June 22, 2013

The last thing our world needs is more schools...

Catholic Schools Fall on Hard Times | Via Meadia:

...In the past, Catholic schools have routinely outperformed public schools on standardized tests, and they boast college admissions rates near 100 percent. Just as important for many Catholic parents, the schools have also helps parents bestow the values and culture handed down to them through the generations. Unfortunately, the decline of Catholic schools will be difficult to reverse. The NYT points to the expansion of charter schools, large tuition increases, the evaporation of cheap labor as nuns leave the teaching profession, and migration from urban environments to the suburbs and the South as important factors. None of these things are likely to change anytime soon. It's an interesting take on the decline of a long-standing American institution and the effect it could have on the marginalized communities these schools have served for years....

What Mead fails to see is that Catholic schools "worked" in a particular time and place.

The Industrial Age was a big step up in the complexity and size of human activities. But in order for these new activities to work, and to continue to grow, many factors had to be upgraded simultaneously. One of these was that workforces needed to be of higher quality. Smarter, healthier, more disciplined. The industrial world needed ever-increasing numbers of people who were literate and numerate. It needed ever-increasing numbers of managers and executives and professionals and all kinds of "white-collar" workers. And the "blue collar" workers also had to upgrade to fit with more complex organizations and machines.

This resulted in a titanic struggle to improve education. A battle that is almost invisible to us, because we take universal education for granted. And the Catholic Church was at the heart of this. Was often a leader. Both private and governmental sectors extracted increasing amounts of money from the people, and invested it in education. Which paid off! Catholic schools were a big success, in simple dollars-and-cents terms. They resulted in stronger and wealthier Catholic communities, which could support more education.

But we are now in a new age of the world. Commonly called the Information Age. (More of my thoughts on the is age here.) I think that transition happened roughly in the 1960's. And when it did, many things that had worked well in the Industrial Age started to come apart. They didn't "pay off" anymore. We are now surrounded by failing institutions, because our world has stubbornly insisted on keeping industrial age solutions going long after they became obsolete.

What the world needs now from the Catholic Church is not more education. Our world is over-supplied with education. And, I think, under-supplied with Truth! Wisdom! The Church is the original firm for that product, but we have forgotten how to live it and teach it.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:56 AM

December 10, 2012

The worst piece of design I've ever seen...

For your viewing pleasure, the old and new University of California logos...

Univ of California logos new and old

On the plus side, two of my main blogging-points are perfectly encapsulated in this. One is nihilism; the way meaning and belief have drained away from many people's lives. The new logo probably deserves a prize for having the absolute lowest amount of meaning a logo can have--a plain blue rectangle would have more profundity than this.. In fact it may possess negative meaning. That is, if you have still in your mind or soul any high and noble purpose, anything greater then yourself, staring at this graphic will tend to destroy that. If Fiat Lux--Let There Be Light--still has meaning for you, the new logo can cure you of this mental aberration. It can help make you a well-adjusted citizen of the Obama Welfare State.

The other theme is the Information Age. Specifically, that those institutions which have failed to make the transition to the new age we are in are, all of them, delusional. Crazy, in fact. What we call a university is actually an Industrial Age invention. The UC System used to be at the cutting edge of new things. Now it has become profoundly dysfunctional. It needs to be destroyed, to free up human and financial resources for the university-to-come.

UPDATE: My son says they should title it: "Fading into nothingness..."

A news story on this...

University of California introduces a modern logo - San Jose Mercury News:

...After 144 years with the same old Victorian seal, the University of California has decided to go mod.

The university's original logo -- with its open book, 1868 date stamp and "Let there be light" script -- will still be in circulation, appearing on president's letters and official university documents. But marketing materials and websites will feature a radically simple and more contemporary symbol: a little "C" nesting inside a shield-shaped "U."

"They wanted something that would reflect the innovation, the character of California -- just more modern, user-friendly," said Dianne Klein of UC's Office of the President. "That's not to take away from the gravitas of the original seal."...
Posted by John Weidner at 2:17 PM

September 15, 2012

What is the thing in its essence?

Walter Russell Mead, University of Virginia: Only the Beginning:

...In an ideal world, university professors and other intellectuals would have been thinking about these problems for many years. They would be the pioneers in innovation and experiment. Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world. The intellectual establishment is fully on the defensive. It is circling the wagons. It instinctively identifies attacks on the existing model with the worst kind of populist ignorance and bigotry. Nobody is angrier, nastier or more self-righteous than an intellectual whose livelihood is under threat.

The bureaucracy will join the faculty senate in fighting change. All those vice provosts for diversity and assistant deans for various forms of student services are sure that their services are essential -- or at least they are sure that they want to keep their jobs. The stripped down, leaner, New Model U will have much less room for baggage and ballast than the stately, well funded cruise ships of old.

What we see at UVA this month is just a foretaste of the storm that is coming -- a few early raindrops and gusts of wind before the real storm hits. The country needs more education than the current system can affordably supply, and the pressure on the educational system will not abate until this problem is resolved....

Sorry, but I don't think the universities can be saved. There's just too much legacy baggage. Most of the things modern colleges and universities do started in the Industrial Age, and are simply obsolete. Mostly the Industrial Age universities were about the need to put a bunch of things in the same place. Scholars, apprentice scholars, undergrads, buildings, libraries, dorms, journals, labs, conferences, accounting and book-keeping and record-keeping. All concentrated in one exciting place. The defining problem of the Industrial Age was handling information. Putting things in physical proximity was a solution.

So now, in the Information Age, how many of those things need to be heaped-up in one spot to work? Not many. Most of them can happen online, or be dispersed to various locations. Why can't a college have no physical location? No community? Or maybe there won't even be anything like a college, just a universe of online classes to chose from, and some sort of accreditation service that employers can trust.

So, the question is, is there something real and essential to universities that still works? That still provides value? That might be the core of a new sort of university?

I'd love to work on that problem. I'm full of dreamish ideas. As a solver of practical problems I'm pretty much worthless. But as a dreamer I have a big advantage over other people, in that I am perfectly willing to just toss everything currently accepted overboard, and start afresh. That don't bother me at all.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:24 PM

September 14, 2012

"No ideas are off the table." Except one.

UC regents brainstorm changes if voters reject Prop. 30 - latimes.com:

...SAN FRANCISCO — In what was described as a brainstorming session, UC regents on Wednesday raised the possibility of controversial policy changes — including varying tuition rates by campus and sharply hiking the number of out-of-state students — to cut costs and raise revenues.

Those ideas and others could gain traction if voters reject the tax increase measure backed by Gov. Jerry Brown on the November ballot.

UC officials also repeated their warning that if Proposition 30 is defeated, UC will lose $375 million in funding and students probably will face a midyear tuition hike, possibly as much as 20% or about $2,400. If the proposition passes, there will be no tuition hike for the 2012-13 school year although a modest one is likely the following year.

Regents insisted that they were not trying to scare voters into supporting the tax proposition but that they needed to study some of those options even if the measure passes. No votes were taken Wednesday and no policy changes were adopted immediately. Still, the meeting provided insight into the thinking of many of the regents who control the 10-campus system.

"We are simply examining every possibility," said Sherry Lansing, regents chairwoman. "No ideas are off the table."...

Bullshit. The biggest issue is never mentioned. In fact the critics of the universities rarely mention it, which bewilders me.

If you went back a few decades, you would find that the UC system had about 1 administrator to every 6 or 8 faculty. Since then the numbers of faculty have hardly grown at all, but administrators now outnumber faculty! There are now more chiefs than indians.

This is insane by ANY theory of management you might chose to apply. Most schools of management would predict that such a situation would result in worse management, and that looks like what's happening to me. The management of the UC system (and LOTS of other universities public and private) has become a cancer, devouring the body and soaking up all funds.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:41 PM | Comments (2)

September 1, 2012

"The Crisis of Wimpy Vampires.."

This piece on boys and books matches up exactly with my paper on why men don't go to church. (Link) I'm too tired and busy to ramble on on the subject. But it speaks for itself.

The Dangerous Article for Boys | Catholic Lane:

It is now well-recognized that boys are not reading. What is the problem? Most commentators want to say that boys have an aversion to books. But the problem is quite the opposite: books--modern books, that is--have an aversion to boys. A recent edition of The New York Times Sunday Book Review featured a Robert Lipsyte article that attempts to address this problem. Here is the proffered solution:
Boys need to be approached individually with books about their fears, choices, possibilities and relationships -- the kind of reading that will prick their dormant empathy, involve them with fictional characters and lead them into deeper engagement with their own lives. This is what turns boys into readers.
Excuse me while I dab my eyes delicately with my handkerchief, touched as I am by this tender thought.

Okay, let's get something straight here: solutions like this are part of the problem. I'm normally against shooting spit wads in class, but I am willing to make an exception in this one case. The entire educational establishment has tried for over 50 years to force boys into their effeminate mold, and in the process, they've succeeded in evacuating literature of all the things boys like in books: action, adventure, danger, bloodletting--and an iron moral code that is taught, not by smarmy sermonizing, but by immersing them in the moral universe of a story about a hero who not only believes in this code, but enforces it with a vengeance.

Boys now seek refuge in cheesy horror novels because the Cultural Authorities won't give them the adventure books that were once staples in every boy's life. It is to this I attribute the popularity of vampire novels (and movies and television shows). But even here a boy is destined for disappointment.

The Crisis of Wimpy Vampires

In fact, the extent of our modern cultural crisis can be at least partly measured by the plight of the vampire. ...


..We have the mistaken impression that it was traditional children's literature that was preachy. This is not only untrue, but it is almost the exact opposite of the truth. It is precisely the preachiness of politically correct modern literature that offends their innate sense of honesty and justice--a human instinct that we do our best to educate out of them...
Posted by John Weidner at 7:45 AM

July 14, 2012

Lordy, how I hate our fake-liberals...

Walter Russell Mead, Blue Blight Update: Largest CA College to Close?:

The collapse of blue California is picking up speed. California’s largest college, which enrolls 90,000 students, faces closure within a year unless the school can essentially reinvent itself. Bad administration, wasteful personnel spending, poor organization, a lack of strategic vision and a series of budget cuts as the state of California frantically hacks at its own budget deficit have brought City College of San Francisco to the brink.

As the Mercury News reports, the college has been ordered to prepare for closure by next March even as administrators and politicians search for ways to keep the school open.Threatening to pull the plug is the state’s accrediting commission that supervises junior and community colleges. Without major reform, the commission says, the College will lose its accreditation in March of 2013 and without accreditation it would lose access to the state funding that keeps it alive....

The Weidners are less than a mile from the main City College campus. One of my boys has been thinking of taking some courses there. Another learned some welding at the Evans campus. I could say a whole bunch of things about the fecklessness and stupidity of our local government, but why bother. It's all going to crash, and then maybe some sanity will be the result.

...But CCSF’s problems point to an important local failure: deep blue San Francisco is not doing a good job at helping low income people. The noble rhetoric about justice and compassion that liberal politicians so eloquently express doesn’t seem matched by particularly inspiring results. To let the community college that offers low income people their most hopeful route of escape from the poverty trap fall into ruin is not the mark of a compassionate or justice seeking political movement...

The only good part is that there aren't any Republicans involved. This is pure Blue evil. Blue Blight

Posted by John Weidner at 4:28 PM | Comments (2)

December 4, 2010

Stats for something you probably knew...

If by some rare chance you have influence on solving the financial problems of higher education, here's info on the real problem...

Executive Summary
Enrollment at America's leading universities has been increasing dramatically, rising nearly 15 percent between 1993 and 2007. But unlike almost every other growing industry, higher education has not become more efficient. Instead, universities now have more administrative employees and spend more on administration to educate each student. In short, universities are suffering from "administrative bloat," expanding the resources devoted to administration significantly faster than spending on instruction, research and service.

Between 1993 and 2007, the number of full-time administrators per 100 students at America's leading universities grew by 39 percent, while the number of employees engaged in teaching, research or service only grew by 18 percent. Inflation-adjusted spending on administration per student increased by 61 percent during the same period, while instructional spending per student rose 39 percent. Arizona State University, for example, increased the number of administrators per 100 students by 94 percent during this period while actually reducing the number of employees engaged in instruction, research and service by 2 percent. Nearly half of all full-time employees at Arizona State University are administrators.

A significant reason for the administrative bloat is that students pay only a small portion of administrative costs. The lion's share of university resources comes from the federal and state governments, as well as private gifts and fees for non-educational services. The large and increasing rate of government subsidy for higher education facilitates administrative bloat by insulating students from the costs. Reducing government subsidies would do much to make universities more efficient...
Posted by John Weidner at 8:28 AM

February 27, 2010

The mission of the laity...

From a talk by Fr. Michael Sweeney, OP, at Holy Family Cathedral, Anchorage, Reading the Signs of the Times: Dominican Education and the Challenge of Contemporary Culture:

...All of this was deliberately discarded, and it is now the case that most Catholic universities are indistinguishable from any other. As a consequence, the positions of Catholic alumni on social questions, even on issues that directly reflect the Church's moral teaching, do not differ significantly from the rest of the population....

....Why was Catholic education so thoroughly abandoned? In my judgment, the reason is to be found in a profound sense of inferiority that pertained on the part of Catholic educators in the 1950's and 1960's. This is seen in the participants of the Land-O-Lakes Conference held in Wisconsin in 1967 around the topic "What is the nature and role of the contemporary Catholic university?"

Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, President of Notre Dame, chaired the conference that included the presidents or academic deans of Boston College, Georgetown, Fordham, the Catholic University and other Catholic institutions. At the center of their deliberations was an assertion: "The Catholic university participates in the total university life of our time, has the same functions as all other true universities and, in general, offers the same services to society."[iii] Behind this assertion was an assumption: that the Catholic university had not been acknowledged to participate fully in the university life of our time, to perform the same functions as other true universities or to offer the same services to society. We should notice this, crucial fact: that the definition of a true university was assumed to be other than the Catholic institution and that to become truly a university, a Catholic university must look to the non-Catholic institution as its standard or model....

