The 135th Preakness Stakes: Yes, I Know Who Calvin Borel Is

Calvin thanks the dude who sidelined the favorite, gave him an inside post, made it rain like crazy, and had Ice Box and Lucky run the gauntlet.  And fine, it was another fabulous ride for Rail Man!

When people find out that I am not betting on Super Saver to the win the Preakness, I fully expect to get a torrent of emails and maybe some phone calls desperately trying to wake me up to the facts.  “Brim, don’t you know who Calvin Borel is?  He’s the best jockey in the world.  You have to bet on the horse he’s riding.  Didn’t you know he’s won the Kentucky Derby three out of the last four years now?   That guy always wins!”  Read the rest of this entry »

How to Call a Bluff

It’s hard to imagine any long-term improvement in the public schools that does not involve some combination of encouraging good teachers to teach and encouraging bad teachers to do something else. This is all the more important in light of the difficulty of predicting someone’s teaching ability before he or she is hired.

Fortunately, once we get a look at them in the classroom and we can distinguish the good from the bad, there is no mystery about how to retain the former and eliminate the latter.  If we pay good teachers more, we’ll attract and retain at least some good teachers who would otherwise do something else.  If we pay bad teachers less (all the way down to zero in the cases of teachers who should be fired), we’ll induce them to pursue other opportunities.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Chief Cause of Excellence

This morning’s disturbing Washington Post op-ed by Colbert I. King describes a sexual assault that took place in one of D.C.’s public high schools — an assault committed by an adult whom the D.C. schools placed there as a “mentor” for the children. Mr. King is dissatisfied with the D.C. government’s response to the incident.

Horrific things happen even in good schools, so I do not bring this up in order to bash the D.C. schools or public schools in general. Indeed, these things happen in private schools as well, and Catholic institutions in particular have come in for more than their fair share of bad ink on the subject of adults imposing themselves sexually on adolescents.

But the incident does call to mind a quotation I’ve been meaning to share with Reasonable Minds since I first heard it last spring.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Education, History, Liberty, Public Policy. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on The Chief Cause of Excellence

Accidental Consolations

ConsolationsWe have previously lamented what we lose when we forsake the serendipity of browsing a newspaper or magazine for the stultifying predictability of those custom-tailored electronic round-ups that tell us only what we want to hear.  But I was reminded of this point in a somewhat surprising situation recently when I read a book by mistake, and found out I liked it.

How, exactly, does one read a book by mistake?  Read the rest of this entry »

The Official Death of a Catholic Institution

Not that it stands alone in betrayal, but Notre Dame has decided, officially, to renounce its Catholic standing.

One of her own writes the school’s obituary with perfect clarity:

No comments are necessary.  It’s a duck.

Thanks to the gent who forwarded this to me.

Gladwell’s New Model Teachers

In the Dec. 15 New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell takes a look at three fairly different careers (NFL quarterbacking, teaching, and financial advising) that share at least one important characteristic, namely that it is very difficult to tell in advance who will be good at these jobs.  Gladwell’s article, “Most Likely to Succeed,” begins with the quarterback problem, but his observations on the differences between good and bad teachers—and the difficulty of separating the one from the other before tenure is awarded—are at least as interesting, and surely more consequential.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Dumbest Generation

That’s the generation many of us on this blog belong to, according to an interesting piece by Neil Howe in today’s Washington Post.  Americans born in the early 1960s apparently lag behind both older and younger Americans in standardized test scores and educational achievement.  Howe calls us “early Xers” — though I must say I prefer the “Generation Jones” moniker Howe attributes to another writer.  Read the rest of this entry »


It has been more than four years since Wicked began to wow audiences and win awards. I saw it for the second time two weeks ago in Rochester, New York, taking the kids this time. On the way out, I told them the bad news: They may have to wait forty years to see another show this good.

People who live in the New York City area have already had plenty of opportunity to see the show, which is nice: there should be some compensating benefits for people who live in the New York City area. But after four years, I know many non-New Yorkers who would love this show but have barely heard of it. It is for those people that I offer the following thoughts on what makes this musical so great. Read the rest of this entry »

Catholic Identity at Catholic Universities

I’ve been keeping only one eye on the blog for the last several days because of a sudden uptick in the demands of my day job. As a result, I have not even made it through all the comments on the subject of Catholic identity at Catholic universities. However, it appears we have moved well beyond the original scope of my little blurb last week about Greg Kalscheur. Read the rest of this entry »

Greg Kalscheur in the Boston College Chronicle

The Boston College Chronicle has a nice profile (on pages 7 and 8) of newly-tenured Associate Professor of Law (and eminently Reasonable Mind) Gregory Kalscheur, S.J. In it, we learn (among other things) that Fr. Kalscheur has been holding out on us, for example by neglecting to inform us that BC’s Law Student Association conferred its Faculty Excellence Award on him in 2006.

Law students are not normally considered a particularly reverent lot, nor is Civil Procedure normally considered a particularly engaging subject, so the teaching award is pretty remarkable. Could it be that it’s the seminar on Catholic Social Thought that is generating the excitement? That would be even more remarkable. Whatever the explanation, it seems clear that both Greg and Boston College are doing a lot right.

[Editor’s note and update: Reasonable minds had some surprising comments on this rather short and seemingly unprovocative blurb. The issues under discussion outgrew this particular thread, so comments below have now been closed and the discussion has moved here.]