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What We're Reading | March 22, 2013
This op-ed by Saad Mohseni in The Washington Post challenges the perception that Afghanistan remains a backwards country and not worth international support. “Despite many years of conflict, Afghanistan has exhibited dramatic signs of economic, social and cultural revival. The country has undergone such extraordinary change since 9/11 that a return to the dark period of the Taliban is unfathomable.” Mohseni cites progress in education, especially the education of girls, as well as life expectancy and access to healthcare and modern amenities like regular electricity and well-paved roads. In addition, more women are participating in the workforce than ever before and the economy is growing. Mohseni notes that Afghanistan still faces challenges ahead, but sees upcoming elections as a way to continue the progress made: "with the selection of a new government in 2014, the people just might stay on the path they chose in 2001. The world must not give up on Afghanistan now.”
This article in the Los Angeles Times tells the story about two sisters who agreed to care for Arefa, an Afghan child who was sent to Los Angeles without her parents for medical care after being severely burned. “Arefa was one of several Afghan children brought to the United States by the humanitarian group Solace for the Children for medical treatment.” The experience was life changing for all and the touching story is just one example of the ways that so many Americans are caring for Afghan women. The Bush Institute’s own Afghan Women’s Project spotlights the struggles and successes of Afghan women by telling their personal stories, publishing briefings and reports, and highlighting beneficial projects.
This article from the Washington Post provides insight into the extraordinary difficulty individual veterans face when trying to obtain employment once they separate from the military. Young men and women who served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have the toughest job search of all. The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data show that from January to February 2013 veterans age 20-24 experienced a 6.6% increase in the unemployment rate compared to a 1.7% decrease for their nonveteran counterparts. In order to address this growing problem of veteran unemployment, the Bush Institute's Military Service Initiative launched its Circles of Excellence program. This collaborative effort will produce innovative solutions to help veterans like Capt. Michael Bolton profiled in the article, find meaningful careers that utilize their valuable military training and expertise.
This article from EdWeek.org about the 2012 edition of the Digital Learning Report Card, by the group Digital Learning Now! shows startling results: only six states (Utah, Florida, Minnesota, Georgia, Virginia and Kansas) earned an A or B on the report. States were graded based on 39 metrics that correlate to the organization’s 10 essential elements for high-quality digital learning. This is despite an increased push by states for digital learning. “In 2012, more than 700 bills related to digital learning were debated in state legislatures across the country, according to the report. Out of those, 152 of them were signed into law, allowing students to take classes online, equipping students and teachers with mobile devices, and providing schools the flexibility to embrace blended-learning models.”