Politics, Moderate



Young adult literature is under siege

CHICAGO -- News that a school board in Mississippi is removing "To Kill a Mockingbird" from the eighth-grade curriculum due to language that "makes people uncomfortable" has raised fresh concerns about censorship.

We are living in a time when some university professors who teach Western literature are protested in class and denounced as racist ...Read more

A painful read wrapped in irresistible charms

CHICAGO -- Ta-Nehisi Coates' new book, "We Were Eight Years in Power," focuses on the complexity of the maxim every immigrant and minority has had ground into him or her: You have to be twice as good as white people to get a fair shot in this country. By Coates' reckoning, it's a false promise.

"The argument made in much of this book is that ...Read more

There are no winners in Dreamers debate

CHICAGO -- It's unclear whether a deal will be reached to ensure that the young, unlawfully present immigrants known as "Dreamers" can stay in the country. What is sure is that, either way, Americans' faith in their government will suffer another blow.

Let's face it: Anyone who really believed that passing a limited, smallish measure on ...Read more

No one wins the oppression Olympics

CHICAGO -- The Pew Research Center recently polled Americans on their belief in white privilege, and the results should surprise no one: Though a majority (56 percent) of people of all races and ethnicities believe that white people benefit either "a great deal" or "a fair amount" from their race, only 46 percent of whites say they benefit at ...Read more

Scientists search for secrets of sleep

CHICAGO -- As I type this column, I am exhausted from sleep deprivation -- a pretty standard state of being for me. Despite a lifetime of boring, monkish routine and impeccable sleep habits, my circadian rhythm has always been syncopated rather than regular or in any kind of harmony.

I've suffered from periodic bouts of insomnia for nearly all ...Read more

It shouldn't take a hurricane to learn that Puerto Rico is part of America

CHICAGO -- Puerto Ricans are Americans.

However, a recent survey by The Morning Consult, a research company, found that only 54 percent of Americans know that people born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens.

The island, a territory of the United States, may exist in people's minds as not related to us because it's not clear that it will ever ...Read more

Want an education revolution? Empower parents.

CHICAGO -- Education policy geeks are perpetually trying to figure out how to move the needle on academic achievement, yet they rarely include parents in the complex calculus of getting children to succeed in school.

It makes sense: There's not a whole lot that teachers or school administrators can do to either persuade or require parents to ...Read more

Targets of racial and religious hatred must band together

CHICAGO -- A decade ago, shortly after the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 failed in the Senate, I met with a group of Latino politicians here who were strategizing about how to pick up the pieces and move forward on the issue.

The conversation turned to the image of Hispanics in this country as new arrivals, immigrants and ...Read more

Guidance counselors' blind spots can hurt minority students

CHICAGO -- We all harbor little hurts in life, ones that never go away no matter how long ago they happened.

One of mine is that I didn't get to participate in my high school graduation ceremony.

Instead of walking across the stage of my college-prep school -- a prestigious school I had dreamed of attending since I was in first grade -- ...Read more

This Hispanic Heritage Month, let's look past the kitsch and have a meaningful discussion

CHICAGO -- This past weekend I saw a few cars flying Mexican flags.

My first reaction was fear -- I live in an area where you're as likely to see a "Si se puede" sticker on a car as you are a Confederate flag or a "Make America Great Again" yard sign. Naturally, I was concerned that whatever brave soul dared to conspicuously celebrate Mexican ...Read more

Secret Hitler game gains traction in Trump era

CHICAGO -- How I love it when my eclectic reading tastes coincide with weird news!

Last week, as I ate up Mary Pilon's tour-de-force book, "The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game," I plotted about how I could get away with writing about the sleepy, 2014 business book.

Perhaps only hard-core ...Read more

Immigrants are just like all other Americans: hard to categorize

CHICAGO -- Tragically, Donald Trump has managed to do that which eluded Barack Obama: Fulfill his campaign promises on immigration.

Last week, Trump announced that he would end the always-explicitly-temporary Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. He also suggested that Congress act within the next six months to enact permanent ...Read more

Historian infuriates liberal choir he preaches to

CHICAGO -- In writing "The Once and Future Liberal," the historian Mark Lilla has produced a short tome that is devoid of the shrieking hysteria about partisan rivals that usually sells political books.

Indeed, Lilla has done worse -- he's taken his own party to task in a scathing critique of liberalism's failure to create a common vision for ...Read more

What cures poor sleeping habits of teens? Jobs.

CHICAGO -- It's back-to-school season and time for the annual tradition of floating education policy ideas that no one really supports but that still get attention during the sleepy Labor Day weekend.

Exhibit A: The Rand Corp.'s new report suggesting that if public school start times were delayed to about 8:30 a.m., the higher academic ...Read more

For refuge in these troubled times, take in these podcasts

CHICAGO -- It's too much. It's all just too much. Amid angry clashes in the name of social justice, biblical floods and North Korean missile tests, we all need to get our minds off things.

Might I suggest binge-listening to fun podcasts?

I'm a huge fan of the medium and though I've been listening to podcasts for 10 years now, it hasn't been ...Read more

Another slap in the face of minorities

CHICAGO -- Sometimes you're just going along, having your morning coffee, getting into your paper and a headline leaps off the page and slaps you in the face.

That was the feeling I and countless other Hispanic college graduates had when we saw a recent New York Times article titled "Even With Affirmative Action, Blacks and Hispanics Are More ...Read more

When you need to go deep, don't let your devices be a distraction

CHICAGO -- There's nothing that digital addicts hate more than being told they need to pay closer attention to real life.

In a recent screed titled "It Would Be Great if Celebrities Could Stop Talking About the Joys of 'Unplugging,'" Slate blogger Heather Schwedel complained that comedian Aziz Ansari's declaration of independence from the ...Read more

How misunderstandings can become stereotypes

CHICAGO -- After weeks of racial unrest, protests, animosity and even some evocative demonstrations of support for communities of color, I've come to the conclusion that the most powerful thing we can do right now is watch out for each other.

As a result of 24-7 coverage of torch-wielding white supremacists and reactions from those the brazenly...Read more

Will white people now be profiled, just like the rest of us?

CHICAGO -- If it's true, as some assert, that the increased stridency of white supremacists has made it acceptable to show racial prejudice, then white people are going to start feeling the pain of being associated with a small, fringe group of over-the-top racists.

The other day, when riding the train in Chicago, I noticed that I was ...Read more

College isn't the only way to achieve the American dream

CHICAGO -- The tide is turning on the "college-for-all" movement. Policymakers are finally starting to understand that while in a perfect world every student would emerge from 12 years of public education excited and prepared for the rigors of college, this just isn't realistic.

It's no wonder, really. Though the career earnings of college ...Read more


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Steve Benson Ken Catalino Nick Anderson Mike Luckovich Jeff Danziger Mike Lester