Education

December 20, 2011

Government Edges into Preschool... Expensively

Some basic math illustrates the high cost of letting government edge its way into the preschool business.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:43 AM

September 15, 2011

A Focus on Spreading Largess

Pushing public school teachers toward higher education degrees doesn't ensure good teachers, but it does ensure a healthy market for colleges and universities, ultimately at taxpayer expense.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:30 AM

August 31, 2011

Speaking of Corruption and Inefficiency in Public Schools

Pulling back the curtain on the union's picks to decide about education reform reveals just how corrupt Rhode Island is.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

Vouchers for Private School Are Only Fair (and a Smart Way to Save Money)

Public schools deserve to lose money, considering that they pay twice as much for worse results.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:12 AM

June 21, 2011

Yes, Let's Address the Problem

Charter schools are a highlighter of, not distraction from, the problems of public education.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

June 20, 2011

Not So Much a "Skills Gap" as a Motivation Gap

Somehow, I don't think efforts to entice kids to keep up with their educations will direct them to the high-paying jobs that companies are finding difficult to fill.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:23 AM

June 17, 2011

The Long Reach of Educational Inadquacy

Candidates who choose not to pursue a high-paying government job have been citing the low-quality school system as a reason.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

May 23, 2011

Grading by Ideology

Do Republicans grade college students more objectively?

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:39 AM

May 18, 2011

Reform for the Difficult, Too

There's no reason to expect that increasing school choice won't benefit "difficult students," too.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:23 AM

May 16, 2011

The Labor Model Must Change with the Education Model

Hope High in Providence illustrates that education reform necessitates labor reform.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:19 AM

May 2, 2011

The Message of Union Defense

If we follow the teachers' unions' logic, it sounds as if we ought to allocate resources away from them.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:39 AM

April 4, 2011

Whose Voice Are We Hearing?

Union negotiations don't involve the "voice of the teacher"; they involve the voice of the union leadership.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:03 AM

March 30, 2011

How the Game Is Stacked for the Teachers' Unions

Not surprisingly, a teacher-legislator prioritizes teacher seniority over minimizing harm to students.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

March 16, 2011

A Lesson for the Town's Educators (and Parents)

If Little Compton parents don't want Tiverton High School's offerings, why should Tiverton parents?

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

March 15, 2011

Like a Profession, or Something

Blackstone Valley Prep charter school appears to be taking the revolutionary step of handling teachers like real professionals.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:17 AM

March 7, 2011

A Fantasy Compromise

Can Rhode Island transition from compulsory union membership to a mere right-to-work regime?

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

March 1, 2011

Unions: Cause or Coincidence?

Unions didn't cause increased respect for teachers, and their disappearance won't decrease it.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:26 PM

February 23, 2011

What Hope for Education?

No markers suggest proximate improvement of education in Rhode Island.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:32 AM

February 21, 2011

Getting to Graduation

Improving graduation rates should be built into the investment that we're already making in schools.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:04 AM

February 18, 2011

The Day the Reform Ended

RI Ed. Commissioner Deborah Gist has blinked in the struggle to improve education in RI, and it won't go unnoticed.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:02 AM

February 15, 2011

Removing the Anxiety of School Layoffs

To buck their early layoff deadline, school districts should just lay off everybody every year.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

February 2, 2011

Watching the Intellectual Weight

That minimum test scores are not all doesn't mean that they aren't justified as requirements.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:00 PM

January 28, 2011

There's That No-Can-Do Attitude, Again

Why are our public schools operated with a no-can-do attitude?

