Entries in the Category "Education"

Former Italian president returns honorary doctorate from Columbia

This story has gotten NO media play in the US, and has barely penetrated the blogosphere. The Polish news service had it, and somebody on a list I'm on just found an Italian story. From the Babelfish-y translation I got from the Polish story (cleaned up a bit by me):

In protest against the invitation of the president of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Columbia University the former Italian president Francesco Cossiga gave back the title of the doctor Honoris Causa of this University. Senator Cossiga wrote that he was indignant at the the chancellor of UC for organizing the lecture of the Iranian leader, whom he called "a threatening neonazi and a Islamic terrorist".

The former Italian president reminded in the sharp letter to the rector of Columbia that Ahmadinejad expressed thirst for the destruction of Israel.

"Regardfully for six million murdered Jews whose you - old-fashioned racists, and today also advocates of Islamic terrorists I - Catholic, return the title of Honoris Causa and I burn the toga which you gave to me" - declared Cossiga.

His letter finished with the words: "without respect, Francesco Cossiga".

Another dogooder group admits defeat

The Campaign for Ohio's Future can't get enough signatures to loot the state treasury because its members are too busy looting locally.

Awww... cue the music.

Antioch College to shut down

$28K per year to go to a school that doesn't give grades and has an enrollment smaller than most high schools? Yeah, that's a real value. And it's not surprising that the endowment is low; what rich guy wants to support a school with an anti-private-property culture? I've never heard of a university closing and then re-opening. It's theoretically possible to have New Antioch, but the rebranding will be hellacious, as the changes needed to create a successful new university will be directly contrary to the school's reputation. It'll be amazing if the trustees actually pull this off.

The moral is: cool doesn't cut it. Sure, a certain amount of buzz is fun and can help get your message out. But what's important is the quality of education, and graduates' ability to get jobs. We were in danger of losing that focus at Case for a bit, but the ship is back on course.

Abstain from abstinence ed.

Well, apparently abstinence education doesn't work.

It's odd that people support it, because many of the people in favor of abstinence education don't think that the public schools are doing a good job on the basics. If they can't teach reading, how can they teach chastity? "But the liberal education establishment teaches their values all the time." Well, that's right: their values. You can't effectively teach values you don't believe in. Bourgeois Marxism isn't taught in school; it's inhaled as it seeps out of the pores of everyone involved. And if the faculty of a public school believed as firmly in chastity, the Religious Right would be partying like it's 1870 (don't make the tea too strong, and make sure the piano legs have their pants on). But they don't; indeed there are increasing numbers of incidents where faculty of either sex have decided that high school is their own personal Chicken Ranch. If you really want your kid to have a chaste education, it needs to be administered by chaste educators, which in practice means a Christian school. But then, this was never about abstinence ed for your kids; it was about abstinence ed for everybody's kids.

I'll say it again, and you'll call me an unfeeling brute again: the best abstinence ed is for teenage girls to watch their babies go hungry or without medical care.

Fine whines over abstinence ed

Linda Harvey has a cow over Ted Strickland wanting to cut the half-mill the state spends as matching funds for Title V sexual-abstinence programs, equating his words to advocacy of every type of perversion imaginable.

Give me a break! We're not talking about changing Ohio educational policy here. We're talking about not spending stolen money in order to get more stolen money. And in the current bugetary climate, it's the right thing to do.

It's pretty well known that the surest way to avoid STDs and pregnancy is not to have intercourse. You can transmit that message in about 10 minutes, including several rounds of later classroom reinforcements. You don't need long rounds of brainwashing abstinence training. I learned it in one class period in the mid-60s, without Federal funds. The girls in class learned it even better than I did, which is the only reason I left high school a virgin. But abstinence programs aren't about teaching the simple biological facts about promiscuity; they're about teaching morals, and are thus at best treading on parental ground, and at worst a violation of Church and State.

And the State sends a mixed message here. Kids go to school and learn that sex is bad because you can get knocked up. Then they look at their friends who have gotten pregnant and getting money from the government for themselves and their children. As the saying goes, "Money talks, and BS walks." And as economists say, you get what you subsidize. Sure, premature pregnancy will screw up your career and marriage plans, and life in general. But that's future stuff, and teens generally have short time-preferences. What would they do if they saw their buds worrying about how to feed their babies, or how to pay a doctor bill, or watching those babies die? I suspect it would have more effect than any abstinence program yet proposed.

