Texas, Textbooks, the Washington Post and Ann Althouse

Monday, May 24, AD 2010

The Left in this country has been having a hissy fit over conservatives on the Texas State School Board amending the social studies standards in that state.  For example, California State Senator Leland Yee (D. San Francisco) has introduced a bill that would require the California Board of Education to be on the lookout for any Texas content in reviewing public school textbooks.  He also makes the hilarious statement that the Texas curriculum changes pose a threat “to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California.”  This in a state where the legislature has instituted a Harvey Milk Day to propagandize students in the gay rights agenda, and where the California Education Association, the teacher’s union, is the largest spender on politics in the state.

To support the meme of the Left that evil conservatives were perverting educational standards in Texas, the Washington Post wrote a hit piece that may be read here.  Ann Althouse, law professor and blogger decided to compare the claims of the Washington Post to the new standards.  Here is what she found:

Let me embarrass the Washington Post. Below, the material from the WaPo article, written by Michael Birnbaum, is indented. After the indented part, I’ve located the relevant quote from the Board of Education text, found here. (I’m searching 3 PDF documents: Economics with Emphasis on the Free Enterprise System and Its Benefits Subchapter A. High School; Social Studies Subchapter B. Middle School; Social Studies Subchapter C. High School.)

The Washington Post writes:

The Texas state school board gave final approval Friday to controversial social studies standards….

The new standards say that the McCarthyism of the 1950s was later vindicated — something most historians deny –…
The students are required to “describe how McCarthyism, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the arms race, and the space race increased Cold War tensions and how the later release of the Venona Papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government…” The word “vindicated” is inflammatory and unfair. What is the Washington Post saying historians deny? One can be informed of the reality of what the Venona Papers revealed about communist infiltration into the U.S. government and still understand and deplore the excesses of “McCarthyism.”

…draw an equivalency between Jefferson Davis’s and Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural addresses…
Students are required to “analyze the ideas contained in Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address and Abraham Lincoln’s ideas about liberty, equality, union, and government as contained in his first and second inaugural addresses and the Gettysburg Address.” The word “equivalency” is uncalled for. The requirement is to analyze, not to be indoctrinated that the ideas are the same.

… say that international institutions such as the United Nations imperil American sovereignty…
What I’m seeing is “explain the significance of the League of Nations and the United Nations” and “analyze the human and physical factors that influence the power to control territory, create conflict/war, and impact international political relations such as the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), or the control of resources.” Where is the language that can be paraphrased “imperil American sovereignty”?

…. and include a long list of Confederate officials about whom students must learn.
Students are required to “explain the roles played by significant individuals and heroes during the Civil War, including Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, and congressional Medal of Honor recipients William Carney and Philip Bazaar.” Only Davis and Lee were Confederate officials! There is also this: “describe the role of individuals such as governors George Wallace, Orval Faubus, and Lester Maddox and groups, including the Congressional bloc of southern Democrats, that sought to maintain the status quo [in the Civil Rights Era].” That’s obviously not from the Civil War, but I can see why it’s annoying to Democrats.

They also removed references to capitalism and replaced them with the term “free-enterprise system.”
The document on economics does use the term “free enterprise system” throughout, but students are required to “understand that the terms free enterprise, free market, and capitalism are synonymous terms to describe the U.S. economic system,” so what is the problem?

Virtually everything cited in the article to make the curriculum seem controversial is misstated! Appalling!

ADDED: Birnbaum had an article in the previous day’s Washington Post that does contain quotes, and these have to do with changes that went through on Thursday (and which do not — but should! — appear in the documents that are available at the Board of Education website):

Students will now study “efforts by global organizations to undermine U.S. sovereignty,” an addition late Thursday evening encouraged by board member Don McLeroy (R), who has put forward many of the most contentious changes….

Another one of the seven conservative board members, David Bradley (R), added a list of Confederate generals and officials to the list of topics that students must study.

This provides support for Birnbaum’s statement that the standards “include a long list of Confederate officials about whom students must learn.” And it answers my question “Where is the language that can be paraphrased ‘imperil American sovereignty’?” My criticisms about “vindicating” McCarthyism, “the equivalency between Jefferson Davis’s and Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural addresses,” and the term “free-enterprise system” remain.

