Rescuing Rural Schools

In the early 1990s, Poland began an overhaul of its political system that transferred considerable authority to local authorities, including ownership and management of the public schools. Local governments were suddenly responsible for paying for education from local funds. In many of the smaller, less densely populated areas, there wasn’t enough money to keep the schools going. As a result,...
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The Land of Junk Contracts

The Poles call them umowa śmieciowa or “junk contracts.” If you’re young and lucky enough to have a job in Poland these days, it’s likely to be short-term and come without benefits. Ten percent of young people (up to the age of 25) are working in the black market, and another 25 percent have part-time or short-term work. Of the rest, most have job contracts that provide little in the way...
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The Accidental Activist

Romania’s revolution in 1989 was not as clear-cut as those in other countries in the region. There was not, for instance, a sharp divide between the Communist political elite and the post-Communist elite. And the street demonstrations that faded elsewhere in the region intensified in Romania through the spring of 1990. For instance in April and May 1990, thousands of students occupied...
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Housing Is for All

During the Communist period in East-Central Europe, when people talked about “homelessness,” they were speaking of a spiritual or political condition – of being in exile from their country of origin or feeling homeless in their own country because of the presence of Soviet troops. At that time, there were few people living on the street. Everyone had to have an address. Homelessness did not...
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Roma as Consumers

As the history of segregation in the United State demonstrates, the business community can be just as racist as anyone else – even if it undercuts their profits to refuse to serve minorities. Gradually, however, the business community began to see minorities as consumers and thus vital to their bottom line. Hollywood, for instance, realized the potential of African American audiences in the...
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Challenging the Warsaw Pact from Within

The Warsaw Pact was not without its internal rifts. When it came together in 1955, after news of West Germany entering NATO, the Soviet-sponsored security alliance included all European Communist countries – except Yugoslavia, which rejected Soviet leadership. In the early 1960s, Albania sided with China in the Sino-Soviet split and stopped cooperating with the Warsaw Pact. In 1968, Romania...
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