• Michelle Rhee on Reforming New York City Schools  Michelle Rhee, the D.C. school chancellor and a leading education reformer, writes an op-ed in the New York Daily News urging the city to make a new deal with teachers unions. Rhee recently won 80% approval from teachers for a contract that kills many "sacred cows" such as lifelong tenure and security by seniority. She runs in great detail through the measures she believes the New York City district should adopt.
  • David Dudley on the Death of Mercury  The death of Ford's middle-of-the-road marque has been little lamented, Dudley writes, and for good reason: "For a long time now, Mercury has seemed to exist only because Ford couldn’t muster the energy to kill it." Yet the brand once signaled a certain kind of ambition--an unflashy middle-class "statement of measured individuality." Since the middle class is languishing, the Mercury's loss is an occasion to "wave farewell" to "the modest strivers who aimed not for the best, but the good enough."
  • David Rothkopf on Soccer's Ugly, Alluring Side  Despite repeated efforts, Americans have still not fallen fully in love with soccer, Rothkopf writes. The solution? Show off the violent, seamy aspects of the sport to "help America connect with soccer's dark side." It's not the heavenly grace that inspires passion--it's the raw athletic rivalries and political subplots. Soccer, he concludes "is a heightened reality like any opera ... a game every bit as beautiful and as ugly as the planet that it -- perhaps more than anything else -- helps unite."
  • Bob Herbert on the Courage to Leave Afghanistan  In a widely-circulated Saturday column, the New York Times columnist blasts the "depressing and endless war in Afghanistan." People care more animals endangered by oil than soldiers being killed at war. Looking back at the disappointing results of offenses that were supposed to turn the tide, Herbert ends on an exhortation: "If we don’t have the courage as a people to fight and share in the sacrifices when our nation is at war, if we’re unwilling to seriously think about the war and hold our leaders accountable for the way it is conducted, if we’re not even willing to pay for it, then we should at least have the courage to pull our valiant forces out of it."
  • Jon Ward on Missing Helen Thomas  Writing in the Washington Post, Ward explains what journalists should learn after White House mainstay Helen Thomas's abrupt retirement. He praises her "adversarial mentality" in asking questions, and says her style of "journalism-turned-advocacy" could be a model for today's milder-mannered press corps. He ends with an illustrative Thomas quote: "'What the hell do they think we are, puppets?' she said of the White House a year ago. ". . . They are our public servants. We pay them'"