Scott Savage fights back

Scott Savage, the OSU Mansfield librarian accused of sexual harassment by his university for recommending a book that some gay faculty members did not agree with, has filed a defamation suit against 4 named professors and 10 unnamed to be discovered. It had to be rough, taking a year's unpaid leave of absence when you're the sole provider for 8 children. So I hope that justice is done.

Dr. Mike swings back

Mike Adams is on Townhall, trying to refute KSU's defense of Julio Pino. (In our last discussion of this, I had bowed to KSU's wishes in not associating them with the "Global War" site. By now, it's enough of a matter of public debate that the chances of one of those "cease and desist" letters coming here are slim and none...esp. since I'm on KSU's side here).

There's a little more information, but not nearly enough. And, even granting the truth of Adams' allegations, it's a bit like a witch hunt: "Let's fire all the communists jihadists!"

Diversity of viewpoint is what makes a campus great. All too often, that's honored in the breach. But if it's wrong that conservatives are made to feel unwelcome on many campuses, then it must be equally wrong to railroad a guy for having opinions that no sane human would hold. And certainly, there are people out there who consider my own opinions (or Dr. Mike's) insane. I understand that Prof. Adams is a Christian, and must note that his Master said "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." Or, more to the point, don't try to burn a witch when you've spilled gas on yourself.

Discussing Pino's jihadist connections is perfectly fine, as is discussing who his employer is, or his unprofessional treatment of the ROTC student. Demanding that Pino be fired is not fine. If Pino's employment does to your checkbook what Catherine MacKinnon's employment by my alma mater does to mine, that's just part of the intricate personnel mix at the University. It's your money; if you don't think they deserve it, then don't write the check. But lay off the harassing letters already.

In Seattle, even Legos have to be equal

I don't know whether to be thankful this wasn't a public school, or appalled that parents would actually pay for this. But now we know what those pinko Scandinavians really invented Legos for:


According to the article, the students had been building an elaborate "Legotown," but it was accidentally [sic] demolished. The teachers decided its destruction was an opportunity to explore "the inequities of private ownership." According to the teachers, "Our intention was to promote a contrasting set of values: collectivity, collaboration, resource-sharing, and full democratic participation."

The children were allegedly incorporating into Legotown "their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys." These assumptions "mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society -- a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive."

When I was a kid, my friend Dan Czeski and I both had HO-scale villages in the Kingdom of Rotochio, and we did play out "assumptions about ownership and social power" -- a generally libertarian scoiety, with legalized prostitution, but with large extremes of weath and poverty. I think it was our way of making sense of the adult world. And it was more often "the peasants" who ended up on top.


At the end of that time, Legos returned to the classroom after the children agreed to several guiding principles framed by the teachers, including that "All structures are public structures" and "All structures will be standard sizes." The teachers quote the children:

"A house is good because it is a community house."

"We should have equal houses. They should be standard sizes."

"It's important to have the same amount of power as other people over your building."

Teacher, I'm gonna thwow up...
Tip o'hat to DeCoster.

"That's so gay"

Rebeka Rice got into a heap of trouble for saying that to her classmates (who were practicing anti-Mormon hate speech at the time) , and her parents are suing on First Amendment grounds.

It was worth a talk with the principal, I think, but it wasn't hate speech, and not worth a note in the file. I grew up saying, "I was gypped...he jewed me down", and I never associated those terms with the Romany or Jews. I didn't even know any Romany or Jews, so how could I have an opinion? And what about "that sucks?" I once had a boss tell me it was anti-homosexual. But everyone says that; are we all homophobes? I'm all for cleaning hidden messages out of our language, but must we begin and end with minorities, when standard government speech is nothing but euphemism and dysphemism?

I once knew a lad who came home from school saying, "That's gay." His mother explained to him why that was Not Acceptable. He knew perfectly well what it meant though. "Okay...but guys and guys...ewwww!" "Well, what about Peter and Patrick, and Lori and Lisa?" "Well, they're cool, but guys and guys...ewwww." Well, Mom had swung both ways in her day, and even said that by the law of averages her present husband should have been female. So she came out to her kid! That shut him up. But I have to wonder how that altered his thought processes.

Oh no, the "gay agenda" in schools

WorldNetDaily does its usual hand-wringing:

U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf yesterday dismissed a civil rights lawsuit brought by David Parker, ordering that it is reasonable, indeed there is an obligation, for public schools to teach young children to accept and endorse homosexuality.

Personally I think it's a Good Thing to teach children to accord homosexuals the respect due to all human beings. But then, "all human beings" includes drug dealers, axe murderers, and politicians, so this isn't necessarily a moral endorsement.

