Can Four Young Economists Build the Most Efficient Charity Ever? - The Atlantic
GiveDirectly, the brainchild of four Harvard and MIT graduate students, is so simple, it's genius. Give poor Kenyan families $1,000 -- and let them do whatever they want with it.
At the Debate, Mitt Romney Said He Would Help Poor Women - Slate
So why does he want to reduce the federal government's investment in Head Start? (And Medicaid? And food stamps?)
Bostonians Haven't Given Up on Busing - Atlantic Cities
Mayor Thomas Menino says busing is unpopular and outdated. So why are 10,000 Boston kids on a waiting list to be bused to higher-quality schools?
Should UK Children be Bused to School in the Name of Diversity? - The Guardian
The old American strategy of taking poorer children to affluent schools is flawed, but don't give up on the dream of integrated classrooms.
The Apprentice - Slate
How manufacturers and community colleges are teaming up, German-style, to create high-paying factory jobs.
The Schoolmaster - The Atlantic
David Coleman is an idealistic, poetry-loving, controversy-stoking Rhodes Scholar and a former McKinsey consultant who has determined, more than almost anyone else, what kids will learn in American schools. His Common Core national curriculum standards and pending overhaul of the SAT have reignited a thorny debate over how much we should expect from students and schools, and how much is out of their control.
Review of Saving the School, by Michael Brick - The Daily Beast
In a new book, the author follows a group of educators trying to turn around a struggling Austin, Texas high school, and shows that to overcome poverty, teachers must do more than just teach.
No More Ditching Gym Class - Slate
The next wave of standardized testing is here, measuring your kids in art, music, and phys ed. Is that even possible?
There Has Never Been a Female Mark Zuckerberg...What to Do About it - Slate
Parents, schools, and the tech industry need to hook girls early on computer programming. Gaming is one way to do it.
Why Computers Shouldn't Score Student Writing...Yet - Slate
New standardized tests will finally ask good essay questions. Premature robot grading threatens that progress.
One Big Idea: Universal Preschool - GOOD
Guaranteeing access to preschool would benefit children, of course, but also their parents and the overall economy.
What Teachers Want - The Nation
It can’t be good news that a survey of teachers released in March by MetLife found the lowest job satisfaction numbers since 1989, with just 44 percent of respondents describing themselves as “very satisfied” with their classroom careers, and nearly a third considering leaving their jobs.
Would the European High School Apprenticeship Model Work in the U.S? - The Nation
The Obama administration has a new proposal on vocational education, but continues to resist the idea that high school students should learn in the workplace.
An Interview with Lisa Delpit on Educating 'Other People's Children' - The Nation
The groundbreaking education theorist talks about Teach for America, the intelligence of poor children, and how her own work has been misinterpreted.
A Brief History of the Education Culture Wars - The Nation
On Santorum’s legacy, the GOP, and school reform.
The Narrative of Poverty, from Mumbai to New York - The Daily Beast
Katherine Boo has received deserved praise for her book portraying the poor in India, Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Adrian Nicole LeBlanc did much the same thing for American inner city life eight years ago, in Random Family. The pictures they paint are strikingly, depressingly similar.
Becoming Part of the Solution - Zócalo Public Square
At Crenshaw High School in South L.A., students and their struggles are now the curriculum.
Even "Progressive" Homeschooling is Inherently Conservative - Slate Magazine
The trend is rooted in distrust of the public sphere, in class privilege, and in the dated presumption that children hail from two-parent families.
Obama Birth Control Compromise Defuses Religion Issue - The Daily Beast
The president made a common sense compromise—but the flare-up reveals an absurdity of America’s health-care system, in which a woman’s boss is involved in her sex life.
Cory Booker and Chris Christie: Teachers Should Live in Downtown Newark - The Nation
Politicians and developers try to lure 200 teachers to live in a struggling Newark neighborhood. Will it improve the quality of education?
From drop-outs to teachers, did the president's State of the Union education proposals make sense?
Beyond Pink vs. Blue - The Nation
Why gendered toys really matter: They impact the professions kids choose later on.
Why Not Occupy The Schools? - The Awl
Does the 99 percent/1 percent critique apply to Mayor Bloomberg's school reform record?
