Not gonna lie, it was a tad depressing to see Wesleyan, my alma mater, featured in “Ivory Tower,” a new doc about the apocalyptic state of affairs in higher ed. (Luckily, we come off better than some.) I chatted with the director for NBCNews.com.
For the 70th anniversary of D-day today, I profiled a program out of College of the Ozarks that takes WWII veterans and students on a trip to Europe. What struck me most while reporting this piece was how uncontroversial war was in the eyes of these college students. Granted, the European front of WWII is as cut-and-dry a narrative as war can hope for. But this program also organizes veteran trips to Japan, Korea, and China (for Cold War veterans), and is planning one to Vietnam. The College of the Ozarks counts patriotic education as one of their main goals, which trumps any contention over why America might be fighting on another country’s soil. To these kids, veterans are heroes, no matter what.
— I wrote about my NYC, my mom’s NYC, why I constantly leave, and why I always come back. It’ll be in the new issue of Brooklyn Magazine but for now you can read it on the internets!
— My latest for NBC News explores a growing trend of states chipping away at tenure, and hinging it on teaching evaluations that often make no sense whatsoever. The quote above is courtesy of Florida governor Rick Scott, who’s…not exactly known for his warm-and-fuzzy feelings toward teachers.
Some of the most arresting images ever to stick in my brain were the ones I saw walking through the rubble after Moore, Okla.’s tornado one year ago today. Aaron and I happened to be driving right through the city on our way to Texas, and we knew we had to stop. People were digging out their cars, planting American flags in their yards, and weaving through a building that had been a school a few days before.
Witnessing this destruction gave an extra weight to an assignment I received to write about tornado-safe rooms in Missouri schools. Unlike Oklahoma, whose ballot initiative to build tornado safe rooms in schools is ensnared in a legal battle, southwest Missouri has been fortifying their schools at an impressive clip. Drills and concrete walls may seem like rote topics…until you see something like this car buried under debris. Until you smell that strange combo of freshly chopped wood and natural gas.
"When Kasandra Vega went from her neighborhood school to a private Catholic high school, the transition was “academically overwhelming,” said Vega, now 22. Her grades began slipping and she started drinking and smoking. Yet she didn’t approach any teachers for help, and didn’t want to burden her mom. “I felt embarrassed I didn’t understand the coursework,” she said. “[The teachers] had high standards, and they didn’t expect anybody to fail." When she found out she was pregnant at 16, she retreated from school even more. “I felt like I’d let everybody down,” she said. “It seemed like the best thing was to sit back and say, ‘OK, I have to leave.’"
My latest for NBC News, a piece on why teens drop out of high school.
WHEN THE PUBLICATION THAT FIRED YOU AND ALL OF YOUR COLLEAGUES BECAUSE IT WANTED TO BE A SOCIAL NETWORK DECIDES IT WANTS TO BE A MAGAZINE AGAIN.
Courtney is such a site of feminist polarity. She just told Pitchfork: “All women are dichotomies, with a beautiful, sensual, passive side, and a monster, sexual, aggressive side.” She’s always lived that truism; she auditioned for the Mickey Mouse Club by reciting Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy.”
Mom liked her stars raw and outrageous, not polished and regimented. I have a feeling that she would have brushed off Beyoncé and J.Lo as “conventional,” which was her worst insult. I mean, “Put a Ring on It?” No. Even Bey’s last album, with the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie clip, would have probably only been seen as lip service to revolutionary ideas. Although, I realize this may be because Mom didn’t have the greatest race analysis when it came to female pop stars. There are all kinds of reasons why black and Latina singers don’t feel they can be as envelope-pushing or outrageous as their white counterparts. And in some ways, when it comes to the modern black family, Bey is breaking with convention. Still, I think Mom’s allegiance was to tough bitches: She was much more into female rappers, like Lil’ Kim or Lauryn Hill.
I spoke to Sarah Nicole Prickett at Buzzfeed about my mom (and sooooo many other core ladiez, from Courtney to Sontag).