’s essential to establish clarity around roles and responsibilities in order to craft a smooth-running system of delegated decision making (Exhibit 6). A renewable-energy company we know took this task seriously when undergoing a major reorganization that streamlined its senior management and drove decisions further down in the organization. The company developed a 30-minute “role card” conversation for each manager to have with his or her direct reports. As part of this conversation, managers explicitly laid out the decision rights and accountability metrics for each direct report. This approach allowed the company’s leaders to decentralize their decision making while also ensuring that accountability and transparency were in place. Such role clarity enables easier navigation, speeds up decision making, and makes it more customer focused. Companies may find it useful to take some of the following steps to reorganize decision-making power and establish transparency in their organization:

Drawn-out and complicated processes often mean more delegating is needed.
  • Delegate more decisions. To start delegating decisions today, make a list of the top 20 regularly occurring decisions. Take the first decision and ask three questions: (1) Is this a reversible decision? (2) Does one of my direct reports have the capability to make this decision? (3) Can I hold that person accountable for making the decision? If the answer to these questions is yes, then delegate the decision. Continue down your list of decisions until you are only making decisions for which there is one shot to get it right and you alone possess the capabilities or accountability. The role-modeling of senior leaders is invaluable, but they may be reluctant. Reassure them (and yourself) by creating transparency through good performance dashboards, scorecards, and key performance indicators (KPIs), and by linking metrics back to individual performance reviews.
  • Avoid overlap of decision rights. Doubling up decision responsibility across management levels or dimensions of the reporting matrix only leads to confusion and stalemates. Employees perform better when they have explicit authority and receive the necessary training to tackle problems on their own. Although it may feel awkward, leaders should be explicit with their teams about when decisions are being fully delegated and when the leaders want input but need to maintain final decision rights.
  • Establish a clear escalation path. Set thresholds for decisions that require approval (for example, spending above a certain amount), and lay out a specific protocol for the rare occasion when a decision must be kicked up the ladder. This helps mitigate risk and keeps things moving briskly.
  • Don’t let people abdicate. One of the key challenges in delegating decisions is actually getting people to take ownership of the decisions. People will often succumb to escalating decisions to avoid personal risk; leaders need to play a strong role in encouraging personal ownership, even (and especially) when a bad call is made.

This last point deserves elaboration: although greater efficiency comes with delegated decision making, companies can never completely eliminate mistakes, and it’s inevitable that a decision here or there will end badly. What executives must avoid in this situation is succumbing to the temptation to yank back control (Exhibit 7). One CEO at a Fortune 100 company learned this lesson the hard way. For many years, her company had worked under a decentralized decision-making framework where business-unit leaders could sign off on many large and small deals, including M&A. Financial underperformance and the looming risk of going out of business during a severe market downturn led the CEO to pull back control and centralize virtually all decision making. The result was better cost control at the expense of swift decision making. After several big M&A deals came and went because the organization was too slow to act, the CEO decided she had to decentralize decisions again. This time, she reinforced the decentralized system with greater leadership accountability and transparency.

Top-heavy processes often mean more delegating is needed.

Instead of pulling back decision power after a slipup, hold people accountable for the decision, and coach them to avoid repeating the misstep. Similarly, in all but the rarest of cases, leaders should resist weighing in on a decision kicked up to them during a logjam. From the start, senior leaders should collectively agree on escalation protocols and stick with them to create consistency throughout the organization. This means, when necessary, that leaders must vigilantly reinforce the structure by sending decisions back with clear guidance on where the leader expects the decision to be made and by whom. If signs of congestion or dysfunction appear, leaders should reexamine the decision-making structure to make sure alignment, processes, and accountability are optimally arranged.


None of this is rocket science. Indeed, the first decision-making step Peter Drucker advanced in “The effective decision,” a 1967 Harvard Business Review article, was “classifying the problem.” Yet we’re struck, again and again, by how few large organizations have simple systems in place to make sure decisions are categorized so that they can be made by the right people in the right way at the right time. Interestingly, Drucker’s classification system focused on how generic or exceptional the problem was, as opposed to questions about the decision’s magnitude, potential for delegation, or cross-cutting nature. That’s not because Drucker was blind to these issues; in other writing, he strongly advocated decentralizing and delegating decision making to the degree possible. We’d argue, though, that today’s organizational complexity and rapid-fire digital communications have created considerably more ambiguity about decision-making authority than was prevalent 50 years ago. Organizations haven’t kept up. That’s why the path to better decision making need not be long and complicated. It’s simply a matter of untangling the crossed web of accountability, one decision at a time.

By Aaron De Smet, Gerald Lackey, and Leigh M. Weiss

Read the Full Transcript of Jesse Williams’ Powerful Speech on Race at the BET Awards

Honoree Jesse Williams accepts the Humanitarian Award onstage during the 2016 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

Kevin Winter/BET—Getty Images for BETHonoree Jesse Williams accepts the Humanitarian Award onstage during the 2016 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

“Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real”

Grey’s Anatomy actor JesseWilliams was awarded BET’s Humanitarian Award on Sunday night. The outspoken human rights activist—who executive produced the recent documentary,Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement— delivered a powerful and political speech about the cause he’s worked so hard on.

Referencing recent victims of police brutality, Williams discussed the violence against black people and the struggles they’ve faced throughout history: “There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There is no tax they haven’t leveed against us,” he said.

The speech received a standing ovation by the audience, who went on to praise Williams on Twitter. A transcript of it has been published in multiple places, including The Washington Post and Bustle. Below, Genius‘s account of the speech:

Peace peace. Thank you, Debra. Thank you, BET. Thank you Nate Parker, Harry and Debbie Allen for participating in that .

Before we get into it, I just want to say I brought my parents out tonight. I just want to thank them for being here, for teaching me to focus on comprehension over career, and that they make sure I learn what the schools were afraid to teach us. And also thank my amazing wife for changing my life.

Now, this award – this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country – the activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.

It’s kind of basic mathematics – the more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.

Now, this is also in particular for the black women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.

Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people everyday. So what’s going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours.

Now… I got more y’all – yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday so I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on 12 year old playing alone in the park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich. Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better than it is to live in 2012 than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that toEric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Dorian Hunt.

Now the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money – that alone isn’t gonna stop this. Alright, now dedicating our lives, dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies, and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies.

There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There is no tax they haven’t leveed against us – and we’ve paid all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. “You’re free,” they keep telling us. But she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so… free.

Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now.

And let’s get a couple things straight, just a little sidenote – the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander.That’s not our job, alright – stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest, if you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.

We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil – black gold, ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is though… the thing is that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.

Thank you.

THE WOMAN CARD

r28323
How feminism and antifeminism created Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
By Jill Lepore
The G.O.P. was built by women, who brought the moral crusade to party politics.
The G.O.P. was built by women, who brought the moral crusade to party politics.
ILLUSTRATION BY CHRISTOPH NIEMANN
“It means freedom for women to vote against the party this donkey represents” read the sign on a donkey named Woodrow who, wearing a bow, was paraded through Denver by the National Woman’s Party during its campaign against the Democratic incumbent, President Wilson, in 1916. This year, the hundredth anniversary of the Woman’s Party arrived, unnoticed, on June 5th. Two days later, Hillary Clinton became the first woman to claim the Presidential nomination of a major party: the Democratic Party.

If elected, Clinton will become the first female President in the nation’s history. She will also join John Quincy Adams, James Monroe, Martin Van Buren, and James Buchanan as the only Presidents to have served both in the Senate and as Secretary of State. If she loses the election to Donald Trump, he will be the first man elected President who has never served the public either in government or in the military. Trump wants to make America great again; Clinton wants to make history. That history is less about the last glass ceiling than about a party realignment as important as the Nixon-era Southern Strategy, if less well known. Call it the Female Strategy.

For the past century, the edges of the parties have been defined by a debate about the political role and constitutional rights of women. This debate is usually reduced to cant, as if the battle between the parties were a battle between the sexes. Republicans and Democrats are “just like men and women,” Trent Lott liked to say: Democrats might be from Venus, but the G.O.P. is “the party of Mars.” Democrats have talked about a Republican “war on women”; Trump says, of Clinton, “The only card she has is the woman card.” She polls better among women; he polls better among men. The immediacy and starkness of the contrast between the candidates obscures the historical realignment hinted at in their own biographies: she used to be a Republican and he used to be a Democrat. This election isn’t a battle between the sexes. But it is a battle between the parties, each hoping to win the votes of women without losing the votes of men. It’s also marked by the sweeping changes to American politics caused by women’s entry into public life. Long before women could vote, they carried into the parties a political style they had perfected first as abolitionists and then as prohibitionists: the moral crusade. No election has been the same since.

For a very long time, the parties had no idea what to do with women. At the nation’s founding, women made an argument for female citizenship based on their role as mothers: in a republic, the civic duty of women is to raise sons who will be virtuous citizens. Federalists doffed their top hats, and no more. In the eighteen-twenties and thirties, Jacksonian democracy involved a lot of brawls: women were not allowed. When the social reformer Fanny Wright spoke at a political meeting in 1836, she was called a “female man.” Instead, women entered public affairs by way of an evangelical religious revival that emphasized their moral superiority, becoming temperance reformers and abolitionists: they wrote petitions. “The right of petitioning is the only political right that women have,” Angelina Grimké pointed out in 1837.

The Whig Party was the first to make use of women in public, if ridiculously: in 1840, Tennessee women marched wearing sashes that read “Whig Husbands or None.” Because neither the Whig nor the Democratic Party was able to address the question of slavery, a crop of new parties sprang up. Fuelled by antislavery arguments, and adopting the style of moral suasion favored by female reformers, these parties tended to be welcoming to women, and even to arguments for women’s rights.