...No thought was given to what had been the purpose of a Catholic university, which was not merely to put Catholics as an immigrant population on an equal footing with Protestant and secular populations, but to give Catholic students access to their own intellectual tradition and the European and Western culture that it had shaped...

...So little was left of anything distinctively Catholic in the curriculum of Catholic universities that some have begun to initiate programs in something called "Catholic Studies" in an attempt, one presumes, to imitate the non-Catholic institutions that have instituted similar programs.

There have, I think, been two principal consequences of the general collapse of Catholic higher education. First, it has compromised our ability to entrust the whole of the Catholic tradition to the generations that have followed my own. Second, it has had the ironic effect of clericalizing the Church, of marginalizing the contribution to the Church that most properly belongs to the laity

...This task of evangelizing the culture and its institutions is pre-eminently a lay responsibility. While the pastoral care of souls may not require creativity in the secular spheres of human life, the application of the Gospel to the initiatives and institutions that make up our contemporary world requires that fundamental questions concerning man and woman and the world must be explored and answered. Ironically, in their concern to accommodate Catholic education to the world, the Catholic institutions have rendered a real engagement with secular concerns far less likely. As a consequence, since Vatican Council II the Church has turned inward almost exclusively focused upon the care of the Catholic community, and a good part of the reason for this is that we have not formed our young people for the sake of the mission to secular society. The concern of the pastoral care of the community is that of Bishops, priests and deacons –of clerics– and in my lifetime the Church has become more clerical, not less...[my emphasis]
Posted by John Weidner at 5:23 PM

February 14, 2010

Jerusalem AND Athens...

John Henry Newman, on what universities ought to be...

...but, ever since the fall of man, religion is here, and philosophy is there; each has its own centres of influence, separate from the other; intellectual men desiderate something in the homes of religion, and religious men desiderate something in the schools of science.

Here, then, I conceive, is the object of the Holy See and the Catholic Church in setting up Universities; it is to reunite things which were in the beginning joined together by God, and have been put asunder by man. Some persons will say that I am thinking of confining, distorting, and stunting the growth of the intellect by ecclesiastical supervision. I have no such thought. Nor have I any thought of a compromise, as if religion must give up something, and science something.

I wish the intellect to range with the utmost freedom, and religion to enjoy an equal freedom; but what I am stipulating for is, that they should be found in one and the same place, and exemplified in the same persons. I want to destroy that diversity of centres, which puts everything into confusion by creating a contrariety of influences. I wish the same spots and the same individuals to be at once oracles of philosophy and shrines of devotion. It will not satisfy me, what satisfies so many, to have two independent systems, intellectual and religious, going at once side by side, by a sort of division of labour, and only accidentally brought together. It will not satisfy me, if religion is here, and science there, and young men converse with science all day, and lodge with religion in the evening. It is not touching the evil, to which these remarks have been directed, if young men eat and drink and sleep in one place, and think in another: I want the same roof to contain both the intellectual and moral discipline. Devotion is not a sort of finish given to the sciences; nor is science a sort of feather in the cap, if I may so express myself, an ornament and set-off to devotion. I want the intellectual layman to be religious, and the devout ecclesiastic to be intellectual...

This is supremely Catholic. (And my idea of heaven, but I guess I'll have to wait 'till I get to Heaven to get it.) As George Weigel wrote,

...You can call it the "Catholic both/and": nature and grace, faith and works, Jerusalem and Athens, faith and reason, charismatic and institutional, visible and invisible...

And Pope Benedict:

"Catholicism, perhaps a bit simplistically, has always been considered the religion of the great 'both/and;' not of great exclusions, but of synthesis. In fact, 'Catholic' means precisely 'synthesis.'" [Link]

Posted by John Weidner at 8:41 PM

October 1, 2009

It works, it helps kids... and the Left is against it. Surprise, surprise.

Profit is the key to success in 'Swedish schools' | The Spectator:

Anders Hultin, an architect of the Swedish government's voucher system, says the Tories' plan to emulate it will fail unless they encourage a new breed of education entrepreneurs

For us Swedes, it is gratifying to see David Cameron put our free schools model at the heart of his reform agenda. He has chosen well. In a few short years, the voucher system has transformed education in Sweden and led to the creation of almost a thousand new schools. But the Conservative leader has failed to grasp a key aspect of their success. To flourish, these schools must be allowed to make a profit.

This isn't just one of a long list of pessimistic predictions — it's the only crucial criticism; he can ignore the rest. The doubts I hear about school choice in England now are the same ones I heard when I helped draft the policy as an adviser in the Swedish education and science department in 1992. Who on earth, we were asked, would want to set up their own school? Surely low-income parents don't want choice — they just want their local school to improve. Our political opponents thought the policy such a dud they didn't even bother to attack it. Even we had our doubts. Our proposal was fairly simple: anyone could set up a school, and be paid the going rate (or, at the time, a bit less) that the state-run schools were receiving. But in our heart of hearts, we did not expect a rush of applicants. This is a symbolic policy, I was told by a colleague. It was in our manifesto, so we had to honour it.

Isn't it strange how little faith government places in the people whose lives it seeks to organise? Once we put our 'symbolic' policy into practice, and handed power from government to communities, the effect was extraordinary. A thousand flowers bloomed. Or, more accurately, the number of independent schools grew from 80 to 1,100 — educating 10 per cent of all pupils at the compulsory education age and 20 per cent of those in upper secondary. The drive and energy came from outside government: we in the education department just paid the bills. This, perhaps, explains the success: it was a grassroots-led revolution. ...
Posted by John Weidner at 3:23 PM

September 2, 2009

The leader is going to speak to the children!

On September 8! (Here's the scoop.)

chinese children with portraits of Comrades Mao and Stalin

...On the "Activities for grades PreK-6" document, the Department of Education has lined up some ideas on what teachers can do with their 4-14 year olds in the classroom. What is odd about the list is that all of the ideas revolve around Obama, not about the students or the country.

"Teachers can build background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama..." is the tip for what to do before Obama's speech. Why is it so important to know about him? Is is really appropriate for schools to have students read all about Obama as a standalone project and not encourage and more in-depth civics lesson as part of the curriculum? Teachers should be careful with the suggested reading and make sure their 2nd grade class doesn't get to read all about how Obama tried cocaine, as he admitted in "Dreams From My Father."

Throughout the speech, teachers are asked to encourage students to think about many things... mostly relating to Obama himself:

"As students listen to the speech, they could think about the following: What is the President trying to tell me? What is the President asking me to do? What new ideas and actions is the President challenging me to think about?" (emphasis added).

"Students could discuss their responses to the following questions: What do you think the President wants us to do? Does the speech make you want to do anything? Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us? What would you like to tell the President? "...(emphasis added).

Stephen Green: It's not mere education — it's learnyness!

Posted by John Weidner at 11:58 AM

August 6, 2009

Thank you (yet again) President Bush...

Editorial - The Battle for D.C.'s High Schools - NYTimes.com:

...Mayor Adrian Fenty of Washington and his hard-charging chancellor of schools, Michelle Rhee, face great challenges in their attempt to turn around a school system that has long been known as one of the nation's worst. The climb will be especially steep with the city's 15 high schools, 10 of which are undergoing various forms of restructuring because they have failed to meet progress standards under the No Child Left Behind Act. (my emphasis)

The mayor and the chancellor are justified in taking radical steps, especially in schools that have failed for decades on end. Among other things, the city should bring in a select few of the nation's top charter school operators, but only the ones that have demonstrated clear success at the high school level.

Charter groups operate publicly funded schools, but often have great flexibility with curriculum and union contract arrangements. The first step should be to break the larger schools into smaller units and rewrite union contracts to allow for greater flexibility and progress.

Ms. Rhee has already hired two well-regarded outside groups to manage three of the high schools. She has also held preliminary discussions with a nationally known California concern, Green Dot Public Schools, one of the largest and most successful operators in that state....

The real civil rights struggle of our times is the freeing of inner city children from the hideous slavery and human destruction imposed by the corrupt teachers unions nd their lackeys in the Democrat Party. and the genius of NCLB was its ability to force change. Conservatives ought to have given President Bush strong support on this.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:51 AM

May 3, 2009

"Infusions of legitimacy"

... Americans who are apt to argue that U.S. foreign policy needs constant infusions of legitimacy from the approbation of European governments are also apt to deplore, in the domestic culture wars, Eurocentrism in academic curricula. Such Americans resist the cultural products of Europe's centuries of vitality, but defer to the politics of Europe in its decadence.

Why? Perhaps because yesterday's European culture helped make America what it is, and today's European politics expresses resentment and distrust of what America is. Both sensibilities arise from the distaste of some Americans for America...

    -- George Will
Posted by John Weidner at 2:16 PM

March 7, 2009

They're rich liberals...what do they care if pickaninnies suffer?


...New York's two US Democratic senators yesterday said they will vote against an amendment that would preserve a Washington, DC, school-voucher program that helps lower-income students attend private schools....
Their own children of course go to private schools, and don't have to endure the wretchedness of the inner-city schools that Dems impose on the little people they so despise. The teachers unions are the biggest contributors to the "Democrat" Party, so the destruction of whole generations of minority children is obviously a small price to pay for Schumer and Clinton and all the other Dems to retain power and wealth. Another sick fact is that in urban areas public school teachers send their own children to private schools in much greater percentages than the general population. Another sick fact. The vouchers provided to some DC kids are much less than the district is paying per-child for the public schools!
Posted by John Weidner at 6:23 PM

November 13, 2008

Tolerant and diverse Obamanoids.....

This John Kass column doesn't surprise me a bit. Living in SF, I get to see plenty of this kind of thing, and San Francisco isn't really bad compared with--ugh! Barf!-- "affluent suburbs." You have to be somewhat tolerant to live in the City, because there's such a smorgasbord of different types and groups here. If you have a bunch of white liberal elitists living together, then you get the real bigots. (And worse than the bigotry is the way they ooze the butter of self-satisfaction from every pore. Gag me with a silver spoon!) [Thanx to Bookworm]

A liberal gal we know (one with an atypically strong self-image, and a Republican boyfriend) was telling me the other day about her bewilderment at many of her liberal friends, whose reaction to Republicans and opposing ideas was total shut-out: "I don't want to hear it!" I just nodded my head and said Ummm hmmm. That's the era we are in. The Republic is probably doomed, but at least I have the satisfaction of not being part of the idiocy.

Tolerance fails T-shirt test -- chicagotribune.com:

...Catherine Vogt, 14, is an Illinois 8th grader, the daughter of a liberal mom and a conservative dad. She wanted to conduct an experiment in political tolerance and diversity of opinion at her school in the liberal suburb of Oak Park.

She noticed that fellow students at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama for president. His campaign kept preaching 'inclusion,' and she decided to see how included she could be.

So just before the election, Catherine consulted with her history teacher, then bravely wore a unique T-shirt to school and recorded the comments of teachers and students in her journal. The T-shirt bore the simple yet quite subversive words drawn with a red marker:

'I was just really curious how they'd react to something that different, because a lot of people at my school wore Obama shirts and they are big Obama supporters,' Catherine told us. 'I just really wanted to see what their reaction would be.'

Immediately, Catherine learned she was stupid for wearing a shirt with Republican John McCain's name. Not merely stupid. Very stupid.

'People were upset. But they started saying things, calling me very stupid, telling me my shirt was stupid and I shouldn't be wearing it,' Catherine said. Then it got worse.

'One person told me to go die. It was a lot of dying. A lot of comments about how I should be killed,' Catherine said, of the tolerance in Oak Park.
But students weren't the only ones surprised that she wore a shirt supporting McCain.

'In one class, I had one teacher say she will not judge me for my choice, but that she was surprised that I supported McCain,' Catherine said.

If Catherine was shocked by such passive-aggressive threats from instructors, just wait until she goes to college.

'Later, that teacher found out about the experiment and said she was embarrassed because she knew I was writing down what she said,' Catherine said.

One student suggested that she be put up on a cross for her political beliefs.

'He said, 'You should be crucifixed.' It was kind of funny because, I was like, don't you mean 'crucified?' ' Catherine said.

Other entries in her notebook involved suggestions by classmates that she be 'burned with her shirt on' for 'being a filthy-rich Republican.'

Some said that because she supported McCain, by extension she supported a plan by deranged skinheads to kill Obama before the election. And I thought such politicized logic was confined to American newsrooms. Yet Catherine refused to argue with her peers. She didn't want to jeopardize her experiment.....
Posted by John Weidner at 10:51 PM

May 7, 2008

Lawsuit over "hostile work environment"

This just tops all...(From WSJ)

Often it seems as though American higher education exists only to provide gag material for the outside world. The latest spectacle is an Ivy League professor threatening to sue her students because, she claims, their "anti-intellectualism" violated her civil rights.

Priya Venkatesan taught English at Dartmouth College. She maintains that some of her students were so unreceptive of "French narrative theory" that it amounted to a hostile working environment. She is also readying lawsuits against her superiors, who she says papered over the harassment, as well as a confessional exposé, which she promises will "name names."...

...Ms. Venkatesan lectured in freshman composition, intended to introduce undergraduates to the rigors of expository argument. "My students were very bully-ish, very aggressive, and very disrespectful," she told Tyler Brace of the Dartmouth Review. "They'd argue with your ideas." This caused "subversiveness," a principle English professors usually favor...

...Ms. Venkatesan informed her pupils that their behavior was "fascist demagoguery." Then, after consulting a physician about "intellectual distress," she cancelled classes for a week. Thus the pending litigation.....

Don't I wish I could sue certain people for inflicting "intellectual distress" on me!

Posted by John Weidner at 6:21 AM

April 2, 2008

It's about time...

