I'll be off the blog this week, since I'm in Chicago researching women teachers and feminist labor politics at the turn of the century. In the meantime, my friend Michelle Goldberg has written a delightfully devastating review of Life of the Party, a new memoir by former GOP flack Lisa Baron. You should also check out this Russell Baker essay on Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt's unconventional marriage and political partnership.
In other non-news, I am contemplating one of the great pop music mysteries of the hair band era: How did these guys manage to write this song, which came on in a Walgreen's today, reminding me of its cheesiness, but also its awesomeness and correctness. Enjoy...
The kind folks at the University of Chicago creative writing department have invited me to do a reading and collect an "emerging writer in creative nonfiction" award. Therefore, I will be in the fair city of Rahm Emanuel TOMORROW, Thursday, Feb. 24. The details:
WHAT: Speaking at the University of Chicago
WHEN: Tomorrow, Thursday Feb. 24, at 4:30
WHERE: Rosenwald Hall, 1101 E. 58th Street, Room 405
WHY: A free trip to my second favorite American city! Also: I love meeting student writers!
One fun part of this event is that I was asked to choose a student to read alongside me. I went through about 20 nonfiction essay submissions, and the winner is Michael Lipkin, a writer and editor at student newspaper The Chicago Maroon.
Hope to meet some blog readers there!
I don't think the trend of formal simplicity all that new for women, but I am absolutely loving the clothes in Bill Cunningham's report from Paris this morning.
I spent last week in Helsinki, on a junket for American education writers to learn about the Finnish education system, which is ranked number on in the world by the OECD. What we found, in short, was that in a country where conservatives and social democrats agree that eduction should be a major, well-funded priority -- and that equality between students is a goal -- a lot is possible. Namely: a competitive teacher education process, the coexistence of strong unions and merit pay, a commitment to teacher autonomy, and a dislike for too much high-stakes testing. That's not to say Finnish schools are perfect; growing immigration is presenting cultural and academic challenges, and there were two school shootings in the last two years. Nevertheless, there's a lot to admire, not just inside schools, but politically, in terms of how the powers that be view education.
For more details on the Finnish system, check out my Prospect piece.