What We Are Reading Today: How The Other Half Learns

Updated 13 September 2019

What We Are Reading Today: How The Other Half Learns

Author: Robert Pondiscio

This is an inside look at America’s most controversial charter schools, and the moral and political questions around public education and school choice.
In How the Other Half Learns, teacher and education journalist Robert Pondiscio focuses on Success Academy, the network of controversial charter schools in New York City founded by Eva Moskowitz, who has created something unprecedented in American education: A way for large numbers of engaged and ambitious low-income families of color to get an education for their children that equals and even exceeds what wealthy families take for granted.
Pondiscio, a former public school teacher in the South Bronx who became an education writer, won Moskowitz’s permission to embed himself for a year inside one of her more than 40 schools to discover once and for all how Success does what it does.
A senior fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Pondiscio is allied with the education reform and charter movements, but not hesitant to criticize them.


What We Are Reading Today: Peace and Penance in Late Medieval Italy

Updated 07 April 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Peace and Penance in Late Medieval Italy

Author: Katherine Ludwig Jansen

Medieval Italian communes are known for their violence, feuds, and vendettas, yet beneath this tumult was a society preoccupied with peace. Peace and Penance in Late Medieval Italy is the first book to examine how civic peacemaking in the age of Dante was forged in the crucible of penitential religious practice.
Focusing on Florence in the 13th and 14th centuries, an era known for violence and civil discord, Katherine Ludwig Jansen brilliantly illuminates how religious and political leaders used peace agreements for everything from bringing an end to neighborhood quarrels to restoring full citizenship to judicial exiles.
She brings to light a treasure trove of unpublished evidence from notarial archives and supports it with sermons, hagiography, political treatises, and chronicle accounts. She paints a vivid picture of life in an Italian commune, a socially and politically unstable world that strove to achieve peace. Jansen also assembles a wealth of visual material from the period, illustrating for the first time how the kiss of peace—a ritual gesture borrowed from the Catholic Mass—was incorporated into the settlement of secular disputes.
Breaking new ground in the study of peacemaking in the Middle Ages, Peace and Penance in Late Medieval Italy adds an entirely new dimension to our understanding of Italian culture in this turbulent age by showing how peace was conceived, memorialized, and occasionally achieved.