"Controversial" Holocaust teaching is dropped

The next time anyone wants to accuse our government of Orwellian tendencies (via the Patriot Act, for instance, or wiretaps, or whatever), please keep this in mind.

Selective education is WAY more scary than wiretaps, any day of the week. The moment history has to be rewritten, ignored, or “repurposed” is the moment that our freedoms are compromised. This has not happened in the U.S. but don’t think for a second it can’t happen. Just ask your average homeschooler how jealously public schools guard control of educating children.

I found this article very interesting. It comes from a blatantly Christian conservative site, but any Civil Libertarian should agree with a good chunk of the following:

Today, many would find it hard to believe that education was never addressed in the United States Constitution, nor was it discussed at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The government would like citizens to believe that it reserves the right to educate the nation’s youth, yet this right was never bestowed upon it, nor was it stripped away from parents.

The post-civil war industrial revolution started to mainstream public schooling to meet the economy’s needs, not the children’s. Factories forced parents out of their homes and pushed children into the schools, where they became conditioned for work in the industry and indoctrinated into a national mindset that forwarded the government’s agenda.

Socialism, moral relativism, evolution, pro-choice, multiculturalism, environmentalism, gay rights, self-esteem training and sex education are all politically correct/fundamentally wrong concepts promoted in the public schools that have taken their toll on the conservative and biblical values that have formed the backbone of American society.

Through the public schools, the government has played monopoly in the game of education since the turn of the 20th century, controlling the board and children’s lives ever since. The recent homeschooling movement, which now provides instruction for 4 million children in the United States, is seen by bureaucrats as usurping their unbridled authority over the education system. Dire attempts to stem this burgeoning exodus from the schools have been made by the state at virtually any cost.

It is amazing how little control we have over what our kids learn in schools. The challenge really is that your average “Progressive” looks at this list: “Socialism, moral relativism, evolution, pro-choice, multiculturalism, environmentalism, gay rights, self-esteem training and sex education,” and deems them important, while simultaneously deeming Religion off limits, citing the fact that it MIGHT make someone “uncomfortable” or somehow discriminated against. While I would agree that religion–any religion–should NEVER be taught in a public classroom, I would contend that many (not all, but many) of the above list is very ANTI-religious, which is just as bad and just as UnConstitutional. It never occurs to bureaucrats that the “comfort” level of the majority (heterosexual and Christian, namely) is even remotely relevant.

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School Vouchers in Utah

Utah Politics has a great post about State Rep. Urquhart’s recent legislation on School Vouchers in Utah. He stated that vouchers do not hurt the core finances of public schools, and actually posted a web forum urging citizens to post their opinions on the pros and cons of school vouchers. Noone was able to effectively rebut his assertions, and therefore not only did the voucher legislation move forward, but it did so with a level of transparency and philosophical soundness simply unheard of in modern politics.

When our good friend Scottie begins to talk about a National Referendum I always start to cringe, but I do agree that modern technology allows citizens to have much more of an input than they did years ago. Now I know absolutely nothing more about Rep. Urquhart than this story, but judging from this it would be a great idea for others in the political realm to follow his example. If you have more openness like this, then a representative republican democracy is much more effective.

Apple CEO lambasts teacher unions

An interesting perspective from a corporate executive on teacher’s unions and the quality of the public school system. on Friday “lambasting” teacher’s unions:

Jobs compared schools to businesses with principals serving as CEOs.

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

“Not really great ones because if you’re really smart you go, ‘I can’t win.'”

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

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

“This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy.”

A great post by Brain Terminal makes some good points about school vouchers:

That’s why you hear teachers’ unions oppose school choice on the grounds that it would hurt failing schools. But the point of public education is not to ensure the survival of schools, it’s to ensure the education of students. So what if failing schools are closed? They should close. And the only way that’ll ever happen is if less-advantaged families have an opportunity to vote with their feet and abandon the schools that are failing their children.

Jobs’ comparison of schools with a business reminds me of the “three-legged stool” concept. It goes like this:

In business you have three entities that must benefit from a product in order for that product to be successful–the customer, the company, and the sales rep or distributor. If any one of the three parties aren’t satisfied then the product is not successful, because either the company will stop producing it, the distributors will refuse to sell it, or the customer just won’t buy it. If either of the legs falls, the whole stool falls.

In the case of the private market, the person with really the most control is the customer. The company can produce the product well, and the distributor can sell the product well, but if the customer doesn’t buy it, then it’s not going to last long.

With public schools, the only person with virtually NO control is the customer–the student. The school boards have meetings and philosophize on how they can improve their product; the teachers unions do what they can to get the best contract they can as the distributor of the product.

But in some school districts, the customers (the kids) simply aren’t buying. And the kids (and their parents) have little say so; whatever district they’re in, that’s the product they get, unless they fork out tons of extra money for a quality product (private schools), while they’re still paying (from their tax dollars) for the inferior product.

It’s just confusing for me when I hear the “the schools are overcrowded” and “the teachers are overworked” and “not enough individual attention”, etc…and then almost in the same breath, “vouchers take resources away from public schools.”