Jeez, it's about time. The Pentagon may finally getting tough with the lefty scoff-laws of the "academy." How I despise fakes, especially fake pacifists. There they sit, fat 'n useless, enjoying prosperity and freedom secured by military violence, and then they spit on our troops, and pretend they are dwelling on some superior moral plane.. And it's not like they actually believe any of their anti-war bullshit. If al Qaeda moved into Berkeley or Ann Arbor, they'd all of them be howling for the Marines.

Army Times: The Defense Department has announced a new get-tough policy with colleges and universities that interfere with the work of military recruiters and Reserve Officer Training Corps programs.

Under rules that will take effect April 28, defense officials said they want the exact same access to student directories that is provided to all other prospective employers.

Students can opt out of having their information turned over to the military only if they opt out of having their information provided to all other recruiters, but schools cannot have policies that exclude only the military, defense officials said in a March 28 notice of the new policy in the Federal Register.

The Defense Department “will honor only those student ‘opt-outs’ from the disclosure of directory information that are even-handedly applied to all prospective employers seeking information for recruiting purposes,” the notice says....

....The new policy also no longer lets schools ban military recruiters from working on campuses solely because a school determines that no students have expressed interest in joining the military. If other employers are invited, the military has to have the same access.

Federal funding can be cut off if colleges and universities do not give recruiters and ROTC programs campus access. While student financial assistance is not at risk, other federal aid, especially research funding, can disappear if a school does not cooperate.

The Pentagon can declare colleges or universities anti-ROTC if they prohibit or prevent a Senior ROTC program from being established, maintained or efficiently operated.

The new policy is, in part, the result of a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the federal government’s ability to use funding as a means of forcing equal access for military recruiters and ROTC units on campuses....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:05 PM

December 4, 2007

Reason 898 why I hate "the press"

I hate them, and I laugh with bitter pleasure each time I read of declining circulation for the nation's newspapers....

From NCR:

NEW YORK — When the Associated Press set out to investigate an apparent problem with sexual assault of children in public schools, the organization spared no expense. A congressionally mandated study by Hofstra University had already found school-based sexual abuse to be a big problem.

“It was one of our priorities for the year,” said John Affleck, editor of the AP’s national reporting team.

The result was a three-part series, available to editors throughout the country beginning Oct. 20, that revealed widespread and routine sexual assault of public school students throughout the country. The first story summarized: “Students in America’s schools are groped. They’re raped. They’re pursued, seduced and think they’re in love.”

The series told of an entrenched resistance to stopping abusers on the part of teachers, administrators and the National Education Association, a teacher’s union.

So why apparently have only a handful of newspapers nationwide run the series — in stark contrast to the avalanche of press received by the Catholic Church since 2002? Paul Colford, corporate communications director for the AP, said he was inundated with complaints from people wondering why their newspapers were not carrying the series...

And, a few figures for contrast...

...“The Boston Globe began publishing on Jan. 6, 2002, a series of reports regarding sexual abuse of children by priests in the Archdiocese of Boston,” Nussbaum wrote “In a flash, newspapers around the country began reprinting the Globe’s reports and developing their own. They published 728 stories in January; 1,095 in February, and 2,961 in March. By April, these papers were publishing a new story every nine minutes, 160 every day, 4,791 for the month. By year-end, American papers provided their readers over 21,000 stories of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.”

Boston Globe editors contacted by the Register claimed only vague knowledge of the AP series, and could not answer as to whether part of it ran in their paper....
Posted by John Weidner at 5:57 AM

November 19, 2007

"I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps"

You might want to take a look at a fudgy little video that John Hinderaker of PowerLine has posted...

...In the school district where I live, a concert is put on annually by the four high school choirs, plus a little kids' choir of elementary school children, of which my youngest daughter is a member. Participation in the high school choirs is competitive and their quality is high. A director for the concert is brought in from the outside, generally from a college. The concert begins with a couple of numbers by the kids' choir; this year, they started with a medley of The Pledge of Allegiance and America the Beautiful. The crowd--I live in a middle-of-the-road, non-elite area--loved it. The four high school choirs perform separately, and then at the end, they combine in a single large choir for a couple of songs. Most of the music sung is classical; lots of it is religious, often in Latin. As I said, the quality is high.

For the finale, they bring out the kids' choir to sing with all four high schools. This year, the finale was Battle Hymn of the Republic....

That's what's on the video. Gave me a lump in the throat. Maybe it's just because I live in this sinkhole of Lefty nihilism and anti-Americanism, and have put three kids through school without EVER hearing a concert of patriotic songs..... especially THAT patriotic song.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:14 PM

October 30, 2007

Leftists will never admit what they are aiming for...

...But it is possible to find out, by giving them some enclave where they have untrammeled control...

FIRE - University of Delaware Requires Students to Undergo Ideological Reeducation:

....The university’s views are forced on students through a comprehensive manipulation of the residence hall environment, from mandatory training sessions to “sustainability” door decorations. Students living in the university’s eight housing complexes are required to attend training sessions, floor meetings, and one-on-one meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs). The RAs who facilitate these meetings have received their own intensive training from the university, including a “diversity facilitation training” session at which RAs were taught, among other things, that “[a] racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality.”

The university suggests that at one-on-one sessions with students, RAs should ask intrusive personal questions such as “When did you discover your sexual identity?” Students who express discomfort with this type of questioning often meet with disapproval from their RAs, who write reports on these one-on-one sessions and deliver these reports to their superiors. One student identified in a write-up as an RA’s “worst” one-on-one session was a young woman who stated that she was tired of having “diversity shoved down her throat.”

According to the program’s materials, the goal of the residence life education program is for students in the university’s residence halls to achieve certain “competencies” that the university has decreed its students must develop in order to achieve the overall educational goal of “citizenship.” These competencies include: “Students will recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society,” “Students will recognize the benefits of dismantling systems of oppression,” and “Students will be able to utilize their knowledge of sustainability to change their daily habits and consumer mentality.”

At various points in the program, students are also pressured or even required to take actions that outwardly indicate their agreement with the university’s ideology, regardless of their personal beliefs. Such actions include displaying specific door decorations, committing to reduce their ecological footprint by at least 20%, taking action by advocating for an “oppressed” social group, and taking action by advocating for a “sustainable world.”

In the Office of Residence Life’s internal materials, these programs are described using the harrowing language of ideological reeducation. In documents relating to the assessment of student learning, for example, the residence hall lesson plans are referred to as “treatments.”...

A left-leaning friend recently told me that I was wrong to express contempt in my blog; that that was not the way to be persuasive. Well, to heck with it. Anyone who is not utterly repelled by this stuff is a brain-dead liberal, and there is no hope of persuading them of anything. So, what I feel and express for these tin-plate totalitarians is the utmost contempt. Knock them down kick their faces and spit on them contempt. I HATE their nihilism. They are my enemies, and the enemies of all free men. They are evil.

And what's particularly twisted and vile is that it will be the poor and minorities who are hurt most by this kind of thing. They will be the ones to learn the lesson that they ought to be spongers and grievance-mongers. Most middle-class white kids will tend to have a certain immunity to this, since the lesson is that they are born racist oppressors, and should spend their lives hanging their heads in shame.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:07 PM

June 23, 2007

"Political correctness lowers your effective IQ"

From a good piece by Steve Sailor (Thanks to Kathy Shaidle)

...The idea that it is diversity (the researchers used the census’s standard racial categories to define diversity) that drives social capital down has its critics. Among them is Steven Durlauf, an economist at the University of Wisconsin and a critic of Putnam’s past work, who said he thinks some other characteristic, as yet unidentified, explains the lowered trust and social withdrawal of people living in diverse areas. But without clear evidence to the contrary, Putnam says, he has to believe the conclusion is solid.
Many decades ago, I used to run into Steve Durlauf of Burbank H.S. all the time at high school speech and debate tournaments, where he would beat me like a drum. I wasn't terribly good at forensics because I'm not that orally fluent, but even at what I was good at, Durlauf was much better. I don't know if he was the most successful debater in Southern California of his era, but he's the one who most deserved to be. He's just a lot smarter than me. And he's a nice guy, too.

So, why does Prof. Durlauf come out sounding kind of dim on this topic compared to me? Because political correctness lowers your effective IQ. Truths are connected to other truths, so if you are willing to follow the truth wherever it goes, you'll make a lot more progress than if you put up big "Can't Go There" signs in your own head.

"Political correctness lowers your effective IQ." The funny thing is, we see this all the time. But we are so accustomed to the blurred thinking that we usually don't notice it. A good example is the use of the word "diversity" itself. After the Bakke Decision, the word "diversity" was adopted as a code word for racial quotas. That's what the word means in contemporary discourse. As a parent of three children, I see it all the time, in the various pronouncements we get from schools. If your school hires a "diversity coordinator," it means somebody who is going to find more blacks or Hispanics. That's ALL it means.

And everybody knows it, but I've yet to see the slightest evidence of anyone being conscious of the obvious duplicity of what they are saying. People seem to absorb the politically correct speech forms out of the air, without the slightest morsel of critical thought. And once you start on that path, it becomes more and more dangerous to start examining your ideas, because there is a whole structure of thought that might come crashing down. So you put the "Can't Go There" signs up.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:00 AM

June 21, 2007

The civil rights battleground of our time...

One of the things that infuriates me about a lot of "conservatives" is the way they refer to NCLB (the No Child Left Behind Act) as a foolish liberal boondoggle, and an example of Bush's naivete in working with Teddy Kennedy. In fact the money involved was a sweetener (and a bribe) for a bill that gave the feds some extremely big sticks to force change on the nation's public schools. And public schools are the civil rights battleground of our time, where the poor and minorities suffer oppression to maintain the power base of the Democrat Party. (Hmmm. Funny thing how these things repeat. Slavery, defended by Democrats. Jim Crow....defended by Democrats.) I think Teddy was snookered by a much smarter guy.

But it has been frustrating for me because there is little reporting on the subject. The Big Stick won't work unless it is used, and bureaucrats tend to resist doing what the Bush Administration wants. And I don't know much about what's going on under the surface. This article, By Nancy Zuckerbrod, is rather interesting...

NEW YORK - The scarlet letter in education these days is an "R." It stands for restructuring — the purgatory that schools are pushed into if they fail to meet testing goals for six straight years under the No Child Left Behind law.

Nationwide, about 2,300 schools are either in restructuring or are a year away and planning for such drastic action as firing the principal and moving many of the teachers, according to a database provided to The Associated Press by the Education Department. Those schools are being warily eyed by educators elsewhere as the law's consequences begin to hit home.

Schools fall into this category after smaller changes, such as offering tutoring, fall short. The effort is supposed to amount to a major makeover, and it has created a sense of urgency that in some schools verges on desperation....(Thanks to Orrin)

See below for a bit more of the article. Including the sentence, "The administration also wants the federal law to override provisions in collective bargaining agreements." Jeez, for being "not conservative," Bush sure does some funny things...

....Other changes the administration is pushing include giving schools in restructuring more options. The Education Department has proposed letting them become charter schools, which are public but operate more freely than traditional schools, regardless of state limits on how many charter schools are allowed. The administration also wants the federal law to override provisions in collective bargaining agreements to ensure failing schools have complete control over who works there.

"These are schools where there are some significant problems," Briggs said. "Without more serious action, we're going to keep getting what we've gotten."

Regardless of whether No Child Left Behind is altered, the message is getting to schools that they must make real changes now, said Douglas Anthony, principal of Arrowhead Elementary in Upper Marlboro, Md., a suburb of Washington.

During a recent visit, first and fourth graders alike were busy with math and reading basics.

It was around 2 p.m, shortly before the school day was to end, and a time when elementary-age students might typically be playing tag, working on craft projects or just easing into the end of the academic day.

But at Arrowhead, a school in the restructuring planning stage, math worksheets were on the desks, kids were sounding out vowels and special-ed teachers were working with small groups of children.

Superintendent Deasy acknowledges the atmosphere at Arrowhead is more intense than at schools that aren't facing restructuring. He said lessons at schools missing testing goals have to be very targeted, and he says there often isn't time for electives and free play like at other schools.

Critics of the law complain about such constraints. But Deasy said Arrowhead's test scores are heading in the right direction, precisely because students are on task and teachers are talking about instruction rather than cafeteria menus or bus schedules.

Said Principal Anthony: "There's a new level of urgency about the work we have to do for students."
Posted by John Weidner at 7:14 AM

May 1, 2007

Things that grate...

From Stanley Kurz's review of the new film Indoctrinate U...

...I don’t want to give anything away, but I was struck by the scientist who said that her students were able to figure out her politics simply by noting what she did not say. Just by teaching her subject, without adding extraneous leftist political harangues, she had revealed herself to be a closet Republican. You won’t believe what happened when the faculty found out about her politics. But the full horror story is almost less disturbing than the reality of that single observation about silence. Particularly in some of the non-science disciplines, it really has gotten to the point where mere silence on matters political is enough to reveal you as the enemy.

Will Indoctrinate U get seen? I don’t think there’s any doubt that a significant audience for this movie exists. But to overcome their own pressures of political correctness, distributers need to be reminded of that. So to prove that there is in fact an audience for this film, a website has been set up where you can register your interest in seeing Indoctrinate U. There you can also catch a trailer of the film. (Thanks to Rand)

Interesting the sensitivity to these things by the students. They've been subject to brainwashing since kindergarten, so they know the lie of the land. I often wonder how they will turn out. My own kids have a healthy aversion to political correctness and lefty indoctrination. It seems to grate on them. (They also find it grating that I like to recycle stuff. I have to explain that I don't really believe the crap about how it's going to "save the planet." It's just a conservative virtue. One called thrift.)

"it really has gotten to the point where mere silence on matters political is enough to reveal you as the enemy." I've heard that in places like many "sociology" departments, merely being liberal is not enough! It is tacitly required that all faculty be politically active leftists. Of course the discipline of sociology is an extreme case, since it has never contributed anything of use to anyone. It's practitioners must be aware, on some deep level, that they have carried "being useless" to an unprecedented extreme.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:02 AM

April 11, 2007

This is murder, just as much as if you used a gun...

