The feature stories, dispatches, columns, and essays in The Atlantic's October issue include:
The New Price of American Politics
Not since the Gilded Age has our politics been so wide open to corporate contributions and donations from secret sources. And the new era of big money has just begun. Jim Bopp, the ideological force behind Citizens United, believes this is a good thing--the more money, the better, he says. Reformers like Trevor Potter, who has helped the faux news anchor Stephen Colbert navigate the new landscape of political money--often to great comedic effect--disagree. As James Bennet reports, this battle is over the most-basic ideas of our democracy; at stake, according to both sides, is either the revitalization of politics, or its final capture by the rich and powerful.
James Bennet and the campaign-finance lawyer Trevor Potter break down
political ads from the 2012 campaign.
The League of Dangerous Mapmakers
Who's most to blame for our divisive politics? How about the gerrymanderers quietly deciding where your vote goes? Redistricting, the ritual carving and paring of the United States into 435 sovereign units, was intended by the Framers to keep democracy's electoral scales balanced. Instead, redistricting today has become the most insidious practice in American politics. Robert Draper goes inside the dark art and modern science of mapmaking to reveal how a few determined partisans can rig Congress.
The Ballot Cops
Thirty years ago, the Republican National Committee was accused of violating the Voting Rights Act and ordered to cease its "ballot security" efforts. Now an organization called True the Vote wants to pick up where the RNC left off, by building a nationwide army to root out voter fraud--or, as some would say, to suppress voter turnout. Mariah Blake charts the group's rise, and its aspirations this November.
They Taught America How to Watch
The coach as general. The players as gladiators. Ed Sabol and his son, Steve, have spent the past half century at NFL Films, inventing the tropes of modern football. Color, slow motion, ubiquitous cameras and microphones, the omniscient narrator invoking the language of war--the Sabols pioneered all of this and, in so doing, helped make football the national game. Ed, now 95 and ailing, and Steve, who succumbed to an inoperable brain tumor on Tuesday, spoke to Rich Cohen about their legacy, and that of the game.
Special Report: The State of American Schools
Why Kids Should Grade Teachers
A decade ago, an economist at Harvard wondered what would happen if teachers were evaluated by the people who saw them every day--their students. The idea--as simple as it sounds, and as familiar as it is on college campuses--was revolutionary. And the results seemed to be, too: remarkable consistency from grade to grade, and across racial divides. As Amanda Ripley reports, a growing number of school systems are administering the surveys--and might be able to overcome teacher resistance in order to link results to salaries and promotions.
The Homeschool Diaries
In New York City, where private schools cost tens of thousands of dollars a year and many public schools are just meh, teaching your own kids can make the most practical sense. Paul Elie explains why he decided to homeschool his twin boys--at least for now.
The Writing Revolution
For years, nothing seemed capable of turning around New Dorp High School's dismal performance--not firing bad teachers, not flashy education technology, not after-school programs. So, faced with closure, the school's principal went all-in on a very specific curriculum reform, placing an overwhelming focus on teaching the basics of analytic writing, every day, in virtually every class. What followed, according to Peg Tyre, was an extraordinary blossoming of student potential, in nearly every subject--a turnaround that has made New Dorp a model for educational reform.