Don't Blame Teachers Unions For Our Failing Schools

Teacher's Unions

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Teachers unions: They’re powerful, they’re defensive, and they’re stubborn. And if it seems their leadership places a premium on protecting its members – above all other interests – we should not be surprised, because protecting jobs and wages is what unions were created to do. And there’s the rub, say critics who argue the unions are shielding too many teachers who do their jobs poorly – teachers who should be replaced, for the good of the children. Indeed, so central is good teaching to good learning, some say it’s the unions as presently constructed – more than anything other factor – that are undermining America’s schools. But can it really be that simple? In a ranking of whom to blame for what’s wrong in America’s classrooms, do teachers unions really come before slashed budgets? Or crumbling infrastructure, broken homes and the influence of narcotics? Do bad teachers so outnumber good ones that the union represents a collection of educational misfits? The question comes down to a decision: do we need to reform the unions before we do anything else , and if we do, is that the fix that will once again make US public education the model system it once was?

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Don't Blame Teachers Unions For Our Failing Schools

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Don't Blame Teachers Unions For Our Failing Schools

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Organic Food Is Marketing Hype

Organic Food

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Eating organic used to be a fringe commitment. Not anymore. The idea that the adage “you are what you eat” actually has merit – that America’s industrialized food system is making consumers – literally, consumers – obese, diabetic and primed for heart disease – has converted millions of us into pursuers of the American Organic Dream: Eat Organic To Live Longer and Better. But many aren’t buying it. Most consumers, for example. Although sales of organic food increased sixfold over the last decade, organics are still a tiny fraction of the food Americans eat. Perhaps that’s because organic food can cost up to twice as much as conventionally grown? Perhaps it’s because – as critics of the organic food movement argue – there’s just not a lot of solid evidence that going organic makes you any healthier. This side says the race by food makers to slap labels like “farm-grown,” “free-range,” and “all natural” is more about catching a fad than upgrading our food in any meaningful way. Should we all go organic, and pay the extra that it costs, because few things are more important than our health? Or is the organic movement, and the firms cashing in on it, hawking a hoax, or at least grossly overstating the biological benefits to be had when the chicken that we eat is raised with some more legroom?

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Organic Food Is Marketing Hype

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Organic Food Is Marketing Hype

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Obama's Foreign Policy Spells America's Decline

Foreign Policy

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What might Machiavelli have made of the 44th President of the United States? Barack Obama set out to change the tone of US foreign policy. And he did. By virtue of his personal story, by dint of his not being George W. Bush, he arrived in the White House as both object of fascination and source of relief to a world grown accustomed to resenting the US itself. Here is a president who acknowledges that we hold no monopoly on the legitimacy of our interests, who aspires to finding the common ground in resolving disagreements with friend and foe. His caution, his deliberativeness, his stated willingness to at least try to negotiate even with our bitterest enemies and to cool down the rhetoric – played so well out of the gate, that they gave him the Nobel Peace Prize – after just 262 days in office. But is love enough to lead? Or might the president need some wins along the way? For the most part, they’ve been hard to come by. None yet in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Iran’s mullah’s don’t seem to feel an urgent need to end the nuclear standoff. Seeking a new balance in America’s dealings in the Middle East, Obama asked Israel to stop building settlements, but the building goes on. And the Chinese seem to understand his less than aggressive stance in pressing for human rights as a green light to change nothing. Even when the stakes were less than life and death – his bid to bring the Olympics to Chicago – he was denied. Not that any of this is easy. And it may be that some of these more serious challenges would by now be more difficult still if Obama had not set a new tone. But might the opposite be true? Might our adversaries see the president’s coolness as uncertainty and his deliberativeness as weakness? Can they exploit his affinity for common ground, by pushing to gain more ground for themselves? By acknowledging that all sides can have legitimate interests, as well as legitimate grievances, is the president yielding the high ground? Most importantly, are we safer now that we are living in the era of president number 44? It comes down to being respected, which is not the same as being liked. Americans have always aspired to have it both ways. Machiavelli would have us choose.

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Obama's Foreign Policy Spells America's Decline - Edited

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Obama's Foreign Policy Spells America's Decline - Unedited

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The Cyber War Threat Has Been Grossly Exaggerated

Cyber War

June 8, 2010

It could be the greatest strategic irony of the last twenty years: the American lead in digital technologies – upon which our financial, communications and defense systems are built, and on which they depend – may also represent a serious American Achilles heel. The sophistication of our mobile phone networks, of the GPS system that guides air traffic, even of the networked command-and-control that drives our power grids, may be without rival. But it also provides one great big and sprawling target to enemies determined to discover the choke points that can cripple us in a time of war. At least that’s the scenario as described in various, and increasingly alarmed media accounts, especially in the wake of incidents like the hacking of Google last year, by digital assailants often described (without clear confirmation) as being based in China. It’s indeed alarming, to contemplate fighting the next war with both hands tied behind our backs because a canny enemy figured out how to shut us down electronically. Alarming – but possibly, also, alarmist? Can we really be that vulnerable? Is our digital undergirding really that exposed, especially given that the Internet itself – the foundation of all this critical connectedness – was itself initially developed as a military undertaking? Even if our enemies – state enemies or terrorists – manage to cause damage in one corner of American cyberspace, don’t we have enough redundancy built in to protect us? As one technology writer has put it, this is one of those topics where the internet press likes to get worked up into a lot of “heavy breathing.” So which is it? Are we at existential risk in the event of a well coordinated cyber attack, and if so, are we taking measures to protect ourselves? Or will the first cyber war be a war we are already positioned not only to survive, but to win?

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The Cyber War Threat Has Been Grossly Exaggerated

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Treat Terrorists Like Enemy Combatants, Not Criminals

Terrorists

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In 2009 the Justice Department announced that 9/11 plotter Khalid Shaikh Mohammed would be tried in New York City, setting off a firestorm of protests. Besides the cost and safety concerns, at issue are whether terrorists should be tried in criminal court or whether national security requires the use of military commissions. Likewise, issues like the closing of Guantanamo, the reading of Miranda rights, and enhanced interrogation all center on the same question: How should the U.S. treat captured alleged terrorists? In a war with no foreseeable end, whose actors are neither criminals nor soldiers; can we keep America safe and still bring terrorists to justice.

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Treat Terrorists Like Enemy Combatants, Not Criminals

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Treat Terrorists Like Enemy Combatants, Not Criminals

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We Should Accept Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Competitive Sports

performance enhancing drugs

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

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We Should Accept Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Competitive Sports

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Islam Is A Religion Of Peace

Islam

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is the rise of terrorism and violence justifiably traced to the teachings of Islam, or is this call to war a twisted interpretation of the true Muslim faith? Most of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims are moderates who see Islamic terrorism as a violation of their sacred texts. Is it wrong to let a radical minority represent authentic Islam? Has fear blinded us to its lessons of tolerance and peace?

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Islam Is A Religion Of Peace

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Islam Is A Religion Of Peace

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It's Time to End Affirmative Action

affirmative action

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

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It's Time to End Affirmative Action

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It's Time to End Affirmative Action

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