The anti-gay side goes a bit off the rails here:

"In addition, Wolf makes the odious statement that the Parkers' only options are (1) send their kids to a private school, (2) home-school their kids, or (3) elect a majority of people to the School Committee who agree with them. Can you imagine a federal judge in the Civil Rights era telling blacks the same thing – that if they can't be served at a lunch counter they should just start their own restaurant, or elect a city council to pass laws that reflect the U.S. Constitution?" the organization said.

It's pretty absurd for gays and Christians to compete for the title of "oppressed minority du jour", and it's pretty offensive to equate ideas (which can change) to skin color (which can't). Maybe we need a codocil to Godwin's Law. And these are the folks that say "Gays can change," so why can't Christians change? For that matter, if Jim Crow weren't then legally supported and encouraged, a voluntary approach to integration might have been more successful.

The problem here is that Parker wants a "free" public education without public values.Unlike in Germany, the judge is perfectly willing to allow Parker to teach his child as he wishes...just not at taxpayer expense. It mystifies me that evangelicals think that the public schools can be transformed, or that things will be OK if they just teach Godly values. Civil institutions are "of the world". About the only religious sect that really gets the church-state thing are the Amish; they realize that the Christian ultimately can't coexist with "the world", and seek to withdraw both from paying for the world's poisoned candy and from eating it. The Southern Baptists are beginning to come to the same conclusion about education: that they need to "come out of Egypt".

As the judge said, diversity is a positive value. That includes religion. But when two diversities clash, each must find its own corner. And given that the only arguments against public acceptance of gayness are religious, wouldn't it be best (and arguably constitutional) to not support those religious arguments in a public school?

The making of a 10 year old felon

Speaking of insanity in Texas education:
Read 'em and weep.

Cari Allen...Mike Nifong...together in a penitentiary, with "prosecutor" tattooed on their foreheads. A guy can dream, can't he?

$500 for not kissing your child's teacher's ring?

rightwingprof asks, "Is the Texas GOP on drugs?" and does a real good wrapup of bloggery re TX Rep. Wayne Smith's idea to fine parents who blow off parent-teach conferences (with a side dish of Gov. Perry's bid to sell the flower of young Texas womanhood to Merck).

Well, no, Clay, it's the entire GOP, not just Texas. This is the party of Abe Lincoln Lenin, "Big Stick" Roosevelt, Herbert Hooverville, "Not a crook" Nixon, and hundreds of other purveyors of large government. Historically, it's the folks who think that Reagan was representative of Republicans as a whole, who think that GOP really is a limited-government party, who might better be accused of taking reality-distorting substances. Personally, I hope that folks in Baytown walk up to Smith on the street and bitch-slap him, next time he's home. But, unfortunately, he's not acting out-of-type for his party.

Raising a generation of wimps

Hey, I know it's cold out there. I get into a cold car in the morning, which never really warms up. I come in to a library that's cold. I contend with frozen rabbit bottles and chickens huddling together, and thank the Gods that the broodies keep the eggs from freezing. But why have the schools been closed? Maybe in the city, where the kids have to walk and the parents don't (not can't, don't; that's what Unique Thrift is for) afford proper coats, there's an excuse to close the elementary schools; by high school, kids should know how to survive. But out where I live, kids get picked up in front of their house. The same is true of the MR/DD programs (wife got the day off from driving them). The Amish schools have been open, and those kids walk...and the schools don't have indoor plumbing! And they don't have medical insurance to cover frostbite.

When I was a kid, school would of course close when the roads were impassable. We had to walk a quarter mile or so to the stop on the main road (to be fair, when it was this cold, Mom would drive us down and have us wait in the car). But for cold? Not unless the school furnace was down.

On a similar note: my wife belongs to a bunch of Freecycle lists, and her pet peeve is people who say they "need" stuff they don't need. They have no concept of the difference between "want" and "need". The incident that set her off this weekend was the woman who"needs" fencing because she lives on Rt. 44 and her children can't play outside. 'Scuse me? Did it ever occur to her to WATCH her children? Or, if that isn't practical, to EDUCATE them? When I was a child, we were AFRAID of roads. Even our dirt subdivision road was a matter to be very careful about. And a major paved road like M-25 (thumb of Michigan) might as well have been the Berlin Wall for ease of passage. We'd cross if we had to, and didn't see any cars anywhere.

