Old regimes die hard and no greater threat exists to the way things are done in this country than Scott Walker. Elected as a Republican governor twice in a formerly blue state, and the victor in a recall attempt, Walker broke the cash nexus between public employee unions and the Democrat party. By making membership in most public employee unions voluntary, he has sent membership figures and dues through the floor and dried up one of the main cash cows for the Democrat party in Wisconsin, and broken the stranglehold the public employees had on the state budget. For this revolutionary act he is enemy number one for the Democrats who view a possible successful run for the Presidency by Walker with the same enthusiasm that vampires have for garlic. The latest non-issue that Democrats have sought to pillory him for, is that he dropped out of college a few credits shy of his BA degree to take a job.
Most Americans of course lack a four year college degree, but it is unusual these days for a high profile politician not to have one. I doubt if it is a political disadvantage since most people I think can distinguish between the wisdom a person possesses, or does not possess, as opposed to the credentials they have. However, Robert Tracinski at The Federalist explains why this non-issue has been seized upon by the Democrats:
There are no real class divisions in America except one: the college-educated versus the non-college educated. It helps to think of this in terms borrowed from the world of a Jane Austen novel: graduating from college is what makes you a “gentleman.” (A degree from an Ivy League school makes you part of the aristocracy.) It qualifies you to marry the right people and hold the right kind of positions. It makes you respectable. And even if you don’t achieve much in the world of work and business, even if you’re still working as a barista ten years later, you still retain that special status. It’s a modern form of “genteel poverty,” which is considered superior to the regular kind of poverty.
If you don’t have a college degree, by contrast, you are looked down upon as a vulgar commoner who is presumptuously attempting to rise above his station. Which is pretty much what they’re saying about Scott Walker. This prejudice is particularly strong when applied to anyone from the right, whose retrograde views are easily attributed to his lack of attendance at the gentleman’s finishing school that is the university.
That brings us to the heart of the matter. I have observed before that left-leaning politics has become “part of the cultural class identity of college-educated people,” a prejudice that lingers long after they have graduated. You can see how this goes the other way, too. If to be college-educated is to have left-leaning views—then to have the “correct” political values, one must be college-educated.
You can see now what is fueling the reaction on the left. If Scott Walker can run for president, he is challenging the basic cultural class identity of the mainstream left. He is more than a threat to the Democrats’ hold on political power. He is a threat to the existing social order. Continue reading
Ericka Andersen at Victory Girls, gives us yet another example of the way in which education is often simple indoctrination these days:
The University of California-San Francisco is launching a new course on abortion, the first class of it’s kind.
The aim is to “contextualize abortion care within a public health framework from both clinical and social perspectives.”
What “Abortion: Quality Care and Public Health Implications” is really striving to do is normalize abortion as a typical healthcare procedure.
What they don’t acknowledge is that almost all abortions are elective — and only 3% are due to problems with the mother’s actual health. There are also a small percentage of abortions performed on rape or incest victims, but this is also about 3%. At least (and that’s being generous) 90% of abortions are elective — for reasons such as “not ready,” “too young,” “inconvenient,” “don’t want people to know I’m pregnant,” or “inadequate finances.”
Renowned abortion researcher Alan Guttmacher once said, “Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal illness such as cancer or leukemia, and, if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save, life.”
By the way, Guttmacher served as president of Planned Parenthood and vice-president of the American Eugenics Society, but that’s just a little detail.
Abortion is almost never healthcare. If anything, it’s the opposite. Doesn’t a doctor pledge to, “First, do no harm.” It’s beyond comprehension how any doctor can perform abortions and remember that’s an oath they took. Of course, it wasn’t hard to find one who has no trouble with it.
“I think that if we can inspire even a small portion of the people who take the course to take steps in their communities to increase access to safe abortion and decrease stigma about abortion, then we have been totally successful,” Dr. Jody Steinauer, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California – San Francisco said.
Steinauer noted that this “stigma” results in silence on the issue of and leads people “to believe that [abortion] is not common,” when it is.
