Politics, Moderate



Racism and the Trump Effect at the High School Where I Teach

CHICAGO -- My two sons used to come home from a day at high school complaining that ludicrous accusations of racism were as common as the desks in the classrooms. I chalked it up to adolescent exaggeration.

After having spent the current academic year as a teacher surrounded by rowdy high-schoolers, I can attest that they were right.

In the ...Read more

On Immigration, Trump is Wilfully Ignorant

CHICAGO -- Is it just me or does anyone else get the feeling that President Trump and others in his administration don’t see any difference between unauthorized immigrants and those residing in our country legally?

This seemed obvious in his first immigration-related executive order -- halted by the courts -- barring refugees and citizens ...Read more

Betsy DeVos May be the Least of Public Education’s Worries

CHICAGO -- Newly confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may just be the most reviled woman in America today.

Protesters recently blocked her from walking in through the front door of a Washington, D.C., school. She’s been accused of being too rich and privileged to comprehend public education and mocked for being concerned about the threat...Read more

Meaningful Work Need Not be ‘Fun’

CHICAGO -- My students know I care deeply about them. They know I love to joke around and keep things interesting as we investigate topics they might find dry. But they also know I am waging a one-woman crusade against “fun.”

It’s not that I don’t like to have fun, it’s just that young people moving from high school to college and, ...Read more

A Latino Health-Outreach Program is a Reminder That it’s All in the Name

CHICAGO -- If culture can be used as a currency to understand and serve a community, it can also be a trap, if the culture is painted with too broad a brush. We think we “know” the so-called Hispanic community -- generalizing to certain tropes about language, love of family, deference to authority figures, etc. -- and we rarely stop to ...Read more

Don’t Tell Your Children That You’re Not Good at Math

CHICAGO -- There is an emerging education trend I’ve noticed that will hopefully sweep the nation: Asking the adults in children’s lives to not bad-mouth themselves about math.

The first time I noticed it was several years ago at an orientation for parents at my younger son’s new middle school. The principal was trying to explain that the...Read more

Which ‘American Workers’ Does Trump Aim to Protect?

CHICAGO -- Among the flurry of jaw-dropping executive actions we’re trying to keep up with was President Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific-rim countries was an attempt by the Obama administration to stem China’s growing influence in the region and around the ...Read more

When Straight Talk is Crazy Talk

CHICAGO -- What are we to make of a man who seems unable to keep himself from making false statements, yet fundamentally keeps his word?

Donald Trump as president is something that we’ve rarely seen before: A self-styled straight-talker who didn’t disappoint his most fervent supporters by tacking to the center after claiming victory.

After...Read more

Viewing Minorities as Monolithic Groups Only Exacerbates Inequality

CHICAGO -- “Disaggregation” is not a word that rolls off the tongue easily. But the concept of separating a whole into its distinct parts is one that we should embrace when it comes to statistics about minorities.

The time when it was sufficient to break out data by simple race or ethnicity segments has past. Demographics and new ...Read more

Don’t Be Blinded by the Flattery from College Recruiters

CHICAGO -- Many high schools across the country require that sophomores take the preliminary SAT or the practice ACT in preparation for the junior-year tests, which help determine their competitiveness at highly selective schools. When they do this, the students have the option to fill in a bubble on their answer packet agreeing to let ...Read more

Helping Kids Handle the ‘Trump Effect’ in Our Nation’s Schools

CHICAGO -- A new study by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights advocacy organization, says that more than two-thirds of 2,000 teachers surveyed reported students -- mainly immigrants, children of immigrants and Muslims -- expressing concerns or fears about what might happen to them or their families during a Trump presidency.

Since ...Read more

As the Circus Leaves Town for Good, May the Increased Respect for Animals Endure

CHICAGO -- I will never get to take my grandchildren to the circus.

For that matter, I’ll never again get to take my parents -- who adore going with their own grandchildren to the circus for the cotton candy, popcorn, acrobats and animals -- now that Feld Entertainment has announced that, after 146 years, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & ...Read more

White-Knuckled Fear of Sugar isn’t the Sweetest Solution to Our Overconsumption

CHICAGO -- The buzz about activist journalist Gary Taubes’ new book “The Case Against Sugar” is that it’s both a muckraking expose detailing how the processed food industry has hushed research about sugar’s threat to our health and a call to arms against the nutrient that Taube considers a “toxic substance.”

This is accurate. But ...Read more

No Wonder There Are So Few Minority Journalists

CHICAGO -- Shaun King, a civil rights activist and senior justice writer for the New York Daily News, had to preface his response to the recent hate crime committed against a disabled Chicago-area man with four full paragraphs of disavowal before making this point:

“I see thousands of white folk online asking me why I’m not speaking out ...Read more

The Road to Achieving Your Goals is Paved with Persistence

CHICAGO -- Last year I learned that hard work, and not innate talent for a skill, is the key to mastering a difficult task.

In their book, “Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise,” authors Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool (best known for quantifying the “10,000 hours” estimate for attaining mastery in a field) say that ...Read more

The Joy of Diversity in Food

CHICAGO -- It was like an object lesson from a training film about cultural competency: There I was, sitting on a fluffy rug in my classroom surrounded by 20 native Spanish-speaking first-graders. I’d just read aloud the English version of “Too Many Tamales,” Gary Soto’s children’s story about mischievous Maria’s secret angst after ...Read more

The System for Evaluating Teachers is Getting a Failing Grade

CHICAGO -- You know something in education is broken when both ends of the political spectrum are saying the same thing about it. The hot-button issue of teacher evaluations is a duel between the left, which believes they are ineffective in identifying excellence or negligence, and the right, which believes that this evaluation dysfunction makes...Read more

Next Monday, the Electoral College Has the Chance to Show its Value

CHICAGO -- Lately, when masses of people don’t like a long-standing rule or tradition, they believe it should be discarded -- until it becomes useful.

After Justice Antonin Scalia unexpectedly passed away in February and it seemed a Democratic presidential victory was likely, certain Republicans decided that not only should the outgoing ...Read more

Teacher Training Shows Signs of Improvement But Still Has Much Homework to Do

CHICAGO -- As sure as Earth rotates around the sun, college professors condemn high schools for freshmen who can’t write decent papers, high school teachers blame middle schools for passing barely literate students along, and middle school teachers tsk-tsk elementary school teachers for kids who aren’t comfortable with the basics of ...Read more

The Media Are Still Looking Down on Working-Class America

CHICAGO -- Long ago in a faraway land called Post-Election East Coast, the major media companies published mea culpas about having overlooked “real people” with economic anxieties not reflected in aggregate national unemployment and GDP numbers. After incorrectly projecting that Hillary Clinton had the presidency in the bag, they vowed...Read more


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Chris Britt Mike Lester Chip Bok Andy Marlette Nick Anderson Lisa Benson