Granted, we had some educational aids. My maternal grandmother, who had mobility problems post-polio, Parkinsons, and probably half the DSM, would threaten to kill herself by running out into the street. We were shocked when my mother (who had grown up with these games) invited her to go ahead and do so, but we definitely imprinted that highways could be lethal. And in 2nd grade, I had to cross the other lane when getting off the school bus. One spring day some old man was rounding the curve and didn't see the flashers because of the sun. Per the story, I ran to escape him, he swerved to avoid me, and we met. Result: concussion, fractured humerus, multiple fracture of the right femur. And my early summer pretty much blown.

But even kids without these "advantages" knew enough not to play in the street, not to play with guns, and how to dress for winter. Why don't today's children know these things?

The economics of student loans

Jacob Sullum elucidates the dysfunctional market in higher education, hinting at but not quite defining the solution. Which is: abolish subsidized student loans.

There, I said it. I expect the wees who were all upset about my take on the minimum wage will be really pissed off now.

Long-lost cousin?

The Quick and the Ed is an education blog. And apparently there are no Quicks involved in its production. Given that the head article today praises affirmative action, it's not likely to be a regular stop. But it ws a fun accidental discovery.

Colleges holding public schools accountable

Rightwingprof has some interesting ideas about No Child Left Behind and federalism. Being a wingnut, of course he isn't going to suggest just pitching the whole putrid mess of public education...and that's OK. But this, I think, is not:

If universities started exercising the power they have by refusing to accept graduates of schools with low SAT scores, those schools would have no choice but to raise their standards and change what they do.

The problem here is that it's individual punishment for somebody else's guilt. If the university refuses to accept brilliant students who learned in spite of their schools (that could describe me) because of the school's ineptitude, it's a negation of the American individualist tradition...not that a wingnut would care about that. And while RWP might be willing to accept a few martyrs for the cause of school reform, I think he would get more than he bargained for, because of the entrenched interest in the status quo. He thinks the schools are reformable; I don't. Putting the doughnut on may get us back on the road short-term, but it doesn't fix the flat tire.

Laura Mallory, do-gooder

The esteemed (and often steamed) William J. Beck III rips up a soccer-mom-for-Jesus who wants to ban Harry Potter from the schools. And this is the point to be memorized:

"And I pay taxes, too, and I think that gives me a voice to speak out about this.”

Do you understand, dear morons? She is entirely right about this. As long as she's getting soaked (which, doubtless, is not the way she sees it because she's a moron, too) for this perpetual-motion project known as "public education", it means that she has standing to raise hell if she doesn't like the cut of the bleedin' shrubbery out in front of the drill center "school" where her brats get stashed every damned day.

She's kinda cute. Can I blow in her ear and give her a refill?

Ohio Core

Some educators are not happy about Daft's Ohio Core curriculum being railroaded through the legislature:

"We have been following the legislation closely because, again, the politicians do not have confidence in us educators," said Lora Garrett, principal of Cuyahoga Heights High School, one of the state's top-performing schools. "For some reason, they know our jobs better than we do -- or so they think."

Well, Lora, it's not unusual for one's employers to think they know their job better than you do, whether they do or not. But I don't see anything in this about "doing your job". It's about having minimum standards for entrance into Ohio universities. How you prepare your students for those standards is your call. And the legislature wouldn't ever worry about how the schools were doing their job if in fact they were doing their job.

I've got reservations about this. It looks like an unfunded mandate on public schools, and Youngstown State doesn't deserve to be on the B-list. I don't even think there should be a B-list; putting Central on it is "the soft racism of low expectations". And ultimately it's all rearranging the Titanic's deck chairs.

But to say that state government has a Constitutional obligation to provide free public education (the crux of that separation-of-powers muddle re education funding that we had several years back), and then say that it's not their job to decide what form the education will take...that's just ridiculous.

RIP, college debate

Who needs research? Weaseldom has entered the realm of college debate teams, under the name of "performance debate".

The rebels' bag of tricks hinges on a simple rule: Everything in debate is debatable, including the rules of debate.

...

Then Warner had an epiphany. "We're going to debate issues of race no matter what the topic is," he declared. That led to replacing scholarly evidence with quotes from "organic intellectuals" such as rap singers.

...

"Traditional debaters say the only evidence that matters is library research," he said. "We say personal experience is equally important." Bruschke points out that Aristotle ranked emotion equal to logic as a tool in seeking truth.

...

Performance teams "have pretty much started to ruin traditional debate and what it offers students educationally," said Ken Sherwood, director of forensics at Los Angeles City College.