The course syllabus includes sections on “overcoming obstacles to abortion access” and “patient-centered care for first-trimester abortion.” Well, I’m glad to see they haven’t graduated to late-term abortion care but that can’t be too far down the road.
Here’s the thing, University of California, abortion will never be normalized. A 2012 Gallup poll showed that Americans lean pro-life by a nine point margin. You can’t deflect the reality of abortion, which is ending the life of a human being in growth. There’s literally no way around the science of when life begins. You can only justify in blind denial after that. Continue reading
Apparently some of the young, in addition to not reading, can’t even be bothered to watch a classic film, even when they purport to have an interest in films. John Nolte at Breitbart gives us the grim details:
Monday we learned that a 25 year-old taking graduate-level journalism classes at New York University had no idea what an editorial was. Today we learn that “most” of the students taking a film class at Georgetown University have never seen “Gone with the Wind.”
[W]hen I asked 13 students in a Georgetown University film class if they’d seen it, most either hadn’t seen the film or had seen only parts of it. These students are serious about movies. But a lot of them sided with Mike Minahan, 20, who said when it comes to Gone with the Wind — frankly, he doesn’t give a damn.
“Everything I’ve seen about it says it, like, glorifies the slave era … and I dunno, what’s the point of that? I don’t see that as a good time in history … like, oh, sweet, a love story of people who own slaves.”
What a relief it is to know that the next generation of film reviewers, writers, and makers will be politically correct, uneducated, narrow-minded provincials completely out of touch with the real world. You know, just like the current crop of film reviewers, writers and makers.
Not only are these close-minded students missing one of the grandest pieces of entertainment ever released in any medium, but a piece of cinema history that will live on long past any of us. In 1939, GWTW was an epic technical achievement. Seventy-five years later, in this age of CGI, producer David O. Selznick’s masterpiece is even more impressive.
Moreover, the idea that GWTW glorifies rape is laughable. Leftists are supposed to be Captains of Nuance and yet they seem incapable of understanding that this so-called rape is in reality the end result of a complicated dance of seduction between Rhett and Scarlett. As far as the film’s backwards portrayal of slaves and blacks, if you’re going to discount and dismiss any art based on current mores and values, you’re nothing more than a modern day Production Code. Continue reading
One of the more ironic developments during the past half century has been the transformation of most colleges and universities from places of learning into citadels of indoctrination. Examples abound. Here is a recent one:
An Ohio State University (OSU) class has apparently determined another fundamental difference between Christians and atheists: their IQ points.
An online quiz from the school’s Psychology 1100 class, provided to Campus Reform via tip, asked students to pick which scenario they found most likely given that “Theo has an IQ of 100 and Aine has an IQ of 125.”
The correct answer? “Aine is an atheist, while Theo is a Christian.” Continue reading
Lenin wannabe Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, has kept a promise to the teacher unions to go after charter schools:
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took off the gloves in his battle with education reformers, rescinding an agreement for the city to share space with several public charter schools.
The move undercuts educators, parents and some 700 students at four schools, including Harlem Success 4, one of the public charter school movement’s top success stories, and two set to open in the fall. While agreements at those schools were rescinded, expansion of a fourth school was also blocked. The schools were to operate rent-free in city-owned facilities under deals backed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ardent supporter of charter schools.
Report: Bowdoin College Intolerant of Opposing Viewpoints. Rebuttal: Of Course We Tolerate Diversity, You Ignorant Bigot.
This is one of those stories that is both incredibly amusing and frustratingly sad.
First, the background. An investor and philanthropist named Thomas Klingenstein played a round of golf with Bowdoin College President Barry Mills. Klingenstein expressed his frustration with what he perceived as the college’s lack of intellectual diversity and close-mindedness to certain viewpoints. What happened next is a matter of some dispute.