To block reform of the shockingly bad schools in many inner-city urban areas is to destroy children. Sometimes literally. And in the sense of destroyed lives, by the tens-of-thousands, at the least.

This is murder. Remember this, when Democrat politicians and fake-pacifists shed fake tears over our honorable war dead, and claim the loss of lives in defense of freedom is "unacceptable." The blood of our children is dripping from their hands...

....If the recent budget battle in Albany in which the teachers union and its allied lawmakers killed a proposed tax deduction for private or parochial school tuition and imposed mandatory unionization on charter schools that grow larger than 250 students in the first two years wasn't enough for you, consider California. There, the Los Angeles Times reports, the school board rejected an application by a charter school operator, Green Dot, to open eight new schools. The Times quoted a school board member who represents Watts, a poor Los Angeles neighborhood, Mike Lansing, as saying, "It's really disappointing that we keep talking about wanting to do what's best for children first, when without a doubt that vote was about a teachers union and three board members not having the backbone to stand up and do the right thing for kids over their ties to the union." The Times account of the school board meeting goes on to say, "Parents and students from the impoverished, gang-ridden community also implored the board to approve the charters, saying they were desperate for an alternative to the low-performing, often unsafe district middle and high schools in the area."

The blogger Mickey Kaus wrote, "If teachers' unions have lost the liberal LAT, they're in trouble, no?" Not in so much trouble that they lost the vote. Lance Izumi of the free-market Pacific Research Institute summed it up: "Despite Green Dot's promising results, the school board decided to side with the United Teachers of Los Angeles, a vociferous critic of charter schools…The union had contributed a total of $1 million to two anti-Green Dot board members in their recent re-election bids, virtually the entirety of their campaign war chests." The irony is that charter schools were championed by the late president of the American Federation of Teachers, Albert Shanker, who saw them as a way to improve public education while avoiding private school vouchers. What would Shanker think of the AFT affiliates in New York and Los Angeles blocking the expansion of successful charter programs in both New York (with a cap on the number of new charters, notwithstanding that two of the charters were granted to the union itself ) and in the nation's second largest city, Los Angeles?....
[From the NY Sun. Thanks to Orrin. Emphasis mine.].

Every Democrat politician benefits from the enormous contributions of the corrupt "teachers" unions (which are in fact the unions of vast educational bureaucracies in which the concerns of teachers count for little). Every Democrat politician takes this blood money, and everyone who votes Democrat is complicit in murder.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:09 AM

March 6, 2007

All Legos belong to The People...

I mentioned here the business about a school using a Lego city to teach "Social Justice." But we had no links, just what was heard on the radio.

Charlene just noticed that The Anchoress has a post on the story, with a link to the original article.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:49 AM

March 3, 2007

"Social Justice:" A definition...

One hears the buzzwords "Social Justice" very frequently these days. But I've never heard the term defined. I suspect—Oh dear, how can I be so cynical—I suspect that this is intentional. That if we knew what was really meant....we would not be too happy.

Charlene heard something on the radio that I think may shed a bit of light. Someone she was listening to on KSFO quoted from a "progressive teacher" magazine. The subject was using Legos to build a town, as part of some sort of curriculum. For the very young, I would assume. And the comment in the magazine was, that this was a great tool for teaching "social justice." Because all the houses could be the same size, and they could all be communally owned!

What an exciting new idea...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:10 PM

February 19, 2007

Now this REALLY surprises me....

AP--YahooNews) Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs lambasted teacher unions today, claiming no amount of technology in the classroom would improve public schools until principals could fire bad teachers.

Jobs compared schools to businesses with principals serving as CEOs.

"What kind of person could you get to run a small business if you told them that when they came in they couldn't get rid of people that they thought weren't any good?" he asked to loud applause during an education reform conference.

"Not really great ones because if you're really smart you go, 'I can't win.'"

In a rare joint appearance, Jobs shared the stage with competitor Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Inc. Both spoke to the gathering about the potential for bringing technological advances to classrooms.

"I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way," Jobs said.

"This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy."
[Here's a link to more.]

"off-the-charts crazy." Wow. Not what I was expecting. The blunt truth. And from a company that sells a LOT of machines to schools!

Steve Jobs is, as far as I know, a typical Silicon Valley Democrat type. Pals with Al Gore, etc. On the other hand, he's a cutting-edge kinda guy, a leader in new trends. And broken government schools are the big civil rights issue of our time.

Democrats keep trying desperately to pretend that we are still in "The Era," when civil rights was about Great White Liberals and big fat white government protecting poor darkies from the KKK and NASCAR fans. They've created a sort of "institutionalized revolution," complete with relentless propaganda, especially in the schools, about the glory days of Viva La Revolution, even while the surviving comrades have turned into bloated corrupt old parasites. BUT, those days are long gone, as is the time when government could do much to help minorities. Now government is much of the problem.

And a great many Democrats must know that the corrupt bargain they have struck with the teacher's unions—boodle in exchange for blocking reform—is destroying or blighting the lives of countless inner-city children. But children are expendable when what's at stake is political power.

The problem, actually, is not just that bad teachers can't be fired. The big problem is that schools put their efforts into pleasing the "customer," but the customer is bureaucrats and politicians. NOT the people with the real interest in educational results, parents.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:43 AM

February 8, 2007

I already know most of this stuff, but still it's shocking...

I don't have the hour or so necessary to express my thoughts on this piece, by Heather Mac Donald, but I recommend it to you. It's about the unbelievable efforts of the University of California to avoid obeying the law passed as Prop 209: Elites to Anti-Affirmative-Action Voters: Drop Dead:

...Yet for the preference lobby, a failing diversity student is better than no diversity student—because the game is not about the students but about the self-image of the institution that so beneficently extends its largesse to them. Thus, when “underrepresented minorities” accepted at Berkeley dropped by half in 1998, the first year that Prop. 209 went into effect, and by nearly that much at UCLA, the university sprang into crisis mode. Never mind that the drops at other campuses were much smaller.

Berkeley’s then-chancellor, Robert Berdahl, came to Berkeley’s Boalt Law School, recalls a law professor, and demanded that the faculty increase its shrunken minority admissions. When another professor asked how Boalt was supposed to do that consistent with 209, Berdahl responded testily that he didn’t care how they did it, but do it they must. UCLA law professor Richard Sander was on a committee to discuss what could be done after 209. “The tone among many of the faculty and administrators present was not ‘How do we comply with the law in good faith?’ but ‘What is the likelihood of getting caught if we do not comply?’ ” he says. “Some faculty observed that admissions decisions in many graduate departments rested on so many subjective criteria that it would be easy to make the continued consideration of race invisible to outsiders.”...

This by the way is exactly the attitude of the elites running the mainline churches when they ram through gay divorced bishops, etc. The laws, and the wishes of ordinary people are just obstacles to be steamrollered...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:19 AM

February 5, 2007

"Free speech should belong mainly to the powerless..."

I Highly recommend John Leo's article in City Journal, Free Inquiry? Not on Campus

I'm sure blog readers are already aware of campus speech codes. But they are worse than you think, and they are increasing. If you have suspected that they are anti-conservative and anti-Christian, you are right. And the intention is to have them extend far beyond just the academy. In Canada and Europe whole countries are becoming like our campuses...

....Much campus censorship rests on philosophical underpinnings that go back to social theorist Herbert Marcuse, a hero to sixties radicals. Marcuse argued that traditional tolerance is repressive—it wards off reform by making the status quo . . . well, tolerable. Marcuse favored intolerance of established and conservative views, with tolerance offered only to the opinions of the oppressed, radicals, subversives, and other outsiders. Indoctrination of students and “deeply pervasive” censorship of others would be necessary, starting on the campuses and fanning out from there.

By the late 1980s, many of the double standards that Marcuse called for were in place in academe. Marcuse’s candor was missing, but everyone knew that speakers, student newspapers, and professors on the right could (make that should) receive different treatment from those on the left. The officially oppressed—designated race and gender groups—knew that they weren’t subject to the standards and rules set for other students.

Marcuse’s thinking has influenced a generation of influential radical scholars. They included Mari Matsuda, who followed Marcuse by arguing that complete free speech should belong mainly to the powerless; and Catharine MacKinnon, a pioneer of modern sexual harassment and “hostile environment” doctrine. In MacKinnon’s hands, sexual harassment became a form of gender-based class discrimination and inegalitarian speech a kind of harmful action....

Whenever you hear leftizoids claiming they care about "Freedom of Speech," they don't mean what you and I mean.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:46 AM

November 25, 2006

The University...

Charlene just read me this quote, in the December First Things:

From a Catholic point of view, the contemporary secular university is not at fault because it is not Catholic. It is at fault because it is not a university.
--Alasdair MacIntyre

I'd guess a lot of the sort of people who read blogs would nod in agreement to that. "Something's missing, not sure what it is..."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:08 AM

November 19, 2006

Good book about colleges...

This is a great book for students and parents thinking of colleges! Our daughter is starting to do so, so the subject is much on our minds. (Our middle son is applying to schools right now, but he's a singer, and is looking at conservatories and music programs.)

(As I've mentioned before, if you click-through one of these ads, and then buy the item, or something else, amazon.com tosses some crumbs to the Weidners, who thank you from the bottoms of their hearts.)

This is from one of the essays in the book, by Louise Cowan:

IN Kagemusha, the Japanese film director Akura Kurosawa portrays a beggar called upon to impersonate a powerful warlord. About to be put to death for thievery, this lowly figure is snatched from execution by royal officers who detect in him an uncanny physical resemblance to their chief. They hide him in the palace to understudy the great man and to master the ways of the court. On the death of the warlord, the officers pass this double off as the ruler himself, hoping by this deception to conceal from their enemies their vulnerability. The beggar learns to act the part of a noble and fearless leader and, as he grows in his understanding of his role, acquires its internal as well as external dignity. He successfully continues the impersonation until—after the monarch's death has been discovered and the ruse is no longer useful—he is driven away from the palace, a beggar once more.

But a strange thing has happened: this pretender has developed a genuine sense of responsibility that cannot so lightly be dismissed. The burden of leadership, with its peculiar blend ofselflessness and pride, has become his own. Despite his low station, he follows along after the troops in battle and stands at the last defending the banner of his defeated people, exposing himself to the enemy's onslaughts when all others have fallen. The film makes us question: Is this heroic gesture still part of the act? Where does it come from, this apparent greatness of soul thai finally requires in a counterfeit role an authentic death? Kurosawa implies that it issues from the depths of human nature itself. But if so, as the film makes clear, it hardly arises naturally. On the contrary, its realization has come about through schooling in a tradition. Such magnanimity, we are shown, requires mimesis—imitation. To remake oneself in the image of something that calls to greatness demands a heroic tradition displaying heroic models. Kagemusha is, in fact, despite its Japanese subject matter, in the line of the Western and Roman epics, an extension of the Greek heroic code. Like these classics, it uncovers the innate nobility of the soul as a driving force that issues in noble action. Kagemusha, a modern classic, speaks to us with a peculiar power in a time when all energies seem to be devoted to self-preservation and to bodily comfort...
Posted by John Weidner at 9:32 AM

November 1, 2006

Bush Revolution continues...

Card-Carrying-Conservative types expect "The Revolution" to be enacted in neat packages, sort of like LBJ's War on Poverty. Meanwhile, they can't even see the actual revolution...

Thomas Carroll, NY Sun...The teachers unions contribute substantial sums to incumbents on both sides of the political aisle in the state Legislature, but in contested statewide races, they are among the Democratic Party's staunchest allies. That's one reason that Hillary Clinton announced her initial candidacy for the Senate at the headquarters of the United Federation of Teachers, New York City's teachers union. That's also why statewide Democratic candidates for office typically offer no ideas that run counter to those held by union bosses.

Given this history, one might reasonably suppose that the likely Democratic takeover of the governor's office might not be good news for those who favor school choice or major educational reforms. A few early signs, however, suggest that Eliot Spitzer, if elected, may break this partisan mold.

Over the past year, Mr. Spitzer has been speaking much more boldly about education reform than any other major figure in his party...

...The federal No Child Left Behind Act, by increasing the focus on test results and accountability, has made the disappointing performance of New York's urban schools more and more difficult to defend. No serious person any longer argues with the central premise that the current educational system in New York is broken.

With the worst test scores concentrated in the state's urban areas, political support for the status quo, especially among minority legislators, is evaporating....[My emphasis. Thanks to Orrin]

NCLB was designed for this. To change the terms of the debate. Change them from "Our schools need more money!" to "Is there something fundamentally wrong here?"

You can't get good answers until you start asking the right questions. I learned that long ago from reading Peter Drucker. NCLB is wickedly designed to keep asking the same questions, year after year, as test scores appear. "Why is this school failing?" "Why hasn't this school improved over last year?"

The standard schools must meet is not just doing well, but improving every year. All of them. It's crazy. That is, crazy within the the terms of the status quo. As a tool of revolutionary change, it's brilliantly designed. A bribe of a few billions to poor sozzled Teddy Kennedy to get it passed was peanuts.

All the NRO types could see was Bush supporting more big government, more spending. Same for Kennedy, though he was in favor of course. Neither saw a new lens for looking at the old situation. A new way of thinking about old messy problems.

It's perfectly understandable lefties are chewing the carpets therse days. It's not just their political strength that's being undermined, but also their world-view.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:04 AM

September 7, 2006

Brazenly flouting the law...

From a piece in OpinionJournal, Four Million Children Left Behind:

LOS ANGELES--This city is the main front in the pitched battle over the No Child Left Behind Act. Like many large urban school districts across the nation--though more brazenly--the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is resisting the law's core command: that no child be forced to attend a failing school.