And as Brain Terminal pointed out, it seems like a slight to the poor when the teachers unions tell them, “You have to deal with a mediocre product, so we can keep our jobs, even though we’re selling you a mediocre product, and if you sacrifice to go find a better school, then you still have to pay for this one, so we can continue to inadequately serve everyone else in the district who can’t afford private schools.”

It would be as if the local grocery store sold undeniably inferior produce, but in order to get good quality produce families had to buy it from that local store, throw it away, and then go to the next county and pay double for the good stuff.

Essentially, I’ve always been of the opinion that a teaching job is a sales job, and I’ve never heard of a union for salespeople (or perhaps I simply can’t imagine joining one). Teacher’s unions put too much power in the hands of the distributor (unheard of in the “real world”) and vouchers are really the only way to give the customer a choice in the matter, and as a result put upward pressure on public schools, the teachers, and the quality of their product.

Apple CEO lambasts teacher unions

Government encroaches everywhere

I read the whole debate before I say anything on the previous post. I don’t want to enrage anybody, but a story just came out today which discusses the conflict between business and religion, and law each supports. Wal-mart and co. are pushing for more and more alcohol in it’s stores, including political campaigning in dry counties throughout the south. It is increasingly difficult to talk about any religious beliefs in any sphere without bumping into government regulation and control. Here in Ohio there has been a long sustained push for gambling, you know, to help the children. The only groups organized enough to fight gambling (i.e. a calculated extraction of cash from typically the poor that goes straight to big business with a cut to the state) are the churches. If Christians, etc. are model citizens but sit on their hands politically, they may find family members in debt and broke, and that affects them personally too.

That being said it is tacky to have jets flying and an American flag in a church.

Posted at 10:29 pm by Johnny B

Posted by BP @ 08/13/2006 10:49 PM PDT
there you go…a couple of issues that are much better suited for the debate of religion and politics: drinking and gambling.

Thank you. Agree on both points.

Shameful!

I’m so ashamed at what this country is coming to…I read this story in the AP…

BEAVER FALLS, Pa. (AP) — A 17-year-old high school student said he was humiliated when a teacher made him sit on the floor during a midterm exam in his ethnicity class — for wearing a Denver Broncos jersey.

Can you believe it? What kind of school teaches “ethnicity” class

Posted at 09:17 pm by Johnny B

Posted by Chrissy @ 01/29/2006 02:05 AM PST
I think I would have enjoyed an ethnicity class… perhaps I would have learned earlier that Cajuns are a federally recognized ethnicity and should claim themselves as such on the US Census 😉 Seriously though, that was one of the best parts of living in Los Angeles.. learning about all different types of people, customs, cultures, etc (and their foods. mmmm)

Posted by john broussard @ 01/29/2006 05:01 AM PST
Ethnicity class may have be fun, but a solid civics or history class is better in the long run for a student, in my opinion. I’m glad you’ve got to experience different customs and cultures, and it sounds like this is pretty easy to do, and doesn’t require formal instruction. There are many asian graduate students, and I’ve learned a few recipes from them. One thing I admire is their focus on science and math education, which will put them ahead of Americans unless we do something about it.

Posted by Chrissy @ 01/29/2006 02:37 PM PST
If I would have stayed in Louisiana, I would have never experienced anything outside of black and white. I think some people see teaching students about other cultures or even languages as threatening but I think it’s wonderful. There’s more to life the the three R’s.. like art, music and culture – both American and non-American. Learning about these things develops different parts of the brain and helps people to think differently (and it’s been said more efficiently). Plus when we understand other people’s differences we tend to be more accepting of them.

Asian-Americans and other Americans are thriving on the science and math that’s currently offered.. that leads me to believe that the content is there, the kids just have to be encouraged to appreciate it.

Universities the Wal-Mart/Google way

I always rant and complain about the University. I recently calculated a 50% increase in tuition for students in the last four years here at Ohio State University. That’s about 3 times the rate of inflation. Once you factor out education and health care, inflation in this country have been very low the last ten years or so. Now, many of the buildings on this campus are very beautiful, and I think football stadiums are cool, but does it help students be more educated, say, than the average student at Hillsdale? Quite frankly, no.

Now Wal-mart has it’s problems, to be sure. Cheap shabby disposable architecture occasionally built by illegal immigrants. I also tend to avoid their pie products, as many of you well know. But now all my local grocery stores are open 24 hours, in order to compete with Wal-mart. Now all stores have lower prices to compete with Wal-mart. Suppliers must be on the ball. I heard a story once that Nabisco wanted to push a new product with some stupid marketing campaign and coupons, and the guys at Wal-mart said, essentially, “Why don’t you calculate how much all that will cost, and then lower your prices across the board by that amount.” They’ve even forced credit card companies to charge lower fees to retailers and passed the savings on shareholders AND customers.

That’s what I like about Wal-mart.

So what costs so much about college? Where are some areas that costs could be cut? Well, first of all, there’s textbooks. Every year colleges forces students to pay outrageous prices for textbooks. I don’t know what kind of kick-back colleges get from publishers, but I know that many textbook authors are university profs. and many of the royalties go to the universities. I also know that copyrights don’t last forever. Obvious question: do we need a 2005 edition of a college algebra textbook? In a couple of years, couldn’t I get a fifty year old math/physics/zoology/biology/chemistry/english/french/western civ textbook from Google print virtually free? This would free up half the textbooks easily. You could easily free up some cost by abolishing all “ridiculousness-studies” departments I won’t even name.