The Republican Party was born in 1854, in Ripon, Wisconsin, when fifty-four citizens founded a party to oppose the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which threatened to create two new slave states. Three of those citizens were women. Women wrote Republican campaign literature, and made speeches on behalf of the Party. Its first Presidential nominee, in 1856, was John Frémont, but more than one Republican observed that his wife, Jessie Benton Frémont, “would have been the better candidate.” One of the Party’s most popular and best-paid speakers was Anna Dickinson, who became the first woman to speak in the Hall of the House of Representatives.

The women’s-rights movement was founded in 1848. “It started right here in New York, a place called Seneca Falls,” Clinton said in her victory speech on June 7th, after effectively clinching the Democratic nomination. Advocates of women’s rights were closely aligned with the Republican Party, and typically fought to end slavery and to earn for both black men and all women political equality with white men. In 1859, Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote to Susan B. Anthony, “When I pass the gate of the celestials and good Peter asks me where I wish to sit, I will say, ‘Anywhere so that I am neither a negro nor a woman. Confer on me, great angel, the glory of White manhood, so that henceforth I may feel unlimited freedom.’ ”

After Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Stanton and Anthony gathered four hundred thousand signatures on petitions demanding the Thirteenth Amendment. They then began fighting for the Fourteenth Amendment, which they expected to guarantee the rights and privileges of citizenship for all Americans. Instead, they were told that “this is the Negro’s hour,” and that the amendment would include the word “male,” so as to specifically exclude women. “Do you believe the African race is composed entirely of males?” Stanton asked Wendell Phillips. And then she warned, “If that word ‘male’ be inserted, it will take us a century at least to get it out.”

The insertion of the word “male” into the Fourteenth Amendment had consequences that have lasted well into this year’s Presidential election. At the time, not everyone bought the argument that it was necessary to disenfranchise women in order to secure ratification. “Can any one tell us why the great advocates of Human Equality . . . forget that when they were a weak party and needed all the womanly strength of the nation to help them on, they always united the words ‘without regard to sex, race, or color’?” one frustrated female supporter of the Republican Party asked. She could have found an answer in an observation made by Charles Sumner: “We know how the Negro will vote, but are not so sure of the women.”

This election, many female voters, especially younger ones, resent being told that they should support Hillary Clinton just because she’s a woman. It turns out that women don’t form a political constituency any more than men do; like men, women tend to vote with their families and their communities. But, in 1865, how women would vote was impossible to know. Would black women vote the way black men voted? Would white women vote like black women? The parties, led by white men, decided they’d just as soon not find out.

Women tried to gain the right to vote by simply seizing it, a plan that was known as the New Departure. Beginning in 1868, black and white women went to the polls all over the country and got arrested. Sojourner Truth tried to vote in Battle Creek, Michigan. Five black women were arrested for voting in South Carolina in 1870, months before Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to run for President. She announced that women already had the right to vote, under the privileges-and-immunities clause of the Constitution, and, in 1871, she made this argument before the House Judiciary Committee. Anthony was arrested for voting in 1872—not for Woodhull but for the straight Republican ticket—and, in the end, the Supreme Court ruled against Woodhull’s interpretation of the Constitution. Thus ended the New Departure.

Prevented from entering the electorate, women who wanted to influence public affairs were left to plead with men. For decades, these women had very little choice: whatever fight they fought, they had only the weapons of the nineteenth-century religious revival: the sermon, the appeal, the conversion, the crusade. The full measure of the influence of the female campaign on the American political style has yet to be taken. But that influence was felt first, and longest, in the Republican Party.

At the Republican nominating convention in 1872, the Party split into two, but neither faction added a suffrage plank to its platform. “We recognize the equality of all men before the law,” the Liberal Republicans declared, specifically discounting women. Stanton called the position taken by the regular Republicans—“the honest demand of any class of citizens for additional rights should be treated with respectful consideration”—not a plank but a splinter. Still, a splinter was more than suffragists ever got from the Democratic Party. In 1880, Anthony wrote a speech to deliver at the Democratic National Convention. It began, “To secure to twenty millions of women the rights of citizenship is to base your party on the eternal principles of justice.” Instead, her statement was read by a male clerk, while Anthony looked on, furious, after which, as the Times reported, “No action whatever was taken in regard to it, and Miss Anthony vexed the Convention no more.”

Close elections seemed to be good for the cause because, in a tight race, both parties courted suffragists’ support, but women soon discovered that this was fruitless: if they allied with Republicans, Democrats campaigned against Republicans by campaigning against suffrage. This led to a certain fondness for third parties—the Equal Rights Party, the Prohibition Party, the Home Protection Party. J. Ellen Foster, an Iowa lawyer who had helped establish the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, spoke at a Republican rally and cautioned that a third party rewards women’s support with nothing more than flattery: “It gives to women seats in conventions and places their names on meaningless committees and tickets impossible of success.” In 1892, Foster founded the Women’s National Republican Association, telling the delegates at the Party’s Convention that year, “We are here to help you. And we have come to stay.”

In the second decade of the twentieth century, anticipating the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, the parties scrambled to secure the loyalty of voters who would double the size of the electorate, no less concerned than Sumner had been about how women would vote. “With a suddenness and force that have left observers gasping women have injected themselves into the national campaign this year in a manner never before dreamed of in American politics,” the New York Herald reported in 1912. When Theodore Roosevelt founded the Progressive Party, it adopted a suffrage plank, and he aggressively courted women. He considered appointing Jane Addams to his cabinet. At the Progressive Party’s Convention, Addams gave the second nominating speech. Then she grabbed a “Votes for Woman” flag and marched it across the platform and up and down the auditorium. Roosevelt had tried to win the Republican nomination by bribing black delegates, who were then shut out of the Progressive Party’s Convention. When Addams got back to Chicago, she found a telegram from a black newspaper editor: “Woman suffrage will be stained with Negro Blood unless women refuse all alliance with Roosevelt.”

Alice Paul, a feminist with a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania who’d been arrested for fighting for suffrage in England, decided that American women ought to form their own party. “The name Woman’s Party is open to a quite natural misunderstanding,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman admitted, introducing the National Woman’s Party in 1916. It wasn’t a party, per se; it was a group of women whose strategy was to protest the existing parties, on the theory that no party could be trusted to advance the interests of women.

Terrified by the very idea of a party of women, the D.N.C. formed a “Women’s Division” in 1917, the R.N.C. in 1918. The G.O.P. pursued a policy of “complete amalgamation,” its chairman pledging “to check any tendency toward the formation of a separate women’s party.” White women worked for both parties; black women worked only for the G.O.P., to fight the Democratic Party, which had become the party of Southern whites. “The race is doomed unless Negro Women take an active part in local, state and national politics,” the National League of Republican Colored Women said.

After 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt, the longtime head of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, turned it into the League of Women Voters, providing voter education and other aids to good government. Meanwhile, she told women to join the parties: “The only way to get things in this country is to find them on the inside of the political party.” Inside those parties, women fought for equal representation. The Women’s Division of the D.N.C. implemented a rule mandating an equal number of male and female delegates, in 1920. In 1923, the Republican National Committee introduced rule changes—billed as “seats for women”—that added bonus delegates for states that had voted Republican in the previous election. But the Democrats’ fifty-fifty rule was observed only in the breach, and, as both Catherine E. Rymph and Melanie Gustafson have pointed out in their rich histories of women in the Republican Party, the real purpose of adding the new G.O.P. seats was to reduce the influence of black Southern delegates.

The League of Women Voters was nonpartisan, but the National Woman’s Party remained antipartisan. It focussed on securing passage of an Equal Rights Amendment, drafted by Paul, who had lately earned a law degree, and first introduced into Congress in 1923. Yet, for all the work of the Woman’s Party, the G.O.P. was the party of women or, rather, of white women, for most of the twentieth century. In the late nineteen-twenties and thirties, black men and women left the Republican Party, along with smaller numbers of white women, eventually forming a New Deal coalition of liberals, minorities, labor unionists, and, from the South, poor whites. F.D.R. appointed Molly Williams Dewson the director of the D.N.C.’s Women’s Division, which grew to eighty thousand members.
In 1937, determined to counter the efforts of the lady known as “More Women” Dewson, the R.N.C. appointed Marion Martin its assistant chairman; during her tenure, she founded a national federation of women’s clubs whose membership grew to four hundred thousand. Martin, thirty-seven and unmarried, had a degree in economics and had served a combined four terms in the Maine legislature. She led a moral crusade against the New Deal. In 1940, she also got the R.N.C. to pass its own fifty-fifty rule and to endorse the Equal Rights Amendment, formally, in its platform. This went only so far. In 1946, Martin argued that party women needed more power. “We need it not because we are feminists but because there are a great many non-partisan women’s organizations that do wield an influence in this country,” she said. Five days later, she was forced to resign.

Hillary Rodham was born in Chicago in 1947. In 1960, when Richard Nixon ran against J.F.K., she checked voter lists for the G.O.P. By then, the majority of Republican Party workers were female. During the Cold War, the G.O.P. boasted about “the women who work on the home front, ringing the doorbells, filling out registration cards, and generally doing the housework of government.” As the historian Paula Baker has pointed out, party work is just like other forms of labor; women work harder, are paid less, are rarely promoted, and tend to enter a field when men begin to view it as demeaning. The elephant was the right symbol for the Party, one senator said, because it has “a vacuum cleaner in front and a rug beater behind.”

Betty Farrington, one of Martin’s successors, turned the women’s federation into a powerhouse of zealous crusaders. After Truman defeated Dewey, in 1948, Farrington wanted the G.O.P. to find its strongman:

How thankful we would have been if a leader had appeared to show us the path to the promised land of our hope. The world needs such a man today. He is certain to come sooner or later. But we cannot sit idly by in the hope of his coming. Besides his advent depends partly on us. The mere fact that a leader is needed does not guarantee his appearance. People must be ready for him, and we, as Republican women, in our clubs, prepare for him.

