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Kay Steiger

Kay Steiger is an associate editor at Talking Points Memo. She formerly worked at Raw Story, Washingtonian magazine, the Center for American Progress and The American Prospect. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, the Guardian, Jezebel, AlterNet and others. She graduated from the University of Minnesota. Contact her at kay@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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Amanda Ripley takes on the thing that educators often struggle with in today's excerpt from her book, The Smartest Kids In The World: How figure out if kids care about school.

Over the next three decades, more and more studies showed that when it came to predicting which kids grew up to be thriving adults—who succeeded in life and in their jobs—cognitive abilities only went so far.
Something else mattered just as much, and sometimes more, to kids’ life chances. This other dark matter had more to do with attitude than the ability to solve a calculus problem. In one study of U.S. eighth graders, for example, the best predictor of academic performance was not the children’s IQ scores—but their self-discipline.

Don't forget, join us for a chat (sub. req.) with Ripley today at noon.

Seth D. Michaels: "McConnell's brilliance is just how much dishonesty he can pack into so few words."

Of all the places to achieve a top-tier education system, Poland might be the most surprising. After all, it wasn't so long ago that the country was, as Amanda Ripley writes in an excerpt from her book The Smartest Kids In The World, a "communist backwater." She writes about their path to success.

Join Ripley for a chat (sub. req.) this Friday at noon.

Apparently Republican leadership wasn't too impressed with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's personal response to the president's State of the Union speech, with leadership aides calling Paul's soapboxing "blatant" self-promotion.

There are few laugh-out-loud moments in a night of pre-programmed coverage of the president's State Of The Union speech, but this Fox News focus group expressing genuine confusion at Obama's executive action to offer more retirement savings options for poor people was one for me.

"I'm left scratching my head all night, 'What is this?'" Gee, why would poor people need more retirement savings options?

Over at TPM Cafe's Book Club today, Amanda Ripley, author of The Smartest Kids In The World, questions Obama's claim from last night's State of the Union speech that America is "better positioned" than any other country: "It was the kind of rhetoric you’d hear 20 years ago and not think twice. (In fact, President Bill Clinton used the exact same line in a 1995 speech, right after he praised this wonderful thing call the Internet.) But at this particular moment in time, that bold claim did make me think twice. Is Obama right?"

Don't forget to join us for an author chat with Ripley this Friday at noon. (sub. req.)

At TPM Cafe Book Club this morning, Amanda Ripley asks South Koreans about Americans' obsession with their high test scores in an excerpt from The Smartest Kids In The World: "When I asked if [Korea's education minister, Lee Ju-Ho] agreed with President Obama’s glowing rhetoric about the Korean education system, he smiled a tired smile. It’s a question he got asked often, usually by Korean reporters who could not understand what the U.S. president—or anyone—would find to like about Korea’s system."

TPM Prime members should remember to join us for a chat with Ripley this Friday at noon.

Time to heave ho, argues Ed Kilgore, "As the State of the Union Address and the first partisan blows of the 2014 election cycle approach, there’s a familiar character missing from the political state: the Deficit Boogeyman."

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