I have not been defending the Texas standards, only attacking the quality of the journalism that fails to quote or link to a text that is referred to. Birnbaum’s Friday article contains some useful quotes (though still not a link to the whole text). The Saturday article was unanchored to text and forced me to look for what I could find on line. I’m also criticizing inaccurate paraphrasing, like the use of the words “vindicating” and “equivalency.” Birnbaum’s take on the standards might be true, but in an article that refers to a text, I do need to see the text. Paraphrasing, without the text, raises suspicions, and I don’t apologize for having those suspicions.

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17 Responses to Texas, Textbooks, the Washington Post and Ann Althouse

  • I will wager this fellow Birnbaum was acting as a mouthpiece for some advocacy group or looks at just about anything with a set of distorting lenses and has no idea he has said anything tendentious.

  • There is the issue that the role of Thomas Jefferson’s writings in influencing the founding of America is being de-emphasized. Allegedly, St. Thomas Aquinas’ thought in influencing America (more of a stretch than Jefferson) is being noted.

    Moreover, the emphasis on the presidency of Lincoln, the unintended consequences of the Great Society, Reagan, the contract with America in 1994, and the emphasis of the Founding Fathers’ particular interest in a small, limited government leads me to believe that this is a politicized curriculum — in fact, the Chair of the State Board, Don McLeroy has said himself admits:

    “It’s imperative that our children be taught the original direction of our country…And I think you tie that in with the concept of American exceptionalism that we’ve added to the standards. I think that it’s important to understand why America is such a wonderful place.”

    McLeroy wrote in an Op-Ed in the USA Today that the curriculum will “challenge the powerful ideology of the left,” whose “principles are diametrically opposed to our founding principles.”

    Sorry, but the curriculum is heavily politicized and I prefer history not historical revisionism.

  • And that need not be taken as a defense of the current curriculum — hardly. But this surely is not a remedy. I hope it fails.

  • Sorry, but the curriculum is heavily politicized and I prefer history not historical revisionism.

    Why are you confident the extant curriculum is not ‘heavily politicized’? What, roughly, would a ‘non-politicized’ curriculum look like?

  • In regard to Jefferson being de-emphazised Eric, that claim is made, but I do not think there is substance to it. The Declaration of Independence, Mr. Jefferson’s magnum opus, is to be studied at several points in the curriculum. The one place where Jefferson is omitted is under World History:

    “Government. The student understands the process by which democratic-republican government evolved how contemporary political systems have developed from earlier systems of government. The student is expected to:
    (A) explain the development of trace the process by which democratic-republican government evolved from its beginnings in the Judeo-Christian legal tradition and classical Greece and Rome, through developments in England the English Civil War and continuing with the Enlightenment; and
    (B) identify the impact of political and legal ideas contained in the following significant historic documents: including, Hammurabi’s Code, the Jewish Ten Commandments, Justinian’s Code of Laws, Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, John Locke’s “Two Treatises of Government,” and the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen;
    (C) explain the impact of Enlightenment ideas from the writings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, and William Blackstone and Thomas Jefferson on political revolutions from 1750 to the present; ”
    Jefferson is omitted under C.

    Under United States government Jefferson’s ideas are to be studied:

    “(D) identify analyze the contributions of the political philosophies of the Founding Fathers, including John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, John Jay, George Mason, Roger Sherman, and James Wilson, on the development of the U.S. government;”

    I think the idea that Jefferson is being de-emphasized is not really accurate.

    Politics since the days of Horace Mann have always played a large part in curriculum development for public schools which is why states produce laundry lists of dos and don’ts in regard to what is taught. For example in Illinois the kids get off for Casimir Pulaski day and learn about him in school. Pulaski played a fairly minor role in the American Revolution dying at the siege of Savannah in 1779 leading a cavalry charge. However, activist Poles in Chicago wanted him in, so class time is taken up on this minor figure. What is unusual in Texas is not the politics, but the publicity it has received.

  • Texas is in the process of being “Arizonaed”.

  • Re: politicized curriculum, a few years back I noticed that my beliefs about political events were roughly that liberals were almost always right up until the 1980s, at which point conservatives were usually right. It occurred to me that my knowledge of pre-1980s politics came mainly from my public school education, whereas since then my knowledge of politics came from having experienced it as it happened.

  • Art,

    I didn’t say the current curriculum is not politicized. In fact, I stated explicitly that I’m not defending it.