That man, many Republican voters today appear to believe, is Donald J. Trump, born in New York in 1946.

Political parties marry interests to constituencies. They are not defined by whether they attract women, particularly. Nor are they defined by their positions on equal rights for women and men. But no plausible history of American politics can ignore, first, the influence of a political style perfected, over a century, by citizens who, denied the franchise, were forced to plead, and, second, the effects of the doubling of the size of the electorate.

The Republican Party that is expected to nominate Trump was built by housewives and transformed by their political style, which men then made their own. The moral crusade can be found among nineteenth-century Democrats—William Jennings Bryan, say—but in the twentieth century it became the hallmark of the conservative wing of the Republican Party; it is the style, for instance, of Ted Cruz. This began in 1950, when the Republican Women’s Club of Ohio County, West Virginia, invited as its principal speaker for Lincoln Day Senator Joseph McCarthy. It was during this speech that McCarthy said he had a list of subversives working at the State Department. “The great difference between our Western Christian world and the atheistic Communist world is not political—it is moral,” McCarthy said. His rhetoric was that of the nineteenth-century women’s crusade. The great crusader Barry Goldwater said in 1955, “If it were not for the National Federation of Republican Women, there would not be a Republican Party.” That year, Republican women established Kitchen Cabinets, appointing a female equivalent to every member of Eisenhower’s cabinet; their job was to share “political recipes on G.O.P. accomplishments with the housewives of the nation,” by sending monthly bulletins on “What’s Cooking in Washington.” One member of the Kitchen Cabinet was Phyllis Schlafly.

In 1963, Schlafly nominated Goldwater to speak at a celebration marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the National Federation of Republican Women. In a straw poll taken after Goldwater delivered his speech, 262 out of 293 Federation delegates chose him. Meanwhile, Margaret Chase Smith was drafted into the race, a liberal alternative. As the historian Ellen Fitzpatrick recounts in a terrific new book, “The Highest Glass Ceiling,” Smith was the first woman elected on her own to the Senate and the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress. Asked why she agreed to run against Goldwater, she once said, “There was nowhere to go but the Presidency.” She was the first and boldest member of the Senate to oppose McCarthy, in a speech she made from the floor, known as the Declaration of Conscience: “I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny—Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.” At the Convention in 1964, she refused to endorse Goldwater, and denied him her delegates.

Young Trump had little interest in politics. He liked the movies. In 1964, he graduated from military school, where he’d been known as a ladies’ man, and thought about going to the University of Southern California, to study film. Hillary Rodham was a “Goldwater Girl.” But Smith was her hero. She decided to run for president of her high-school class, against a field of boys, and lost, “which did not surprise me,” she wrote in her memoir, “but still hurt, especially because one of my opponents told me I was ‘really stupid if I thought a girl could be elected president.’ ”

It’s right about here that the G.O.P. began to lose Hillary Rodham. In 1965, as a freshman at Wellesley, she was president of the Young Republicans; she brought with her to college Goldwater’s “The Conscience of a Conservative.” But Goldwater’s defeat led to a struggle for the future of the Party, and that struggle turned on Schlafly. In 1966, Elly Peterson, a Michigan state party chairman and supporter of George Romney, tried to keep Schlafly from becoming the president of the National Federation. “The nut fringe is beautifully organized,” Peterson complained. At a three-thousand-woman Federation convention in 1967, Schlafly was narrowly defeated. Three months later, she launched her monthly newsletter. Rejecting the nascent women’s-liberation movement, she nevertheless blamed sexism for the G.O.P.’s failure to fully embrace its most strenuous conservatives:

The Republican Party is carried on the shoulders of the women who do the work in the precincts, ringing doorbells, distributing literature, and doing all the tiresome, repetitious campaign tasks. Many men in the Party frankly want to keep the women doing the menial work, while the selection of candidates and the policy decisions are taken care of by the men in the smoke-filled rooms.

In the summer of 1968, Trump graduated from Wharton, where, he later said, he spent most of his time reading the listings of foreclosures on federally financed housing projects. That September, in Atlantic City, feminists staged a protest at the Miss America pageant, the sort of pageant that Trump would one day buy, run, and cherish. They carried signs reading “Welcome to the Cattle Auction.”

Rodham, a twenty-year-old Capitol Hill intern, attended the Republican National Convention in Miami as a supporter of the antiwar candidate, Nelson Rockefeller. For the first time since 1940, the G.O.P. dropped from its platform its endorsement of equal rights. Rodham went home to see her family, and, hiding the fact from her parents, drove downtown to watch the riots outside the Democratic National Convention. One month too young to vote, she’d supported the antiwar Democrat, Eugene McCarthy, before the Convention, but later said she would probably have voted for the Party’s nominee, Hubert Humphrey.

In 1969, Rodham, senior class president at Wellesley, became the first student invited to deliver a commencement address, a speech that was featured in Life. In 1970, a leader of her generation, a student at Yale Law School, and wearing a black armband mourning the students killed at Kent State, she spoke about her opposition to the Vietnam War at a convention of the League of Women Voters, on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary. She had become a feminist, and a Democrat.

What followed is more familiar. Between 1964 and 1980, Schlafly’s arm of the Party steadily gained control of the G.O.P., which began courting evangelical Christians, including white male Southern Democrats alienated by their party’s civil-rights agenda. In the wake of Roe v. Wade, and especially after the end of the Cold War, the Republican Party’s new crusaders turned their attention from Communism to abortion. The Democratic Party became the party of women, partly by default. For a long time, it could have gone another way.

In 1971, Hillary Rodham met Bill Clinton, Donald Trump took over the family business, and Gloria Steinem, Tanya Melich, Bella Abzug, and Shirley Chisholm helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus, which, like the National Woman’s Party, sought to force both parties to better represent women and to gain passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. At the 1972 G.O.P. Convention, in Miami, Republican feminists demanded that the Party restore its E.R.A. plan to the platform. They won, but at a cost. After the Convention, Schlafly founded stop era.

The Democratic Party, meanwhile, was forging a new coalition. “A new hat, or rather a bonnet, was tossed into the Democratic Presidential race today,” Walter Cronkite said on CBS News, when Chisholm, the first black woman to be elected to Congress, announced her bid. She went all the way to the Convention. Chisholm said, “You can go to that Convention and you can yell, ‘Woman power! Here I come!’ You can yell, ‘Black power! Here I come!’ The only thing those hard-nosed boys are going to understand at that Convention: ‘How many delegates you got?’ ” She got a hundred and fifty-two.

By 1973, Trump was making donations to the Democratic Party. “The simple fact is that contributing money to politicians is very standard and accepted for a New York City developer,” he explains in “The Art of the Deal.” He also appeared, for the first time, in a story in the Times, with the headline “major landlord accused of antiblack bias in city.” The Department of Justice had charged Trump and his father with violating the 1968 Fair Housing Act. “We never have discriminated,” Trump told the Times, “and we never would.”

In 1974, Rodham moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked for the special counsel preparing for the possible impeachment of Richard Nixon. The next year, she married Bill Clinton, though she didn’t take his name. The G.O.P., weakened by Watergate, and thinking to stanch the flow of departing women, elected as party chair Mary Louise Smith, an ardent feminist. In 1975, some thirty G.O.P. feminists formed the Republican Women’s Task Force to support the E.R.A., reproductive rights, affirmative action, federally funded child care, and the extension of the Equal Pay Act.

The shift came in 1976. Rodham went to the Democratic Convention, at Madison Square Garden. Schlafly went to the Republican Convention, in Kansas City*, where, as the political scientist Jo Freeman has argued, feminists won the battle but lost the war. For the nomination, Ford, a supporter of the E.R.A., defeated Reagan, an opponent, but the platform committee defeated the E.R.A. by a single vote.

In 1980, Republican feminists knew they’d lost when Reagan won the nomination; even so moderate a Republican as George Romney called supporters of the E.R.A. “moral perverts,” and the platform committee urged a constitutional ban on abortion. Tanya Melich, a Republican feminist, began talking about a “Republican War against Women,” a charge Democrats happily made their own. Mary Crisp, a longtime R.N.C. co-chair, was forced out, and declared of the party of Lincoln and of Anthony, “We are reversing our position and are about to bury the rights of over a hundred million American women under a heap of platitudes.”

Buried they remain. Until 1980, during any Presidential election for which reliable data exist and in which there had been a gender gap, the gap had run one way: more women than men voted for the Republican candidate. That changed when Reagan became the G.O.P. nominee; more women than men supported Carter, by eight percentage points. Since then, the gender gap has never favored a G.O.P. Presidential candidate. The Democratic Party began billing itself as the party of women. By 1987, Trump had become a Republican.

In the Reagan era, Republican strategists believed that, in trading women for men, they’d got the better end of the deal. As the Republican consultant Susan Bryant pointed out, Democrats “do so badly among men that the fact that we don’t do quite as well among women becomes irrelevant.” And that’s more or less where it lies.

With the end of the E.R.A., whose chance at ratification expired in 1982, both parties abandoned a political settlement necessary to the stability of the republic. The entrance of women into politics on terms that are, fundamentally and constitutionally, unequal to men’s has produced a politics of interminable division, infused with misplaced and dreadful moralism. Republicans can’t win women; when they win, they win without them, by winning with men. Democrats need to win both the black vote and the female vote. Trump and Clinton aren’t likely to break that pattern. Trump, with his tent-revival meetings, is crusading not only against Clinton and against Obama but against immigrants, against Muslims, and, in the end, against every group of voters that has fled the Republican Party, as he rides with his Four Horsemen: Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.

