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Must-Read Op-Eds for Sept. 11, 2012

CHICAGO FIGHT OVER CLOUTCHARLES LANEWASHINGTON POSTIn Chicago, 85 percent of the roughly 400,000 public school students are either African American or Latino.

CHICAGO FIGHT OVER CLOUTCHARLES LANEWASHINGTON POSTIn Chicago, 85 percent of the roughly 400,000 public school students are either African American or Latino. A similar percentage receives free or reduced-price meals, which means these students live at or near the poverty line: $27,214 for a family of three, in a typical case. The average public-school teacher in Chicago earned almost triple that amount — $76,000 per year, according to the school district. In contract negotiations this year, Chicago Public Schools offered an average total pay increase of 16 percent over four years. The Chicago Teachers Union, 26,000 strong, rejected the offer and went on strike Monday, sowing chaos among children and parents. No one can say how long this walkout will last, but even if it ends tomorrow it has already harmed poor minority children, upon whose education the future of Chicago, and the country, depends.JUST ANOTHER DAY?DANA MILBANKWASHINGTON POSTNine-eleven just isn’t what it used to be. Residents of the capital will awaken to what is forecast to be another clear Tuesday morning, just like that one 11 years ago, and they will find that the day that changed the nation is becoming more and more ordinary. In some ways, this is a good thing: Osama bin Laden is dead, al-Qaeda isn’t as scary, and Sept. 11, 2001, is on its way to joining Dec. 7, 1941 — more historical, less raw. Yet it’s also unsettling that the day is losing its power to make Americans pause. This is part of the general amnesia that led Mitt Romney to deliver his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination without mentioning a country called Afghanistan.

MITT ROMNEY'S UPHILL CHALLENGEMICHAEL GERSONWASHINGTON POSTWith less than two months until the election, Romney is left with dwindling opportunities to reshape the dynamic of the race. This places extraordinary pressure on him in the presidential debates that commence on Oct. 3. He was an able debater during the Republican primaries. Obama is a weaker debater than his reputation — often professorial and elliptical. But Romney has the harder task. He must do more than hold his own. He will need to shake and shift public attitudes. And it is not easy to be aggressive during a debate without appearing overbearing or desperate. THE 9/11 TAX-CUT DISCONNECTMATT MILLERWASHINGTON POSTSince that awful morning eleven years ago, the United States has been continually at war. But never before in our history has a political party made it a national priority to cut taxes for wealthy Americans at a time of war.  ... Something snapped in the Republican mind after 9/11.  We’ve now put a trillion dollars of war on our kids’ credit card, with Republicans leading the charge for tax cuts for the top the entire time.  ...What were Republicans thinking? What is Mitt Romney thinking now? Only they know for sure, but what’s clear is that Republican leaders see no moral disconnect between the sacrifices borne by the tiny fraction of Americans who serve in the military (and their families), and repeated tax windfalls showered on a relative handful of well-to-do families at the same time.THE SHALLOW END OF THE CAMPAIGNEDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESIf the first weekend of Mitt Romney’s general election campaign is any indication, the country is in for eight weeks of wild, often random answers to some of the most important policy questions. Voters trying to understand the positions of Mr. Romney and Representative Paul Ryan are going to have a harder time than ever. On issue after issue raised in the first weekend of interviews after the conventions, Romney and Ryan actively tried to obscure their positions, as if a clear understanding of their beliefs about taxes, health care or spending would scare away anyone who was listening. Aware that President Obama’s policies in these areas are quite popular once people learn about them, the Republicans are simply sowing confusion.