Maryland's Test Case to Close the Achievement Gap

In recent years, at least 70 districts have experimented with mixing low-income children into more-affluent classrooms. But with savvy parents volunteering their kids, it has been hard to draw larger conclusions about the success of these efforts.

How Students Can Build Credit in the Card Act Era

Like tuition, college credit-card debt is on the rise. Half of college students have four or more cards, according to a 2009 Sallie Mae survey, and only 17 percent report regularly paying off their balance. As the school year begins, parts of 2009’s credit-card reform bill will finally begin to protect the young from their own spending habits. For starters, students will no longer see card issuers offering giveaways on campus. And for the first time, they won’t be able to sign up for a credit card if they’re younger than 21 unless they can find a cosigner or prove a source of income.

Are Free-Range Eggs Safer?

The largest egg recall in U.S. history has consumers scrambling for locally bred and organic alternatives, while Tyson Foods just recalled more than 350,000 pounds of Walmart deli meat. Are factory farming and mass-produced foods really to blame for making America's food supply less safe?

We Read It: 'Packing for Mars'

Blasting into space isn’t just rocket science. It’s also bladder management, crumb-free dining, and, worst of all, months of motion sickness. Is sex in space possible? And what does it feel like to land back on Earth? Read on.

California Makes Itself a Stumbling Block

When the Senate walked away from energy reform this year, it seemed to spell the end of cap-and-trade as well. But the idea is still alive at the state level. In 2007, 10 Eastern states developed a cap-and-trade system for power plants.

The Country's Dumbest Budget Cuts

Lawmakers love to talk about hard choices. But as states have tried to bridge at least $100 billion in budget gaps, politicians are making choices of a different variety: dumb ones. California furloughed thousands of tax collectors, although they would have earned the state an estimated seven times what they cost. New Jersey (along with at least six other states) canceled funds to help people quit smoking, though tobacco-related illnesses already cost the state an estimated $4.7 billion. And Kentucky even shuttered its Long-Term Policy Research Center, foreclosing a mission to “report on trends affecting the state’s future.”

Schools Start Financial-Literacy Requirements

The financial-reform bill signed into law last week includes a section on dangerous mortgages, with a provision for educating the elderly, the poor, minorities, those with language barriers, and “other potentially vulnerable consumers.” Who’s not mentioned but should be? The young. Among unemployed Americans ages 18 to 29, more than a quarter are behind on mortgage payments, one 2009 study found, and this group also has soaring credit-card debt and bankruptcy rates.

Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food

Face the fact: the fish are dying. Half popular history, half environmental manifesto, Paul Greenberg’s book exposes the dire straits of our favorite seafood. Solving the problem means more than just skipping the tuna sashimi. It’s going to take big politics, smart ocean management, and plain old restraint (no!) to forestall a tragedy of the commons.

How Hawaii Plans to Wean Itself off Oil

President Obama has called for a “national mission” to end America’s dependence on oil. Perhaps the biggest hurdle, however, isn’t national will—a majority of Americans now back an energy overhaul—so much as finding a workable template. Could Hawaii fill the void? The archipelago is more than twice as oil-dependent as the U.S. at large, drawing about 90 percent of its energy from imported crude. And because of the exorbitant transport costs, it also has the highest gas and electricity rates in the country—and some of the most ambitious plans for keeping them down.

Health-Care Reform and the Boom in Nurses' Strikes

A major goal of health-care reform is affordable treatment. To achieve it, however, the Obama administration may temporarily upset another aim: effective care. The trouble extends from the president’s pledge to make the new reforms “deficit-neutral.” That will require billions of dollars in funding cuts, primarily at hospitals, which stand to lose $155 billion in Medicare and Medicaid cash during the next few years.