“This is a movement of the American people,” Trump wrote in an e-mail to supporters. “And the American people never lose.” It took a very long time, and required the work of the Republican Party, to change the meaning of “the American people” to include everyone. It hasn’t taken very long at all for Trump to change it back. The next move is Clinton’s, and her party’s. ♦

*
Jill Lepore is a staff writer and a professor of history at Harvard. “The Secret History of Wonder Woman” is her latest book. MORE
SIGN UP FOR THE DAILY NEWSLETTER: THE BEST OF THE NEW YORKER EVERY DAY.

BY JILL LEPORE

 

10 BRITISH MILLENIALS EXPLAIN WHY THEY VOTED LEAVE OR REMAIN

landscape-1466802521-gettyimages-542655652

On June 24, 2016, British citizens woke up to a brand new world. In a stunning upset, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, becoming the first major country to voluntarily exit the EU. The final tally–roughly 52% voted to leave, 48% to remain–reflected a country starkly divided by political beliefs.

On social media, many young people bemoaned that their future had been determined by a older generation, given that a poll released on the same day indicated that 75% of people between the ages of 18-24 voted to remain.

Follow
Ben Riley-Smith ✔ @benrileysmith
HOW AGES VOTED
(YouGov poll)
18-24: 75% Remain
25-49: 56% Remain
50-64: 44% Remain
65+: 39% Remain#EUref
3:24 PM – 23 Jun 2016
38,451 38,451 Retweets 18,717 18,717 likes
Here, 10 British citizens under the age of 40 explain the reasons behind their vote.

Alex Hawley, 27, Trainee Solicitor. I voted Remain.
Alex Hawley
The EU provides an extra tier of protection against our own government. Human rights protection has not fallen away with Brexit, but protection for us as consumers, employees, and members of various underrepresented or vulnerable groups is at risk.

Guy Laurence Dunkley, 26, Salesman. I voted Remain.
Guy Laurence Dunkley
I am fully aware of the European Union’s faults. For starters its institutions are plagued with inefficiency and accountability problems and that isn’t even beginning to mention its mismanagement of the refugee crisis. Apart from the purely selfish reasons such as my pay being in pounds and my soon-to-be-born half-Dutch niece, I feel our membership was important for symbolic reasons. Britain has always faced outwards to the world and building stable relationships with our European neighbors has been our biggest diplomatic success over the last 50 years. I feel we have turned our back on our natural allies and displayed a frankly nasty, ignorant and fearful side to our national character. I fear the vote will result will result in the breakup of the UK and over 300 years of shared experience, learning and overall achievement.

Anthony Boutall, 28, Director of Executive Search Company. I voted Leave.
Anthony Boutall
I am so glad that Britain has voted against the scaremongering and defeatism of the Remain campaign, instead choosing to re-claim democratic self control and re-energize our global vocation. Inside the EU’s customs union, we have missed out on global free trade deals, waiting at the back of a queue of 27 other countries who rarely agree unanimously on the minutia of detail in those trade agreements. Outside the EU, we can make the most of our global links, language, and world-renowned services industry. Inside the EU, we have been forced to accept lawmaking from an unelected body in another country. Only now, outside the EU, will the buck stop in Downing Street and with democratically elected leaders. This is a common bond between English speaking cultures, and one that we should be ecstatic to reignite.

Matt Graham, 37, Screenwriter. I voted Remain.
Matt Graham
I believe in the European Union: a group of millions of people who come from different cultures and yet still manage to co-operate with one another. Personally, I also feel European, of British extraction, part of a greater whole: the family of European nations. I don’t believe that Nationalism is the answer for the UK, which is a country made up after all of four different nations itself – nations that have succeeded in co-operating with each other over the centuries. I believe in the need for co-operation in an increasingly multicultural world, where nation states are less important. I believe in the need to stamp out intolerance and racism, and most seriously of all, I believe in the need for us to co-operate in a world in which global warming and resource scarcity are the single key issues that face all mankind. The more I travel in the world, the more I learn one single lesson: that people are the same, and that its only by co-operation that we succeed in overcoming the dangers facing us. That’s why I voted Remain – and even after yesterday, I Remain hopeful.

Brogan Kear, 26, Office Assistant. I voted Leave.
Borgan Kear
The EU and Europe are vastly different things. I adore Europe, which is precisely why I am so frustrated by what its Government is doing to it. The EU is a many-layered Governmental system, not a warm and fuzzy feeling of co-operation and love among European neighbors.We are not fighting against the concept of harmony between European nations and people- quite the opposite. We are fighting against a Parliament in which the representatives we *do* elect have no power to propose or repeal legislation. We are pushing for individual countries to be able to control their own economies. This is a positive vision of democracy and self-determination for all countries, not some spiteful act of self-isolation. It is not a protest against unity and co-operation, but a protest against the notion that “one size fits all” in terms of policy being applied to vastly different countries with vastly different economies and political climates. I believe in every country’s right to govern itself. I believe that when we sell more to the EU than they sell to us.I believe that an immigration system favoring people with European passports while making it difficult for talented people from the Commonwealth and elsewhere is unfair. I believe in our ability to take any legislative ideas from the EU which are beneficial to society and apply them voluntarily, and I believe we should have the right to say “no” to laws or regulations which are restrictive or damaging to businesses and industries in this country. I believe in the successes of Norway and Switzerland, who have rejected the EU and flourished. I believe that the claims that we are leaping into the “unknown” are easily disproved by the fact that the majority of the world’s countries have never been in the European Union and are managing just fine. I believe in Britain, and I believe in Europe.

Neil King, 36, Criminal Barrister. I voted Leave.
Neil King
I did so because, the referendum having been called, if we voted to stay the EU would have seen that as a rubber stamp for further federalism and would have ignored the traditional British threat of “our people want out, so give us what we want or else” that we’ve been deploying for years. I also think the 20th century customs union is not a model for the 21st century. Being in the EU inhibited our ability to trade with Africa, China, India and the US. I am also concerned by unbridled Eastern European migration. It has completely transformed the nature of market towns in the East of England, as reflected by their strong out vote.

Calum Fleming, 25, Writer/Actor. I voted Remain.
Calum Fleming
I voted to remain in the EU because I believe that in a smaller world you have to think bigger than your borders. When I am in Glasgow, I am reminded I am from Edinburgh. When I am in England, I am resolutely Scottish. When I am in Europe, I am sure to tell people I’m British. When I am in America, I think of myself as a European. I feel that really we are all human beings, we all deserve equality and we all deserve a good chance. Sure, the UK may have a strong economic standing that attracts immigration, but this equation that immigration equals less for the current population seems to ignite in many some old imperialistic and nationalist views. In contrast, I voted to leave the UK when the Scottish referendum happened and it was for exactly this reason. I felt that rural England is drowning out the progressive views that Scotland has. Really it’s like we’re being held back by readers who don’t know the difference between an EU migrant, a non EU migrant and a refugee. One has free travel, one has to combat a tier system, and one has to flee from wars that we started. To every Leave voter I have spoken to, they are the same- immigrants. The main reason I voted to remain is because I see a brighter future where countries all work together for the benefit of the human race, and not just for themselves.

Kate Bramson, 24, Political Consultant. I voted Leave.
Kate Bramson
For me, I believe that as a country we should be looking worldwide, seizing the opportunities which the world has to offer. Since the referendum was put to the public, I have questioned what our future prospects will be both in the EU and outside. The deal which Cameron had struck did not go far enough on reform and that for me was the biggest barrier to our future.

Will Abberley, 31, University Lecturer. I voted Remain.
Will Abberley
This is one of the worst days of my life. For three years I’ve been worrying about this referendum ever since Cameron promised one and today, finally, my fears have been realized. But judging by the attitudes of many (particularly older) Brexit-voters, no one seemed to realise the national suicide this was going to be. It was like a combination of mischievous nose-thumbing at the establishment and ridiculous imperial nostalgia. Like when a semi-senile grandparent tells you no one used to lock their doors when they were young and the sun shone brightly every day, and you’re just like, uh-huh, OK, grandad, whatever – except now that has actually become the official government strategy for the future. There is no plan, nothing. Boris is a complete hypocrite chancer who rode the coat-tails of this Brexit mania in the hope becoming PM. I am really, seriously worried about the future. Like, 1930s worried.

Meredith Lloyd, 28, Political Researcher. I voted Leave.
Meredith Lloyd
The reason I voted (and have campaigned for several years) for Britain to leave the European Union, is the love I have for my country, and my belief we have a role to play in the world and not just Europe. After over 40 years of membership, it is time to unshackle ourselves from a political project that has become protectionist, introspective, and unfit for purpose. The EU’s vision for the future, of further and further political, social and financial integration, was increasingly at odds with British values. Outside of the E.U., British people will be free to govern themselves again, our business will be freer to trade more globally, not merely with the near continent, and Britain will be able to strengthen and forge new trade and diplomatic relations with neighbors across the world, whist maintaining the close and important ties with our friends in Europe. This is not a question of pulling up the drawbridge or isolationism, it is about broadening our horizons. The British people have rejected the nay-sayers who say we are too small to make it alone. This is a victory for courage, democracy, and freedom, and above all is a new opportunity. We have said “No and Goodbye” to the European Union, but we still say “Yes” to the countries of Europe, and now also say “Hello” to the wider world.

John Oliver on Brexit Vote: ‘There Are No F—— Do Overs’

A warning for Americans thinking of voting for Trump.

A week after dedicating the bulk of an episode of HBO’sLast Week Tonight to laying out the potential pitfalls of a U.K. decision to leave the European Union, British comedian John Oliver returned on Sunday night with a condemnation of the Brexit referendum results.