In his address, President Mills described the golf outing and said he had been interrupted in the middle of a swing by a fellow golfer’s announcement: “I would never support Bowdoin—you are a ridiculous liberal school that brings all the wrong students to campus for all the wrong reasons,” said the other golfer, in Mr. Mills’s telling. During Mr. Mills’s next swing, he recalled, the man blasted Bowdoin’s “misplaced and misguided diversity efforts.” At the end of the round, the college president told the students, “I walked off the course in despair.”
Word of the speech soon got to Mr. Klingenstein. Even though he hadn’t been named in the Mills account, Mr. Klingenstein took to the pages of the Claremont Review of Books to call it nonsense: “He didn’t like my views, so he turned me into a backswing interrupting, Bowdoin-hating boor who wants to return to the segregated days of Jim Crow.”
The real story, wrote Mr. Klingenstein, was that “I explained my disapproval of ‘diversity’ as it generally has been implemented on college campuses: too much celebration of racial and ethnic difference,” coupled with “not enough celebration of our common American identity.”
For this, wrote Mr. Klingenstein, Bowdoin’s president insinuated that he was a racist. And President Mills did so, moreover, in an address that purported to stress the need for respecting the opinions of others across the political spectrum. “We are, in the main, a place of liberal political persuasion,” he told the students, but “we must be willing to entertain diverse perspectives throughout our community. . . . Diversity of ideas at all levels of the college is crucial for our credibility and for our educational mission.” Wrote Mr. Klingenstein: “Would it be uncharitable to suggest that, in a speech calling for more sensitivity to conservative views, he might have shown some?”
At any rate, Klingenstein commissioned a study to examine the education and culture of Bowdoin. The results of the report, which can be found here, are not a surprise to anyone remotely familiar with the state of college education today.
Funded by Mr. Klingenstein, researchers from the National Association of Scholars studied speeches by Bowdoin presidents and deans, formal statements of the college’s principles, official faculty reports and notes of faculty meetings, academic course lists and syllabi, books and articles by professors, the archive of the Bowdoin Orient newspaper and more. They analyzed the school’s history back to its founding in 1794, focusing on the past 45 years—during which, they argue, Bowdoin’s character changed dramatically for the worse.
Published Wednesday, the report demonstrates how Bowdoin has become an intellectual monoculture dedicated above all to identity politics.
The Klingenstein report nicely captures the illiberal or fallacious aspects of this campus doctrine, but the paper’s true contribution is in recording some of its absurd manifestations at Bowdoin. For example, the college has “no curricular requirements that center on the American founding or the history of the nation.” Even history majors aren’t required to take a single course in American history. In the History Department, no course is devoted to American political, military, diplomatic or intellectual history—the only ones available are organized around some aspect of race, class, gender or sexuality.
One of the few requirements is that Bowdoin students take a yearlong freshman seminar. Some of the 37 seminars offered this year: “Affirmative Action and U.S. Society,” “Fictions of Freedom,” “Racism,” “Queer Gardens” (which “examines the work of gay and lesbian gardeners and traces how marginal identities find expression in specific garden spaces”), “Sexual Life of Colonialism” and “Modern Western Prostitutes.”
Regarding Bowdoin professors, the report estimates that “four or five out of approximately 182 full-time faculty members might be described as politically conservative.” In the 2012 election cycle, 100% of faculty donations went to President Obama. Not that any of this matters if you have ever asked around the faculty lounge.
The response of one of the faculty members to this finding demonstrates the effects of life in a cocoon.
“A political imbalance [among faculty] was no more significant than having an imbalance between Red Sox and Yankee fans,” sniffed Henry C.W. Laurence, a Bowdoin professor of government, in 2004. He added that the suggestion that liberal professors cannot fairly reflect conservative views in classroom discussions is “intellectually bankrupt, professionally insulting and, fortunately, wildly inaccurate.”
Perhaps so. But he’d have a stronger case if, for example, his colleague Marc Hetherington hadn’t written the same year in Bowdoin’s newspaper that liberal professors outnumber conservatives because conservatives don’t “place the same emphasis on the accumulation of knowledge that liberals do.”
