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Key Issues: Election 2014

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Date and time
Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The fall Congressional elections may seem far off in the future. But with Congress experiencing record low approval ratings, voters are primed to look seriously at the policy positions of aspirants for national office. What should voters be attuned to as they sort through candidates in the upcoming Congressional elections? What are the key issues of concern to the new generation of millennial voters? A panel of scholars explores some of the fundamental questions newly elected representatives will have to address. Keith Bentele of the University of Massachusetts Boston looks at poverty and inequality; Alex Hertel-Fernandez from Harvard discusses tax policy and the social safety net; and Jack Schneider of the College of the Holy Cross looks at education reform. The panel proposes research- and experience-based policy solutions in an effort to overcome the ideological divisions that derail so much political debate. Boston University's Michelle Johnson moderates. Produced in conjunction with the Scholars Strategy Network, a national group of scholars seeking to use research to improve policy and enhance democracy.

Keith G. Bentele is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His research has examined the consequences of welfare reform, rising earnings inequality in the US, and the passage of multiple types of state legislation sought by the conservative Evangelical movement. His current research includes a project examining the performance of safety net programs in the 2007–2009 recession and the consequences of this recession for state poverty rates and racial inequality.
Alexander Hertel-Fernandez is a fourth year PhD student in Government and Social Policy. His research interests include social insurance, taxes, inequality, and the politics of business and labor organization in advanced democracies.
Jack Schneider is an assistant professor of education at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. With an MA in History and a PhD in Education (Stanford University), he conducts research on the influence of rhetoric, politics, history, and culture on educational policy. Specifically, his work looks at how and why key stakeholders in K-12 education - parents, teachers, and policymakers - come to think the things they do about schools. His scholarship has addressed phenomena like white flight, school choice, teacher licensure, curricular reform, standardized testing, and teacher evaluation.