In the past, debaters had to research both sides of an issue. "It taught students there's always another side and it forced them to understand the opposition," Sherwood said. "If you do that, you're better able to defend your own perspective."

In contrast, performance squads focus on personal stories and theatrics that often have little to do with the topic, he said.

Well, why not? There is no truth, you know. And we have to prepare out students for the brave new world of the Internet.

TX school produces 4-year-old rapist (NOT!)

In Bellmead TX, when a 4 year old gives the teachers'aide a hug and rubs his face in her breasts, it's "sexual harassment." Never mind that there are 4 year olds out there who breast-feed, and that breasts aren't sex organs, especially not to the very young.

I'd like to see video of this bimbo, telling the world just HOW she knew it was sexual and inappropriate. If she's got those kinds of issues about physical contact with kids, she should change career tracks.

Teddy bears are no picnic

...for 4 students in Knightstown IN, whose cute li'l movie about teddy bears attacking a teacher got them expelled. Even though the county prosecutor declined to press charges, the schoold board is standing its ground, and two of the students are suing for 1st Amendment infringement.

Good on yas, Imel and Overbay families. Win your case. Then pull your kids out and homeschool them, damnit.

Profs, don't force your students to lobby

When I first read about this case, I didn't blog about it. It was so self-evidently monstrous that I really had nothing to add. In spite of that, I didn't have much hope for Emily Brooker. I figured the admin would stonewall, the case would grind through the courts, and end 3 years from now with an official apology from Missouri State and a slap on the wrist for Prof. Frank G. Kauffman.

Well, evidently Missouri State felt that its good name had been besmirched, and an investigation was in order. And on completion of that investigation, the U. announced its "official apology": that it

would "clear Brooker's official record," and pay damages of $9,000. It also agreed to "waive academic fees at Missouri State University, or in lieu thereof, reimburse an amount equal to two years of degree work toward a Master of Social Work degree" at costs estimated at $12,000, "plus Brooker will receive $3,000 per year in living expense for two years of graduate education."

The "slap on the wrist"?

The school's answer was to ...require Kauffman to resign from his administrative duties. He also was ordered onto a non-teaching leave for the rest of the semester,

Wow...they take academic freedom seriously at MSU.

Another young mind destroyed by publik skool

Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Tyler Stoken was a well-behaved fourth grader who enjoyed school, earned A's and B's and performed well on standardized tests.

In May 2005, he'd completed five of the six days of the Washington State Assessment of Student Learning exam, called WASL, part of the state's No Child Left Behind test.

Then Tyler came upon this question: ``While looking out the window one day at school, you notice the principal flying in the air. In several paragraphs, write a story telling what happens.''

As a question, this looks like a trap. There are very few contexts in which a principal can fly through the air, and none of them are good for the principal.


The nine-year-old was afraid to answer the question about his principal, Olivia McCarthy. ``I didn't want to make fun of her,'' he says, explaining he was taught to write the first thing that entered his mind on the state writing test.

In this case, Tyler's initial thoughts would have been embarrassing and mean. So even after repeated requests by school personnel, and ultimately the principal herself, Tyler left the answer space blank.

For which he got a 5 day suspension and this congratulation:

`Good job, bud, you've ruined it for everyone in the school, the teachers and the school,'' Tyler says McCarthy told him.

...with this result:

Now, Tyler blows up at the drop of a hat, his mother says. ``They created a monster. He'll never take that test again, even if I have to take him to another state,'' she says.

Tyler's attitude about school changed. He became shyer. He's afraid of all tests and doesn't do as well in classes anymore, his mother says.

There's a lot going on here. First is the perverse incentive that NCLB creates, to see the child as working for the school rather than the other way around. Next is the absolute fear of saying anything negative about the principal. We can't definitely attribute that to school; Mommy might have had a real concern with teaching Tyler to Play Nice. But when we see a kid behaving in a way that would be reasonable in a totalitarian dictatorship, it's reasonable to assume that he's experiencing a totalitarian dictatorship. He had to write the first thing in his mind, because that's what he was told to do; remember, he was a model student, which meant above all that he was good at following orders. But he couldn't write the first thing, because it was uncomplimentary to the principal (though what's wrong with witches on broomsticks anyway, asks the Wiccan). That might have been from respect, or from fear; we don't know. But, perhaps inspired by Mommy saying "If you can't say something nice about somebody, don't say anything at all", his way out of Catch 22 was to write nothing.

