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Also in our Special Report:
National: "How America Can Rise Again"
Is the nation in terminal decline? Not necessarily. But securing the future will require fixing a system that has become a joke.
James Fallows talks to Atlantic editor James Bennet about a uniquely American tradition—cycles of despair followed by triumphant rebirths.
thrifty, overextended, admired, twitchy, filthy, and clean: the nation in numbers. By Rachael Brown
Times were tough in 2009. But according to a cool Facebook app, people were happier. By Justin Miller
O n August 25, 2008, two little boys walked into public elementary schools in Southeast Washington, D.C. Both boys were African
American fifth-graders. The previous spring, both had tested below grade level in math.
One walked into Kimball Elementary School and climbed the stairs to Mr. William Taylor’s math classroom, a tidy, powder-blue space in which neither the clocks nor most of the electrical outlets worked.
The other walked into a very similar classroom a mile away at Plummer Elementary School. In both schools, more than 80 percent of the children received free or reduced-price lunches. At night, all the children went home to the same urban ecosystem, a zip code in which almost a quarter of the families lived below the poverty line and a police district in which somebody was murdered every week or so.