Magazine article Reason

Let the Sun Shine In

Magazine article Reason

Let the Sun Shine In

Article excerpt

SUNLIGHT, WE'RE TOLD, is supposed to be a pretty good disinfectant. Certainly it never hurts to discuss the effects of public policy openly and clearly. Three stories in this issue of reason clean out some shadowy corners in contemporary America.

"How to Fire an Incompetent Teacher" (page 50) offers an appalling guide to public school bureaucracy. Adapted from ABC News anchor John Stossel's eye-opening new book Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity, the piece presents a flow chart from hell. Or, more precisely, from New York City's school system, where hundreds of bad teachers are taken out of classrooms and placed in "rubber rooms [where] they read magazines, play cards, and chat, at a cost to New York taxpayers of $20 million a year." Even Terry Colon's humorous illustrations can't quite make this a laughing matter. As the chancellor of New York's public schools told Stossel, it took six years--and $350,000 in back pay--to get rid of a teacher who confessed to sending sexual e-mails to a 16-year-old student.

Radley Balko's meticulously reported expose of "The Case of Cory Maye" (page 36) underscores how drug prohibition, racial distrust, and the increasing militarization of police departments (even in small towns) are having tragic consequences. Maye is sitting on death row in Mississippi after shooting and killing a police officer during a SWAT-style raid on his apartment. After writing about the case for months on his blog, theagitator.com, Balko traveled to the Magnolia State and came away with a terrifying tale of overzealous cops, courtroom blunders, and well-intentioned screw-ups that have resulted in what can only be called a miscarriage of justice. …

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