Discussing the seismic aftereffects of the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU, the British-born Oliver kicked off Sunday’s show by joking that after the events of the past week the name, the United Kingdom “is beginning to sound a bit sarcastic.” He went on: “Because the U.K. this week voted to leave the European Union, a decision that has shaken the world. And not in a, ‘Muhammad Ali beating Sonny Liston’ kind of way. More in a, ‘Those IKEA meatballs you love contain horse kind of way.’ And, the fallout in Britain has been swift and significant.”

In addition to the global financial fallout in the wake of the U.K.’s historic decision, Oliver noted the announcement that British Prime Minister David Cameron will resign as a result of the vote, due to the fact that Cameron had supported the “Remain” camp in the vote. And he talked about the upheaval that will ensue from the Brexit vote.

“It seems like whoever the next U.K. prime minister is going to be, whether it’s Boris Johnson or a racist tea kettle, they are going to be in for a rough few years,” he said.

Even though he said he’d normally take pleasure in Cameron leaving his post, he couldn’t now because he knew how horrible the Brexit fallout will be for the U.K. “David Cameron announced he would be stepping down in the wake of the vote, which should make me happy, but in this situation, it doesn’t,” he said. “It’s like catching an ice cream cone out of the air because a child was hit by a car. I mean, I’ll eat it, I’ll eat it — but it’s tainted somehow.”

Warning to America

Oliver also discussed Donald Trump’s reaction to the Brexit results after the presumptive GOP nominee compared the “Leave” supporters in the U.K. to his own supporters in the U.S. Oliver’s response? “You might think, ‘Well that is not going to happen to us in America. We’re not going to listen to some ridiculously haired buffoon, peddling lies and nativism in the hopes of riding a protest vote into power.’ Well let Britain tell you, it can happen, and when it does, there are no f—ing do-overs,” the comedian said.

 

‘Inspiration porn’

The show then turned its attention to the 2016 Olympic Games, which kick off in Rio de Janeiro later this summer and which Oliver jokingly described as “your biannual reminder that NBC exists.” After quickly skewering the often treacly video segments featuring athletes’ backstories that typically run during networks’ Olympics coverage—Oliver called them “inspiration porn”—the comedian turned his attention to recent concerns over doping and drug-testing at this year’s games.

Oliver quoted a report estimating that 29% of athletes at the 2011 world championships admitted anonymously to doping within the previous year. He also noted that the incentive for athletes to cheat is immense, considering how much money is on the line for them as well as for the networks broadcasting the event and the organizations hosting. “There is a massive financial ecosystem dependent on spectacular athletic achievement in scandal-free games,” he said.

For instance, NBC has already sold more than $1 billion worth of advertising around this year’s Olympics and the network, in turn, is paying billions of dollars to the International Olympic Committee for the rights to televise the next several Olympic games. And, that’s not to mention the wide range of sponsor companies that strike deals with Olympic medal-winners to endorse their products. (“No professional swimmer wants a sandwich in the pool,” Oliver said with mock incredulity in reference to U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps’ commercials for sandwich chain Subway.)

In trying to explain how, despite strict testing, some athletes still get away with doping. Oliver displayed a graphic showing the convoluted process of how athletes are tested by various anti-doping agencies that receive oversight and funding from governments as well as the IOC itself. Oliver called the system “a sprawling mess” while pointing out how easy it is for corruption to spread throughout the system.

 

“This is all actually making FIFA look good . . . and, they’re basically just a mafia with slightly better branding,” Oliver said of soccer’s international governing body. It was an apt and scathing comparison from Oliver, considering the scale of scandals and corruption that have embroiled FIFA over the years.

To finish the show, Oliver introduced a video parodying the types of inspirational segments he’d mocked earlier in the show, except Last Week Tonight‘s version showed a fake athlete who trains for the Olympics by downing massive amounts of pills while practicing his preposterous excuses for how illegal substances could wind up in his bloodstream.

This story has been updated to include the video from John Oliver’s show.

100 Examples of Putting Science in Its Rightful Place

President Obama’s leadership has had a profound impact in building U.S. capacity in science, technology, and innovation.
President Obama meets with John Holdren, Office of Science and Technology Policy, in the Oval Office prior to Stem Cell Executive Order "Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells" and Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity, March 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama meets with John Holdren, Office of Science and Technology Policy, in the Oval Office prior to Stem Cell Executive Order “Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells” and Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity, March 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama blows a bubble while talking with nine-year-old Jacob Leggette about his experiments with additive and subtractive manufacturing with a 3D printer, his project that was part of the White House Science Fair in the Blue Room of the White House, April 13, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama blows a bubble while talking with nine-year-old Jacob Leggette about his experiments with additive and subtractive manufacturing with a 3D printer, his project that was part of the White House Science Fair in the Blue Room of the White House, April 13, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

On January 20, 2009, President Obama issued a simple and powerful pledge: to restore science to its rightful place. Coming into office, the President was committed to reinvigorating the American scientific enterprise through a strong commitment to basic and applied research, innovation, and education; to restoring integrity to science policy; and most importantly, to making decisions on the basis of evidence, rather than ideology.

Today, the Administration is releasing a list of 100 examples of the profound impact that the President’s leadership has had in building U.S. capacity in science, technology, and innovation and bringing that capacity to bear on national goals. The release of this list also marks the milestone of Dr. John P. Holdren becoming, on June 18, 2016, the longest-serving President’s Science Advisor since Vannevar Bush pioneered a similar role while serving Presidents Roosevelt and Truman during and after World War II.

Be sure to check out the full list, but here is just a sampling:

  • Increased science, technology, and innovation talent in the Administration. The President created three new high-level science, technology, and innovation positions in the White House—a U.S. Chief Technology Officer, a U.S. Chief Information Officer, and a Chief Data Scientist. Through the U.S. Digital Service, GSA’s 18F, and the Presidential Innovation Fellows program—each created by this Administration—more than 450 engineers, designers, data scientists, and product managers have signed on for a tour of duty to serve in over 25 agencies alongside dedicated civil servants to improve how government delivers modern digital services to the American people. He also reinvigorated the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).
  • Restored scientific integrity, opened up data, and enhanced collaboration with citizens. On the first day of his Administration, the President issued a Presidential Memorandum calling on all the agencies in the Federal Government to work together to create “an unprecedented level of openness” in government and to “establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration,” and soon thereafter issued a Presidential Memorandum on scientific integrity to ensure the public is able to “trust the science and scientific process informing public-policy decisions.” To date, more than 180,000 Federal datasets and collections have been made available to the public on Data.gov, and more than 4 million full-text scientific journal articles and growing volumes of scientific research data are now free and accessible to the public via agency-designated repositories. Since 2010, more than 80 Federal agencies have engaged 250,000 Americans through more than 700 challenges on Challenge.gov to address tough problems.
  • Enacted a historic increase in research and development, and maintained it as a priority despite tight fiscal constraints. With $18.3 billion in research and development funding, the Recovery Act of February 2009 was part of the largest annual increase in research and development funding in America’s history, and every President’s budget proposed by President Obama since then has consistently prioritized research funding.
  • Prioritized and encouraged broad participation in STEM education. The President’s Educate to Innovate campaign, launched in November 2009, has resulted in more than $1 billion in private investment to improve K-12 STEM education. The Nation is on track to meet the President’s January 2011 State of the Union goal to put 100,000 additional excellent STEM teachers in America’s classrooms by 2021. The President has helped showcase to students—including through events such as the White House Science Fair—that science, math, engineering, and computer programming are deeply compelling subjects that can help solve problems locally and globally.
  • Launched a national network for manufacturing innovation. The Administration has launched a national network of nine Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, supported by over $600 million in Federal investment and matched by more than $1.2 billion in non-Federal investment, and is on a course to launch 15 institutes by January 2017.
  • Expanded entrepreneurship across the nation. From 2014 to now, the Small Business Administration has funded over 100 startup accelerator programs in every corner of the country, serving well over 3,000 startups that have collectively raised over $850 million in capital. As part of the first-ever White House Demo Day in August 2015, 40 leading venture-capital firms, with more than $100 billion under management, committed to advance opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities, and more than a dozen major technology companies committed to new actions to ensure diverse recruitment and hiring.
  • Driven innovation in health care. In January 2015, President Obama launched the Precision Medicine Initiative, providing more than $200 million to accelerate a new era of medicine that delivers the right treatment at the right time to the right person, taking into account individuals’ health histories, genes, microbiomes, environments, and lifestyles. In January 2016, the President tasked Vice President Biden with heading a new national effort to end cancer—by encouraging public and private efforts to double the rate of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care in order to make a decade’s worth of advances in 5 years. In addition, President Obama launched the BRAIN Initiative in April 2013 to develop neuro-technologies that could expand our understanding of how the brain works and uncover new ways to treat, prevent, and cure brain disorders. This effort has already catalyzed $1.5 billion in public and private funds. Further, the President signed an executive order in September 2014 directing key Federal departments and agencies to take action to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • As part of a historic push to take action on climate change, contributed to the rapidly declining cost of renewable-energy technologies and issued new greenhouse gas and fuel-economy standards. The United States now generates more than three times as much electricity from wind and 30 times as much from solar as it did in 2008; and the cost for wind electricity in good-to-excellent sites has fallen roughly 40 percent, and the cost for solar electricity has fallen by 50-60 percent. The Administration also released greenhouse gas and fuel-economy standards for light duty and heavy duty vehicles. The fuel-economy standards for passenger vehicles are the toughest in U.S. history and, once fully implemented, will save drivers as much as $8,000 in fuel costs over the life of their new vehicle while avoiding 6 billion tons of greenhouse gas pollution and reducing American dependence on foreign oil by 2 million barrels per day in 2025.
  • Expanded national, local, and mobile broadband access. Under the Recovery Act, the Administration added or improved more than 114,000 miles of broadband infrastructure, making high-speed connections available to more than 25,000 community institutions. Through aggressive spectrum policy and private investment, more than 98 percent of Americans have access to fast 4G/LTE mobile broadband.
  • Fostered a burgeoning private space sector and increased capabilities for our journey to Mars. Working with NASA, American companies have developed new spacecraft that are delivering cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) and will start ferrying astronauts there by the end of 2017. The Administration’s investments in space technology development, including through the Space Technology Mission Directorate created by NASA in 2013, are developing less-expensive capabilities for NASA’s exploration missions and for the President’s goal of a human mission to Mars in the 2030s. Due to the Administration’s leadership, ISS’s lifetime has been extended twice, and the Station is now due to continue operating until at least 2024.