In LAUSD, there are over 300,000 children in schools the state has declared failing under NCLB's requirements for adequate yearly progress. Under the law, such children must be provided opportunities to transfer to better-performing schools within the district. To date, fewer than two out of every 1,000 eligible children have transferred--much lower even than the paltry 1% transfer figure nationwide. In neighboring Compton, whose schools are a disaster, the number of families transferring their children to better schools is a whopping zero.

The question is whether Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings--whose administration has made NCLB the centerpiece of its education agenda--will do anything about it. She has the power to withhold federal funds from districts that fail to comply with NCLB, and has threatened to do just that. Rhetoric, so far, has exceeded action.

In L.A., the district has squelched school choice for children in failing schools by evading deadlines for notifying families of their transfer options; burying information in bureaucratese; and encouraging families to accept after-school supplemental services (often provided by the same district employees who fail to get the job done during the regular school day) rather than transfers. Still, the district insists that the reason for the low transfer numbers is that parents don't want their kids to leave failing schools....

Please Ms Spellings, have a spine. Grow one. The real "Axis of Evil" around here is the incestuous relationship of the teacher's unions, education bureaucrats, and the Democrat Party. Evil. They are destroying children to preserve their power. Poor children---the affluent have choices.

NCLB was designed to smash this filthy monster, but someone has to take the heat and enforce the law.

(Thanks to Betsy Newmark)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:25 AM

June 14, 2006


This is very fine...

As female college activist groups go, the Network of Enlightened Women, or NeW, is a very different breed. They don't distribute condoms on the Quad or march for a woman's right to choose. Instead, they bake chocolate chip cookies and protest campus productions of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, a controversial play about female sexuality that conservatives say degrades women and glorifies rape.

Barely two years old, NeW is a small but fast-growing campus alternative to the Feminist Majority and the National Organization of Women, with a foothold in seven states. More importantly, it has already gained the attention and support of the most powerful conservative women in Washington....

....How to deal with the rise of NeW is on the agenda at this week's National Women's Studies Association Conference. On Thursday, a panel will discuss how traditionally liberal campus women's centers can respond to conservative women and NeW in particular....

"Respond." Yes indeed, how are the harridans going to respond? Isn't this one of those thingamajigs where you deal with it in five stages?

Thanks to Lastango, who adds;

...NeW emphasizes its support for women who want to raise a family in a traditional relationship. A NeW chapter on campus would mean a likeminded, conservative gentleman would have a good idea where he might meet his soulmate. That ought to help NeW build its membership...

Ha ha! Too rich. Choke on it, Chomskys. And all with the publicity they are getting, NeW will probably have another 20 chapters by the end of this month...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:07 PM

May 24, 2006

modern and multicultural...

This was very interesting to me, especially as an illustration of how utterly stupid and racist it is to think we are "helping" minority students by giving them a dumbed-down multi-culti education. Cultural literacy and familiarity with great books are tools for success in life (besides being good in themselves).

DANTE AND CAFÉ. Mission High School in San Francisco, said the March San Francisco Chronicle, "is composed of mostly low-income, minority students, many of them new immigrants learning English." To interest students in reading, most of the school's literature offerings are modern and multicultural. "While Mission students do read a couple of Shakespeare's plays and a smattering of other classics before graduation," said the Chronicle, "much of the Western canon never crosses their desks."

But 30-year-old Callen Taylor, a social studies teacher at the school, said she noticed that her students lacked "cultural currency" -- that is, they have little or no classical or Western European cultural knowledge. The students had attended summer programs with wealthier students and had felt intimidated by their peers' cultural understanding. To help her students, Taylor formed the Dante Club. Taylor and 12 students from Mexico, Central America, and Asia meet Saturday mornings for two hours at the Morning Due Café to read and study Dante Alghieri's L'Inferno. And they earn no credits for it. "It's a hard poem, and I can't believe they come," said Taylor. "Every weekend, I'm shocked that they come and want to read it. And they like it! It gives them confidence academically and when they get that, they want more." "I used to just sleep until noon (on Saturdays) and then watch TV," said 18-year-old Khiem Vo, one of the Dante Club. "This isn't actually school. It's hanging out with my friends and talking about books. It's just getting more knowledge over a cup of coffee on a nice, sunny day. It's not that bad."....
Posted by John Weidner at 4:26 PM

April 29, 2006

Readin', writin' & spreadsheets..

Pedro noticed my post on the budget of NYC schools, and has run some numbers for an imaginary for-profit school. NY City looks pretty bad.

Why? Notice one ratio in particular. He assumes 18 teachers and 5 administrators. I have no figures, but I bet if you exmined NY, you would find 18 teachers to 18 non-teachers.

That, I suspect, is the budgetary black hole.

Note: One can express these matters in terms of budgetary efficiency. One could alternatively say that the Democrat party has sold its soul to the teacher's unions, and in return for massive contributions, is working to blight the hopes, and often literally destroy the lives, of millions of poor and minority children. I might have titled this post Kindermord.

But that would be right-wing hate-mongering. Can't have that, of course.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:24 PM

April 22, 2006

"a darling cause of the corporate-philanthropic-society set.” Barf..

Richard John Neuhaus writes:

Sol Stern of the Manhattan Institute, a distinguished educational expert, notes that the budget for public schools in New York City is over $17 billion. That’s about $15,000 per pupil. Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of New York is closing 14 Catholic schools because it cannot support them on a tuition of $3,000 per year. Nobody disputes that the Catholic schools provide, by every measure of achievement, a much superior education.

Yet Mayor Michael Bloomberg, unlike his predecessor Rudy Giuliani, has had not one generous word to say about the invaluable role of Catholic schools. Instead, he has been enlisting the fancy billionaire set to kick in with $300 million of additional funding for the government schools. The New York Times recently described a gathering of “fashionistas, artists, wealthy businessmen or their wives [who have] turned public education into a darling cause of the corporate-philanthropic-society set.”

Of course none of their children go to public schools....

....Why don’t the fashionistas, billionaires, and politicians listen? I am second to none in opposing the reckless invocation of racism in explaining social wrongs. But what is the right word for the studied indifference to the plight of black, Hispanic, and other non-white children who are consigned to a school system that systematically excludes the majority of them from educational opportunity, and thus from the opportunities and responsibilities of full participation in our common life?

For the thousandth time: The social justice imperative for the urban poor and underclass is the provision, whether through educational vouchers or other measures, of school choice. It would also provide needed competition for the public school system which, no matter how many more billions are poured into it, has demonstrated over the decades that it has no incentive for change.....
Posted by John Weidner at 9:48 PM

March 28, 2006

Buy Joanne Jacobs’ Book (If You Haven’t Already) Week

This is an -mail I got from Joanne Jacobs, who Charlene and I have met a few times:

Bloggers helped me launch my book, Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the School That Beat the Odds (Palgrave Macmillan), with a November blogburst for Buy Joanne Jacobs’ Book Day. Sales were strong for the first three months, but they’re slowing down, so I’ve declared Buy Joanne Jacobs’ Book (If You Haven’t Already) Week. I’m not so concerned about spiking the Amazon numbers this time, but March 31 is my birthday and it would be nice to have a birthday spike.

In case you've forgotten, Our School follows the principal, teachers and students at Downtown College Prep, a San Jose charter high school that turns underachievers -- most come from low-income Mexican immigrant families -- into serious students. The charter school’s educational philosophy is: Work your butt off. Students aren’t told they’re wonderful. Teachers tell them they’re capable of improving, which turns out to be true. On California’s Academic Performance Index, which came out last week, Downtown College Prep is a 7 out of 10 compared to all schools, a perfect 10 compared to similar schools. All graduates go on to college; 90 percent remain on track to earn a four-year degree.

While the book discusses the charter school movement as a whole, Our School isn’t written for wonks. Readers tell me it’s a page-turner. So far, it's received excellent reviews in the Wall Street Journal, Sacramento Bee, Washington Post, New York Post, Rocky Mountain News, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Publishers Weekly and others.

The book is in some, but not all, book stores and is available through Amazon

After 19 years as a San Jose Mercury News editorial writer and Knight Ridder columnist, I quit in 2001 to write Our School and to start an education blog,
joannejacobs.com, which averages 1,300 visitors a day.

With all the despair about educating "left behind" kids, I think people need to hear about a school that's making a difference.

Thanks for helping.

-- Joanne Jacobs

One thing Joanne told us that just delighted me, was the story of how her family came to the new world, from (I think it was) Moravia. Farmers from Moravia had emigrated to Canada, and flourished on the abundant farmland. They wrote home that they were very happy, except for one problem--there were no Jews around! There was no one to buy and sell things. So they asked the folks back home to send some Jews, and thus Joanne's family moved to Canada...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:34 PM

March 2, 2006


This LA Times article on Harvard fascinated me in one little spot...

....Harry Lewis, a computer science professor and former dean of Harvard College who left under pressure from Summers, said campus politics here had been shifting for decades, as more students from less affluent backgrounds enrolled.

A more diverse group, they are also "eager to prosper and less willing to take risks by rebelling," Lewis said. His upcoming book, "Excellence Without a Soul: How a Great University Forgot Education," traces what he considers to be the decline in the quality of education at Harvard. It's left them far more likely to support the power structure, he said.

"The Harvard student body looks more like America than the Harvard faculty," he said. "That's what's happened."....

What's utterly pathetic is that this guy calls "agreeing with your lefty professors" rebelling. And if you don't agree with what you are taught, than you are "afraid to rebel."

It's a perfect example of a "permanent revolution." Like the one you used to see in communist countries, with aged leaders celebrating some long-past overthrow, calling each other "comrade," etc, while resisting all efforts at reform.

The Harvard faculty is stuck, stuck in 1973. They still consider themselves young rebels, when in fact they have become the old and entrenched "power structure." I'll bet a lot of them still listen to Bob Dylan, and Peter Paul and Mary....

Posted by John Weidner at 1:03 PM

September 22, 2005

"How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm?....."

Katie has a good post on the Administration's plan to give vouchers to children displaced by Hurricane Katrina...

...While I agree that Bush should make the program limited and narrowly-tailored to avoid the appearance of capitalizing on disaster to promote a school choice agenda, I don't think that keeping the program limited will help the Democrats much. Even a small voucher program will help build a constituency for school choice.

Based on the experience of other voucher programs, the hurricane voucher families will be happier with their new schools and become new advocates for choice. It will be very difficult to tell them after one year that they have to go back to the public schools--as my mom likes to say, you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. That's why lawyers defending school choice have always fought for injunctions to keep choice programs running while the legal battle goes on, and that's why the education establishment has fought so hard against any school choice program anywhere. Once people have had a taste of freedom, they won't give it up easily....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:59 AM

September 18, 2005

Good trick, it looks like...

I've been too busy to blog about what seems to me the most interesting debate happening right now. That's the debate among conservatives who like or dislike the President's response to Hurricane Katrina. It's a miniature version of all our recent debates, because the President is missing chances to promote traditional conservative virtues, but is also slanting his remedies towards "Ownership Society" measures. A painful lot of federal spending, but often in ways that give people choice, rather than simply taking care of them. (There is no interesting debate coming from liberals, just the reenactment of tired rituals.)

Here's an example, from the NYT: (Thanks to JustOneMinute)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 - The Department of Education announced a plan today to pay 90 percent of the educational costs of students and schools affected by Hurricane Katrina for one year.

But the plan, which seeks $2.6 billion in new hurricane relief spending, came under immediate attack from Democrats and officials of the nation's two largest teachers' unions, who asserted that a major component - payments to families with children in private schools - amounted to a national voucher program.

The department proposed that the bulk of the spending, $1.9 billion, be used to pay states and school districts for absorbing children from the affected areas into their public schools. An additional $227 million would be dedicated to displaced adults with outstanding student loans and to colleges and universities that have taken in students from the storm areas....

The details are not clear, but it rather looks like large numbers of families are going to get school vouchers for a while. That will be, ummm, shall we say, an educational experience? They are going to be dropped into Anytown, USA, with the ability to look around at the local elementary and high schools, and CHOOSE. And with $7,500 per student going to whoever gets CHOSEN, why, a lot of those schools, especially public schools, will look at those students in a new way.

It's not surprising the Senator Kennedy and the vile corrupt teacher's unions are howling. The disaster spending can be a weapon, and Bush is wielding it.

I put a bit more of the NYT article below...

..."The federal government is doing something it has never done before," Education Secretary Margaret Spellings told reporters, referring to a tenfold increase in federal per-student spending. "Our 9 percent investment is going to 90 percent. That's my big news."

The budget request also includes $488 million to compensate families with children in private schools, which critics said represented an effort by the Bush administration to initiate a favorite approach to school choice, the use of vouchers.

Over all, more than 372,000 schoolchildren were displaced by the storm and are now enrolled in schools as far from the Gulf Coast as California and New England. The total includes about 61,000 who attended private schools in Louisiana, 50,000 of them in Roman Catholic schools.

Under the plan, children in public and private schools would be regarded equally for aid purposes, with a spending cap of $7,500 per student.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, the ranking member of the Senate education committee, said in a statement that he applauded President Bush's efforts to serve the educational needs of displaced children. "But I am extremely disappointed that he has proposed providing this relief using such a politically charged approach," Mr. Kennedy added. "This is not the time for a partisan debate on vouchers."...
Posted by John Weidner at 9:01 AM

May 28, 2005

as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me…..

Betsy Newmark, a teacher, has a good post on how NCLB is shaking up public schools. This quote is not specifically on NCLB, but on how people don't get serious about making changes without serious carrots and sticks...