Even more revealing are the comments at this section of the NAS website, where several students and other observers chimed in, many critically. This comment is representative:
I always find it interesting when people pass off “studies” without doing any real first-hand research. As a female who attended the college during what could be called the “good old boy” days that the authors seem to be longing for, I feel that nothing in this report echoes of truth. To attack the College for its focus on promoting the Common Good, seeking a diverse student body and educating students on a global topics that cover different races and ethnicities really just points out the incredible narrowmindedness of the authors. Most of the criticisms of the College focused on characteristics that make me proud to be an alum. And as an alum who interviews high school students, I can also say that these are the very same characteristics of the College that attract driven, intelligent and well-rounded students each year.
It’s hard to not read this report and feel that the authors long for a time when the school was predominantly white males from eastern boarding schools. To that I say, good for Bowdoin. Be everything these authors do not want to be. Because that is the direction I, as an alumna, would like to see you continuing to move in.
Well done. The author of these two paragraphs does more to affirm the premise of the report than the report ever could. Not only does she blithely dismiss the report’s authors as individuals pining for the days of Jim Crow and white male domination, she completely misses the point of the report. So in calling out the authors for being narrowminded, she helps prove that it her side of the debate that is narrowminded and unable to get beyond certain stereotypical thinking.
As I said it’s funny but also mainly sad when you reflect on the quality of education and the indoctrination being done to our young skulls full of mush. And is it any wonder why we continue to push kids towards a college education even when, in many cases, it really isn’t necessary to most people’s careers? College is less and less about providing a well-rounded educational experience and more about teaching young adults to think “the right way.” If you were a left wing power broker, wouldn’t you want as many people as possible to be placed in these indoctrination centers?
Chicago has an appallingly bad public school system. Only 21% of eighth graders are proficient in reading. 40% of all students drop out. Small wonder that 39% of the public school teachers in Chicago with children send their kids to private schools. One would think that any sane administration of such a dysfunctional school system would have more than enough to do fixing it, without taking on new tasks. People who believe this obviously have never been to Chicago. As Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report advises us, the Chicago Way is to dream up new boondoggles if you are failing at the task that the public is paying you to perform:
In real life if a man tries to talk about sex to a kindergartner he’d be removing a father’s knuckles from his teeth. But when school’s do it with your money, parents drop their kids off with smiles.
Please please vote in your local elections and make sure you’re aware of what your schools are teaching children in your town. Chicago is now actively destroying children’s innocence with taxpayer money:
ABC News reports:
While most U.S. public schools start sex education in the fifth grade, sex education will be coming to Chicago kindergartners within two years as part of an overhaul of the Chicago public schools sexual health program.
The new policy, which the Chicago Board of Education passed Wednesday, mandates that a set amount of time be spent on sex education in every grade, beginning in kindergarten. Chicago has the third-largest public school system in the country, with 431,000 students.
“It is important that we provide students of all ages with accurate and appropriate information so they can make healthy choices in regards to their social interactions, behaviors and relationships,” Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the CEO of the Chicago Public School System, said in a statement. “By implementing a new sexual health education policy, we will be helping them to build a foundation of knowledge that can guide them not just in the preadolescent and adolescent years, but throughout their lives.”
Under the new policy, the youngest students – the kindergartners — will learn the basics about anatomy, reproduction, healthy relationships and personal safety. Through the third grade, the sex-ed lessons will focus on the family, feelings and appropriate and inappropriate touching. In the fourth grade, students will start learning about puberty, and HIV.
No, History is not boring, but it certainly is usually taught in a boring fashion. The main culprits:
1. Badly Written Textbooks-Usually drafted by committees of fairly untalented hacks, they frequently make the reading of technical manuals seem exciting by comparison.
2. Politicized Drek-Textbooks often have a strong ideological slant. These days that slant is usually, although not always, driven from the Left. Therefore students are likely to read quite a bit on the treatment of women in colonial America, with the military history of the American Revolution left to a scant two pages. This distorts History and usually drains the life out of it, as the study of the past becomes yet another opportunity to deliver a twenty-first century political diatribe.