The Mexican Education War - The Nation
As in the United States, many Mexican education reformers focus on teachers' unions--but both countries need a broader public schools agenda.
Obama’s Race to the Top Goes to Kindergarten -- Slate
Is standardized "testing" for 5-year-olds a good idea? And what does it look like in the classroom?
Why Fewer Young American Jews Share Their Parents' View of Israel - TIME
The Palestinian bid for recognition at the U.N. has elicited differing responses within the Jewish community. Younger American Jews are more likely than their parents to be acquainted with the Palestinians and their story
The GOP's New War on Schools - Slate
The rise of Michele Bachmann reflects a shift in the party's education agenda.
Can Teachers Alone Overcome Poverty? Steven Brill Thinks So - The Nation
An essay on Steven Brill's book Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools
How High-Stakes Testing Led to the Atlanta Cheating Scandal - Slate
And the ones in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Houston …
The Risks and Potential Rewards of Pre-K “Testing” - The Nation
The Obama administration is spending $500 million on assessments for pre-schoolers. What does it look like in the classroom?
Diane Ravitch, the Anti-Michelle-Rhee -Washington City Paper
A look at the life and intellectual history of the preeminent education historian and policy wonk, best known for switching sides in the school reform debate.
Should All Kids Go to College? - The Nation
Some progressive education reformers have attempted to move beyond the old emotional debates about tracking and expectations, and are sounding the call for a more intellectual version of vocational education.
The Test Generation - The American Prospect
What happens in the classroom when a state begins to evaluate all teachers, at every grade level, based on how well they "grow" their students' test scores? Colorado is about to find out.
Michelle Rhee's Cheating Scandal -- The Daily Beast
What education policy lessons can we learn from the discouraging--but not all that surprising--evidence of widespread test score irregularities in Washington, D.C?
Wendy Kopp on Her Dream Job and New Book - The Daily Beast
The founder of Teach for America speaks with Dana Goldstein about her new book, A Chance to Make History, defends her organization's record—and says she’d love to run NYC's schools.
What Newark Schools Need - The Nation
The Newark schools face challenges, but are not the uniquely terrible mess they've been portrayed as in the wake of the Mark Zuckerberg donation. I take a close, classroom-level look at what's already working in Newark education and what isn't--and explain why philanthropy can't stem the blood loss of massive state education budget cuts.
The Tea Party's War On Schools - The Daily Beast
Inside the Tea Party's ideology of "parental rights"--will it threaten Obama's school reform agenda?
Obama's Education Reform Agenda Under Fire -- The Daily Beast
The president's education agenda is ambitious, but now his allies are at risk of being booted from office across the country. Will Obama's school reforms stick?
Michelle Rhee’s Unfinished D.C. Schools Legacy - The Daily Beast
The high-profile head of DC’s schools exits, leaving an uncertain legacy. Will her successor follow through on her reforms—or forfeit millions in federal funds?
Grading "Waiting for Superman" -- The Nation
The celebrated film tells a familiar story about unions and schools—but misses what's new in education reform.
Bill Clinton’s Rwanda Guilt -- The Daily Beast
Paul Kagame helped rebuild after genocide, but he has also brutally repressed political opposition in his country, and contributed to violence in Congo. Dana Goldstein on why Clinton is still protecting the Rwandan president.
Bill Clinton's Warning to Democrats at CGI -- The Daily Beast
As his Global Initiative opens, Clinton talks about the chances for Mideast peace, Rwanda’s controversial president, and why we need a second stimulus. Plus: why disaffected liberals should get over their anger at Obama.
What Adrian Fenty’s Loss Means for Education Reform - The Daily Beast
Consensus-building and cooperation will always be important in school reform, because schools and communities are one and the same.
The Change Game -- The American Prospect
A review of two early histories of the 2008 presidential election--one focusing on gender, the other on the 50-state strategy that brought Obama to victory.
Tea Party Embraces Pro-Life, Christian Conservative Agenda - The Daily Beast
Tea Partier Joe Miller’s strong showing in Alaska came as voters there passed a pro-life measure. Dana Goldstein on the movement’s tacit endorsement of socially conservative issues, even as it says its focus is on fiscal issues.
