Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle Gurley is The American Prospect’s deputy editor. Her email is ggurley@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

The Great Diversion

Charter schools may or may not improve student outcomes—but they divert funds from other public schools.

AP Photo/Stephan Savoia
This article appears in the Spring 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine . Subscribe here . When Boston Mayor Marty Walsh learned of plans by the city’s public high school students to walk out to protest proposed budget cuts, he told them to stay in class. They didn’t. On a cool, sunny March afternoon, thousands of young people marched through Boston Common and converged on the Massachusetts State House, where the legislature’s Joint Committee on Education was holding a hearing on a ballot question that would significantly increase the number of charter schools. Brighton High School senior Christopher Gayle left school, too, but he went into the building to testify. Gayle told state lawmakers that he had nothing against charter schools, but he blamed them for the cuts. “They’re taking away money from the Boston Public Schools,” Gayle said. Boston’s majority-minority public school system is the largest in the state, with nearly 57,000...

A Tale of Two Subway Systems

Washington Metro riders might complain about their subway system, but it could be worse—just look at Boston.

(Photo: AP/Alex Brandon)
Kvetching about the decline of Metrorail is a popular pastime in Washington, D.C. But area residents may elevate complaining to an art form if Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) officials decide to close off entire lines or sections of the region’s subway system for weeks or months at time—something they said was a real possibility earlier this week. Yet if Washington riders want to experience how bad commuting can get when a transit agency fails to properly maintain its transportation assets, they can head to the other end of the Northeast Corridor for a preview of coming attractions: Without drastically accelerated repairs, Washington, D.C., will soon have a subway system like Boston’s. The Metro announcement comes less than two weeks after WMATA General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld ordered an unprecedented one-day shutdown of all Washington Metro subway lines after a fire prompted system-wide safety inspections. But as disruptive as this closure...

Cities Still In Search of Solutions

We need to reignite the debate over the future of urban America.  

AP Photo/Eric Gay
A New York Times 2008 editorial, “In Search of A Real Urban Policy” declared that, “For more than a generation, presidential aspirants have mostly resisted acknowledging the importance of the cities’ well being. Voters deserve to hear a lot more from the presidential candidates—in position papers, public speeches and debates—about how they intend to help the cities.” The Times cited urban issues like New York City graduation rates, the Katrina debacle, and like the Minneapolis bridge collapse as worrying issues on the urban landscape. The 2008 Democratic presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, had “pieces of an urban agenda” while Senator John McCain, the major Republican contender, didn’t have much to offer. Nearly decade later, the issues facing American cities remain intractable. Some problems have either only marginally improved, like New York City graduation rates , or go by new names like Sandy, for...

Transit Safety Shuffle in the Nation’s Capital

Unless the federal government can exercise proper authority over D.C.'s ailing transit system, dangerous accidents may continue to occur. 

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
The entire Washington, D.C., subway system shut down for an emergency safety inspection for 29 hours last week, forcing thousands of District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia residents to find other ways to navigate the region. The Federal Transit Administration is the lead agency in charge of safety oversight on the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority, the only local agency in the United States that the FTA oversees. With the FTA (which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation) charged with oversight for the system, you would think that federal officials were on the scene as their WMATA counterparts the inspected the subway. You would be wrong. No FTA or other Department of Transportation inspectors took part in the unprecedented safety blitz that discovered major problems with nearly 30 power cables. Asked why federal inspectors did not participate, a DOT spokesman told The American Prospect, “WMATA conducted the inspection without DOT participation. In its...

The Siren Call of Streetcars

How the real-estate industry foils cost-effective transit

(Photo: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
The long-awaited D.C. streetcars recently started trundling down Washington’s H Street NE, near the U.S. Capitol. Yet the $200 million line, which had been in the works for a full decade, has mostly been greeted with the sound of one hand clapping. Residents have complained about the slow speed of the system, the short span of the line, and the paucity of new jobs or better transit connections for the area’s African American poor. When it comes to streetcars, New York is no Washington, insists Gotham Mayor Bill de Blasio. The Big Apple, he says, would have a “ different ” approach to the $2.5 billion Brooklyn Queens Connector, a cross-borough waterfront streetcar plan. Still, a streetcar is a curious choice for New York, a city that epitomizes a “the quick and the dead” attitude toward urban commuting—getting to a final destination by the shortest, fastest route possible. Streetcars are all the rage today in areas that would be otherwise ideal...

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