Rachel M. Cohen

Rachel M. Cohen is a writing fellow at The American ProspectHer work has appeared in the Washington Monthly, Dissent, Next City and The Forward.

Recent Articles

We Can't Talk About Housing Policy Without Talking About Racism

What a serious desegregation policy might look like. 

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky In this May 9, 2015, picture, a man walks past a blighted building in the Penn-North neighborhood of Baltimore, with a residential tower in the Reservoir Hill neighborhood in the background at top right. O ver the past year, unrest in places like Baltimore and Ferguson has inspired a nationwide debate on how to best combat systemic inequality and injustice. In the wake of high-profile police violence cases in these cities and elsewhere, this conversation has contributed to a renewed understanding of how federal and local housing policies helped create the inequality and racial injustice urban America confronts today. Yet lost in this discussion has been the complicated record of more recent desegregation efforts and what they can teach us about undoing generations of systemic racism and persistent segregation. A case in point is HUD’s Clinton-era Moving to Opportunity (MTO) program, the subject of a new study by Harvard economists Raj Chetty, Nathan Hendren,...

The Marriage Cure

Policies to help the broad range of families are better for kids—and better for progressive politics.

(Photo: CSA-Plastock/iStock)
(Photo: CSA-Plastock/iStock) This article appears in the Spring 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Celebrate our 25th Anniversary with us by clicking here for a free download of this special issue . S everal authors long associated with the idea that marriage is a prime cure for inequality have published a manifesto, condensed in The Washington Monthly . The new wrinkle is an alliance between marriage traditionalists and gay-rights activists. The Marriage Opportunity Council, a spin-off of the Institute for American Values, hopes that by adding same-sex unions to the definition of marriage, they can unite progressives and conservatives in a cause to promote marriage generally. The basic premise of the essay and the broader campaign is that marriage provides economic as well as emotional security; that it’s good for children to grow up in two-parent families; and that a class gap has opened up in the incidence of marriage, which widens inequality and harms...

Dispatch From Baltimore: A Photo Essay

Images from the unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray

Juliana Vigorito
F or more than two weeks, the City of Baltimore has been reeling over the tragic death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a fatal spinal injury while riding in the back of a police van. He was arrested on April 12 and died one week later. The details surrounding his death are still unclear, though Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts has admitted that his officers left Gray unbuckled in the van despite being handcuffed and shackled. Batts also acknowledged that Gray’s multiple requests for medical attention were ignored. Mobile video footage from a bystander shows Gray crying out in pain before he was taken away. Peaceful demonstrations to demand justice for Freddie Gray and other victims of police brutality have been organized throughout Baltimore since Gray’s initial arrests. The movement against police brutality in the city did not start with Freddie Gray—citizens have been protesting harsh treatment by Baltimore police for years. Yet Gray’s death has been...

Can 'Grit' Save American Education?

Grit, privilege, and American education's obsession with novelty. 

AP Photo/Pat Sullivan
Twice a week for thirty minutes, fifth graders at KIPP Washington Heights, a charter school in New York City, attend “character class.” Each lesson is divided into three parts, according to Ian Willey, the assistant principal who teaches it. First, students find out what specific skill they’ll be focusing on that day. “This morning we’re going to learn how to set a long-term goal,” Willey might tell them. Next, students are asked to practice the skill. In this case, students may imagine they have a long-term project to complete, and then work to construct a timeline with incremental deadlines. In the final part of the lesson, students would take time to collectively reflect. “What was hard about this exercise?” Wiley might ask. “What went well? Did anyone feel nervous? What did you do when you felt nervous?” And because part of KIPP’s mission is to help build character, the students would then classify their new skill as one or more of KIPP’s seven targeted character goals . In this...

Can 'Grit' Save American Education?

Grit, privilege, and American education's obsession with novelty. 

Twice a week for 30 minutes, fifth graders at KIPP Washington Heights, a charter school in New York City, attend “character class.” Each lesson is divided into three parts, according to Ian Willey, the assistant principal who teaches it. First, students find out what specific skill they’ll be focusing on that day. “This morning we’re going to learn how to set a long-term goal,” Willey might tell them. Next, students are asked to practice the skill.

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