    Education curriculum is not my specialty nor need I devise a “non-politicized” scheme of education, but when the Chair of the Texas State Board of Education is making statements focus on reversing ideological trends in emphasis rather than providing a solid presentation of American social history for Texas children, I’m inclined to think the curriculum is being politicized and with the emphasis on the Judeo-Christian roots of America, small and limited government, Lincoln, Reagan, the unintended consequences of the Great Society, the 1994 Contract with America, it seems obvious that the shift in emphasis is to offer a certan reading of history and the filtering of information is to, more or less, generate students that have a more conservative (politically speaking) view of society. The education seems primarily aimed at that end and I simply don’t support that. And this does not mean that I support in totality the current liberal establishment in the education scene.

  • Eric,

    Saying that “the curriculum is being politicized” suggests that it is not politicized already.

  • Steve Sailer wrote a pretty damning piece on one high school history textbook:

    http://www.vdare.com/sailer/100425_schoolbook_massacre.htm

    It’s hard to read that and not come to the conclusion that something in education has gone horribly wrong.

  • In my Texas public school I suffered a day of in-service regarding a computer instruction program. When I told the expert that the English IV segment contained nothing but two novels of manners (oh, yeah, boys go crazy over Jane Austen), she airily advised me that “It’s not all about Texas content.” My response was that Beowulf, Shakespeare, and Milton are still taught in Texas and, presumably, in Rhode Island.

  • “oh, yeah, boys go crazy over Jane Austen”

    Only if they are given the zombie version:

  • This is one guy who’s a huge Jane Austen fan.

  • Nice icon pic Mr. Anderson!

  • I’m with you, Jay.

  • I find the hullabaloo over the new standards to be most intriguing indeed. As a native Texan who attended public schools I have always viewed the curriculum as s starting point for education. I would humbly assert that it is the duty of parents to supplement the learning taught in the classroom. In thirty years I have seen three such battles and each time it was an exercise in futility.

A Stumbling Block to School Administrators

Tuesday, December 15, AD 2009

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  As someone who received an undergraduate degree in the teaching of social studies, I am never very surprised when a school administration decides to engage in an act of public stupidity, however, this incident is in a class all by itself.

A second grade student at the Maxham Elementary School in Taunton, People’s Republic of Massachusetts, was sent home from school after drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross.  The student made the drawing in response to a class assignment that the students draw something that reminded them of Christmas.  Apparently the student’s dullard teacher decided that the drawing of the cross was too violent.  The school administration, in a move which hearkens back to the old Soviet Union placing dissidents in psych wards, decreed that not only would the child be sent home, but that he would have to undergo a psych evaluation.

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17 Responses to A Stumbling Block to School Administrators

  • That’s “The Peoples Republic of Taxachusetts.” Otherwise known as “the Pay State.”

  • Well it’s kind of a happy ending.

    He still had to get a psychiatric evaluation and be approved that he was “sane”.

    He did just that and “passed”.

    He then was so traumatized by the entire incident he didn’t want to return to the same school so the father is petitioning (I think he got approval) for his son to transfer.

    This is very scary. For a school administrator to cater to hate-mongering of an innocent depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion makes my blood boil.

  • I would NEVER take my child to a psychologist over this, but I learned my lesson the hard way. When my son (who was then seven) was having trouble in class, the school wouldn’t do anything until we had a complete evaluation to make sure he didn’t have psychological or emotional problems. My husband and I went for OUR evaluation with the school psychologist (“case history” stuff before he was scheduled for a trip) and were so unimpressed with her that we cancelled his eval and went to our pediatrician instead. Our son didn’t even know anything was going on. Then, when things got really ridiculous (I was observing in the classroom and the teacher was incompetent) I threatened to take him out of school and he was moved immediately. His problems were solved. I learned then not to do ANYTHING the school said (not the lesson they intended to teach) but instead to insist on my child’s rights under the law. And they wonder why parents are antagonistic! Could an 8-year-old be traumatized over this incident? You bet, depending on the kid and on how it was handled. The parents should have had a nice, calm, conversation with the principal and the teacher. And then if that didn’t work, they should simply have said that he would be back in class the next day or the school would hear from their lawyer the next day.

    All schools freak out over violence. When my son was eight he used to draw soldiers, bloody knives, spaceships shooting each other, etc. on his papers. The teachers told us that was “unacceptable” and so just told him that the school was silly about things like that, so he would have to draw those things at home. Don’t ALL little boys draw that stuff? Likewise, same year, he got a discipline point for reading an “inappropriate” book in class. When I asked the teacher what it was, she said it was a book about the Battle of Gettysburg and it had photographs of dead soldiers in it. I told her that he got it from the SCHOOL LIBRARY, so she took the discipline point away — but he still couldn’t read the book in class.

