Brill: Why education?

April 21, 2010
It’s hard not to write in platitudes about why education is so crucial in America. Phrases like, “Our children are our future,” or “education is the new civil rights movement” are so endlessly repeated that they become almost laughable. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t true. As my four loyal readers know, I’ve written since »

Brill: Grading New Haven

April 7, 2010
New Haven school reform may be making headway, but it’s far from perfect. A few months ago, the mayor had laid the groundwork for meaningful change. First, he unveiled the grading criteria by which each elementary and middle school will be evaluated and sorted into three “tiers” for the district. For the most part, the »

Brill: Let’s mess with Texas

March 24, 2010
President Bartlett leans into the lectern: “Your state of Florida received $12.6 billion in federal aid last year,” he explains to Governor Rob Ritchie in their fictional debate of 2002. “Can we have it back please?” In one more example of real life imitating television’s “The West Wing,” President Obama is poised to throw down »

Brill: Beat the lobbyists

February 24, 2010
Barack Obama was supposed to be the president who finally took on lobbyists, special interests, and wealthy lenders looking out for their bottom line. Well, let’s see it. No, I don’t mean health care, financial regulation or cap and trade. At issue here is a topic far less controversial or sweeping, yet more indicative of »

Brill: Breaking the impasse

February 10, 2010
The rubber is about to hit the road for New Haven school reform. In the next few months, we’ll see if the mayor and his team are committed enough — and bold enough — to make tough choices on behalf of the city’s 20,000 students. Surprisingly, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. seems to be headed in »

Brill: Barack O’Brien’s speech

January 27, 2010
“Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard, and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” So spoke the dethroned Conan O’Brien last Friday, ending his run on The Tonight Show as he joined the ranks of 15.3 million unemployed Americans. We shouldn’t feel very »

Brill: A Swift guide to student selection

January 14, 2010
It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great university, peering into the classrooms of WLH, HGS or other three-lettered, hallowed halls of learning during shopping period. There, in crammed scenes of alacrity, young scholars sweat in the January swelter of uncertainty. They will shop and shop and shop the same course, »

Brill: Dealing with the worst

December 3, 2009
As Will Ferrell’s George W. Bush character once said, “Presidenting is hard.” President Obama would probably agree — albeit in slightly different language — as the jobless rate refuses to fall, the Taliban refuses to quit and Sen. Joe Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67 refuses to pass health care reform. And now we can tack on »

Brill: Accountability with control

November 12, 2009
Last Tuesday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg won an important victory, and no, I’m not referring to his narrow reelection for a third term over Democrat William Thompson. Rather, Bloomberg proved to the nation that mayoral control of schools works — not only is it effective, but it also provides accountability to voters. If »

Brill: Grading the teacher contract

October 29, 2009
Say what you want about Mayor John DeStefano Jr., but the man knows how to make his school system look good. Following the teachers’ union’s overwhelming approval of their new contract, you’d think the mayor himself had found the balloon boy. Kind words flooded the national media, from The Wall Street Journal to Education Week, »

Brill: Booker and the Brick City

October 16, 2009
It’s time for Cory Booker to step up. I write that not in spite of the Newark mayor’s spectacular accomplishments in his first two years in office, but because of them. The Brick City — resilient, reborn under new leadership — is on the mend. But one project looms untouched, without which urban revitalization cannot »

Brill: A new Promise for New Haven

October 2, 2009
Right here in New Haven, city government is finally gearing up to do something bold for its children. The idea is simple: Any New Haven student willing and academically able to go to college will be able to pay for it through a city program called the New Haven Promise. What’s the motivation behind the »