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Texas Governor Greg Abbott called a special legislative session in early July. One of the topics included on the agenda was “critical race theory,” which is addressed in a bill recently passed by the state Senate. With Democrats preventing quorum in the House, it’s not likely to pass before the end of the special session in August (World Travel & Tourism Council / CC-BY 2.0 Generic)

Though I’m not usually in the habit of giving advice to my political enemies, here’s a tip for Texas Republicans: When your opponents say that your ginned-up nonsense about Critical Race Theory is just cover for attacking anti-racism education in schools, don’t do the exact thing you’re being accused of. The GOP-dominated state Senate just voted on a bill stripping away curriculum requirements, including a clause that requires educators to teach the history of white supremacy and “ways in which it is morally wrong.”

Frankly, this is an low bar to cross. The original bill passed in the House


There is rage, yes, but also endless disappointment

Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash

Before I even got out of bed this morning, I read this long piece in Slate about Blake Bailey, the author of the recent Philip Roth biography whose publication has been frozen amid allegations of rape and sexual assault, as well as grooming young students. I can’t stop reading about it. There are more stories, memories, allegations surfacing from his former students, and it’s bringing up feelings. I was fortunate to talk to a couple friends who are also women writers about this over Zoom the other night. …


Work-study was my way to a college education. But was spending time on a useless, low-paid job really worth it?

Photo: Andy Sacks/Getty Images

Ask someone about the worst job they ever had and you’re likely in for a story. A babysitting gig from hell. A Steinbeck-esque tale about toiling in a fish-canning factory. Workplace bullying. Sexual harassment. Safety violations. Unreasonable demands. Unpaid overtime.

I’ve had some bad jobs, but to be honest, I’m not even sure my worst job qualifies as a job since I didn’t get paid. In the most generous terms, I bartered my time for passage into higher education. In the harshest terms, you might call it indentured servitude.

College was sold to millennials as a necessity — the operative…


We didn’t, my friends

Photo: Sutthipong Kongtrakool/Getty Images

I am not one to wade into the choppy waters of renaming common terms or phrases. Yes, I do believe the pen — or the keyboard — is mightier than the sword, and I stand firmly by the leftist creed that “words matter” (as do full sentences). But, seeing as the sky has been falling for the last four years, as have bridges and now power grids, I usually feel our time and energy are better spent fighting other fights. However, the term “student loan forgiveness” drives me full-on mad. …


Column

It turns out schoolwork is the pandemic parenting hack you never expected

Photo: Kira Hofmann/picture alliance via Getty Images

There’s nothing quite like being a pandemic parent in the winter. Gone are the outdoor playdates and park time; being stuck in the apartment these past few cold months has taken on a whole new level of isolation. Yet one thing has made the dreary pandemic winter more bearable: doing math homework with my 10-year-old daughter.

Hear me out.

When it comes to parenting during Covid-19, there’s no shortage of woes to choose from. …


We can’t be too confident about how history will record the events of January 6

Photo: Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

Even as the first draft of the history of the January 6 insurrection is still being written, it’s not too early to consider the version that will be memorialized in high school history and social studies textbooks a decade from now. Will it tell the story of a defeated president who incited a seditious mob to attack the Capitol? Or will it show a president who stirred patriots to act based on the claim he was cheated of a second term by election fraud?

It would be short-sighted to conclude the second story will not gain currency over time. According…


And many students aren’t buying these “performative” safety measures

A student a wears a mask to protect against the spread of Covid-19 as she works on her laptop. Photo: Boston Globe/Getty Images

In July, University of Missouri freshman Caleb Poorman was scrolling through Instagram when he noticed a direct message from an unfamiliar account: Gen Z micro-influencer agency Glacier. Brand partnership scams run rampant on Instagram — look at any celebrity’s comment section and you’ll see dozens of “wanna collab?” messages. Poorman had never taken a sponsorship deal and had reason to be skeptical, but Glacier’s message wasn’t a sham. Instead, it was an unusual sponsorship opportunity with his university, which often goes by Mizzou.

The partnership between Glacier and Mizzou had a simple goal: identify potential social media influencers on campus…


Chicago shows that the best way to keep young people out of jail is to make sure they’re staying busy

A graduation ceremony at Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School in Bradley, IL. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Americans today are deluged by a seemingly endless stream of horrible news. Wildfires. Hurricanes. Economic dislocation. Social unrest. Naked power grabs undermining hallowed institutions. All that amid a pandemic that has already taken 200,000 American lives, many of which might have been saved had the White House been even half-competent. The country at this moment could use something to cheer about. And while it’s not getting much attention, Chicago has some welcome news at the ready.

Consider this: Chicago Public Schools in 2020 boasted a record graduation rate of 82%, up from 56% just a decade ago, and the lowest…


No, Trump can’t rewrite school curriculums himself, but a thousand mini-Trumps on the nation’s school boards can

Schoolchildren pledging allegiance in the 1950s. Photo: Lambert/Getty Images

It feels strange, as mourners gather outside the Supreme Court, to be writing of anything but the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the looming prospect that Donald Trump will seal the court into a new era of right-wing absolutism unprecedented in our lifetimes. It’s hard not to think of the future, of all that will be lost. But the past, too, is under threat. The news cycle moves so fast now that you may have already forgotten Thursday’s outrage, Trump’s announcement of a “1776 Commission” to promote a “patriotic education” that defines love of country as unquestioning loyalty to…


How do you make friends in your first weeks at college when you don’t know who you can trust?

Photo: Sean Rayford/Stringer/Getty Images

Since Emily Thompson arrived for her freshman year at Tufts University, she’s been in mandatory quarantine, only leaving her dorm room, which she shares with a roommate, to go to the bathroom or throw out garbage. Their dorm room is next to the hall’s trash can, Emily says, and though they aren’t allowed to leave their door open, “If we’re leaving to go to the bathroom or throw out the trash at the same time, we’ll stop someone in the hall and say, ‘Hey, what’s your Instagram,’ and start DMing if we have common interests.” …

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