SEE ALL 100

Is It Really Possible That Professional Development Doesn’t Work?

TNTP’s new report, “The Mirage,” is essential reading for anyone interested in educator effectiveness. It’s smartly researched and delivers an uppercut of a conclusion: Today’s professional development doesn’t work.

There’s just one small problem. I’m not sure I believe it.

To trust its findings would mean admitting that we’ve wasted hundreds of billions of dollars. It would mean we’ve misled millions of educators and families about improving the profession. It would mean a load-bearing wall of the Race-to-the-Top and ESEA-waiver talent architecture is made of sand. All of this would be hard to swallow, but I suppose it’s possible.

But to accept and act on these findings would mean putting our full faith in today’s approach to evaluating educator effectiveness. It would mean believing generations of schools, school systems, PD providers, institutions of higher education, and parents were wrong when it comes to assessing and improving teacher performance. For me, this is a bridge too far.

The study encompassed four large school operators and surveyed thousands of educators. It used multiple measures to assess teacher effectiveness and tried to find variables that influenced whether a teacher improved (things like “growth mindset,” school culture, and access to different types of PD).

Some of the findings are staggering. The districts spent about $18,000 per teacher, per year on development. This amounts to nineteen full school days of PD annually. Despite all of this, “most teachers do not appear to improve substantially from year to year.” The average veteran teacher (ten years of experience or beyond) “has a growth rate barely above zero.”

Moreover, the researchers found no commonalities that distinguished teachers who did improve from those who didn’t. “We looked at dozens of variables…every development strategy, no matter how intensive, seems to be the equivalent of a coin flip.”

The measures of effectiveness seem to be wholly untethered to teachers’ self-assessments. Despite wide variations in assessed performance, more than 80 percent of teachers gave themselves a four or five on a five-point scale. More than 60 percent of teachers found to be low-performing rated themselves as a four or five. Among teachers whose classroom practice was found to have declined, the vast majority still said their instruction had improved.

If TNTP is right, we should be beside ourselves. We’re spending billions, most teachers aren’t seeing their performance rise, and we have no idea why improving teachers are getting better. If TNTP is right, teachers aren’t getting better like they think they are.

If TNTP is right, a major federal push seems terribly unfair. The teacher evaluation reforms encouraged by RTTT and ESEA waivers were sold with promises that they weren’t meant to punish teachers, but instead as a means to help them improve. Now we have state laws with tough consequences for teachers who persistently underperform, but we’re saying, “Oops, we actually don’t know how to help you get better.”

If TNTP is right, this would be like dystopian YA lit meets education policy—bleak as the day is long.

Maybe I’m whistling past the graveyard or just obstinately refusing to accept evidence. But it seems implausible to me that our systems of developing educators have had virtually no utility. So I want to offer an alternative hypothesis. My point is not to defend PD. It’s to question how we’re assessing educators.

To be clear, I think that for way too long, our systems for evaluating teachers were primitive, poorly implemented, too detached from student performance, and warped by policies that disincentivized critical ratings. I believe that the last several years of reforms have moved us in the right direction; I’m a supporter of new observation rubrics, student surveys, SLOs, VAMs/SGPs, and other innovative ways of triangulating teacher performance. But I also believe that we still have miles to go.

I’m of the mind that we’re still not fully or fairly articulating—at least in the policy world—what it means to be a great and improving teacher. So my inclination is to rely (probably more heavily than my reform-oriented friends) on the accumulated wisdom reflected in current practice. That means I’m skeptical when any organization, even one that I respect as much as TNTP, argues that longstanding practice is misguided.

My immediate reaction after reading “The Mirage” was to advocate for a total realignment of PD. But now I’m not so sure, because I don’t think we’re clear about the target at which it should be aimed—what it means to be that great, improving educator. My view is that we still have lots of work to do here.

For example, many of us increasingly believe that teaching “grit” is invaluable, but the leading researcher wants to pump the brakes on how it’s measured and tied to teachers. This very good piece by Peter Greene argues that since public schools emanate from communities, each community should have a say in what effective teaching in its schools looks like. Robert Pondiscio and Kate Stringer recently made a compelling case about the civic role of schools, which is seldom discussed in the context of educator evaluations. Some schools seem to be fostering social capital inside and outside their walls, but we’re still not sure how. The “Moneyball for Education” project argues there are good measures we’re not using and probably even better measures we haven’t thought of yet.

In short, I’m wondering if important elements of great teaching and continuous improvement are found in today’s PD but are not captured by our evaluation systems.

Maybe the real mirage is today’s too-confident definition of “highly effective teacher.”

– Andy Smarick

Revisiting the Coleman Report “Equality of Educational Opportunity” on its 50th Anniversary

In 1960, U.S. Deputy Marshals escorted from school six-year-old Ruby Bridges, the only black child enrolled at the time in William Frantz Elementary in New Orleans.

In 1960, U.S. Deputy Marshals escorted from school six-year-old Ruby Bridges, the only black child enrolled at the time in William Frantz Elementary in New Orleans.

The aim of racial integration of our schools should be recognized as distinct from the aim of providing equal opportunity for educational performance.
To confound these two aims impedes the achievement of either.

–James S. Coleman,
“Toward Open Schools,” The Public Interest (1967)

Equality of Educational Opportunity, also known as the Coleman Report, sought answers to two burning questions: 1) How extensive is racial segregation within U.S. schools? 2) How adversely does that segregation affect educational opportunities for black students? In answering the first question, James S. Coleman and his co-authors documented the de facto segregation found in all parts of the United States, including the South, where the Supreme Court had declared de jure segregation unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Regarding the second question, Coleman reported that families were more important for learning than were school resources, and, further, that school resources varied more by region than they did by a school’s racial composition within any specific region. Yet Coleman also noted that the composition of a student’s peer group was more important for learning than any other school-related factor, a finding used by the Johnson and Nixon administrations to reinforce their strenuous desegregation efforts in southern states.

Today, questions about the effects of changes in housing patterns and recent Supreme Court decisions that weaken desegregation efforts remain central to discussions of educational opportunity and racial achievement gaps. On the first issue, more specifically, have changes over time in housing and school attendance patterns reduced the isolation of black children in the public schools? The answer depends on the specific way progress is measured. If we ask whether the average black student is exposed to more white students in public school today than a half century ago, the answer is yes, although fewer than in the 1980s; after rising in the 1970s, the rate of exposure has declined markedly since 1988. Another measure of progress toward integration is the dissimilarity index, which measures how much the racial composition of the schools would have to change for each school to have the same percentage of whites and blacks as these groups constitute in the school-age population as a whole. By this measure, schools are closer to complete integration than ever before, and thus racial composition would have to change less now than when the report was released. How can two questions that seem so similar have such different answers? The explanation is in the changing demographic composition of the schools: the percentage of students who are white has declined dramatically over the past 50 years, while the percentage of students who are black has changed very little.

Detailing these changes is my first task. My second task is to inquire into the consequences for achievement of the racial segregation that still persists. Unfortunately, it is difficult to speak definitively about this matter. The required social scientific research has yet to be pursued adequately, despite the pathbreaking contribution of the Coleman Report and serious scholarly inquiry since. One can say—without much scholarly help at all—that racial segregation is undoubtedly harmful to the well-being of a multi-ethnic society that aspires to equal opportunity for all. But if one digs deeper to measure the adverse effects of segregation on the learning of African American students, a topic to which Coleman gave full attention, then one can only reach cautious judgments. The best answer, in my view, is that the consequences of racial segregation for student learning are probably adverse but not severely so.

School Enrollment Patterns since 1968

In 1954, the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education found legally segregated schools to be unconstitutional, but it was not until the legislative and executive branches put the full strength of the federal government behind desegregation efforts, by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, that serious progress was made in the South. Even then, many hiccups occurred as public opinion wavered between the idealism of the civil rights years and the backlash instigated by civil unrest in major cities during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Courts, too, varied in their commitment to desegregation. In Milliken v. Bradley (1974), the Supreme Court found that de facto segregation, which occurred as the result of residential decisions made by individuals, did not violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. These were private decisions, not decisions made by government, and therefore not subject to constitutional constraint. Many white families left city schools for nearly all-white suburban districts when integration plans were put forward.

In 1954, the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of education found legally segregated schools to be unconstitutional, but serious progress was not made in the South until the 1960s.

In 1954, the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education found legally segregated schools to be unconstitutional, but serious progress was not made in the South until the 1960s.

In the 1990s, the Court softened its previous position on desegregation in schools that once had had de jure segregation. It said that districts had merely to take all practical steps to end the legacy of segregation (Board of Education of Oklahoma City Public Schools v. Dowell, 1991). The Court also decided that school districts could not be held constitutionally responsible for low student achievement in segregated settings (Missouri v. Jenkins, 1995).

Given the ups and downs in the legal and political environments, it is entirely possible that both the rate and direction of school desegregation have fluctuated significantly over the 50 years since the Coleman Report. To ascertain whether this is the case, I draw on the best available public data on the racial composition of the nation’s schools: the Public Elementary and Secondary School Enrollment and Common Core of Data issued by the Office for Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Education. To capture the shifts that took place during four distinctly different time periods, I identify the state of racial segregation in schools for the years 1968, 1980, 1988, 2000, and 2012. (Reliable information for the small number of students attending schools in districts with enrollment below 300 is unavailable for the years prior to 2000.)