Now, the only problem is, what about cutting edge science, you know, computer science, biomedical stuff, nanotechnology. I can’t say about computer science, but most of the content of a textbook is at least five year old research, and if you are in a cutting edge field (genomics, etc) that’s too slow anyway. All a university really needs is a lot of journal access, rows of servers, and a syllabus.

For universities of the future I envision simple sturdy buildings with lots of journal access and lots of independent study with less formal instruction. Sports of any kind would be like intramural sports leagues. College athletic programs as they are now should be separate financial entities from the university in which players are paid or have the option of taking a scholarship. Athletic programs will pay a license fee to use the school name, but no tuition money, state tax money, or federal tax money should be used to pay for football stadiums, basketball gymnasiums, and the like. Students in the sciences will be required to work in real labs doing real science and be graded on their work/attendance, and finally, a thesis. All business majors will have to work some kind of summer internship somehow related to the intricacies of enterprise (actually I’m lost on this one…does anyone have any ideas?). And lastly, all liberal arts majors will be required to sit in coffee shops and convince each other of the validity of bullshit theories.

Posted at 11:11 pm by Johnny B

Posted by BP @ 11/21/2005 04:40 PM PST
I must admit…”That’s what I like about WalMart” rarely escapes my lips, but I’m with you.

Kindergarten philosophy

Saturday, October 08, 2005
Kindergarten philosophy
“I don’t want to go to school to sleep. I don’t want to go to school to eat. I want to go to school to learn.” John Broussard ca. 1983

That philosophy pretty much hasn’t changed. I was always irritated about nap time, especially when kids who would sleep the soundest would get the most gold stars. What kind of meritocracy is this? I would often look out the window and wish the teacher would let me outside than sleep. I slept 0 times during the whole school year in kindergarten. As a result, not as many gold stars as the lazy girl in my class.

I was never a fan of school lunches either. Ask my family about the time I turned my cafeteria chair around, arms folded, as a protest to the atrocious food found in public schools (alas private schools are about the same). I was able to score peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from home for a while, but eventually I caved when my Dad started coming to school and making me eat the gruel. I didn’t want to disappoint my folks, you know.

All this to say when I hear about school lunch cuts or school vouchers, I get excited. I have very DEEPLY ENGRAINED beliefs about the ability of the state to feed and babysit young ones (that’s you’uns for Kentucky readers) that goes far beyond what my parents taught me or what I read on right wing websites. This is downright biological.

What got me thinking about this was an interview I saw with Jonathan Kozol about his new book. He is your run-of-the-mill teacher/activist (is that redundant?). Now, sometimes liberals like him can point out problems, and in his interview he talked about white flight and the resulting “apartheid” in inner city public schools. His language is caustic, but he did have some points. Interestingly, the most “socially segregated” schools are in New York, California, Michigan, and Illinois. Now, those are some of the bluest states around, except for those with not enough blacks to warrant segregation (e.g. Vermont, Minnesota). That being said, Columbus probably wouldn’t fare much better in my estimation.

So I’m listening. This liberal activist criticizing the education system, particularly in blue states. Alas and alack, his proposals to solve this problem are nothing new: give the local governments more power/money. He didn’t mention anything about forced busing, but I’m sure if I read the book it would be mentioned. He is deathly afraid of school vouchers, and didn’t say a word about the role of the property tax in white flight/segregation. He points out the difference in dollars between white and black schools without indicating that the tax money is generated by people working hard in those school districts. Here’s a good question for liberal activist/teachers: How is one to get property tax from public housing? Better yet, how does one get blood from a couch potato?

In Japan they finally privatized the post office, which was acting as a bank and had more money than Citibank and Bank One. Tony Blair is finally charging tuition for University students. Even the Germans are making baby steps away from socialism-lite. The zeitgeist is such that trying to defray costs of expensive programs (e.g. education and health care) amongst the law-abiding, tax/insurance-paying masses is falling out of fashion and needs to be reformed.

Posted at 08:47 am by Johnny B

Posted by J f Z @ 10/12/2005 11:57 AM PDT
I’m in favor of trying any wacky idea to try to salvage public schools in urban areas. In the long run, government investing in schools is less expensive than warehousing people in prisons.

Some states have various funding streams for public schools, like state lotteries. Urban school systems might benefit from having a $1.00 surcharge on all event tickets within the city limits. NFL, NHL, NBA, AL/NL, concerts, truck pulls, whatever.

Another idea might be to simply require people who do not work and collect welfare checks spend one day each month in a teacher assistance program, or some other supportive role, even if it means they simply pick up the trash on the school property, or sweep something.

Posted by John Broussard @ 10/12/2005 01:09 PM PDT
Not a bad set of suggestions. I would like to add that now government (i.e. taxpayers) invest in both urban schools and prisons, so they have a double whammy to pay for, and those stuck in these institutions are also worse off.