The False Promise of the New York City Teacher Evaluations
March 06, 2012
[Guest post by Simon van Zuylen-Wood] On February 16th, New York state officials agreed on a new teacher evaluation system that will use student standardized test scores to help determine teacher tenure and dismissals. The previous model, in which 97 percent of New York City teachers were deemed “satisfactory,” was based solely on classroom observations. While the deal signals an important compromise between Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has pushed for more teacher accountability, and the state teachers union, the real news came a week later.
Santorum and the Idiocy of Home Schooling
March 03, 2012
No sooner had Mitt Romney triumphed in the Michigan primary than Rick Santorum edged into his victory by succeeding in winning an equal number of delegates. Romney polled 3 percent higher than Santorum in the popular vote. But that meant nothing in the arcana of counting at the polls that will be translated into 15 delegates each at the Tampa convention in August.
“Broken Windows” Revisited
March 02, 2012
Obituaries for the eminent conservative political scientist James Q. Wilson, who died early this morning, are playing up Wilson's co-authorship, with George Kelling, of the "broken windows" theory of crime. That's a disservice, for two reasons. The first is that Wilson, who was already well established when his influential "Broken Windows" essay was published in the Atlantic, was not that theory's principal architect; the thesis grew out of research Kelling had performed previously for the Police Foundation.
David Thomson on Films: What Ever Happened to Meg Ryan?
March 01, 2012
In the Cut is not a new film, but many of you won’t have seen it, and some who saw it when it opened in 2003, amid critical abuse, should think of seeing it again. Then it may become new, beautiful and very disturbing. So, in the wake of the annual hysteria over our current movies, let me recall an “old” masterpiece, all the more resonant in that it was largely missed by the people whose business it is to guide us in what to see. Frannie lives in New York where she teaches English at a run-down college.
In Praise of Jean-Émile Laboureur
February 29, 2012
I have some artistic enthusiasms that I’m not eager to discuss in public. It’s not that I’m embarrassed. But I am afraid I will not be able to explain them, much less justify them, even to my best friends. I put in this category my attachment to the engravings of Jean-Émile Laboureur, who recorded the parks, streets, shop windows, pleasure seekers, working people, and lovers of 1920s and 1930s France in an immaculate Art Deco style. I know that Laboureur’s work, with its easy-on-the-eyes Cubistic stylizations and languid Roaring Twenties protagonists, can be more than a little programmatic.
Has Obama Convinced Americans About the Importance of Community?
February 25, 2012
While neither political party has a monopoly on “community,” in recent years Democrats have been more inclined than Republicans to invoke it—none more conspicuously than Barack Obama. In the peroration of the 2012 State of the Union address, he declared that “No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team.” A month earlier, in the city where Theodore Roosevelt delivered his landmark “New Nationalism” speech, Obama argued that “Our success has never just been about the survival of the fittest.
The Pernicious Talk of Decline In the Arts
February 15, 2012
Is it possible to report honestly on troubling developments in the arts without becoming a prophet of doom? I’ve found myself wondering about this in the past week or so, as I prepared to say a few words on a panel with the title: “The Decline of the Arts?” Having published more than my fair share of takedowns of various artists and art world institutions, I was in no doubt as to why I’d been invited to participate. And yet I felt more than a little uncomfortable about being associated with the word decline.
Why Pressuring Russia and China Is the Key to Ousting Assad
February 10, 2012
Nevada Gets a Plan for a Better Economy
February 09, 2012
Washington is paralyzed by politics and debt, but states and regions are moving to renew the drifting U.S. economy themselves.
Thus Spake Still
February 08, 2012
Clyfford Still Museum Denver, Colorado I have never been strongly attracted to the feverish visionary heights that can be reached by a prophetic voice. Of course I feel the power of the Book of Lamentations, and Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, and Wagner’s Ring, and Blake’s apocalyptic extravaganzas. But there are other registers that touch me more deeply, or at least more directly. I think a convincing argument can be made that the prophetic mode does not come naturally to the visual artist, surely not to the visual artist in the modern world.