3. Ignorant Teachers-Too often History is taught by teachers who have little knowledge of it and no passion for it. When I was in high school back in the early Seventies, coaches often were assigned to teach History, under the assumption that anyone could teach it. There were exceptions, and I still have fond memories of Mr. Geisler who taught American history and Mr. Vanlandingham who taught European history, but the usual level of the teaching of History was quite low.
4. Laundry Lists-States often mandate inclusion of certain subjects in History. This results in a laundry list approach of teaching History in which so many topics must be covered that short shrift is given to understanding a period as a whole. Continue reading
Philosophical preconceptions once condemned by the Church have an odd way of rearing their ugly heads. Take Manichaeanism for example. Battled by the great St. Augustine of Hippo, the Manichaean school taught the profound separation of soul and body, a dualism that has been condemned by the Church more than once throughout the centuries. With two equally powerful deities, one good and the other evil, the human person of this heresy becomes the battleground for their contest of power, with the body being the domain of evil and the soul being the domain of the good. The Christian faith, of course, has taught the contrary, the inseparable union of body and soul, both good because of their creation by the one God who is pure goodness.
I was a high school teacher of mathematics and computer science for nine years, and Manichaeanism is only one of the many heresies I see deeply imbedded in modernity, particularly amongst adolescents. In the years I spent in the classroom, the cases of academic dishonesty had noticeably gone up. What is perhaps more noticeable, however, was the change in students’ reactions when the dishonesty is exposed. There was a time when the remorse was authentic, but more recently, when present at all, it seemed more like mere regret over being caught.
I found myself repeatedly in conversations about how students view the act of cheating. A colleague of mine once remarked, “I honestly do not think that the students see it as wrong.” On the contrary, the students’ actions do not reflect any moral confusion. After all, students will go to great lengths to see to it that they are not caught, and when they are, they will craft the most elaborate of stories to exonerate themselves. I once had a student who plagiarized a computer program off of a university professor’s web site. When confronted about it, he claimed, with a great deal of confidence and conviction, that he would like to meet the professor who stole his code to post on the university web site. While the creativity is remarkable, the same cannot be said for character.
What, then, is at the root of the issue? While teachers generally recognize this as a growing and problematic trend in the education environment, they are often at a loss to explain the trend, and therefore end up remarking, “I honestly do not think that the students see it as wrong.” The truth is that students do understand the difference between right and wrong, and they do understand that cheating is a morally impermissible action. The problem is not in their ethics; the problem is in their anthropology. Students are Manichaeans.
The heart of the matter is that adolescence often do not understand the profound connection between body and soul that the Christian faith has always taught. Quite the opposite, students have a tremendous ability to keep a rift between body and soul. Said differently, these adolescents do not see a connection between their actions and their personal character. While they know and understand that certain actions are morally unacceptable, they do not see these actions as reflective of their person. They sincerely believe that they are good people and that this goodness cannot be tarnished by any action.
What adolescents fail to understand is that the human person is not only the source of his actions, but is also a product of his actions. What we do is reflective of who we are, and who we are will influence what we do. Philosophically, we would say that the human person isconstituted by his actions. There is no rift between the actions of our body and mind and the state of our soul. Body and soul are mutually interpenetrating. This is the essence of the Catholic teaching on mortal sins. Because there is an indestructible link between the body and the soul, there are certain actions that can affect the very state of the soul, remove it from the state of God’s grace.
We are how we act. A thief is nothing more than one who steals, and a lair is nothing more than one who lies. Similarly, a cheater is a person who cheats, and it is impossible to cheat without at the same time becoming a cheater. The student, however, does not see himself as a “cheater”; instead, he sees himself as a “good person” who happened to cheat, but the action of cheating is not reflective of his character. How is it that they are able to maintain this disconnect? It is simple: they are Manichaean. How is it that they are Manichaean? That is also simple: modernity is Manichaean, and this is perhaps the greatest heresy of our time. It is a heresy that is not only at the heart of academic dishonesty in the schools, but also constitutive of the greed and avarice in the market place, the sexual permissiveness in the media, and the utter disregard for the sanctity of life in the abortion industry.