I hope Tyler gets appropriate help, and a good learning environment. McCarthy just doesn't get it, and probably can't independently integrate the results of her actions, so a career change is probably in order. This could be a great stepping-stone for her, but it probably won't be, so she'll sink.

We don't need no steekin' penmanship!

We gots computers!

When handwritten essays were introduced on the SAT exams for the class of 2006, just 15 percent of the almost 1.5 million students wrote their answers in cursive. The rest? They printed. Block letters.

Schools don't care about it anymore, not when there are standardized tests to teach to, that don't cover it. And it's boring...at least it was for me.

But there's something liberating about being able to fluidly put your thoughts on paper without the mediation of several hundred dollars worth of delicate and difficult-to-repair equipment

Riot at Columbia University

"I don't feel like we need to apologize or anything. It was fundamentally a part of free speech. ... The Minutemen are not a legitimate part of the debate on immigration."

Hmmm, and the "n-word" and other racial epithets, and driving an invited speaker off the stage are legitimate parts? Apparently debate is only legitimate when it's one-sided, as it was in the days of Stalin and Mao.

Check out the picture, and the slogans ; these guys made their ideological allegiance pretty clear.

Makes me ashamed to have been a Michigander

At Oscoda High School "our purpose is to foster academic excellence, personal growth, decision making ability and positive personal attributes for enhancing our democratic society." Evidently that doesn't include "dealing with defeat." Per Boortz, this year's Mighty Owls football team sucked so completely (NO points in the first 4 games) that the school board decided to forfeit the rest of the season. Hey, I can understand wanting to save themselves embarrassment. But if sports have a function in education, that function continues (and is perhaps enhanced) even if you aren't a winner. Certainly I wasn't a winner in PE, unless you count infamy for the 9'54" mile. The kids wanted to play. Their parents wanted them to play. But people were laughing.

Homeland Security at Barberton High

They're having some labor problems at Barberton. Some students are sympathetic to the teachers' side of things, and attempted to organize a walkout. 20 of them were suspended...not for walking out, mind you (which is arguably a suspendable offence), but for distributing a flyer telling everyone to go to the gym on Oct. 9 at 10 AM.

Superintendant Lizzie Lolli claims that the issue is student safety...in which case they need to cancel all school assemblies for the year, since the gym is obviously a dangerous place. Who knows, the union (or, more likely, the administration acting in their name) could put a BOMB in there. And she's feeling all virtuous because, after all, the kids could have gotten TEN days instead of one or two.

And it's not just students getting gagged. Teachers have been told not to discuss the suspensions or free-speech issues. Well gee, what if the lesson plan for American history involves Lincoln throwing newspaper editors in jail, or Schenk v. US, or any similar unsavory moments in our history?

If it were my kid being suspended, I'd be out of there. But if I had a kid, he wouldn't be in Compulsory Youth Indoctrination Camp to begin with.

Howell MI has had a reputation for bigotry

...being a sort of past epicenter for white supremacy in the state. Now there's a religious bigot in charge of the high school, dictating what a touring choir from Germany can sing on their premises. And apparently this is just the latest in a number of decisions flouting community values.

Steinberg said much of traditional choral music is religious in nature, and alternatives are limited.

That's just it, and the part that administrators don't get. If you are going to use a choral program to teach the best of Western art and civilization (and if you aren't, why are the taxpayers paying for it?), you can't get away from Christianity. Even now, the church is at the core of the American choral tradition (with all due respect to gay choirs, college choirs, and the few and brave professional choirs). I don't give a rip if kids exit the choir room telling sick blasphemous jokes about Jesus. But if you decide that certain ideas can't be presented because they might offend somebody, well, there went Western civilization.

Grand jury shows some sense

If two adults want to do the nasty, it's not the law's business, even if one is a teacher and the other her student. The Texas legislature made it the law's business, but a grand jury practiced jury nullification, refusing to indict.

Now, it IS the school district's business. Getting your tail where you get your paycheck is a bad idea in general, and one can't afford to get that familiar in a situation where one has to stand in authority. And I don't understand the current rash of hottie female teachers doing their students. It's not like these ladies should have any trouble finding a partner. It might be about power, but it strikes me that the male holds all the real power in these situations, since he can turn her in.

If DESTROYING YOUR CAREER isn't a deterrent, I fail to see how jail would be either.

Shanghai educrats imitate Henry Ford

History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history we made today. Henry Ford, Interview in Chicago Tribune, May 25th, 1916

The Chinese agree:

When high school students in Shanghai open their history textbooks this autumn they may be in for a surprise. The new standard world history text drops wars, dynasties and Communist revolutions in favour of colourful tutorials on economics, technology, social customs and globalisation.

