On July 30, 2011, thousands of public school teachers rallied on the southwest corner of the Ellipse, near the White House. Union members mingled with the occasional communist pamphleteer, and, on a temporary stage, a series of activists, students, scholars, and teachers put forward variations on a theme: Standardized tests and corporate interests are ruining public education. Late in the program, the actor Matt Damon showed up and began chatting amiably with an older, gray-haired woman sitting next to him on the stage. It turned out he wasn’t the only star in attendance.
On a cold morning last winter, The New York Times published a warming story about the rage for charter schools among hedge-fund managers. It appeared in “Sunday Styles,” and was a fine glimpse into the current fashion of “social entrepreneurship” and “philanthrocapitalism.” About the intentions of the rich young lions who donated large sums of money to schools in the most desperate parts of the city, there can be no doubt: these were good deeds. Children were lifted up, which is nothing to be churlish about. But as I read on, I felt uneasy.
Meyer Schapiro Abroad: Letters to Lillian and Travel Notebooks Edited by Daniel Esterman (Getty Research Institute, 243 pp., $39.95) I. Meyer Schapiro Abroad is an astonishing book. It consists of seemingly commonplace materials--the love letters that a graduate student wrote while traveling to work on his dissertation, plus a selection of sheets from his research notebooks. Yet taken together these pages present something extraordinary and nearly unique: an intensely evocative account of the process and the experience of historical discovery.