More Than Just Girl Talk -- The Daily Beast
The misogynist blowhards who claimed it was beneath the president of the United States to appear on “The View” ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Ban on Abortion Coverage in New Insurance Program Sparks Outrage - The Daily Beast
Women’s organizations are crying foul at an Obama administration ban on abortion coverage in the new insurance plan for people with pre-existing conditions. Dana Goldstein on how the White House has gone beyond requirements of the health-care reform law.
Will Your Pills Be Covered? - The Daily Beast
Birth control didn’t make the White House’s new list of required health services—but women shouldn't panic. Dana Goldstein on why the pill may soon be free, and what President Obama must do to ensure politics don’t get in the way
The Coming Battle Over Birth Control - The Daily Beast
Health-care reform raised the possibility that birth control could soon be free for most women. But not if conservative activists have their way. Dana Goldstein reports.
Has Obama Failed the Congo? - The Daily Beast
The administration launched a $17 million program to fight rape in Congo—but is it effective? Dana Goldstein follows the money—and asks if Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric matches reality.
The Flotilla Propaganda War - The Daily Beast
Ever since Israeli commandos raided a Gaza-bound flotilla, a war has been waged on the internet over competing accounts of the incident. Dana Goldstein lays out the claims.
Let Her Have a Sex Scandal - The Daily Beast
As charges of a second affair dog South Carolina GOP candidate Nikki Haley, Dana Goldstein argues that just like male politicians, women politicos have the right to have affairs and stay in the game.
Arizona's Attack on Kids - The Daily Beast
The state’s immigration battle is now putting children in the hot seat. Dana Goldstein on the Arizona ethnic studies ban and a new bill that could require schools to tattle on illegal immigrant familie
Meet the New Union Boss - The Daily Beast
Mary Kay Henry, upset winner in the race to take over the SEIU, is about to become one of the most powerful women in progressive politics. Dana Goldstein on the female takeover of the labor movement.
New research reveals many fast-growing professions for women lack health insurance. Dana Goldstein on why reform proposals Dana Goldstein on why reform proposals stiff “pink-collar” workers.
The Innovation Administration-The American Prospect
The White House assumes that newer ideas are always better, but that's not necessarily the case.
The Charter Barter - The American Prospect
On education -- and every other social policy issue -- the Obama administration must play referee among competing experts. Is it up to the task?
The Wrong Side of the Mommy Track - The American Prospect
"The Good Wife"? More like "The Get Back to Work Wife." CBS' new drama is less about political marriage and more about a generation of opt-out women who are headed back to work.
Could Healthcare Reform Prevent Another Octomom? - Double X
How Obama’s plan could affect genetic testing and fertility treatment
Revenge of Ron Paul's Army - The Daily Beast
Three-quarters of the way through 2009, it is fringy Ron Paul, more so than John McCain or any of his other primary opponents, whose ideology is setting the conservative agenda.
Shaking Up Suburbia - The American Prospect
The Obama administration has told affluent Westchester County it can't continue to segregate low-income and minority housing. Is it the end of the all-white suburb?
Behavioral Theory - The American Prospect
Can Mayor Bloomberg pay poor people to be "good"?
A Woman's Guide to Health Reform - Double X
How abortion, contraceptives, and maternity care might change.
Aborting Health Reform - The American Prospect
Without reproductive-health coverage, any public insurance plan is doomed to fail.
A "Uniquely American" Abortion Debate - The American Prospect
The notion that tax dollars shouldn't pay for abortions is an international aberration, an example of American exceptionalism run amok.
Playing the Abortion Card - The American Prospect
Conservatives are crying "abortion" in their efforts to derail health reform. But progress for reproductive rights is far from assured.
Testing Testing - The American Prospect
Beneath the feel-good press releases about national education standards lie unresolved policy differences.
Recession Depression - The American Prospect
The authors of Womenomics are telling employees to demand work-life balance -- or else! But in a bleak economic climate, most women workers lack real bargaining power.
The French president’s decision to ban the burqa is a rash act at a time when diplomacy with the Middle East requires more delicacy than ever.
Women are leading the way in the Iranian protest movement. Why Iran’s feminists decided they’d finally had enough.
Many male-dominated professions are suffering an epidemic of job loss. But women aren't faring so well in the recession, either.