Being a heresy, however, I have a feeling that it, like death and taxes, is inevitable. This does not mean we give up an authentic education in the virtues. It does not mean that we neglect to expose the lies for what they are. But it does mean that, while the battle has already been won on the Cross, the enemy of heresy is as certain in this world as death and taxes. Perhaps, though, heresy has more in common with death and taxes than its inevitability. “In this world” certain the trio may be; yet in the next it is certain that all three will be abolished.
I spent several days last week with my husband’s high school teacher cousin and her husband who works for the teachers’ union in California. To say they are Liberal would be to undersell their political stances in the same way that calling me a Conservative wouldn’t begin to cover it. As they are nice people, it was an enjoyable weekend of back-and-forth political banter. They support the President. We don’t. We both knew that going in which made any mention of politics more play than work. Neither one was going to be persuaded which made it about the intellectual exercise.
No one offered any new arguments to me until we began to discuss education. They seemed very interested in our decision to homeschool, the book I’m writing about it, and the children we’re raising. They both conceded that we appear to be succeeding in raising and educating children who are both well-informed and socially normal. It was then that she shook her head slightly and stated, “I think you’re doing a great job at it and you obviously have a love and a passion for teaching, which is what makes it even more selfish. Not only are you keeping money out of the schools by not putting your children in them, depriving other children of the resources which could be purchased with that money, but you’re depriving those children of the opportunity to have you as a teacher.”
It’s not a new argument, to be sure. I’ve been told many times that public schools are funded on a per-capita basis which means that our homeschooling keeps funds out of the public schools. Our local school district would receive around $11,000 for each of my children per year, so by teaching them at home, I’m keeping $77,000 out of the local budget. That money could be spent on computers, library books, or teacher salaries…or so the story goes. In reality, I’ve never seen a government bureaucracy spend money that efficiently and I suspect that that $77,000 would not make much of a difference at all.
What is new to me is the idea that my teaching of my own children deprives other children of my brilliance. The social obligation which she assumed I should feel is based in her deep belief in the notion of Collectivism, the idea that what we are and what we can do somehow belongs as much to each other as it does to ourselves. It’s a sort of communism of man. It is also an ideal which is central to Liberal ideology. It requires a moral and cultural conformity which are the antithesis of the American experiment.
In choosing to educate my children at home, I’m not making a selfish statement but an Individualist one. It is a decision which springs from my belief that the people in my household are my primary responsibility. It comes from the idea that God has entrusted these children to me to raise, and that while I must be concerned with the well-being of my fellow men it should not come at the expense of these children.
I have heard it argued that the Christian position should be a Collectivist one. It is the justification many Catholics make for voting for the Democrat Party. There is a beauty in the ideal of the Brotherhood of Man, and just enough truth in it to make it almost right. If only it didn’t require the subjugation of the family or the ownership of the individual by the group, but it does. Their ideal would necessitate that I should turn away from the raising of my own children in favor of the need to educate the children of everyone else. My ability to teach would be owned… and not by me.
So is it a selfish decision that I made to homeschool? There may have been an element of that in my wanting to keep my babies at home and with me for as long as I possibly can. On the other hand, while it may not be true for all children, this is the best choice for educating ours. They are thriving and doing quite well as they learn at our kitchen table, much better than they would do elsewhere. Our brief foray into traditional schooling showed us that quite clearly. So for these children, the selfish thing would be to send them elsewhere, because giving my life over to teaching them is the task which God has given me to do.
