Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.


Stumble of the Week

A once-regular feature returns. • Honor. America’s continues to stumble at Guantanamo Bay, where people disappear, seemingly forever, into a place that violates our most basic principles. A hunger strike expanded this week to dozens of inmates, although the only people who seem to notice are the ones who already detest us.

• Language. Newt Gingrich and his Orwellian bombast are back, talking about gay marriage and the “tyranny of secularism.” In the new speak of the far right, the efforts of people to participate fully in American society are deemed a threat to the beliefs and institutions of those who disagree with them. Asserting your place in the communal fabric is, apparently, not justice, but tyranny.

• Education. The indictment this week of 35 teachers and administrators in the Atlanta school system illustrated, as if we needed another demonstration, that the lowest people on the educational totem pole are the children. Mimicking hedge funds and investment banks, the Atlanta system doled out huge bonuses to those who made their numbers. They made their numbers by cheating – by erasing their students’ wrong answers on the standardized state tests and checking the right boxes. One principal even wore gloves so as not to leave fingerprints. What these people did was wrong, but it was abetted by a system that – from No Child Left Behind to all the reforms it has spawned – is obsessed with quantifiable results, has little use for true learning and treats children like assembly-line products.

Lessig and Pell

Bully Boys