A new study assessing the withdrawal method finds it is nearly as effective as condoms. Should we teach it to teenagers?
The Next Step Toward School Integration
On the 55th anniversary of Brown v. Board, there is real evidence that integration -- still -- matters.
Two new biographies -- one of Helen Gurley Brown and the other of sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson -- offer cautionary tales about mixing sex and the workplace.
Porn industry lobbyists feel out Capitol Hill in a time of economic crisis.
The Questioning Spirit
Hebrew schools have long discouraged American Jewish children from thinking critically about Israel. This Passover season, it is time for a change.
Is Merit Pay a Distraction in the Fight for Meaningful Education Reform?
Merit pay is the hot topic in education policy. But the history of American education reform suggests we should be skeptical of single-faceted solutions to multifaceted problems.
All Work, No Pay
Should the first lady earn a salary? Yes.
The Education Wars
Teachers' unions and reform advocates are locked in a fight over the future of schools. Now the battle lines have started to blur.
Getting Ahead of Congress
Yes, the economy and Iraq must be President Obama's first priorities. But portraying social issues as the "wrong things" -- as oppositional to economic and security issues -- is unhelpful and almost guarantees a stalemate on key civil-rights goals. Misgivings from conservative Republicans and skittish Democrats should not drive Obama's agenda. Rather, the president must begin reaching out to Congress to build support on key social issues right away. If he doesn't lay the groundwork now, future opportunities will be lost.
No Education Silver Bullet
In the United States, the education debate has been framed as a zero sum game. But a look at Finland, whose schools rank number one in global surveys, shows that a shared national commitment to education can neutralize political debates over school reform.
Since Mayor Michael Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plan failed in New York City, his transportation commissioner has taken a piecemeal approach to reclaiming streets from cars.
Advocating for Urbanism
Obama has promised to create a White House Office of Urban Policy. What will it look like? Who will run it?
The Identity Politics Election
Race, gender, and their discontents never went away, but thanks to this election, we're actually discussing them again. That's progress.
Third Term's a Charm
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's quest for a third term may signal a turn against the term-limits enacted around the country in the early nineties.
The Strange Case of the Colorado Labor-Business Coalition
In this Rocky Mountain swing state, business leaders are working alongside unions to defeat a right-to-work ballot initiative. Inside one of the wackiest political compromises in American history.
Taking the Initiative
Ballot initiatives are just another weapon in the public-policy wars. Progressives shouldn't fear them.
Kokesh is the guy who interrupted McCain's acceptance speech at the RNCC.
The Conservative Case for Urbanism
Republicans may have an uneasy relationship to global warming, but some are finding reasons to embrace government projects close to environmentalists' hearts -- like public transit.
The Elephant in the Room
Women at the Republican convention react to Bristol Palin's pregnancy and offer a stark reminder of how limited conservative ideology is in its views of sexuality, education, and choice.
What Hillary Means Now
Hillary Clinton's speech showed that in defeat, she has become a sort of patron saint of the Democratic Party.
Sherrod Brown on How Blue-Collar Voters Can Go Green
TAP talks to the Ohio senator about how Obama can appeal to white union members, talk about the loss of manufacturing jobs, and promote green jobs.
The Democratic Education Divide
A pre-convention education event was full of anti-union rhetoric, even as teachers' union members remain among the most loyal of Democratic constituencies.
It's His Party
Barack Obama might be running on a post-partisan platform, but he is more focused on building the Democratic Party than any other candidate in recent history.
Business Schools - The American Prospect
Edison, once the brand synonymous with for-profit education, has largely given up on making public schools profitable. Running schools, it turned out, wasn't a cash cow. The company now hopes that selling technology products to schools will be.
Gender, Jobs, and the Working Class Family
Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam believe public policy should start at home, by using the tax code to "re-stigmatize" out of wedlock birth. Stigma, though, shouldn't be the goal of our public policy -- creating jobs should be.
Janet Napolitano and the New Third Way
Arizona's governor has contained Republicans, reinvigorated Democrats, and provided a new model for progressive politics in the West. And here's a transcript of my interview with the lady.
The Abortion Counseling Conundrum
Pro-choice activists have come to embrace the idea that many women who've had abortions can benefit from non-ideological counseling. So why are the groups that provide such counseling having so much trouble raising money?