    They are all terrified of boys becoming violent. My kids are now in Catholic school, but they can’t bring in toy guns — even neon-colored plastic squirt guns — for skits and things.

  • It seems like there are plenty of news stories everyday of the public schools doing something not terribly intelligent….

    This has especially been on my mind with kids right around the corner. What a faddish wastebasket of wishful thinking many schools are…..read about the Kansas City case (and New Jersey, for that matter, following the court cases of the 80s) for example.

    What folly!
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-298es.html

    What is needed is not more money but better moral foundations.

  • This is the logical result of all those “zero tolerance” anti-violence, anti-sexual harassment, and drug abuse policies that became so popular after Columbine.

    Zero tolerance policies forbidding absolutely ANY word, image, object or action that even hints at violence allow school administrators to APPEAR to be doing something about youth violence, without the bother of actually having to get to know students personally, judge each case individually, or risk being accused of racism or discrimination if the child/youth involved happens to be of a protected minority group.

    The result is that little kids get busted for drawing crucifixes, kissing girl classmates on Valentine’s Day, etc. while outside (or even inside), gang violence, suicide, drug abuse, etc. continue unabated.

    The main reason schools are “terrified of boys becoming violent” is because so many of them HAVE NO FATHERS and therefore no idea how to be real men, except by being the kind of macho jerks they see on TV or in movies.

  • Zero tolerance usually means zero brains. It allows administrators to mindlessly follow policy rather than to make real decisions, which of course is what they are supposed to be doing. True profiles in uselessness.

    I agree that public schools usually have no clue as to how to handle boys who act, well, like boys. A perfect example is a timeout. Most of the time a timeout will simply make an energetic boy bored and hostile. Much better to give him a task to accomplish, especially if it is something physical. Of course this is just common sense knowledge of the differences between girls and boys, something that seems to be verboten in public schools, but which is obvious to most parents who have spent time rearing both boys and girls.

  • I’m not a “rogue parent” at my daughters’ virtual school (where my wife is also a teacher). My emails to their former teacher (who was not accommodating my eldest’s disability) are now being quoted regularly at meetings as signs of a parent to watch out for. The latest suggestion was that parents who challenge “school policy” (which is defined as the whim the principal, a Charlestonian elitist who goes way back with Mark Sanford) could be charged with educational neglect.

  • Well … if you believe every dad trying to horn in on America’s reality tv culture …

  • Having dealt with public schools Todd both as an attorney and as a parent, I readily confess that I am more inclined to believe parents over administrators until the opposite is proven.

  • Well … if you believe every dad trying to horn in on America’s reality tv culture …

    Heard that before.

    http://amywelborn.typepad.com/openbook/2005/11/expelled.html

  • What Mr. McClarey said on Paul Zummo’s Cranky Conservative bears repeating: “The forces of open minded tolerance so often are represented by narrow minded bigots.”

    Quite frankly, I’m surprised “Christmas” was even mentioned, much less had an assignment attached to it.

  • “I readily confess that I am more inclined to believe parents over administrators …”

    It would seem there’s a good bit more to the story than was posted here. What’s still standing today is a he-said/they-said tussle that’s more than two weeks old. The news reports I’ve seen is that the drawing was not the one that got the young lad noticed, that there’s a history with the boy and his family, and that nobody was expelled from school. It would seem enough doubt has been thrown into this story to cause prudent observers to withhold judgment. Clearly, Donald shows us why he stayed at the attorneys’ tables and never ascended to the judiciary bench.

    In my long experience in parishes and schools, I often find that two sides in a dispute often are talking past each other and not even in agreement on the point(s) in question. It’s usually adequate enough to make the communication connection and allow diplomacy to smooth kinks in the relationship.

    What Art seems to be getting at is this: one must agree with him not only on the major points, but on every small detail of politics in situations like these. No room for dissent from the jots and tittles of the Catholic blogetariat.

    I would hold it is possible to be right (pointing out a grave moral or administrative error, for example) but to go about it in the wrong way (producing a forged document, or making oneself a threat–even just a perceived one–to a school administration). Prudence would dictate leaving the judgment to the Judge, and taking necessary precautions for one’s own children, or one’s own morality, depending on the circumstances.

  • “Clearly, Donald shows us why he stayed at the attorneys’ tables and never ascended to the judiciary bench.”

