May 30, 2012
The announcement this week that the U.S. Department of Education will grant Maryland a waiver from some of the more onerous requirements of the decade-old federal No Child Left Behind Act is welcome news for the state's school reform effort. It means Maryland will be free to set more reasonable goals for student achievement levels and adopt reforms that are necessary to close the gap between its lowest- and highest-performing schools and school districts. Maryland needs a more rational and balanced approach to measuring educational progress, and now it can create one without having to wait for lawmakers in Washington to act. The decade-old NCLB law, passed by Congress with broad bipartisan support, was the signature education initiative of the Bush administrationt.
March 11, 2012
Sometimes, it is worth our time to step back, to take the long view about seemingly intractable issues affecting our country. My long view begins with the gas line days of 1973-74, when a recently minted owner of a 1966 Ford Falcon began the daily commute between his home in Arbutus and Gilman School in Roland Park. Domestically, huge price hikes at the pump and draconian gas rationing (remember the "even-odd" license plate system?) nearly destroyed new automobile sales, a crushing burden for a father employed as a "commission only" car salesman.
September 15, 2011
A plethora of contemporary political phenomena that may otherwise seem only bizarre — the various "pledges" not to compromise, the rejection of Social Security as a Ponzi scheme, the denial of evolution and climate change — begin to make sense once one recognizes that the historical analogy used to describe the movement responsible for them is inaccurate. Don't think 1774, 1776 and the Boston Tea Party. Think 1832, 1860 and nullification. Historically, nullification meant the sheer refusal of a state government to accept and abide by national legislation — specifically, in 1832, a tariff law with which South Carolina was unwilling to comply.
April 11, 2011
There's always a great temptation after a political tussle like last week's federal budget showdown to immediately declare a winner and a loser. House Republicans can claim victory by setting the budget-trimming agenda in Washington, while Senate Democrats can claim they successfully defended against an ideological assault on women's health, Head Start, public broadcasting and other popular programs. The reality is that both won, but only in the sense that they were saved from themselves.
December 6, 2010
It probably came as no surprise to Chef Bryan Voltaggio that when Robert M. Parker Jr., the country's leading wine critic and a Baltimore County resident, came to dine at his VOLT restaurant in Frederick last November, he brought wine from his own cellar. Selections like a 1982 Cheval Blanc St.-Emilion (which retails for about $1,000, if you can find it) aren't usually available on restaurant wine lists. But when the influential Mr. Parker gushed over the quality of the 21-course meal that ranged from goat cheese ravioli to squab with Brussels sprouts in his newsletter, "Hedonist's Gazette," this spring, it was Mr. Voltaggio who almost got stuck with the bill.
June 8, 2010
Austin Lopez's sensible argument in his op-ed "Open your mind to hallucinogen research" (June 8) speaks volumes to the contradictions and inconsistencies in America's body of law, and nowhere is such absurdity more apparent than in our drug laws, in that while we criminalize relatively harmless drugs like marijuana, alcohol, with its often tragic collateral damage, is perfectly legal. Pharmaceutical companies advertise directly to consumers, through all forms of media, drugs that are far more harmful than LSD and other hallucinogens, most notably the psychiatric "medications."