Feminist Groups Prepare to Back Obama
Are angry feminists defecting en masse to the McCain campaign? Far from it. Behind the scenes, many women's organizations are preparing to fight for an Obama victory in November.
June 17, 2008 | | web only
What Hillary Did for Women - The American Prospect
We don't have to wait to see how Hillary Clinton's campaign changed the role of women in politics. From the vice-presidential competition to punditry to Netroots activism, we're already seeing positive results.
The Battle of the Blogs- The New Republic
Will the fight between Daily Kos and MyDD have longer lasting implications than its founders realize?
As gas prices rise and congestion worsens, cities and commuters alike are starting to embrace bicycles.
The Case of the Missing Education Policy - The American Prospect
Want to know what John McCain's plans are for fixing America's education system? Good luck. His last major statement was during his 2000 campaign.
The Pope's Free Pass - RH Reality Check and The American Prospect
American politicians missed a chance to criticize the pope for the church's opposition to the use of condoms to stem the spread of AIDS.
Should Clinton Consider Albany? - The American Prospect
The decline of Hillary Clinton's presidential prospects does not change the fact that she is a singularly hard-working, policy-focused politician. Now that Eliot Spitzer is out, perhaps she should consider running for governor of New York.
War With Ourselves - RH Reality Check
The prevalence of sexual violence against American women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan is a national shame. U.S. servicewomen today are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.
When Obama Voted "No" - RH Reality Check
Obama’s opposition to the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act” serves as the basis of anti-choice rhetoric against his candidacy. But BAIPA isn't really about protecting infants; it is anti-abortion rights legislation crafted by the hard right.
Canada Imports "School Choice" Ideology - The American Prospect
Toronto's current debate over whether to create Afrocentric public schools looks suspiciously like arguments over private school vouchers in the United States, with the same charged rhetoric and misleading data.
Fractures on the Far Right - RH Reality Check
Catholic anti-choicers were among the first members of the religious right to flock to the McCain campaign, in part because of suspicions of anti-Catholicism within Mike Huckabee's evangelical movement. Now McCain's Catholic supporters are incensed by their candidate's solicitation of an endorsement from a man who has long derided Catholicism
What's Missing From Democratic Exit Polls? - RH Reality Check
By including questions about abortion on Republican exit polls, but not Democratic ones, pollsters guarantee the media pays attention to how conservative, anti-choice voters feel about the issue, while overlooking the majority of Americans' support for broad access to abortion and contraception.
Obama's Demographic Problem - The American Prospect
Even some supporters worry that Obama is doing little to retool his message to reach the demographic groups that have challenged him -- working-class whites and Latinos.
The Fight for the Latino Vote - The American Prospect
Super Tuesday has brought the power of the Latino vote to the forefront of the campaign. Clinton and Obama are once again sparring over a slice of the demographic pie.
Whither Edwards Supporters? - The American Prospect
John Edwards has dropped out of the presidential race. The new questions is where his supporters -- and the candidate himself -- will go next.
Baby on Board - The New Republic
John McCain's adopted daughter, the great symbol of dirty tricks in 2000's South Carolina primary, is now being used by McCain himself in a ploy to woo evangelical voters.
The Real Caucus Coverage - The American Prospect
If more members of the national media left the safe confines of the campaign parties to cover how Iowa really chooses a nominee, maybe America would be more critical of the process.
The Appeal of the Second Tier - The American Prospect
Joe Biden supporters are wild about the senator's experience on the world stage. And deluded enough to think he can win the Iowa caucus.
Iowans Debate the Merits of Edwards' Populism - The American Prospect
Will the Iowa caucuses be a referendum on John Edwards' populist rhetoric?
Ladies Choice - The New Republic
Barack Obama's attempt to mount a feminist challenge to Hillary Clinton.
Reparations Anxiety - The American Prospect
Brown University announced that it will give a $10 million endowment to local public schools to atone for its involvement in the slave trade. But reparations alone will not address the ongoing segregation of the American education system.
Left Behind? - The American Prospect
Ossining, New York, was at the forefront of school integration. But as American law and public opinion turn against race-based programs, can the town continue to use racial targeting to close the achievement gap?