    Actually Todd, that is by choice. The legal profession is not one where all attorneys wish to be judges. Some, as in my case, make it very clear to judges who indicate that we would make a good judge that we do not wish to have to wear a black robe on the job.

    The school administration, after coming under intense media scrutiny yesterday, has a different story from the parent. That is as surprising as the sun coming up in the east or bureaucrats dodging responsibility. This incident in June 2008 indicates to me that bozos are in charge of the Taunton school system and that the parent is probably more accurate:

    “This is not the first time in recent years that a Taunton student has been sent home over a drawing. In June 2008, a fifth-grade student was suspended from Mulcahey Middle School for a day after creating a stick figure drawing that appeared to depict him shooting his teacher and a classmate.

    The Mulcahey teacher also contacted the police to take out charges in the 2008 incident.”

    http://www.tauntongazette.com/news/x1903566059/Taunton-second-grader-suspended-over-drawing-of-Jesus

  • I’ve also read that there was a gun incident in that school district not too long ago. Parents themselves insist that schools be hypervigilant when it comes to the safety of their children. A one-day suspension for a blatant act of insubordination to a teacher … I’m sure you saw enough contempt of court citations in your years in the courtroom. Authority figures take authority very seriously.

    According to you, the school administration was a loser no matter what they did. If they were totally wrong, they could confess or clam up or lie. If they had justification for criticizing the lad, they could either remain silent on the matter and let the conservatives spin it, or they could offer a public rebuttal. By your statement, whether they lied or told the truth, your reaction would be the same.

    The caveat emptor in this case: if something sounds too good to be ideologically true, it probably is. Given how this story is unravelling for the father, I’d say there are a number of media and blog outlets with egg on their faces today.

  • What Art seems to be getting at is this: one must agree with him not only on the major points, but on every small detail of politics in situations like these. No room for dissent from the jots and tittles of the Catholic blogetariat.

    News to me.

    I’ve also read that there was a gun incident in that school district not too long ago.

    So we call the cops over some other kid’s droodles.

  • Part of feminizing men is to make all violence bad because boys tend to violence. Ladies, before you get upset with me, there is nothing wrong with the feminine – I love and respect my beautiful bride and the Blessed Virgin Mary – but women should be women and men should be men – equal in dignity yet different.

    Violence is not necessarily bad, or good. It just is. Drawing a picture of Christ crucified is a picture of violence – what could be more violent than Diecide?
    Mel Gibson’s movie was also violent – too violent for some tastes. Was this bad violence? I don’t think so, the worst evil was also the greatest good. There is nothing wrong with depicting Christ crucified, in fact there is everything right with it, as violent as it is. All men should wish to be Christ on His Cross.

    Boys are violent – boys like guns, swords, fights, tanks, knights, cavalry, shields, war games, etc. and that is as it should be. Our job as a society, and by logical extension our school systems, is to direct and temper that violence – not emasculate it.

    Thank God that the generation born in the 1920s was violent. They went overseas and did some violence to the Nazis – and I am pretty sure we’re all happy with how that turned out.

  • “Our job as a society, and by logical extension our school systems, is to direct and temper that violence – not emasculate it.”

    Which is exactly what a society in which vast numbers of young boys are raised without stable father figures fails to do. Even among animals like elephants, the presence of older males keeps fighting among the younger ones from getting out of hand.

    Was the World War II generation really any more “violent” than we are? I’m not so sure. Yes, boys played with guns, collected toy soldiers, and played cops, robbers, cowboys and Indians and other politically incorrect games. However if you take a look at the movies from that era, even the toughest tough guys like Bogart, Cagney, et al. used far less firepower and killed far fewer bad guys in 10 movies than, say, Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger did in just one.

    Also, Knight, I think you overlook the fact that there are times when women can or must become “violent” in a “good” sense, particularly when defending their children from harm. Again, even among animals, a mother defending her young from real or percieved threat is often far more dangerous than the male.

A Perfect Post

Wednesday, December 9, AD 2009

Occasionally one runs across a post that’s particularly nicely done. I think Matthew Boudway’s recent reflections on a column by Clifford Longley on the new atheists comes dangerously close to perfect. It’s brief, highlights an interesting article, and adds a thoughtful perspective that provides more depth to the article it cites. Here’s a snippet:

[In response to Richard Dawkins’s claim that it is wrong to “indoctrinate tiny children in the religion of their parents, and to slap religious labels on them,”]

“There is no such thing as value-free parenting,” Longley writes…Longley proposes this as an argument about parenting, but it is hard to see why it wouldn’t also apply to education. If the argument doesn’t apply to education, why doesn’t it? If it does — and if it is a good argument — then people of faith have a compelling reason not to send their children to schools where the subject of religion qua religion is carefully avoided. One could, I suppose, argue that the tacit message of such schools is that religion is too important to get mixed up with the tedious but necessary stuff of primary education, but of course public schools approach important matters all the time, and cannot avoid doing so.

