W. James Antle III, associate editor of The American Spectator, grew up in the Boston area, where "being a Republican is fundamentally no different from being a third-party voter." Antle, 33, has long been interested in the relationship between libertarians and the mainstream parties. In "The Son Also Rises" (page 38), he reports on the Kentucky senatorial campaign of Rand Paul, son of former presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). A Ron Paul supporter in 2008, Antle says "people are hopeful about Rand Paul, that he's just a savvier libertarian than his dad, not a Republican lifer."

Senior Editor Katherine Mangu-Ward was raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Her parents previously lived in the city itself, but they fled in the 1980s because "enrolling me in the District's public schools seemed like a horrible idea." More than 20 years later, D.C.'s schools are still among the worst in the nation. But in "Last Chance for School Reform" (page 46), Mangu-Ward, 29, profiles a frenetic new superintendent with unprecedented powers who arrived at an auspicious moment to reshape the city's schools. "D.C. is drawing attention from education reformers and national news outlets as a test case for school reform in America," she says. Now that she is safely past school age, Mangu-Ward has returned to Washington, where she lives with her husband.

Lisa Snell is the director of education at the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this magazine. In "Obama's Education Spending Frenzy" (page 50), she describes the prospects for reform under President Barack Obama's education secretary, Arne Duncan. "A lot of things at the margins are breaking the public school monopolies," she says. "Ten years ago no one would have conceived of the options we have now. Still, we just keep spending billions and billions on schools that don't work." Snell, 42, has two kids in public school in California. She says her kids give her "a lot of fodder" for her work.