...But after the new [South Carolina] law was passed tying bonuses to improvement, things really changed. Suddenly, we implemented some real changes. I was teaching in a magnet school where middle school students could take three electives a quarter. We had talked for years about requiring kids with low reading and writing skills to take targeted electives. Now, finally, this was put into place. The principal moved some money around to hire a couple of teachers whose sole job was to work with those students. We tried new computer-teaching programs that targeted specific weaknesses in reading. We began new math electives to reteach basic skills. An afterschool tutoring program and even some Saturday classes began. And, guess what, our school, which had a mix of academically gifted students and neighborhood kids who had low skills, started to see some nice improvement in the basic reading and math skills of those lower-achieving students. What was so noticeable to me was the difference in the administration's actions from the period of time when the state was just setting goals for improvement with no teeth behind those requirements, and afterwards when a carrot-and-stick approach was implemented. We wanted those bonuses for showing substantial improvement. And the stick was the threat that schools that didn't show improvement would have to have state officials come in and oversee every aspect of our school if we didn't improve.

So, that is why I supported No Child Left Behind. I abhor the idea of the national government getting involved in local issues like education. However, now that NCLB has been implemented, schools across the nation are discovering the inspiration that the carrot-and-stick approach to accountability can have to force administrators to focus on raising the achievement levels of those students who previously were getting left behind....

I also don't think education should be the responsibility of the Federal government. BUT, if that's what it takes to solve the desperate problems that afflict public schools, then DO IT. If terrorists took over a school, no one would complain about Federalism if the US Army came to the rescue. Our public schools have been taken over by lefty thugs who are destroying children's lives to preserve their own perks and power. The Democrat Party has blocked all meaningful school reform for decades, because the so-called teacher's unions are about the biggest contributors to the party's coffers. They are murderers! Leaving minority children without the tools to succeed in life, leaving them trapped in hell-holes of crime and poverty...that's murder. And everyone who votes Democrat is complicit in murder, and has blood on their hands.

And if President Bush bludgeons our schools into actually teaching children to read and write, without regard for the niceties of Federalism, I say we should support him...and I'm thinking of Bill Quick, and his excellent compadres, who have been complaining that there have been no conservative or "libertarian" victories, and Bush has "done nothing for us." The hell with that! People are in chains, and Bush and his team are breaking into dungeons, and setting people free. Around the world, and right here at home.

For people of the Right to stand aside and sneer while Bush is struggling to break the strangling monopolies of the government schools is wrong. It's equivalent (though less loathsome) to those cold-hearts who seize hungrily on the abu Ghraib abuses or the stupid "Bush lied" line, to try to preserve the Middle East as a sinkhole of poverty and oppression and torture and terrorism.

Take a look at these NYT (yes, even they can see it) articles on the successes of NCLB and charter schools. (Thanks to Kaus) They spell hope for future generations, and for the future of our country...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:57 AM

May 23, 2005


CSM – Somit Basak's tutoring style is hardly unusual. The engineering graduate spices up lessons with games, offers rewards for excellent performance, and tries to keep his students' interest by linking the math formulas they struggle with to real-life examples they can relate to.

Unlike most tutors, however, Mr. Basak lives thousands of miles away from his students - he is a New Delhi resident who goes to work at 6 a.m. so that he can chat with American students doing their homework around dinnertime.

Americans have slowly grown accustomed to the idea that the people who answer their customer-service and computer-help calls may be on the other side of the globe. Now, some students may find their tutor works there, too.

While the industry is still relatively tiny, India's abundance of math and engineering graduates - willing to teach from a distance for far less money than their American counterparts - has made the country an attractive resource for some US tutoring firms....

Surprise, surprise, the teacher's unions hate this. Ha ha, couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch. Those vile animals have sacrificed the students' needs for their own at every turn, and now they get cut out of the loop. NCLB's the reason for some of the tutoring, so we have yet another reason on the long list of reasons to thank President Bush.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:37 PM

April 13, 2005

Thanks, Dan...

Dan Gerlernter, a high school senior, has a great article in The Weekly Standard, What it's like to be the only Republican in your high school, about his debates in his predominently liberal school...

...As I was writing this article, I chatted online with one of my best friends, a liberal who spent part of his summer working in Washington as a page in the House of Representatives. He asked what my article was about. To put it briefly, I said, "It's about kids who don't love their country." He answered: "Do they have to love their country? Is that a requirement?"...

No, it's a PRIVILEGE, you lefty idiot!

The anti-Americanism of the Left is no accident. It's always there. No matter how many millions of people we liberate from brutal tyrannies, we will ALWAYS be the bad guys. Why? Because at the heart of all leftish thinking is hatred of the marketplace. And symbolically (and very much in reality) Americans and Jews are the marketplace. They represent free markets, in goods and ideas and politics. It's improper these days to be overtly anti-semitic (though the taboo seems to be eroding) but being anti-Israel is an obvious stand-in for anti-semitism, which explains the lunatic obsession with the problems of the Palestinians, while ignoring much larger human-rights problems in the Arab world. Being anti-American is always "cool."

...The most striking feature of my political debates is the utter ignorance of traditional values--whether American or Christian or Jewish--shown even by intelligent students. The typical student thinks that morality is a simple matter of doing what is "good for people," and that the way to do this is to vote for Democrats, since the Democratic party stands for "making things better."

Why do students talk and think this way? As computer geeks used to say, garbage in, garbage out...

For something really puke-worthy, read Dan's descriptions of his textbooks. (Hint: Carter good, Reagan bad.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:02 AM

March 26, 2005

Inexplicable? I think not.

From PowerLine:

Considering the vast amounts of money that are spent on public education, especially in urban areas, stories like this one seem inexplicable: "NYC Recalls Math Guides Full of Errors".....

Of course there's nothing inexplicable about it. Throwing money at problems often makes them worse, and in education often means just hiring more bureaucrats.

What's needed is a culture that says,"We demand the highest possible quality of teaching and are willing to pay extra for it, and to give teachers a lot of freedom to act, as long as they get good results." That sort of thing rarely comes out of government, but is frequently seen in the private sector, which is why the best thing we could do would be to privatize education, and just leave government with the job of collecting taxes to support it. (That's one job government seems to do with enthusiasm and energy.)

Posted by John Weidner at 1:31 PM

March 16, 2005

Looks promising...

I've heard several bloggers mention the two Dartmouth alumni who are running for Dartmouth's governing board as "outsiders." University boards are usually filled by members of "the club," who are backed by the administration. But the power of the Internet now makes it possible for other people to seek votes.

Here's an except from Peter Robinson's Email, which I found at Hugh Hewitt's blog:

....The administration often suggests that we alumni must not presume to know what is best for Dartmouth. Since many of us graduated, we are told, the world has changed dramatically. It has indeed.

· In nations around the globe, we have witnessed the change from central, authoritarian control to democracy.

· In business, we have witnessed the change from pyramid-shaped enterprises to enterprises with organization charts that are nearly flat.

· In communications, we have witnessed the change from a tight control of information by elites, intent upon enhancing their power, to the free and utterly effortless exchange of ideas that new information technologies have made possible.

· In government at all levels, we have witnessed the change from an arrogant belief in social engineering to a renewed appreciation of the enduring values of our civilization, including freedom of speech and respect for the views of each individual...

Precisely. Read the whole thing. All those changes have not, as you well know, impacted the entrenched and corrupt faculties and administrations of our universities. Not yet. Especially not the return to the "enduring values of our civilization." But maybe things are changing...

Posted by John Weidner at 3:28 PM

February 12, 2005

We are doomed, doomed.

John Derbyshire writes in The Corner:

I have been dismayed and saddened at the number of readers who have written in to ask me who this Ancient Mariner was in my anecdote Thursday about Mrs Simpson. Oh Lord, don't they teach ANYTHING in school nowadays?

I guess Sam Coleridge had to make way for Maya Angelou. We are doomed, doomed. Very much
like the Ancient Mariner.
Posted by John Weidner at 10:53 AM

February 9, 2005

neck-or-nothing rip roarin' every time a bull's eye salesman....

Natalie sprinkles derision on a certain notion we've all heard. It goes: "Would you have your appendix removed by an unqualified surgeon? Would you cross the Atlantic in a plane with an unqualified pilot? Why, then, would you permit an unqualified teacher to instruct your child?"

She dismembers the idea. And has an analogy of her own that is much better:

...It is obvious why teachers want to be placed in the same bracket as surgeons or pilots: it's to keep out competition from classroom assistants, home educators and other riff-raff. The irony is that there is a profession that resembles classroom teaching much more closely than either that of surgeon or airline pilot, and in which good performers are often much better paid than either.

That profession is sales. A teacher must get a sceptical audience to share his view of the desirability of what he is offering, as must a salesman. A good teacher must know his subject as a good salesman must know his product. For both there is more to success than product knowledge; enthusiasm and empathy are also involved. Both are born not made, although experience and training can help. For both the constant human interaction can be exhausting. Both will be rejected and insulted every day. The best love their jobs anyway...

Of course. And obvious once Ms Solent pointed it out to me...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:30 PM

December 17, 2004

More yelps of pain...

It's beginning to dawn on people that NCLB is a revolution about to happen. Orrin pointed to this article...

The Perfect Law: No Child Left Behind and the Assault on Public Schools, by Gerald W. Bracey

Imagine a law that would transfer hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the public sector to the private sector, reduce the size of government, and wound or kill a large Democratic power base. Impossible, you say. But the law exists. It is Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001, better known as the No Child Left Behind law (NCLB).

The Bush administration has often been accused of Orwellian doublespeak in naming its programs, and NCLB is a masterpiece of a law to accomplish the opposite of what it apparently intends. While claiming to be the law that-finally!-improves public education, NCLB sets up public schools to fail, setting the stage for private education companies to move in on the $400 billion spent annually on K-12 education ($500 billion according to recent statements by Secretary of Education Rod Paige). The consequent destruction or reduction of public education would shrink government and cripple or eliminate the teachers' unions, nearly five million mostly Democratic voters. It's a law to drool over if you're Karl Rove or Grover Norquist. The Perfect Law, in fact, as in The Perfect Storm..

I don't think Mr Bracey quite understands. I think NCLB is NOT an attempt to destroy public schools for the benefit of the private sector (though some of that will likely happen). It's about CHOICE. Giving choice to parents, so schools have to please parents to keep students. That's something far more interesting...

Bracey points out that the standards set by NCLB will be almost impossible to meet. Hmmm. If they are impossible to meet, I guess there will have to be some compromises down the road. Let me make a prediction. When/if the compromise happens, schools will be allowed to ease the standards a bit where they pinch...but only if parents are also given more choice about which public schools their children go to.

Grover Norquist doesn't quite get it either. He has chortled about how the reforms Republicans are pushing are perfectly calculated to injure key elements of the Democrat coalition. Tort Reform, for instance, would hit those vile animals of the Plaintiffs Bar, (the "Trial Lawyers") who are perhaps the biggest of the Dem contributors. But the Republicans didn't calculate this, they didn't choose the reforms; the reforms chose the Republicans. They called us forth from minority-status obscurity. Such reforms are pressing and urgent precisely because the Democrats can't touch them, and have been ignoring them for decades.

If NCLB does hurt the teachers' unions, that will be a splendid by-product. Those people are evil. They oppose every attempt to fix our schools. And the dirty secret is that they are not teachers—a lot of them aren't. In many public-school systems, only about half the employees are teachers—with the other half mostly a massive clog-up of bureaucrats and administrators. That's why those systems are money-sinks, and why increases in school-funding never seem to fix things. But all those educrats belong to the "teachers" unions, and always claim that any attack on their perks is an "attack on our schools."

And if the by-product of harming the unions is harm to the Democrat party, that will also be an excellent spin-off of NCLB. The Dems have been deeply corrupted by those unions, raking in huge campaign contributions in exchange for damning poor and minority children to blighted lives.

But what Bush is after is choice.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:00 AM

December 2, 2004

New visions....

In a comment to the previous post, about the pessimism that seems to have become the dominant feature of the Left these days, Megan left a comment that pointed to a site: 2020 Democrats, as an example of optimistic "Progressives."

2020 Democrats is an independent organization dedicated to uniting young people around a vision for our future—and then turning that vision into a reality.

I do wish them all luck and success. They seem like some nice folks, but at a guess, they are not quite ready to come up with new visions. To do that, you have to be willing to give your old visions a clear hard look. And be willing to seriously consider the possibility of discarding them. I suspect they're not there yet.

For example here's an essay from their site I liked, by Jorge Miranda, one of the founders of the group. He's a teacher, and writes movingly on the difficulties teachers face, and how important it is to give them needed support and training. But he concludes by saying, more or less, "we need to think about these things." OK, yeah, but what I noticed, sitting in the middle of his essay like the proverbial elephant in the living-room waiting to be thought about, is this:

...At my current school, the MATCH (Media and Technology Charter High) School, I have a principal with 30 years experience in the public schools, available to talk through situations with me and present solutions and ideas based on his own experiences. This is how young teachers should learn.

MATCH supports me in other ways as well. We have a school-wide set of rules called the "Non-Negotiables" (i.e. Be prepared to work every day; Attend school daily on time) with school-wide consequences, which creates consistency from class to class and frees teachers to focus on the quality of student learning. For the first time in three years of teaching, I'm actually having conversations with colleagues about how to become a better teacher.

Most importantly, the MATCH school revolves around its mission: to prepare Boston students to succeed in college and beyond, including and especially those students who have not been led to expect a university education. As simple as it sounds, this mission has helped create an environment in which teachers and staff strive constantly to improve academic achievement...

SO, you go from a public school to a charter school, and discover a much better learning environment. Doesn't this cry out for some thinking? Probing? Why are charter schools different? If one charter school is good, would ten be better? Or ten thousand? Might this be a small part of a new vision?

My guess is that people like Jorge aren't going to venture down that road. It would put them in conflict with parts of the old vision. Not to mention parts of the old coalition. [Take a look at this.]

Likewise with another education essay linked on their site, about tax policy and providing more money for public schools..interesting stuff, but there's not a hint of thinking about whether lack of money is really the problem. (One might ponder on the fact that one of the best-funded ($ per student) school systems in our country is...Washington DC—a notorious failure)

I think that Democrats have internalized a lot of limits on what they can question and debate. You just don't probe certain sore spots, sort of like a family with a big scandal in its past. The 2020 Democrats claim to be young people, perhaps they will eventually be more flexible.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:10 PM

August 17, 2004

A student of these issues...