In case you had any lingering doubt that Rush Limbaugh makes a good charlatan’s living espousing half-baked pseudo-ideology slyly disguised as principled conservative philosophy, the winning radio host informs us that he doesn’t know what Classical Studies is, but he’s sure it’s a clever socialist plot. His faux-ignorant blather about the uselessness and insidiousness of studying Greek, Latin, Cicero, Plato, Aristotle, Homer, Virgil, the Bible—you know, the bulwarks of Western Civilization that any conservative worth his salt should have an interest in conserving—reveals that he has no regard for the origin and history of our ideas, for the development of the intellect, or for conservatism.
The source of the indignation is a rant which Rush apparently delivered on the air a week ago. Said rant was in response to this “We Are the 99%” plea which was posted in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement:
I graduate college in 7 months with a “useless” degree in Classical Studies. I have worked very hard and am on track to graduate with highest Latin honors. I am in a Greek organization with many volunteer hours under my belt.
MY JOB PROSPECTS?
I am one of the lucky ones, but I am still the 99%.
Welcome to the American nightmare.
Rush responded to this plea, in part, as follows:
[reads the above quoted “We Are The 99%” piece]
Now, do you think somebody going to college, borrowing whatever it is in this case, $20,000 a year to get a degree in Classical Studies ought to be told by somebody at a school that it’s a worthless degree? … [W]hy is it that no one in her life told her that getting a degree in Classical Studies would not lead to employment? In fact, how many college students do you think believe that just getting a degree equals a high-paying job? Probably a lot of them. Not that you can blame ‘em. That’s what they’ve been sold on. That’s what they’ve been told. Ergo, that’s what they expect. A college degree equals success, riches, whatever. Not work. This is key, now. Continue reading
With the discussion relating to Catholic homeschooling last week, I was strongly reminded of this (very good) article on the future of Catholic schools in the spring issue of National Affairs which a good friend pointed me towards a while back. As the article points out, the issues facing Catholic schools are many, though perhaps the biggest are:
- Public schools are no longer the explicitly Protestant institutions they were back in the 1900-1960 era
- The teaching orders whose virtually free labor made Catholic schools relatively affordable in their golden age virtually ceased to exist in the decades following Vatican II
- Changing demographics have moved Catholic populations away from many of the schools already built, and in this day and age building new ones is vastly more expensive
This has left many dioceses struggling with whether to shutter schools, and many of the continuing urban Catholic schools serving students who are mostly not Catholic.
The Archdiocese of New York, for example, reported in 2008 that, among its inner-city schools, nearly two-thirds of students lived below the poverty line and more than 90% were racial minorities. In Washington, D.C., as of 2007, more than 70% of students attending the lowest-income Catholic schools were non-Catholic. In Memphis’s inner-city “Jubilee” Catholic schools, as of 2008, 96% of students lived below the poverty line and 81% were non-Catholic. In fact, over the past 40 years, the portion of minority students in Catholic schools overall increased by 250%, and the share of non-Catholic students increased by 500%.
As we have learned, there was much hatred of Catholics by English Protestants in Maryland. One great Catholic man was able to overcome this hatred and he is one of our great patriotic heroes. His name was Charles Carroll. Charles Carroll was born in Maryland. His parents sent him to a Catholic school in France where Catholics were respected…Charles Carroll said that his greatest accomplishment was that he “practiced the duties of my religion.” Many Protestants began to realize that their prejudice against Catholics was unjustified.
The sentences above begin and conclude a typical lesson in a Catholic homeschooling course on American History intended for first graders. This is not a genre with which I have much familiarity (we’re homeschooling for a few months to finish out the school year after a move), and so I thought it might be interesting to offer some comments as an outsider on the homeschooling materials we’ve received.
The most obvious (if superficial) feature of the homeschooling materials is that they are drenched in religious art, regardless of subject. As an alum of a mixture of public and parochial schools, I was surprised to find Spelling and Math textbooks adorned with (often very beautiful) religious art work. I don’t think there is anything right or wrong with decorating textbooks in this manner, per se, but it takes some getting used to.