Three interrelated pieces of information characterize school enrollment patterns, and I document changes over time in all three: the degree of interaction, as measured by black student exposure to white students; dissimilarity indexes for schools and districts; and overall demographic composition. For each of the five years, Figure 1 presents three data points:

1) The exposure index measures the likelihood that a black student will interact with white students, as measured by the average percentage of black children’s schoolmates who are white.

2) The dissimilarity index measures the extent to which schools and the overall student population are racially dissimilar, by calculating the percentage of blacks that would need to change schools if all schools were to have the same percentage of black students. The index is equal to 0 if there is complete integration and 100 if there is complete segregation. As the potential for desegregation efforts is determined by the distribution of students among districts, I report the index for districts as well as for schools.

3) A simple demographic indicator identifies the percentages of students who are black, white, or from another racial group.

Residential choices, school choices made by families, and district school attendance rules jointly determine student enrollment patterns. The enrollment data do not provide information on residential location or private school enrollment. A dissimilarity index at the district level, however, measures the dissimilarity of districts and the overall student population in the area, and provides information on changes over time in racial differences in the distribution of students among districts.

The Trend Data

ednext_XVI_2_rivkin_fig01-smallI begin with a discussion of the exposure index, as contact between black students and white students was a major focal point of the Coleman Report. As Figure 1a shows, the exposure index rose rapidly between 1968 and 1980, from 22 percent to 36 percent, a change in the extent of racial interaction that has not been matched since. Over that period, the federal government was aggressively promoting school desegregation in the South, and civil rights groups were attempting to extend their efforts to other parts of the United States. Few remember that the Nixon administration conditioned federal aid to southern schools on their compliance with desegregation court orders; that policy appears to have aided the desegregation efforts that federal courts were insisting upon. The trend line stabilizes during the 1980s and heads downward after 1988, slipping to 31 percent by 2000 and 27 percent in 2012, landing above the level that existed at about the time the Coleman Report was released.

Figure 1b shows the dissimilarity index—the percentage of blacks who would need to change schools if blacks and whites were to attend each school in the same percentage as their percentage of public school enrollment. This school dissimilarity index fell from 81 percent to 71 percent between 1968 and 1980, when southern schools were taking strong steps to eliminate de jure segregation. And it continued to decline—albeit at a slower pace—after 1980, falling to 66 percent by 2012.

How is it that segregation continued to decline as the exposure rate fell? The explanation can be found in the dramatic change in the composition of the public school population (see Figure 1c). Between 1968 and 2012, the percentage white of overall student enrollment in public schools dropped from 80 percent to 51 percent. Between 1988 and 2012, when the exposure index slid 9 percentage points (from 36 percent to 27 percent), the white percentage of all public-school enrollment tumbled by 20 percentage points (from 71 percent to 51 percent). As the white population was becoming older, other groups were capturing an ever-larger share of the student population. African Americans were not replacing whites—their share of the school-age population edged upward by less than 1 percentage point over the entire 44-year time period. Rather, an influx of Hispanic and Asian families transformed the composition of the schools. The result is a declining black‒white exposure rate: it became increasingly difficult to increase interactions between blacks and whites because there were ever-fewer whites in the schools.

The steps taken to desegregate schools and increase black student exposure to white students were not strong enough after 1980 to offset the demographic shifts that were increasing the amount of contact between both whites and blacks and the children of immigrants from Latin America, Asia, and elsewhere. Nonetheless, the decline in the exposure index prompted former Business Weekcorrespondent William C. Symonds, in “Brown v. Board of Education: A bittersweet birthday” (May 2004), and others to decry the resegregation of America’s schools. That claim overlooks the powerful effect demographic change has had on the possibility of increasing black student exposure to white students.

Figure 2 shows trends in the demographic composition of schools in the four geographic regions of the U.S. The percentage of white students has fallen steadily in the Northeast and Midwest, with modest upticks in the proportion of students who are black, Hispanic, or from other groups. The West has seen the most dramatic decline in white students and the largest increase in Hispanic students. Schools in the South have arguably seen the greatest increase in diversity as the four trend lines come closest to converging.

ednext_XVI_2_rivkin_fig02-small

 

White Flight and District Policies

A pronounced increase in Hispanic and Asian public-school enrollment and consequent decline in the white enrollment share, not a pattern of resegregation, has driven the fall in the exposure of black students to white schoolmates. This does not mean, however, that family decisions, court policies, and school board responses are irrelevant to the patterns of racial segregation that continue to persist. For example, white flight from integrating schools, a topic that Coleman (in other studies) explored in considerable depth, certainly slowed the rate of desegregation, especially during the years 1968 to 1980, when the most aggressive desegregation steps were being taken.

Between 1968 and 1980, segregation by district increased, reflecting the effects of both white flight from desegregation and longer-term trends, including suburbanization.

Between 1968 and 1980, segregation by district increased, reflecting the effects of both white flight from desegregation and longer-term trends, including suburbanization.

The 1974 Supreme Court decision inMillikin v. Bradley found no constitutional violation when de facto segregation resulted from the private choices of individuals to live in one part of a metropolitan area rather than another. As a result, white suburban school districts were under no constitutional requirement to integrate their schools when their new white students had fled a central-city school district that was promulgating a desegregation plan. Between 1968 and 1980, the district dissimilarity index (which measures the amount of black students who would have to move to another district in order to achieve the same percentage of whites and blacks in all districts) increased from 64 to 66 percent. Thus, by this measure, district segregation was increasing at the same time that the overall rate of school segregation was falling by 10 percentage points. This does not capture any movement of white students to private schools.

A closer examination of the district dissimilarity index offers some suggestive evidence as to the forces at work. Between 1968 and 1980, segregation by district increased, reflecting the effects of both white flight from desegregation and longer-term trends, including suburbanization. In contrast, following 1988, segregation by district fell by almost 10 percent, from 66 to 61. Black‒white segregation among districts in 2012 is roughly 5 percent lower than it was in 1968, prior to the onset of the most far-reaching desegregation efforts.

Housing patterns are the primary determinant of segregation among districts, but the district dissimilarity index provides only a crude measure of the extent of housing segregation. First, private school‒enrollment levels influence the measure of district segregation. Second, trends in segregation by district do not capture changes in residential segregation within districts. Therefore, it is important to examine residential segregation directly, and evidence clearly shows a decline in housing segregation during this period. Using 1980, 1990, and 2000 U.S. Census information, John Iceland and D. H. Weinberg in 2002 constructed dissimilarity indexes of residential segregation by census tract in 220 metropolitan areas in which at least 3 percent of the residents were black or which had at least 20,000 black residents in 1980. The median index declined from 0.75 in 1980 to 0.65 in 2000, a decrease of more than 13 percent. William Frey finds in a 2015 study that the decline in residential segregation continued to 2010, at least in the 102 metropolitan areas with populations greater than 500,000. Over that more recent decade, there was a decrease in residential segregation of 3.1 percent within these large metropolitan areas.

As Coleman observed, white flight from desegregation intensified segregation between districts. Finis Welch and Audrey Light published a study in 1987 that used 16 years of data on enrollments and desegregation program status to study in detail the changes in white enrollment surrounding the implementation of 116 major desegregation plans between 1967 and 1985. Among other findings, they concluded that 1) white enrollment declined much more in the year of plan implementation than in subsequent years, 
and 2) pairing and clustering, the desegregation technique that involved the joining of schools with initially very different black and white enrollment shares into a single attendance zone, produced the largest average white-enrollment losses surrounding plan implementation in the period of greatest desegregation activity. Because pairing and clustering mandates student involvement in desegregation and typically requires that students travel greater distances than under the redrawing of school catchment areas or other voluntary desegregation plans, the finding that this plan type produces the largest enrollment response is consistent with expectations.

It is not clear a priori whether white flight would be greater in urban districts surrounded by suburbs or in large countywide districts found in the South. The larger geographical spread of countywide districts raises the cost to families of moving out of the district but also raises transportation issues for school districts that want to desegregate throughout the entire county. Welch and Light found that white flight is generally less in countywide districts than in central-city districts (surrounded by a suburban belt) despite the fact that the countywide districts take stronger steps to reduce segregation within the schools. Apparently, the costs to families of moving out of the countywide district for predominantly white outlying areas are so large they more than offset any perceived advantage of escaping the changes in the demographic composition of the schools. Also, a separate study by Sarah Reber has shown that the more districts within a metropolitan area, the greater the white flight, another indication that families balance their school preferences against the cost of moving long distances. White flight almost certainly altered the effects of desegregation policies in 
many cities, especially in places such as the Northeast, where school districts within metropolitan areas tend to be small and numerous.

After 1980, district segregation stabilized and eventually began to subside (see Figure 1b). It is possible that whites became more tolerant of a black presence at school, or that districts began relying more extensively on voluntary tools to desegregate schools, avoiding the politically unpopular measures that provoked so much opposition in the years immediately following the release of the Coleman Report.

A growing number of school districts have been released recently from court supervision as the result of court decisions handed down during the 1990s, raising the possibility of resegregation of public school districts where desegregation had taken place. A small but growing body of research has investigated the effects of release. Studies by Sean Reardon and his colleagues in 2012 and Byron Lutz in 2011, using variation in the timing of court supervision to identify the effects on segregation, discern an increase in segregation following the cessation of court supervision, although the magnitude appears to be modest.

Academic and Social Outcomes

The Coleman Report revealed substantial achievement differences by school racial composition and emphasized the importance of considering various factors that contributed to those differences:

· different facilities and curricula in the school itself

·  variations in educational deficiency or proficiency of fellow students that are correlated with race

· effects due to racial composition of the student body apart from its level of educational proficiency.

