It is time to acknowledge that the fashionable theory of school reform - requiring that pay and job security for teachers, principals and administrators depend on their students' standardized test scores - is at best a well-intentioned mistake, and at worst nothing but a racket.
I mean that literally. Beverly Hall, the former superintendent of the Atlanta public schools, was indicted on racketeering charges Friday for an alleged cheating scheme that won her more than $500,000 in performance bonuses. Hall, who retired two years ago, is also accused of theft, conspiracy and making false statements. She has denied any wrongdoing.
Also facing criminal charges are 34 teachers and principals who allegedly participated in the cheating, which involved simply erasing students' wrong answers on test papers and filling in the correct answers.
The gunman in the Newtown massacre fired 154 bullets from his Bushmaster military-style rifle in less than five minutes, killing 20 first-graders and six adults. He brought with him 10 large-capacity magazines, each holding up to 30 rounds, which allowed him to reload quickly. He also carried two semiautomatic handguns, one of which he used to take his own life.
Is this supposed to be the price of the Second Amendment? Is this the kind of America we want?
Don't take anything for granted. The conservative activists on the Supreme Court may not be able to halt the inexorable shift toward acceptance of gay marriage, but we probably should expect them to try.
The two big cases being argued this week could turn out to be landmarks that confirm the nation's progress toward marriage equality - or speed bumps that impede it. Either way, the destination is clear: Six out of 10 Americans approve of gay marriage, according to a Washington Post poll, including 80 percent of adults under 30. That looks less like a question than a decision.
Shame on Harry Reid for killing any prospect of an assault weapons ban. I understand why he did it, but that doesn't make it right.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama spoke with fiery eloquence about the cost of gun violence in shattered lives. "They deserve a vote," the president said of the victims, challenging Congress to take a stand on reasonable legislation to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of killers.
Reid obviously disagrees. The Senate majority leader decided Tuesday to abandon a proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would have banned the sale of some military-style firearms - weapons designed not for sport or self-defense, but for killing enemy soldiers in battle. Reid said he was dropping the measure - without a vote - because it would surely fail.
At first glance, last week's Conservative Political Action Conference looked like a hot mess. On closer inspection, it looked even worse.
They are impolite questions, but they must be asked: What did Jorge Mario Bergoglio know, and when did he know it, about Argentina's brutal "Dirty War" against suspected leftists in which thousands were tortured and killed? More important, what did the newly chosen Pope Francis do?
If Rep. Paul Ryan wants people to take his budget manifestos seriously, he should be honest about his ambition: not so much to make the federal government fiscally sustainable as to make it smaller.
Rand Paul was right. There, I said it.
The Republican senator from Kentucky, whom I've ridiculed as an archconservative kook - because that's basically what he is - was right to call attention to the growing use of drone aircraft in "targeted killings" by staging a nearly 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor.
I hate the sequester, beginning with its name. "Sequester" is a verb, not a noun. This ridiculous exercise is not just unwise and unproductive, but ungrammatical as well.
Most of our top elected officials probably didn't notice - they were too busy making fools of themselves over an idiotic budget "crisis" of their own manufacture - but something worth remembering happened in Washington this week: A grieving parent pleaded softly for a ban on military-style weapons like the one used to kill his son.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee could not help but be transfixed by the witness who sat before them Wednesday, opening his presentation with a heartbreaking introduction.
The test of President Obama’s seriousness about addressing climate change is not his pending decision on the much-debated Keystone XL pipeline. It’s whether he effectively consigns coal-fired power plants - one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions - to the ashcan of history.
The standoff over the package of budget cuts known as "the sequester" is the dumbest, most self-defeating fight between President Obama and Republicans in Congress since ... let's see, since the last dumb, self-defeating fight less than two months ago.
Republicans spent the weekend trumpeting shock and outrage over President Obama's leaked "backup plan" on immigration. In dysfunctional Washington, this means that prospects for comprehensive reform -- including what amounts to an amnesty for the undocumented -- are getting brighter.
In his bid to be remembered as a transformational leader, President Obama is following the playbook of an ideological opposite, Margaret Thatcher. First you win the argument, she used to say, then you win the vote.
The moment that most deserves to be remembered from Sunday's thrilling Super Bowl came before the game, when Jennifer Hudson joined students from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in singing "America the Beautiful." It was a heart-rending elegy for the fallen -- and a stirring call to action.