Race-Baiting on the Ballot - The American Prospect
Immigration isn't the only explosive racial issue facing voters in the coming election year -- the anti-affirmative action movement is pushing 2008 ballot initiatives across the country. Is economic populism the antidote?
Conservative Women and the GOP Gender Gap - The American Prospect
The Republican candidates' female staffers seem more concerned with one particular woman -- Hillary Clinton -- than with the American woman voter. It's hard to imagine them closing their gender gap any time soon.
Stupid White Men - The Guardian
The Democratic party shouldn't abandon its progressive agenda in pursuit of white male voters. For one thing, it doesn't need them.
Jenna Bush Reconsidered - The American Prospect
Forget the stories about drinking and partying. With her new book on the problems of poverty, AIDS, and sex abuse in Latin America, Jenna Bush seems to be growing up -- and outgrowing her family's conservative politics.
Segregated Schools Leave Children Behind - The American Prospect
NCLB ignored a key underlying sociological problem -- segregation -- that contributes to the achievement gap. We've known for a long time that separate cannot be equal, but as NCLB's supporters well understood, it is doubtful the bill would have passed had it imposed on privileged white people any substantive responsibility for the achievement of minority students.
Newt's New Spin on the Iraq War - The American Prospect
Think again before you tell your friends you've located one of those rumored "principled conservatives." When it comes to the Iraq War, Gingrich has a long history of flipping, flopping, and then flipping again.
The Motivations of Monsters - CampusProgress.org
An interview with author Tara McKelvey about torture in Iraq
GOP Moms: Between a Rock and the Hard Right - The American Prospect
A Republican Congresswoman describes her life as a working mother to a room full of young conservative women. Mixed messages abound.
Will Conservatives Leave Education Reform Behind? - The American Prospect
At an American Enterprise Institute event yesterday, conservatives considered whether to throw their support behind reforming No Child Left Behind, or let the law continue to hobble along as an unfunded mandate.
Dr. Yes-Man - The American Prospect
Dr. James Holsinger doesn't inspire confidence that, if confirmed as surgeon general, he would be independent enough to withstand Bush's political and ideological pressure.
Genetic Disorder - In These Times
Parents with limited incomes are being denied access to genetic tests and the counseling that experts say should accompany them.
Second Tier Candidates, First Rate Ideas - The American Prospect
Good ideas on public education, criminal justice reform, and international law from second-tier Democratic presidential candidates.
Hillary and the Chick Factor - The American Prospect
The competing demands of identity politics were very much on the minds of young voters who came out to see Clinton in downtown Washington, many of whom described themselves as torn between the gravitas of Clinton's health care and diplomatic experience and the excitement surrounding the Barack Obama campaign.
Circumcision Promotion Divides AIDS Activists- In These Times
Many activists are concerned about extrapolating prevention methods for American high-risk men, many of whom are bisexual or gay, from the African circumcision studies, which were conducted primarily among heterosexual groups. Meanwhile, others question how a male partner’s circumcision affects a woman’s susceptibility to HIV.
Rally for the American Dream - CampusProgress.org
At an immigrant rights rally in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, the diverse grassroots movement that surfaced last year in a spate of street demonstrations reunited with clear legislative goals.
The Mommy Mantra - The American Prospect
Pelosi and Clinton's pandering to outmoded gender stereotypes doesn't assuage doubts about women ascending to the highest reaches of power. It reinforces them.
Her Next Bold Move - CampusProgress.org
It’s difficult for me to overstate the influence Ani Difranco had on my adolescence...
Anti-Choicers Get a Life - CampusProgress.org
I run into Sam Brownback at the Blogs4Life conference.
Five Minutes With Andy Stern - CampusProgress.org
The labor leader tells me about his plans to bring young professionals into the movement.
It's the Politics Stupid - The American Prospect
I got some crap for this piece, but I do still believe that the lack of women in electoral politics contributes to the lack of women in political opinion journalism.
Speaking of Choice - CampusProgress.org
The fetus is not the issue. The woman is.
Momma Said Help Me Out - CampusProgress.org
In the "mommy wars," men should do more than observe.
Very Civil Disobedience - CampusProgress.org
Behind the scenes of a new type of protest.
Not So Social - CampusProgress.org
Do young people support private accounts? I went to an empty room to find out