Unfortunately, Coleman’s methodological approach was not capable of identifying the independent effect of each of these factors.

Subsequent research has grappled with these issues in one form or another in an effort to gain a better understanding of the determinants of racial differences in academic, economic, and social outcomes. But isolating the causal effect of school desegregation has proven difficult. Consider the substantial improvement of black students relative to white students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) during the 1970s and 1980s. The timing coincides with the desegregation of many school districts, especially in the South, but other policy, economic, and social changes may also have influenced the achievement gap. Most notably, economic and social opportunities were broadening for African Americans, the civil rights movement may have given the black community higher expectations for its youth, and white respect for black peers may have increased in the larger society, regardless of the racial composition of the school.

Despite the challenges of isolating the impact of school desegregation on student achievement, a small but growing body of research provides valuable evidence on the relationship between segregation policies and students’ academic and social outcomes. A 2009 study I conducted with Eric A. Hanushek and colleagues uses administrative data from the State of Texas Department of Education for multiple student cohorts to identify the effect of racial composition of the classroom on learning. By controlling for a wide variety of other characteristics, including the students’ own prior performance, our analysis is able to estimate the likely effect of desegregation within the school. We find that black achievement levels are negatively associated with the percentage black in a grade, indicating that desegregation policies that reduced this percentage were having the desired effect. Interestingly, those who had higher initial achievement levels benefited the most from a desegregated environment. These findings are based on variations in racial composition of grades within a given school. While informative, they do not conclusively show the effects of policies that alter the overall racial composition of a school through changes in attendance patterns, the policies that are of greatest concern to both the courts and to state and district policymakers.

The absence of an evaluation component from most desegregation programs has complicated efforts to measure program effects.

The absence of an evaluation component from most desegregation programs has complicated efforts to measure program effects.

A handful of experimental studies of desegregation programs compare participants with nonparticipants. Thomas Cook, writing in 1984, concludes that meta-analyses of results from all the studies, taken together, support the view that the effects on the mathematics and reading achievement in elementary school are quite small or even zero. The small sample sizes common to the studies he summarizes, however, make it difficult to identify potentially important effects. In addition, these studies capture only the most direct impacts of the desegregation program and are limited to a few interventions that may not be typical.

Several studies have examined the average effect of either the introduction or the removal of desegregation programs using variation in timing across districts. Jonathan Guryan in 2002 used the desegregation plan data assembled by Welch and Light to study the change in high-school dropout rates between 1970 and 1980, and found that the implementation of desegregation during the 1970s reduced the high-school dropout rate during that period. In addition, Lutz’s 2011 study found that resegregation increased the probability of dropping out for blacks living outside of the South. Even though these studies are among the most compelling in this area of research, the complications introduced by the purposeful choices and responses of families and schools temper the strength of the findings.

In a 2014 study, Stephen Billings and his colleagues used administrative data and variation in school assignments for students who lived on opposite sides of new catchment area boundaries in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, following the district’s release from court supervision to identify the effects of changes in racial composition and school resources. The paper reveals substantial evidence of resegregation and a significant increase in the probability of being arrested for black students, but no increase in the probability of dropping out of high school as a result of the change in the racial composition of the school. Importantly, it appears that changes in resources rather than peer composition drive the results.

Taken as a whole, the evidence on racial composition, desegregation, and resegregation effects suggests that desegregation had a positive but likely uneven effect on academic and social outcomes. It is very likely the case that program effects differ by both programmatic details and context, and consequently variation in findings does not constitute evidence that some studies must be flawed. The absence of an evaluation component from most desegregation programs has both complicated efforts to measure short- and long-term program effects and hindered the development of more effective strategies to improve outcomes and reduce achievement gaps.

Coleman’s Legacy

Half a century has passed since the publication of the Coleman Report, and the persistent racial gaps in achievement, academic attainment, earnings, crime, poverty, and extensive school segregation that remain provide prima facie evidence that equality of opportunity remains elusive. Nevertheless, the report served as a catalyst for a fundamental change in education research and the framework within which policymakers, educators, and citizens conduct debates over education policy. Such discussions are no longer conducted in a vacuum. On the contrary, requirements for the reporting of extensive information on academic outcomes and basic characteristics of schools, including their demographic composition, have been embedded in federal and state laws. The creation of the Institute of Education Sciences illustrates another legacy of the Coleman Report: a commitment to rigorous quantitative research.

The greater breadth of today’s research agenda is likely to move our understanding of the contemporary impact of racial isolation and the policies introduced to ameliorate it. Research on teacher quality, charter schools, school leadership, class size, and other factors in school quality is likely to be as or more important than research on race-specific policies for reducing gaps in student achievement. The legacy of the Coleman Report enhanced the research community’s commitment to improve the measurement of school and teacher performance. It also broadened public understanding of the types of interventions that will elevate the academic, social, and economic outcomes of disadvantaged students in a manner that will give meaning to the notion of equality of opportunity.

Steven Rivkin is professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Are Black and Latino Students Stuck With Low-Performing Teachers? Vergara Might Give Us an Answer

(Written by Halli Bayer is a proud non-practicing attorney and former middle school English teacher.)

I used to teach in a Los Angeles Unified school, so the Vergara court case about teacher tenure is not just an abstract legal decision to me. It’s personal.

That’s why I joined some 80 other observers in a courtroom last week for the hour-long Vergara appellate hearing.

I’ve learned from and worked alongside outstanding educators in Los Angeles. And I’ve also witnessed what happens when some of the most vulnerable students in the district are taught by tenured teachers who do the absolute minimum to get by.

In fact, a tenured teacher in the classroom next door to mine showed her students the movie “The Lion King” in every single period. She taught sixth-grade English; when her former students came to me for seventh-grade English, I was supposed to teach them how to write persuasive essays, but they didn’t yet know how to write paragraphs.

“She didn’t teach it to us,” they told me.

DENYING STUDENTS THE RIGHT TO QUALITY EDUCATION

As most of us education nerds know by now, Vergara focuses on the personnel laws that govern California’s teacher tenure, layoff and dismissal policies.

Last year, the trial court found that these laws all violate California’s equal protection clause and also deny students their fundamental right to education because the laws, as they’re applied, result in the state’s low-income African-American and Latino students having many more low-performing teachers than their peers in wealthier, whiter schools.

Our gathering of courtroom observers were clearly mixed in their views of the case. Personally, I hope that the Court of Appeals upholds the decision because I know that every student in my city deserves a good teacher, and I’ve seen the ways in which these laws make it hard for our most inspired and effective teachers to stay in the schools where they are needed most.

The schools serving the most advantaged students can cream the best teachers in the system simply because of demand and low turnover. Conversely, the most challenged schools serving high populations of low-income black and brown children struggle with the instability of constant turnover. This forces principals to lay off teachers based on seniority rather than skills and makes it extraordinarily difficult to push out teachers who have given up on their students and their profession.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the hearing provided some fascinating insights into the nuance of these laws.

THE INEVITABILITY OF LOW-PERFORMING TEACHERS

There was one interaction about halfway through the hearing that brought me and most of the 80 people in the courtroom to attention.

This was the point at which Associate Justice Brian M. Hoffstat, one of three justices hearing the case, interrupted attorney Theodore J. Boutrous (representing Beatrice Vergara, et al.) to ask whether the teacher personnel laws in question “inevitably” lead to low-income black and Latino students having a disproportionately large share of low-performing teachers.

As Boutrous had pointed out, having a series of low-performing teachers ultimately affects students’ entire life trajectory, including their likelihood of becoming pregnant as teens and their earning potential.

So, to the question of inevitability—do California’s layoff, tenure and dismissal laws inevitably create inequity for students?

Boutrous, with impressive agility, danced around this question for a while and eventually offered up evidence of a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) human resources officer who was unable to dismiss hundreds of ineffective teachersbecause of California’s teacher tenure and dismissal statutes.

Where Boutrous may have circumvented the question of inevitability, the California Teachers’ Association (CTA) attorney Michael Rubin answered it directly, stating multiple times that the laws in question do not make it inevitable that low-income African-American and Latino students are placed with lower-performing teachers. In fact, he argued, it is local school district policies, not the statutes, that have created an inequitable distribution of teachers.

DOESN’T MEAN IT DOESN’T VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTION

Will the Court of Appeals ultimately require that LIFO, tenure and dismissal lawsinevitably harm black and Latino students in order to find the laws unconstitutional?

If so, this is a pretty high bar. California is home to nearly 1,000 school districts, and it’s likely that a bunch of those districts don’t have inequitable distribution of teachers because they are so small that all students attend the same elementary, middle and high schools.

And maybe some districts are so vigilant about placing and retaining great teachers in high-needs schools that their best teachers are distributed evenly among students of all socioeconomic statuses.

So, perhaps it’s not inevitable that these statutes disparately impact low-income students of color.

But just because these statues don’t create conditions that violate the constitution inevery district in the state doesn’t mean that they don’t violate the constitution.

In Serrano v. Priest (1976), for example, the California Supreme Court held that the state’s public school financing system violated the Equal Protection Clause in that it allowed educational opportunities to “vary” in substantial and unjustified ways.

According to this logic, even if inequitable distribution of teachers isn’t inevitable for all California districts, enough inequitable distribution within and among districts may be sufficient for the Appellate Court in Vergara to uphold the lower court’s findings.

It’s time for a change here in California. As Boutrous stated toward the end of his argument, the legislature “isn’t going to do anything” to create that change.

And as a former teacher who is committed to creating more equitable schools, I want the Appellate Court to uphold the lower court’s findings because I want every single seventh-grader in my city to be able to write not just paragraphs but entire essays full of their own brilliant ideas, dreams and opinions.