Jim Nowlan: Education in Illinois about to change

New Common Core State Standards and a revamped teacher evaluation process portend significant changes in Illinois education, for the better, I think.

I tried to learn more about the changes in a recent visit with Tessa Samuelsen, the Stark County Elementary School principal, in my home territory.

George Will: How to keep them down on the farm

WASHINGTON — Someone who is determined to disbelieve something can manage to disregard an Everest of evidence for it. So Barack Obama will not temper his enthusiasm for increased equality with lucidity about the government's role in exacerbating inequality.

George Will: Healthy living derives from healthy choices

WASHINGTON — In September 1958, a future columnist, then 17, was unpacking as a college freshman when upperclassmen hired by tobacco companies knocked on his dormitory door, distributing free mini-packs of cigarettes. He and many other aspiring sophisticates became smokers.

Esther Cepeda: Chicago at war over student testing

CHICAGO — As education reform takes hold across the country, we find ourselves traveling through another dimension — one not only of hysterics but also of childish behavior. There's a signpost up ahead, our next stop: The Stupid Zone!

George Will: The face of IRS behavior chooses to remain silent

WASHINGTON — What's been said of confession — that it is good for one's soul but bad for one's reputation — can also be true of testifying to Congress, so Lois Lerner has chosen to stay silent. Hers, however, is an eloquent silence.

The most intrusive and potentially most punitive federal agency has been politicized; the IRS has become an appendage of Barack Obama's party.

Jim Dey: Spy case stretches from China to Midwest

The conspirators were getting nervous.

"These are actually very serious offenses," said one.

"They could treat us like spies," a companion replied.

But they dutifully followed orders and carried on, driving across rural areas of Illinois and Iowa as they searched for buried treasure in farmers' fields.

Misreading Putin, history

WASHINGTON — One hundred years after a spark in Central Europe ignited a conflagration from which the world has not yet recovered and from which Europe will never recover, armed forces have crossed an international border in Central Europe, eliciting this analysis from Secretary of State John Kerry: "It's a 19th-century act in the 21st century.

Obama's best hope for change

WASHINGTON — President Obama's new initiative to help at-risk boys of color — "My Brother's Keeper" — is cause for cheer.

Purple Colorado picking GOP pols more wisely

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In today's unforgiving politics, both parties often think: "If at first you don't succeed, don't darken our door again." Ken Buck, however, had another idea.

Jim Dey: Man's sober-but-guilty verdict on appeal

When Dana Hasselbring was involved in fatal 2010 motorcycle accident in Champaign, he was sober as a judge.

But that didn't stop a judge from sentencing Hasselbring to 11 years in prison for aggravated driving under the influence for his role in the accident that caused the death of a friend, 26-year-old Eddie Piat of Champaign.

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