Socialism has been reduced to a single, short chapter in the senior high school history course. Chinese Communism before the economic reform that began in 1979 is covered in a sentence. The text mentions Mao only once - in a chapter on etiquette.

Nearly overnight the country's most prosperous schools have shelved the Marxist template that had dominated standard history texts since the 1950s. The changes passed high-level scrutiny, the authors say, and are part of a broader effort to promote a more stable, less violent view of Chinese history that serves today's economic and political goals.

History without Mao is so much easier to teach: no Great Leap Forward, no Cultural Revolution. No spin or editing required. The government has always been your friend and protector.

WI refuses to play "can the moonbat"

...and quite rightly so. It's not the legislature's job; it's the job of students and donors. Let the market work.

It's a mistake to think there is perfect intellectual freedom in academia. One's peers have their ways of showing one the correct path. But political interference compounds the problem. You really really don't want legislators saying who will teach what.

On the other hand, the claim that 9/11 was a Reichstag Fire requires extraordinary proof, and an academic whose arguments are weak in that arena may show similar weakness in the rest of his academic work. It's well to remember that Ward Churchill was fired for academic fraud, not for tacky comments.

FFA: Future Fascists of America

The Harford County school system plans to open what will apparently be the nation's first magnet program focused on homeland security, preparing high school students for careers in disaster response, high-level computer science and law enforcement.

Why not? My high school had courses in pig raising too.
(Apologies to The National FFA Organization)

Thanks to Claire Files.

Why librarians annoy me

SAN ANTONIO — The library director at the University of the Incarnate Word has canceled the library's subscription to The New York Times to protest articles revealing a covert government program to track terrorist financing.

I'm sympathetic to this viewpoint politically. But you don't jerk your serials around like that. Like them or not (and I don't), the NYT is and is likely to remain the paper of record in this country, and is used constantly as a research tool. Professionally, I think it was a poor decision.

But that's not why librarians annoy me. This is:

Library staff members said they were shocked by Morgan's e-mail.

"The censorship is just unspeakable," staff member Jennifer Romo said. "There is no reason, no matter what your beliefs, to deny a source of information to students."

There's no "censorship" going on here, unless she really thinks that the curatorial function of collection management is censorship, in which case she really needs to get into another business. Since you can't collect everything (not even the Library of Congress can...or keep track of it once collected, according to one of our faculty members), you have to decide what doesn't get collected. And politics plays a role in that. I'm not saying that it should (or shouldn't), but that it does. If Jen Romo collects at all, I could probably find evidence of bias in her collecting. (She probably doesn't; I note the "staff member", and while I deplore the "no MLS=not a librarian" mentality, I suspect from the depth of her analysis that she's some student book-shelver.)

With such confusion about the notion of censorship, it's not surprising that the ALA has been reluctant to slap Castro's wrist over his treatment of private Cuban libraries.

As for the denial of information charge, the NYT is so ubiquitous that nobody who really needs it is going to do without. If that were the intent...

"In the real world, it's an almost futile act on many levels," [Kelly McBride] said. "From what we know about the reading habits of college students, it will not make a difference because they read online."

Thanks to WorldNetDaily.

"Ain't no chains strong enough to bind me"

RAVENNA, Ohio (AP) — An elementary school principal accused of wrapping a heavy chain around misbehaving students to discipline them has been suspended without pay by the school board.

So...can somebody tell me what the problem with this is? Sure one kid is seeing the shrink...because his crazy mother thought he needed it. But really, 3 minutes in chains is cruel?

If you don't like it, don't have your kids educated at taxpayer expense.

Condi shakes a nut out of the BU tree

Condoleezza Rice at Boston College? I quit

By Steve Almond | May 12, 2006

An open letter to William P. Leahy, SJ, president of Boston College.
DEAR Father Leahy,

I am writing to resign my post as an adjunct professor of English at Boston College.

I am doing so -- after five years at BC, and with tremendous regret -- as a direct result of your decision to invite Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to be the commencement speaker at this year's graduation.

Since we're budget-cutting here at Case, let's bring Condi in and see who self-selects for losing their position, thus bringing us a more-committed faculty. After all, Case has been shilling for the administration since 2004; this wouldn't be anything new. Hell, let's book a tour and have her do ALL the commencements in Ohio.

Not deaf enough for Gallaudet?