Don't miss Ronald Kressler's piece on Bush and education:

...Barnett "Sandy" Kress, a lawyer and former Democratic member of the Dallas school board, told me how, when he was only thinking about running for governor, Bush became interested in why so many kids couldn't read and what could be done about it. Bush asked Kress dozens of questions: What are the best ways to teach reading? What are other states doing? Taking notes on a legal pad, Bush wanted to know who had studied the issue. Kress mentioned six experts in the field.

"People think he shoots from the hip or that he's not smart," Kress said. "It baffles me.... He was an incredible student of these issues. He had a voracious appetite for information. He looked into the problem and researched it.... I gave him six names. He called them all. They were as stunned as I was."...

When Bush ran for Governor of Texas he promised to focus on a few issues. He did. Education was one of them. He pushed that relentlessly, and got real results....
...Based on Lyons's advice, Bush developed a way to restore phonics to reading instruction in Texas. The results were dramatic. In 1995, 23 percent of third graders could not read. By 2003, that figure had improved to ten percent, according to state testing figures compiled by Kress, who became Bush's unpaid education adviser. After additional help for kids who failed, only two percent could not read. The greatest beneficiaries of restoring phonics to reading instruction — which includes work on comprehension, spelling, and actual reading — were minorities...
When Bush ran for president he promised to focus on a few issues. He did. Education was one of them. (Here's more)

You people who say "The Bush Administration lies all the time, etc etc," are fools. LIARS! We've never had a President so straightforward. All the "Bush lied" stuff is just an excuse to avoid thinking and changing during a time of change. You don't want to think about how Democrat polices are destroying the lives of poor and minority children by the millions. You are like the Russians and Germans who didn't want to know about concentration camps...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:15 AM

August 14, 2004

Not surprised...

In a recent post I wrote: But imagine for a moment that you have to risk your money in a business deal that will be sealed with just a handshake. And your choice of partners is either a sociology professor or an oil wildcatter? Who you gonna pick?

Michael Gersh adds this in a comment, supporting my darkest suspicions:

To examine the ethics of professors, a little story here in Seattle regards a new loophole in Washington law, restricting pension contributions to the first thirty years of employment. So, the professors with 30 years in, with the complicity of the human resources department of U. W., all quit, got their pensions, and were rehired, in the same jobs at the same pay and tenure, the same day! They each got over a seventy five grand raise that day! And when the story broke, they even faced the cameras and could not see that they had done anything wrong! Some were proud that they had found this lucrative loophole.

I'll take a wildcatter's handshake any day.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:42 PM

July 22, 2004

Hope....against great odds.

If you want to know what's REALLY GOING ON, read this article from City Journal: Yes, the Education President, by Sol Stern.

In the fall of 1995, Dr. Reid Lyon, who directs research in the neuroscience of reading and learning disorders in children at the National Institutes of Health, got an unexpected call from first-year Texas governor George W. Bush. “Look,” Bush said, getting right to the point. “I have lots of kids who are not reading well. What’s the science on this that can guide us?” After that chat, Bush flew Lyon down to Texas several times to help redesign the state’s early-childhood reading programs so that they incorporated the latest NIH findings. “We’ve had a great relationship ever since,” Bush recently noted.

Lyon now serves as President Bush’s informal advisor on reading pedagogy, and he helped craft parts of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act, the ambitious federal education bill that Bush signed into law in January 2002. Thanks largely to his input, Washington for the first time is using its spending power to prod school districts across the nation to rely on scientific standards in selecting reading programs. “There’s no need to throw good money into programs that don’t work,” Bush explains. “We’ve tried that before.”

For NCLB’s reading initiative alone, Bush richly deserves the title “education president.” But in addition, NCLB, though not perfect, is a powerful instrument of reform in other ways. What’s more, a new Bush-promoted school voucher program for Washington, D.C., may point the way toward further education reform in a second Bush term...

There's a ton of good stuff in this article. Lots of things are cooking. The vile child-murderers of the teacher's unions/Democrat Party are still fighting hard to preserve their government education monopoly (no matter how many young lives are destroyed), but they are being outmaneuvered! Outfoxed! What bliss. I think the good guys are going to win.

'Tis a great time to be alive! Here's some more. Chew on this:

...Nothing would be a better classroom exhibit for the president’s lecture to the American people than a successful Washington, D.C., voucher program. As Bush education official Rees notes, it will be “rigorously studied” by supporters and critics of choice alike—which is why, she says, “I am spending 75 percent of my time on the D.C. program, making sure it is implemented well and sold to parents.” The Census Bureau has just released figures showing that the D.C. public school district spends a mind-boggling $13,400 per pupil—higher than any state in the union. Yet as everyone now knows, Washington has the worst schools in the country. When, as is likely, thousands of D.C. voucher recipients manage to find perfectly decent schools for $7,500 or less, even the most mathematically challenged taxpayers will comprehend just how much the public education system that President Bush has valiantly worked to reform has been ripping them off.. [emphasis mine]
Which is why the complaints that NCLB was underfunded are bullshit. We are already spending HUGE sums on education. Lack of money is not the problem. The State Socialist system that squanders it is the problem.

[Note: go back to that first paragraph for a useful corrective to the "Bush Lied" buffoons. When he campaigned for the Texas governorship he promised to focus on education. He did exactly what he promised, and got splendid results. When he campaigned for President, he promised to focus on education, and that's exactly what we are getting. Consistently. Relentlessly. Here, read this:

...The president began putting the first part of his education reform package into place literally hours after he took the oath of office. The morning after the inauguration, he and Mrs. Bush listened carefully as Reid Lyon and other top education researchers presented their findings at a White House forum on reading pedagogy. The president made it clear that he wanted federal reading policy to go “wherever the evidence leads.”...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:57 AM

July 15, 2004

"Assemblyman Arrested in Sex Scandal"

Bastardsword points out this article, from CNN, on the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The article is very positive, and says the states are making real progress under the goad of the new law.

And since it's a positive take, they leave out....ha ha, guess what? The name of the person responsible, President George W Bush! (There's also a long quote-collection of negative articles on NCLB--and of course not one of them fails to mention the culprit-in-chief...)

It's kinda like when you see a headline that says: Assemblyman Arrested in Sex Scandal. If they don't mention which party he belongs to, you know he's a Democrat.

This sort of media bias is like a chinese-water-torture of little irritations, each so small one feels embarrassed to fuss over them, though of course cumulatively they amount to a vast campaign of lies and distortions. The one comfort is that it's a sign of weakness, not strength.

The education reforms are, of course, being fought at every step by the satanic (and I use the word advisedly) alliance of the "teachers" unions and the "Democrat" Party. They are evil pair, sacrificing the hopes of the poor and minorities in a Faustian bargain [Perhaps one should say double-Faustian, since each side is selling its soul] to keep power. But the Democrats are now, deservedly, sinking into minority status. Hopefully the Republicans will be able to do some good, before the torrents of union campaign contributions start heading their way, and corrupting them.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:38 PM

June 30, 2004

We need Al Gore...

We need big government, and men like Al Gore, to protect those who are left behind by the greedy private sector.

LA Times, Millions Lost in Cyberspace: Tucked into the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was a little-known program called the "e-rate," setting up a tax that has cost consumers and phone companies upward of $2 billion a year. What has that money bought? A rudderless program riddled with fraud and waste.

The e-rate tax is aimed at providing schools and libraries with Internet access. The program, championed by Al Gore when he was vice president, was supposed to help schools allow low-income students to close the "digital divide" and gain new social and economic opportunities. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) began raising questions about it during a hearing on the program six years ago. Since then, its problems have become more apparent. The e-rate fund has distributed $12 billion over six years, and estimates place the amount wasted in the billions. Because of lack of oversight, it's impossible to know the extent of the losses...

There's so much waste and stupidity in this thing, it's likely that the billions spent have actually decreased school Internet access, compared to what would have happened it they were just left alone. And Internet access is becoming so common and cheap that there really isn't much of a "digital divide" anyway.

And what low income students actually need is to be taught the basics, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. The fuss about Internet access is just dust to cover up the failures of our public schools. Failures institutionalized in the Democrat Party, which gets its biggest contributions from the corrupt and evil teacher's unions, in return for blocking reform and crushing the hopes of the poor.

(Thanks, Bill Quick)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:05 PM

June 10, 2004

Last....26th....above average....do the math

Lots to ponder here...

Deseret Morning News. Utah is still last in ed spending. But state ranks 26th in nation in ratio of income spent for students: When it comes to the amount of money spent on each public school student, Utah continues to rank last in the nation, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report.

      The report released Tuesday shows Utah's spending per student at $4,890 in 2002 — $8,290 less than the District of Columbia, which topped the list at $13,187. The state closest to Utah is Mississippi, which spent $5,382 per student, according the census. Utah would have to boost its state spending by more than $300 million just to bump itself off the bottom of the list, said Mark Petersen, spokesman for the State Office of Education.

      However, Utah holds steady on its test scores — well above the national average in science, and is slightly above average in reading and math, Petersen said. "Considering the resources spent, it's a remarkable bargain the taxpayers are getting," Petersen said...


Posted by John Weidner at 8:41 AM

April 25, 2004

Results from NCLB

Some interesting results.. from the No Child Left Behind Act.

Kids who won highly prized transfers out of failing Chicago public schools averaged much better reading and math gains during the first year in their new schools --just as drafters of the federal No Child Left Behind Law envisioned, an exclusive analysis indicates.

And, contrary to some predictions, moving low-scoring kids to better-performing schools didn't seem to slow the progress of students in those higher-achieving schools.

Even kids "left behind'' in struggling schools generally posted better gains in state tests once their peers transferred elsewhere...(Thanks to Judd)

Very pleasing. But I think in a way the study misses what is most important. What would be really interesting would be to learn how the teachers and administrators are reacting and changing.

The study covers students transferring to good schools, as if good and bad schools just happen for no reason. But what we really hope is that the poor schools are going to start improving, like businesses which are losing sales to rivals. I suspect it's happening already, but under the radar...

Posted by John Weidner at 2:58 PM

March 25, 2004

Berlin sandcastles washing away...

From an article in OpinionJournal :

Florida will be a pivotal battleground this November, but on the crucial subject of education reform the battle in that state is already joined.

In the past five years Florida has delivered real school choice to more American schoolchildren than anywhere else in the country. Which is no doubt why Jesse Jackson was down in Tallahassee earlier this month calling Governor Jeb Bush's policies "racist." He and his allies understand all too well that when poor African-American and Latino children start getting the same shot at a decent education that the children of our politicians do, the bankrupt public education empire starts looking like the Berlin Wall...

Berlin Wall is just the right term. Leftists are scrambling everywhere to prop up their crumbling edifices of tyranny.
...And another study, this one by the Manhattan Institute, finds that even kids without vouchers benefit because the competition is pushing Florida public schools to improve....
Of course. That's the whole idea. Competition. It works. Everyone benefits. Poor and minority and special-ed kids benefit. (Even taxpayers, since Florida has a big program where businesses pay for vouchers)

So everyone's happy, right?

...In response, the teachers unions, pols and bureaucrats opposing any reform have opted for a dual strategy of sue and regulate...
Evil. Evil. Evil. Socialist bloodsuckers feeding on children. The thought of them writhing and squirming at the name Bush like vampires confronted with a cross just warms my heart.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:51 PM

March 14, 2004

We must ask ourselves why they hate us...

George Will defends the imposition of standards on schools in A Genuine 'Education President'

.... The No Child Left Behind Act was passed overwhelmingly by the House (381-41) and Senate (87-10), but now liberals see that NCLB expresses essentials of Bush's conservatism. Democratic presidential candidates have denounced it as a "federal intrusion" in state and local affairs -- everyone knows how much liberals dislike such intrusions. Howard Dean, that perfect indicator of liberal passions, seemed to think that if tests reveal that many schools are failing their children, then drastic changes must be made to the . . . tests.

Yes, the tests can be improved, and schools should have somewhat more latitude regarding disabled students and those whose first language is not English. But many complaints about NCLB are not about marginal or easily adjustable matters.

Teachers unions recoil from accountability and resent evidence that all is not well, or that whatever is wrong cannot be cured by increased funding of current practices. But per-pupil spending, adjusted for inflation, is three times what it was 40 years ago, and the pupil-teacher ratio is 40 percent lower, yet reading scores are essentially unchanged....

I think NCLB is about a lot more than imposing standards. Bush wants to dynamite the logjam. He wants choice. He wants schools to compete for students like businesses compete for customers.

He does NOT want to destroy the public school systems. He wants them to work for parents, instead of for bureaucrats and politicians.

Of course, for a leftist, that IS destruction. Hence the title. Of course they hate us. How would you feel if you were a child, and bullies grabbed your favorite toys, and then fixed them so they worked better! And then duplicated them so all the kids could have toys. Mindless spluttering hatred would be a mild response...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:43 AM

March 10, 2004

Remember the "Stability" stage?

Remember how, among the many defense-lines Tranzis have been driven from, there was "Saddam (or the Taliban, or the Soviet Union) is bad but at least he provides stability?"

Well, now they are at that stage in their defense of the Public School System! This article, Built To Fail, reminds me of things we were reading in 2002. No Child Left Behind is going to "throw the system into turmoil!" Wasn't the Middle East going to be thrown into turmoil? Wasn't that going to be the End of the World?

