Politics, Moderate



Standardized Testing is Imperfect But Necessary

CHICAGO -- A recent column about my return to the teaching profession pleased many readers who wrote to congratulate me.

One longtime reader good-naturedly ribbed me for past columns in which I had expressed support for standardized testing: "Please contact me the moment you have the 'standardized tests are a waste of time' epiphany. It will be...Read more

One Man's Clutter Could Be Another Man's Treasure

CHICAGO -- In a recent op-ed piece, Stephanie Land characterized the de-cluttering craze, popularized by Marie Kondo's best-selling "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," as a form of class-based scorn.

"In a new documentary about the movement, bad' consumption is portrayed by masses of people swarming into big-box stores on Black Friday, ...Read more

Trump's Ideological Test for Immigrants is Absurd

CHICAGO -- The perverse thing about ideologues is that they're easy to dismiss when they say something blatantly outlandish.

About a week ago, Donald Trump said that President Obama was the founder of the terrorist group ISIS, also known as the Islamic State. When a conservative radio host subsequently gave the GOP nominee a chance to back ...Read more

For This Returning Teacher, An Uplifting View of Hispanic Students

CHICAGO -- Like millions of children across the country, last week I went back to school.

After 10 years of being away from the classroom, I'm teaching high school students the same age as my own children. Lots of things are the same as when I last taught, and others are quite different -- such as the technology used to teach, plan lessons, ...Read more

Why So Few Hispanics in the Government Workforce

CHICAGO -- When President Obama leaves office in January, his legacy -- in many Hispanics' minds, at least -- will largely be defined by his record number of deportations.

Despite his executive actions to keep certain unlawfully present immigrants from being deported, Obama has distinguished himself by sending more than 2.5 million unauthorized...Read more

Flat-Footed Responses Cripple Both Campaigns

CHICAGO -- If it seems that voting for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump constitutes a lesser-of-two-evils choice, one thing is clear: Never mind evil -- neither has a lick of sense, if the ability to think on their feet is any indication.

Exhibit A: Donald Trump went on an ill-advised and damaging media rampage against Khizr Khan -- the ...Read more

Gymnastics 2.0 Soars Beyond the Perfect 10

CHICAGO -- In August 2012, I wrote a lamentation about the seeming lack of lyricism, fluidity and artistry on display during the Olympics' women's gymnastics routines.

"Raw, explosive power? Yes. Bare-knuckled competition? Of course. Unparalleled muscular athleticism? Beyond a doubt. ... [But] the pervasive get-'er-done-quick flicking movements...Read more

The Joy (and Health) of Cooking

CHICAGO -- I'm not a foodie. I have about six restaurants I frequent and there are no menus involved -- the servers just bring out what I always get.

Nutrition and the fight against obesity and Type 2 diabetes -- issues of life-and-death importance, especially for kids -- are of great concern to me. But though I cook healthy (if uninspiring) ...Read more

Clinton's VP Selection Was Set Up for Disappointment

CHICAGO -- Face it: Hillary Clinton was going to disappoint regardless of who she chose as her running mate.

In picking Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton let down those who were hoping she would make an appeal to Hispanics with a high-visibility leadership position.

Julio Ricardo Varela, political editor of the Futuro Media Group, lamented on ...Read more

Vilifying Whites is No Way to Solve Our Racial Problems

CHICAGO -- Lately, it seems as though white bashing is a socially acceptable norm.

Imagine if media outlets ran headlines describing a large gathering of African-Americans as "a sea of black faces." Or one like this, "Republicans: In Your Black Faces, Young Democrats of America!!!" How about this one: "Dem Convention Full of 'Angry' 'Old' '...Read more

For the Sake of the Kids, Turn Down That Racket

CHICAGO -- In his book "The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want," Garret Keizer writes: "Noise is not the most important problem in the world. Compared to the disasters of famine, war, and global climate change, the existence of 'unwanted sound' hardly counts as a problem at all."

Of course noise doesn't compare to all those disasters, but to ...Read more

What a Dining Hall's Menu Says About Our Educational Divide

CHICAGO -- As they select schools for their children, should well-off Americans consider their college decisions a moral act?

Has the race for luxury amenities at top-tier universities made a full-tuition-paying family's decision to send their children to a college with less swanky room and board an act of social justice?

Malcolm Gladwell ...Read more

Diversifying the Workplace is a Net Gain For Us All

CHICAGO -- There is near-universal agreement that Silicon Valley needs more diversity.

Attaining it is usually thought of as a numbers game in which organizations try to get the percentage of their non-white staff to reflect that of the U.S. population. The reason usually cited for the need to diversify is the "business case." The thinking goes...Read more

The New News Spectacle

CHICAGO -- In the days after the 9/11 attacks, mental health experts pleaded that the public not steep themselves and their families in the wall-to-wall footage of death and terror.

The experts explained that feasting yourself on images of traumatic events may lead to serious mental and physical aftereffects resulting from anxiety, panic and ...Read more

Asian-Americans Soar in Population But Can't Escape the Pigeonhole

CHICAGO -- It has been nearly a year since the Pew Research Center reported that Asian immigrants are elbowing Latin Americans aside and are projected to become the largest immigrant group by 2055. Policy analysis on the implications of this shift is beginning to trickle out.

There are two important issues that Asian-Americans have been trying ...Read more

Smarts Should Not Be Mistaken for Human Worth

CHICAGO -- A recent essay in The Atlantic, "The War on Stupid People," should make us ponder the nature of what "stupid" really means. The dictionary says that stupidity is "behavior that shows a lack of good sense or judgment; the quality of being stupid or unintelligent."

The term is worth contemplating when elite media publications, which ...Read more

Hunger Never Takes a Holiday

CHICAGO -- Though summer tends to deliver a few opportunities to put our feet up and take it easy, hunger never takes a holiday.

But while many of us serve up juicy hamburgers and barrels of potato salad as a prelude to fireworks displays, more than 48 million Americans won't be getting enough to eat.

That's because summertime is particularly ...Read more

A Pilgrimage for Tolerance

CHICAGO -- It was scorching -- in the high 80s, but feeling more like low 90s in the sun and choking humidity -- as Father Jose Landaverde, an activist Catholic priest, took my call on the road.

This was Sunday, one week since Landaverde and a group of 10 people had set off from the South Side of Chicago, attempting a 350-mile walk to the site ...Read more

Seeking a Path to Academic Success for Low-Income Children

CHICAGO -- In his new book, "Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why," journalist Paul Tough investigates the challenge of educating low-income children, who now account for more than half of all public school students.

Tough walks readers through a list of potential interventions -- at home, in communities and at school -- to help ...Read more

Blaming Entire Communities is Wrongheaded and Un-American

CHICAGO -- In addition to his consistent blurring of the bright line between people of the Muslim faith and terrorists who cloak their destructive actions in terms of Islamist extremism, Donald Trump recently suggested that Muslims aren't doing their part to prevent tragedies like the nightclub massacre in Orlando.

"We have to form a ...Read more


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Steve Benson Ken Catalino Mike Lester Signe Wilkinson Nick Anderson Clay Bennett