As the passage quoted above suggests, the next thing that I noticed is that the history narratives tend to be awash in a type of Catholic triumphalism. I like a small dosage of triumphalism as much as the next guy, but it seems to me it should used (at most) as cream or sugar in coffee; the tendency with this particular textbook is instead to include a few (uniformly favorable) facts in the ongoing account of noble-Catholics-doing-good-things.
The Wake County Board of Education is considering significantly modifying one of the largest remaining efforts at school busing for diversity — in this case, economic diversity, given that busing for racial diversity has been overturned legally.
Opponents of the planned change charge that this represents a return to segregation, but reading about the motivations of those pushing to reduce busing suggest it’s more a question of individual versus collective good.
When Rosemarie Wilson moved her family to a wealthy suburb of Raleigh a couple of years ago, the biggest attraction was the prestige of the local public schools. Then she started talking to neighbors.
Don’t believe the hype, they warned. Many were considering private schools. All pointed to an unusual desegregation policy, begun in 2000, in which some children from wealthy neighborhoods were bused to schools in poorer areas, and vice versa, to create economically diverse classrooms.
“Children from the 450 houses in our subdivision were being bused all across the city,” said Ms. Wilson, for whom the final affront was a proposal by the Wake County Board of Education to send her two daughters to schools 17 miles from home.
Now, it’s possible to read all sorts of dark racist or classist motives into these kind of conflicts, but it strikes me that the real difficult here is in reconciling private and public goods.
Technological history is a unique point of view that always caught my eye. David Deming of the American Thinker gives us a brief synopsis of his latest contribution in this genre. Keep in mind how integral Christianity was to the recovery of Europe after the barbarian invasions and the safekeeping of knowledge by the monastic system that allowed Europe to recover and blossom into what we now call Western Civilization:
Both Greece and Rome made significant contributions to Western Civilization. Greek knowledge was ascendant in philosophy, physics, chemistry, medicine, and mathematics for nearly two thousand years. The Romans did not have the Greek temperament for philosophy and science, but they had a genius for law and civil administration. The Romans were also great engineers and builders. They invented concrete, perfected the arch, and constructed roads and bridges that remain in use today. But neither the Greeks nor the Romans had much appreciation for technology. As documented in my book, Science and Technology in World History, Vol. 2, the technological society that transformed the world was conceived by Europeans during the Middle Ages.
Greeks and Romans were notorious in their disdain for technology. Aristotle noted that to be engaged in the mechanical arts was “illiberal and irksome.” Seneca infamously characterized invention as something fit only for “the meanest slaves.” The Roman Emperor Vespasian rejected technological innovation for fear it would lead to unemployment.
Greek and Roman economies were built on slavery. Strabo described the slave market at Delos as capable of handling the sale of 10,000 slaves a day. With an abundant supply of manual labor, the Romans had little incentive to develop artificial or mechanical power sources. Technical occupations such as blacksmithing came to be associated with the lower classes.
In middle school, Ivan Cantera ran with a Latino gang; Laura Corro was a spunky teen. At age 13, they shared their first kiss. Both made it a habit to skip class. In high school, they went their separate ways.
This fall, Ivan will enter the University of Oklahoma, armed with a prestigious scholarship. “I want to be the first Hispanic governor of Oklahoma,” declares the clean-cut 18-year-old, standing on the steps of Santa Fe South High School, the charter school in the heart of this city’s Hispanic enclave that he says put him on a new path.
Laura, who is 17, rose to senior class president at Capitol Hill High School, a large public school in the same neighborhood. But after scraping together enough credits to graduate, Laura isn’t sure where she’s headed. She never took college entrance exams.
The divergent paths taken by Laura and Ivan were shaped by many forces, but their schools played a striking role. Capitol Hill and Santa Fe South both serve the same poor, Hispanic population. Both comply with federal guidelines and meet state requirements for standardized exams and curriculum. Santa Fe South enrolls about 490 high school students, while Capitol Hill has nearly 900.
At Santa Fe South, the school day is 45 minutes longer; graduation requirements are more rigorous (four years of math, science and social studies compared with three at public schools); and there is a tough attendance policy.
[read the rest]