...Under the terms of NCLB, which President Bush has called "the cornerstone of my administration," all of the nation's public school students must be tested in reading and math every year in grades three through eight, and at least once in grades ten through twelve. Any school receiving federal Title I money (ostensibly earmarked to improve the performance of disadvantaged students) faces increasingly harsh sanctions if its test scores fail to meet state-defined standards for making adequate yearly progress. After two years of AYP failure, the school must offer students the option of transferring to another public school in the district and bear the cost of transportation. After three years, the school must also offer low-income students tutorial services through a public or private agency approved by the state. After four years, the school district must take corrective actions such as removing personnel or changing the curriculum in the school. And after five years, the district is obliged to blow up, or "restructure," the school by replacing most or all of its staff or by turning over operations, as the U.S. Department of Education puts it, "to either the state or to a private company with a demonstrated record of effectiveness."

With reasonable guidelines and adequate funding, this timetable might have been a prudent course of education reform. But as the first sanctions are just now begininng to kick in, people across the country are belatedly discovering that NCLB is being structured and implemented as a punitive assault on public education, designed to throw the system into turmoil and open the door to privatization....

Gee, do you really really think so? Could that moron Bush have made a catastrophic mistake, trying to prop up the current system, and yet somehow demolishing it? Even with Teddy Kennedy's assistance? How very very stupid of him. Texans, you know...
'Status quo,' you know, that is Latin for 'the mess we're in.'
-- Ronald Reagan
* Update: If the "stability" argument fails to gain traction, I predict we'll be learning that Bush is a "mastermind" (with a cabal of shadowy Jewish education advisors) who is taking unfair advantage of simple honest straightforward Democrats. You read it here first...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:22 AM

February 25, 2004

Backfired...I just love it

According to this Boston Herald story, a letter campaign by students, at the behest of school officials, has backfired in a most delightful way...

...If I didn't think a charter school was necessary, these letters have convinced me the high school was not doing an adequate job in teaching English language arts,'' [School Board Member] Schaefer said.

�����Despite the letter-writing campaign, which Schaefer said was orchestrated by school officials, the Marlboro-based Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School as well as new charter schools in Cambridge, Lynn and Barnstable were approved yesterday.

�����Opponents vowed a renewed campaign against the controversial public schools, which compete with traditional districts for state education dollars.

�����``We're going to pursue this legally and through the Legislature,'' said Kathleen Kelley, president of the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers...(via Betsy Newmark)

Using school children this way is despicable. And I'd guess the "controversial" is only in the eyes of the Teacher's Unions. And the stuff about "competing for funds" is misleading. The funds go with the students, and a school that loses students get less money, but also needs to spend less, because it needs fewer teachers and staff.

Of course, to the unions, providing livings is the whole purpose of the school system...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:59 PM

January 20, 2004

"Turning Troops Into Teachers"

Here's a thought-provoking article about a splendid program to turn retired military personel into teachers.

...Service men and women make particularly good teachers, Peters said, because they offer knowledge from outside the classroom and a bearing that makes them unlikely to be intimidated, even by the most unruly middle school students.

"These are mature, seasoned leaders. They're not just young people coming out of college who have little experience doing anything," Peters said. "Normally, they've been around the world at least once. Normally, they've already been teaching young recruits in the military." ...

...Troops to Teachers was started in 1994 to ease the transition to civilian life for people laid off from soldiering during the military downsizing. In 2001, money was included in the federal No Child Left Behind law to expand the program and convert it to a recruiting tool for low-income schools...

...Surveys by the American Association for Employment in Education show chronic teacher shortages in math, science and special education teachers. National Education Association numbers show that 10 percent of the nation's 3 million teachers are minorities, and 21 percent are men, a 40-year low for the profession.

By contrast, 40 percent of the Troops to Teachers participants go into math, science or special education. More than 85 percent of participants are men, and one-third are minorities. ... (via Betsy Newmark)

I suspect a lot of people could, and should, go for a second career in teaching. And I gather that the teacher's mafia has put a lot of obstacles in the way of that. I would hope that, along with giving parents choice in schools, we will work towards giving people the choice to become teachers.

Actually, I'm for encouraging second careers for almost everybody. It just appalls me to hear friends from European countries tell of people being expected to choose a career when they are in High School, and stick with it until retirement. Tragic antidiluvian lunacy.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:21 AM

January 15, 2004

Sticking to their guns ...

Here's an interesting article from the battle against the Ba'athist holdouts (in our schools, that is), Failing Schools Underreported:

....Despite resistance of schools that want to stay off the low-performing-schools list, Mr. Paige said "the culture is changing" in the U.S. educational establishment under the act toward an acceptance that "accountability, assessment and choice as a matter of routine rather than something that is revolutionary or a new strategy for reform or something that's from the outside."

����Nonetheless, congressional Republican leaders think Mr. Paige and his team are "holding firm," which explains the delay of the overdue low-performing-schools report, said David Schnittger, Republican spokesman for the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

����"This is what it looks like when education reform is actually implemented instead of just being talked about," Mr. Schnittger said. "This Education Department has not issued waivers on demand. They have largely stuck to their guns." ...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:45 AM

January 2, 2004

Fool me again...

From today's Best of the Web

Vote for Me, I'm a Chump--II."Five Democratic Presidential candidates voted for the No Child Left Behind Act as members of Congress," reports the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader. "Now they complain they were victims of a legislative bait and switch, tricked into supporting a sweeping reform bill they say is underfunded by the Bush administration."

Hmm, this sounds an awful lot like John Kerry's explanation of why he voted for war in Iraq. President Bush "misled every one of us," the haughty, French-looking Massachusetts Democrat, who by the way served in Vietnam, said in June. To paraphrase the first Republican president, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but President Bush can fool all of these guys all of the time.

Too too delightful. Remember guys, when the magician solemnly waves the wand, watch the other hand.

The poor saps have to focus on the side-issue of funding, because they can't say what they really want to say, which is: "Schools should not be held to standards, because the teacher's unions are the biggest contributors to our Party."

Or: "Parents shouldn't have any choice in their children's educations, because the Democrat voter base is almost entirely people who derive their self-image from being superior to ordinary folk, who need to be "guided" by wise Liberals."

And on the same subject, here's a good article, Education follies, by Mona Charen:

...Florida's "A+" program provides that students in schools performing poorly in two out of four years get a voucher to attend a different public school or a private school. When the Manhattan Institute studied the effect of the program, it found that schools facing the lash of competition made much greater gains than schools permitted to plod on in the old way. A Harvard study of schools in Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin has found the same thing. Amazing! Competition works better than monopoly. Adam Smith: Call your office...

Posted by John Weidner at 1:23 PM

December 3, 2003

Burt and Ernie

Dahlia Lithwick writes about an important First Amendment case:

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution contains two provisions that nervously coexist�the constitutional equivalent of Ernie's relationship to Burt�in that no one really wants to say out loud that they hate each other. The amendment provides that Congress shall "make no law respecting an establishment of religion" but adds that Congress can't prohibit "the free exercise thereof" [italics mine]. There is, as various members of the high court observe this morning, not always much room for "play in the joints" here: States may do nothing to promote a specific religion over others or (as courts have come to interpret it) to promote religion in general, but they also cannot interfere with a citizen's right to practice their religion. No establishing, no impeding. Whether there is even a hairsbreadth of space between these values is the subject of today's oral argument in Locke v. Davey, one of the most important religious freedom cases the Rehnquist Court will decide.

The case was brought by Joshua Davey after a university scholarship he'd been given by the state of Washington was rescinded when he declared that one of his two majors would be in "pastoral ministries" at a Christian college in Kirkland, Wash. Washington is one of 37 states with broader prohibitions on public spending for religious education than is required under the federal constitution. The state's constitution bars the spending of public monies on religious instruction, and they've drawn a distinction between spending on religion when it's taught in a secular manner and spending on training students for the ministry. Davey and his supporters, including the Bush administration, contend that this discriminates against the religious. Washington says it's just policing the wall between church and state....

To me, there's not much of an issue�when the Constitution was written, Establishment of Religion meant a state church. That's all the constitution is forbidding here. The idea that there is some special virtue or charm in an atheist government is a later add-on, brought to you by those wonderful folks who gave us the Dictatorship of the Proletariat...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:32 AM

November 25, 2003

Long overdue...

IRS Audits Nation's Top Teachers' Union WASHINGTON -- The IRS is auditing the nation's largest teachers union, scrutinizing an organization that works energetically to elect candidates but files tax returns reporting zero political expenditures from member dues.

The National Education Association promised Monday to cooperate, but its president, Reg Weaver, said the union "will not be silenced" by the audit or the conservative law firm that requested it....

Like all the other Leftys, they are quick to say that they are being "silenced" if anyone criticizes them. In fact, they have been brazenly and openly breaking the law for decades, claiming Non-Profit status while operating as a virtual arm of the Democrat Party. And as part of the package, endlessly touting teachers (and by extension teacher's unions) as some sort of selfless and caring and superior group, all the while blighting the lives and hopes of millions of children by blocking education reforms.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:53 PM

August 30, 2003

Affirmative Action for dolls...

You've heard about the dread Institutionalized Racism, which is well-known to be the only reason that certain minorities do not shoot ahead...(And I guess one would also have to surmise, is why certain other minorities do better than the majority race?) Finally, someone, or rather some wise government agency, is going to stamp this monster out! Donald Sensing writes:

...My wife is the director of a preschool and pre-Kindergarten run by a local United Methodist Church (not mine). Every year her school is inspected by the state's regulatory and licensing agencies. If the school does not pass the inspections, it can be closed by the state. There are a lot of different inspections at the school year's beginning.

Please note that this is a private pre-school.

Today she went shopping in preparation for an inspection coming up this week. It was for a doll. She told me that the state licensing agency requires that her school have three dolls of at least two different races.

Of course the school may have more than three dolls, but it may not violate the "two races per three dolls" ratio...

Do Space-Alien dolls count?

Posted by John Weidner at 9:56 PM

Casinos succeed where some schools fail...

...Las Vegas has been quietly succeeding where public schools subscribing to the bilingual model have failed � and it has done so simply by not tampering with an individual's natural predisposition to grasp a new language faster when it is the only tool available. So while school children in� bilingual ed � whose adaptive young brains are poised to assimilate language within months � are unable to read, write or form a clear thought in English, 40- and 60-year-old immigrants laboring as cooks, guest room attendants and bellhops at the�Bellagio Hotel and Casino�must communicate with co-workers and customers the only way that they can be understood � in English...
thanks to Zach

Posted by John Weidner at 9:39 PM

August 29, 2003

This is good, this is exciting ... and now you know what that sneaky fellow George Bush is really up to

At School, a New Era of Multiple Choices for Parents by Gail Russell Chaddock, Christian Science Monitor

...This fall marks the first year when neighborhood public schools feel the brunt of a new national experiment in accountability - and the impact on parents may be even greater than that on students and their teachers.

One result: more choices for parents. This fall, parents of 54 million students nationwide will see more comparative data about public schools than has been available, even to top administrators.

Parents will know which schools have highly qualified teachers, and which do not. They will know which schools are making "adequate yearly progress" toward state standards, and which are not.

The question is: What to do with the new information?

If parents act on new insights by moving their kids to different schools - ones that aren't deemed "in need of improvement," for example - it could have big implications not just for the future of their children but also for the shape of school reforms nationwide...

...The No Child Left Behind Act, which President Bush once dubbed "the cornerstone of my administration," adds new choices. It requires that all groups of students - whatever their race, ethnicity, poverty level, English proficiency, or disability - demonstrate "adequate yearly progress." If not, parents have options, which begin to kick in this year.

For parents in the least successful of US schools, the choice may be to leave the neighborhood school or to tap into some $2 billion in federal funds to buy academic help, such as tutoring or after-school program.

"The new law says that choices should not depend on your ZIP code or your personal wealth. The goal now is to make choice a permanent part of public education for every student, and we're definitely moving in that direction," says Lisa Graham Keegan, former Arizona Superintendent of Education and CEO of the Education Leaders Council, an education reform advocacy group...

Options. Choices. Parents choosing, not bureaucrats...

President Bush let Teddy Kennedy put any amount of money and foolishness he wanted into that education bill...as long as he got to add this morsel of yeast to the dough. I think the ferment has just barely begun.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:38 AM

August 27, 2003

Accountability ...

Paul Jaminet writes

Subject of the experiment: University professors.
Stimulus: Virtually unlimited federal funding.
Observed response: Professors avoid teaching and commonly substitute declarations of opinion for research.
Conclusion: Money without accountability corrupts.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:40 AM

August 24, 2003

the usual malarky ...

Betsy Newmark writes:

The Madison, Wisconsin schools are shutting down school for the day and spending $50,000 for a workshop on "institutionalized racism." They are concerned that it is racism that is maintaining the gap in achievement between whites and blacks. How about setting high standards and holding all kids to those standards? How about communicating to parents what your expectations are and encouraging them to support you in asking the best from their children? How about focusing on content rather than fluff? How about holding kids accountable for lack of effort? All that is harder to do than paying some guy to speak by TV to all your teachers, janitors, and cafeteria workers
Good. And how about lighting a fire under the schools by giving them a little competition?. Works wonders in the private sector. Nothing stimulates customer service like the prospect of being laid off due to lack of customers...

Actually our public schools provide splendid service to their "customers." Unfortunately that means bureaucrats and politicians, not parents or students...

And the stuff about "institutionalized racism" is the worst malarky. It's dogma. No other opinion is allowed. But when I go to our local library at night at finals time, who do I typically see poring over the books? 20 asian kids, 5 white kids, and one or no blacks.

* A friend sent this comment:

It's certainly a heartbreak to see such PC misguidedness. On the otherhand, 90 min away in Milwaukee the voucher system seems to be going gangbusters�not so much because the voucher kids themselves are doing a lot better, but because the REALITY of the voucher program is forcing the P.S. system to shape up. Like you said. Competition. It's an amazing tonic.

Interestingly, the academics who are busily studying voucher kid performance vs. P.S. school performance are missing the main point. It's the P.S. response, not their relative performance, that matters. No one ever thought voucher education was going to replace public schools�just make them more competitive.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:46 PM