"There's a kind of perfect deaf person," said Fernandes, who described that as someone who is born deaf to deaf parents, who learns ASL at home, attends deaf schools, marries a deaf person and has deaf children. "People like that will remain the core of the university."

Let's see...perfection is to deliberately breed children missing one of their senses? What are these people, auditory Skoptzy? If deaf is a positive value in itself, then blind must be a positive value as well, right? And blind and deaf must be even better. And perfection would be people whose brains had been disconnected from any sensory input at all, like the future Skoptzy I read about in a science fiction novel once (can't remember which one or whose, Heinlein maybe, or Harlan Ellison -- it was 35 years ago) who were crazed moaning vegetables.

Yeah, yeah, I know about Deaf Pride, but I don't get it. If you are born deaf (or gay, or white, or black), what's to be proud of? You didn't do anything to get that way. By the same logic, you have nothing to be ashamed of either. And people who have blown their hearing through their own actions generally feel regret if not shame that they did such a stupid thing.

If almost all of us were clairvoyant, the few that weren't would probably develop some religious rationale for why they were better, some claim that psychism was of the Devil. This is basically irrational and religious too. There's nothing wrong with deaf people creating their own culture. But don't try to convince the rest of us that being less than all you can be is superior to being all you can be - or worse, that less is more for your children. Ot worse yet, that you have a right to breed deaf children AND we have an obligation to fund their special education. Your children are your property (not quite, but any other paradigm leads to worse results than that one), but runoff from your property onto mine is a legitimate concern.

A modest proposal for cell phones in libraries

Scott McLemee:

The decline of Western civilization proceeds apace. One shudders to imagine life in decades hence. A case in point: People now use cell phones in research libraries.

Wandering the stacks, they babble away in a blithe and full-throated matter -– conversing, not with their imaginary friends (as did the occasional library-haunting weirdo of yesteryear) but rather with someone who is evidently named “Dude,” and who might, for all one knows, be roaming elsewhere in the building: an audible menace to all serious thought and scholarly endeavor.

This situation is intolerable. It must not continue. I have given this matter long consideration, and can offer a simple and elegant solution: These people ought to be shot....

Shooting with actual bullets might be excessive. If the budget permits, some kind of taser gun would be appropriate. Failing that, buckshot would probably do the trick.

Admittedly, a rational person could object to my plan. “Wouldn’t shooting cell-phone users in research libraries be counterproductive?” you might well ask. “Wouldn’t that actually make the library more noisy?”

A fair point. Yes, it would. But not for long....


A rational LIBRARIAN would note that buckshot would be just as lethal as bullets at close range, that the scatter from a shotgun would create preservation problems....and how would combustion products from nitrocellulose affect the aging of paper? It's hard enough to keep the patrons from bleeding on the books when we're not the ones ventilating them.

But with the main point, I'm in firm agreement. Patrons amaze me when they discuss their most personal life details here, loudly and at length.

Tip o'hat to DeCoster.

Hundert bails

His side
The board's side

Did his mommy ever make him clean up his own messes when he was a kid?

The blind teaching the blind...to drive

In Chicago schools, blind sophomores must take Drivers' Ed.

But don't mock the educrats. One never knows when a blind person may be called upon to drive.

At the afterparty to one of my weddings, after midnight when we had already left, the booze gave out, and the biggest lush in the place decided to go out and get some beer. To the young man's credit, he realized that he was too shitfaced to drive. So he asked the hostess' neighbor...who was blind. The idea was that John would sit behind the wheel while Dave called out "Left...right...stop..." Somehow his car keys "mysteriously disappeared", shortly thereafter he passed out on the kitchen floor, and all was good.

There was a case of this actually happening down in Amish country in OH, several years back. Blind drivers weave even more than drunks do.

(Tip 'o hat to Taranto.)

Professors with pitchforks

at Case:

The faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences today approved a resolution of no-confidence against Case Western Reserve University President Edward Hundert. The vote was 131 to 44 against the president.

By a narrower margin, 97 to 68, the faculty also approved a no-confidence resolution against Provost John Anderson.

Continue reading "Professors with pitchforks"

Miami-Dade teachers fired over fake paper

From Miami Herald.

They had to have continuing education credits to keep their licences, so they bought them from a firm that contracted them from schools that required no actual coursework.

"Crew spokesman Joseph Garcia: ``We're not going to have teachers who have defrauded the public and defrauded children in the classroom.''"

But were the children defrauded? The one question unasked in this article is: How did the fired teachers compare IN PERFORMANCE to those who jumped through the hoops?