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Witches, Essays, Agriculture and More

Wednesday, August 12, AD 2009

I was thinking of writing a lengthy piece over lunch, when I wrote up my task list and realized that “lunch” needed to be no more than twenty minutes long. So instead, I present a number of pieces that struck me as interesting lately, but which I don’t have a whole post worth of things to say about.

InsideCatholic just reprinted a lengthy piece by medievalist Sandra Miesel discussing the realities of witch burning in the Middle Ages through “Age of Reason”. It’s an article well worth the time to read, avoiding both the slanders of anti-Catholics and the overly rosy rebuttals used by some apologists.

Entrepreneur Paul Graham has an interesting essay on what an essay should be, why people ought to write them, and how high school English classes do a pretty poor job of teaching people this skill.

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6 Responses to Witches, Essays, Agriculture and More

  • Cross-post of the same comment I left at Darwin’s site.
    ——–
    Instathoughts provided without the benefit of actually reading linked-to articles.

    Re: essays. I don’t think I could tell you what an essay is or what it should be. I’m not sure what is distinctive about an “essay” compared to lengthy article in the New Yorker or First Things. And I went to a college with good core curriculum. Looking forward to reading the piece.

    Re: “agri-intellectuals”. Really looking forward to this one. I remember explaining this concept to my mother once. She replied simply by saying that her (now long deceased) grandparents who lived in rural Louisiana believed that, and I quote, “farming is a cursed life.” I’m not even sure I believe that “one should eat real food most of the time” given that such a view usually connotates, 1) a rejection of the benefit of pesticides and genetic engineering; and 2) a rejection of the great good that industrialized farming has had on improving worldwide life span by making things like famine far less of a threat.

    Re: vegan and vegetarian school lunches. This brought to mind something I have often thought to myself. Conservatives are at a real disadvantage politically on some issues b/c the real conservative response is that “we can’t help you.” But you can’t say that. So when we look at failing schools we have to talk about “free market” solutions like charter schools and vouchers. I believe these do make a difference, at least in the margins. But what we really should say, indeed what our principles should lead us to conclude, is, “There isn’t any structural change we can make – better curriculum, merit pay, competition – that can change the fact that these kids are coming to school each day from homes where the parent can’t even be bothered to pack a peanut butter sandwich and some carrot sticks. And until that changes, little can be done to improve educational outcomes.”

  • Entrepreneur Paul Graham has an interesting essay on what an essay should be, why people ought to write them, and how high school English classes do a pretty poor job of teaching people this skill. I’m hoping I get the chance to write about some of them later.

    So Darwin is going to write an essay about an essay that itself is essentially an essay in how to write an essay?

    Remarkable. Really.

  • I can’t wait to write an essay about whatever Darwin writes.

  • Well, here, I can’t wait to write an essay about an essay written by S.B. that’s about an essay written by Darwin about an essay written by Graham which subject was about how to write an essay!

  • Thanks for posting some very thought-provoking links, Darwin.

    I’ve just skimmed quickly through the Graham essay on essays and found it pretty compelling, and as a side benefit, it gives lots of historical details about the development of the modern university and legal systems!

    Also read through the entire post by Hurst responding to agri-intellectuals. I own and have read both Pollan’s and Scully’s books, and I found them quite compelling. But the laws of physics also seem to work in literature, and there is an equally valid and opposite “reaction”, provided by Hurst, to the interesting original “actions” of Scully, Pollan and Dreher. It really boggles the mind when we learn about the incredibly intricate and complex systems behind mass-scale farming in the modern world.

    So my concern then turns to something even vastly more complex than large-scale farming: health care reform in one of the largest developed countries in the world! I don’t even want to consider how badly Uncle Sam’s bureaucratic armies could botch up that system in the future–YIKES!

  • *grin* The one from the farmer sounds exactly like my parents. (Dad’s been ranching and farming for roughly 40 years and has an AA; mom has been doing family-sized farming and ranching for about 30, and has a BS in animal husbandry with a minor in education. I sent her the article in hopes that she’ll write something I can blog. ^.^)