George Will in The Washington Post on Rick Santorum Not patient enough for Super Tuesday contests in culturally conservative states, Rick Santorum is competing with Mitt Romney in Ohio and Michigan. "But instead of keeping his Rust Belt focus on his blue-collar roots and economic program for reviving manufacturing, he has opened multiple fronts in the culture wars... But in doing so Santorum has made his Catholicism more central and problematic in this nomination contest than Romney's Mormonism has been," Will argues. He says the problems of family disintegration that Santorum highlights are real, serious, and without obvious solutions, but Santorum's angry apostle-like strategy doesn't sit well with voters. Nor, though, does Mitt Romney's clinically "rational" approach to America's problems. "Romney is not attracting people who want rationality leavened by romance. Santorum is repelling people who want politics unmediated by theology."
Bill Gates in The New York Times on publicizing teacher evaluations A New York court ruled last week that assessments of teachers' performances could become public. "I am a strong proponent of measuring teachers' effectiveness ... But publicly ranking teachers by name will not help them get better at their jobs or improve student learning. On the contrary, it will make it a lot harder to implement teacher evaluation systems that work," writes Gates. Gates documents the improvements to teacher evaluations made in recent years, including a measure of how much a teacher adds to a student's standardized test scores. But improving personnel by "public shaming" Gates says is a cheap and ineffective way to use the new information we can gather on teachers. "The surest way to weaken [teacher evaluation] is to twist it into a capricious exercise in public shaming. Let's focus on creating a personnel system that truly helps teachers improve."