Politics, Moderate



Do computers in schools help kids learn? It's complicated.

CHICAGO -- As a teacher who's been around to witness schools "go 1:1" -- meaning one laptop, iPad or Chromebook per student -- I can attest to the dystopian sight of classrooms full of young children with their eyes glued to glowing screens.

Those first weeks of the transition to technology are harrowing. I watch every moment that used to be ...Read more

Picture book offers clearer portrait of gender identity

CHICAGO -- What I like best about the new children's picture book "It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity" is that there's no sad child who magically overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to have a happy ending.

As a teacher for grades K-4, I read a lot of picture books with important messages about respect, understanding ...Read more

Reparations will pave the way to justice for all

CHICAGO -- In the spring of 1995, I sat in a stuffy classroom studying "Literary History of England, from Beowulf to 1800," while overlooking Southern Illinois University's iconic Pulliam Clock Tower.

I was on the verge of boiling over. Somehow, the lone Hispanic (me) and the lone black person in the tiny class were engaged in a shouting match ...Read more

Why isn't Julián Castro getting the same media attention as the other candidates?

CHICAGO -- Why aren't I as sick and tired of Julián Castro as I was of Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke in March and as I am now of media-flavor-of-the-month, Pete Buttigieg?

I want to have Castro fatigue. I want to snark online about the glamour-shot treatment he got on the cover of whatever influential magazine the East Coast reveres most at ...Read more

No, abortion is not joyful or whimsical. For mothers in peril, it can actually be life-saving.

CHICAGO -- Being a woman frequently means not having much of a voice. Using it to protest or advance policy can mean bearing one's soul, detailing one's most intimate moments or divulging the most terrifying, violent or shameful events of life.

Often for nothing.

Just ask Christine Blasey Ford. She stood up to protest the nomination of a man ...Read more

Chicago's first gay, black, female mayor offers hope for all of us

CHICAGO -- Well, we finally did it, America. The muscular, broad-shouldered city with the glory-days reputation of being hog butcher for the world inaugurated its first gay, black, female mayor.

On Monday, Lori Lightfoot, a former assistant U.S. attorney, was sworn in alongside her white wife, Amy Eshleman, and their 10-year-old daughter, ...Read more

If technology helps the real 'you' come forward, go for it

CHICAGO -- I don't need the Snapchat gender-swap filter to show me what I look like as a man -- I can just look at any picture of my dad at my age and voilà.

But posting opposite-gender pictures using the filter was all the rage last week.

And even in this age of gender exploration, some young people who grew up in a world where it's OK to ...Read more

Money can't buy an end to systemic racism in education

CHICAGO -- Over the past few years, I've taught at schools that were low-income, terribly under-resourced and majority-African American and Latino. I've also taught at affluent, majority-white schools with nutritionally balanced lunches and laptops for every student.

What I've come to learn is that in all of these schools, the one factor that ...Read more

Don't believe everything you see on the internet

CHICAGO -- It's a story as old as time itself: If you want to protect yourself from predators, get big and scary. Even the great horned owl fluffs up its feathers, and the puffer fish swells its spiny skin to ward off attackers.

So, too, it goes in the social media age -- a time in which we condemn peers for attempting to portray their lives as...Read more

What would Jesus do about immigration issues?

CHICAGO -- Although we live in a country where organized religion is mostly out of vogue, there are still plenty of people who are familiar with the teachings of Christ -- and who can't square them with how supposedly God-fearing Republicans inhumanely view migrants and refugees at the U.S. border.

"The rejection of Christian teaching on this ...Read more

Now is the time to provide meaningful sex education to boys

CHICAGO -- Recently, I had to comfort a student over a situation in which she and another girl were competing for the attention of a boy in their class. There were tears, drama, recriminations and some revenge fantasizing involving passionate language. They were 9-year-old third-graders.

In September, I had to talk to my students about not ...Read more

Students of all ages deserve a bailout on their loans

CHICAGO -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., proposes eliminating up to $50,000 in student debt for borrowers who make less than $100,000 per year, giving up to 42 million Americans what amounts to a second lease on life.

Philip Klein, the executive editor of the right-leaning Washington Examiner, opposes Warren's idea. In a column with a ...Read more

Democrats need to give Hispanic voters something worth voting for

CHICAGO -- Wasn't the 2016 presidential election the event that taught us to distrust polls? Didn't almost everyone get it wrong, eroding the public's trust in both journalism and their fellow citizens, who made electoral choices that seemed to go against their own self-interest?

Welcome to the 2020 campaign season, which is already making me -...Read more

Unauthorized immigrants help prop up America's economy

CHICAGO -- Whenever I see a viral video of a racist person harassing a Spanish speaker with brown skin because they seem "illegal," I comfort myself with the vivid image of millions of Latinos watching the spectacle with bafflement as they fan themselves with a stack of $100 bills.

It's not silly.

People act like unauthorized immigrants are ...Read more

Speak out about America's cruelty to immigrants

CHICAGO -- By all accounts, the Trump administration is on an anti-immigrant tear that threatens to obliterate the already-broken immigration system in this country.

President Trump has ousted top officials, saying they weren't as tough as he thought they should be, and elevated the anti-immigrant hardliner Stephen Miller.

At a Texas ...Read more

It's a bird, it's a plane … it's yet another superhero movie!

CHICAGO -- It seems pretty obvious that the superhero movie genre is jumping the shark.

I used to get everyone in my family psyched and out the door for the comic-book blockbusters, but the spectacle of superhero movies went stale for me a few years ago.

And I'm not the only one -- even my husband and my teen son have not been able to gin up ...Read more

Trump administration policy mistreats migrant children

CHICAGO -- Most Americans have no reason to know anything about the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), but it has recently become a flash point in immigration policy.

Initially established in 2000, the alphabet-soup legislation made human trafficking a federal crime. It has been reauthorized over the years to expand its...Read more

News flash: There's a lot more than Mexico south of the border

CHICAGO -- So many Mexicos, so little time!

I have no idea who created it, but there's a handy little chart of "all the Mexicos" rocketing across the internet. It's a humorous clapback at the recent folly in which an onscreen chyron on Fox News said that President Trump was cutting aid to "3 Mexican Countries."

Some genius mocked up the ...Read more

GenderCool teens remind us that the world is full of promise

CHICAGO -- The world is a frightening place filled with peril, abuse and discrimination -- and it's even worse for people who don't fall neatly into society's traditional buckets.

This was my state of mind last week as I drove out to a home in a suburb north of Chicago to meet a gaggle of teens, some of whom have already gone through things in ...Read more

Melville made a huge splash, but his critics left barely a ripple

CHICAGO -- There's no end to the awfulness we heap upon artists -- it happens to the best of them.

Beethoven himself was panned by John Ruskin -- one of the Victorian era's most famous art critics -- as composing music that "always sounds to me like the upsettings of bags of nails, with here and there an also dropped hammer."

Claude Monet's ...Read more


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