Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.

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1. Wrong Answer

Rachel Aviv | The New Yorker | July 14, 2014 | 35 minutes (8,962 words) words)

Facing increased pressure to perform on standardized tests, a group of Atlanta teachers begin cheating. “After more than two thousand interviews, the investigators concluded that forty-four schools had cheated and that a ‘culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation has infested the district, allowing cheating—at all levels—to go unchecked for years.’ They wrote that data had been ‘used as an abusive and cruel weapon to embarrass and punish.’ Several teachers had been told that they had a choice: either make targets or be placed on a Performance Development Plan, which was often a precursor to termination.”

2. Lessons from America’s War for the Greater Middle East

Andrew Bacevich | Notre Dame Magazine | July 16, 2014 | 18 minutes (4,526 words)

A historical look at how we ended up waging war in the Middle East—starting with Jimmy Carter more than 30 years ago—and how we continue to misunderstand what “winning” even means.

3. Breaking Ball: A Father and Son’s Pitch for Baseball Glory

George Nishiyama | The Wall Street Journal | July 15, 2014 | 22 minutes (5,566 words)

In Japan, where baseball is a cherished pastime and players practice relentlessly, a father and his talented son decide to take a different approach to training and pitching: playing in fewer games to avoid injury.

4. The State of the American Dog

Tom Junod | Esquire | July 16, 2014 | 25 minutes (6,430 words

“This is a story about an American dog: my dog, Dexter.” Through his personal story, Junod examines how pit bulls became so feared, so abused, and so neglected in the United States.

5. Inside the Box

Michael Cristman | The Giddy Summit | July 9, 2014 | 10 minutes (2,688 words)

“After learning to hover you were taught to land, then what to do when an engine failed, then to fly off your instruments in the clouds.” A marine learns to fly a helicopter and goes to combat in Afghanistan.