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:02 AM

January 27, 2011

Give Them Time... and Money

Over the long term, throwing more money into public education merely causes the price of labor to rise and put more pressure on the services offered.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

The Science of Test Scores

Marc Comtois described, on the Matt Allen Show, some of his findings related to standardized science test scores.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:53 AM

January 25, 2011

Failure With or Without Tiers

Arguments over RI's proposed tiered diploma system are a distraction from the real controversy in education.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:10 AM

January 22, 2011

An Odd Reason to Give a Diploma

Some of the objections to RI's proposed diploma system change raise the question of what a diploma is meant to indicate.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:08 AM

January 10, 2011

What School Choice Is Already Telling Us

This week's Patch column asks why Little Compton sends its students right through Tiverton to Portsmouth.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:33 PM

Evolving the Welfare State

Evolving the welfare state Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

A Certified Experiment

The battle over certification of charter school teachers can lead to some interesting conclusions.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:34 AM

January 6, 2011

Happy New Year, Commissioner

RI Education Commissioner Deborah Gist's work environment may already be changing.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

December 28, 2010

Let Imbalances Correct Themselves

When the public sector originates a push for higher education, it mismatches incentives.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

December 23, 2010

The NEA's Penchant for Bad Analogy

Is it better for teachers to start with the theory of teaching or the subject matter that they're actually going to teach?

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

December 22, 2010

Call in the Gov

The teachers' union in Central Falls has asked for Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee's help. One expects them to get it.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:58 AM

December 21, 2010

Setting Up the Failure

Chronic absences of teachers are suggestive of a union plot to undermine reform.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

December 13, 2010

Where Higher Ed Money Comes from and Goes

It sure doesn't seem as if the University of Education is under financial strain.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:12 AM

December 11, 2010

Indication of a Divide or Superfluity?

A higher education bubble and a debt trap are the makings of the new indentured servitude.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:24 AM

December 6, 2010

America, the Below Average

Comparing head-of-class math results across states and nations reveals the United States to be doing poorly, with Rhode Island toward the bottom of the bottom.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:47 AM

December 2, 2010

Twice-Paid Sports and Free Tax Collectors

When parents' are having to raise $110,000 per year to keep school sports going, residents should begin to wonder what they're paying taxes for.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:05 AM

November 29, 2010

Deciding What School Is For

An op-ed by Ron Wolk inadvertently hones the question of the education debate to this: What is education for?

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

November 27, 2010

Laid Low by Higher Education

The realization is pervading our society that a college degree might not be the payoff that we've been told that it is.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:42 AM

November 26, 2010

The Careful Language of the Union's Governor

RI Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee has no plans to route bureaucrats who stand in the way of the unions that elected him, but he's not ruling it out, either.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

November 22, 2010

Hooked on Hooking Up

Hook-up culture on American campuses is hardly conducive to the repair of educations flubbed in secondary school, let alone the advancement to greater knowledge and maturity.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

November 18, 2010

Even in Reforms, Central Planning Rears Its Head

What are charter schools meant to do? Parents and students decide should.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

November 17, 2010

Our Local College Bubble

Rhode Island doesn't need to pursue policies that push more young adults into college; it needs to educate young adults to the point that they know what they're going to college for.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

November 15, 2010

Opportunity... to Succeed or to Fail

Steps toward education reform in RI cities and towns give reason for hope, but also merit a watchful eye.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

November 11, 2010

Groomed for Dependency

For too many young adults, college sets expectations for what life is supposed to be like.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

October 21, 2010

Misperception of Need or That Old Budget Game?

RI Education Commissioner Deborah Gist appears to be playing budgetary politics with the education of our children.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:07 AM

October 18, 2010

More Investment Out of Your Pocket

Not to be deliberately contrarian, but it just isn't true that higher education is the "engine that drives economic development."

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

October 14, 2010

The Problem Is the Entrenchment

The problem for those entering higher education as a career is not that talented professors can negotiate for higher salaries, but that established teachers are entrenched.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

October 13, 2010

When Advocates Evaluate Evaluation

As Rhode Island moves toward implementation of teacher evaluation systems, there's reason to be suspicious that it'll be a program designed either to fail or to do little.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:15 AM

October 12, 2010

The College Money Game

If Rhode Island's institutions of higher education want more resources they need to streamline their operations and help those of us who would reform the operation of the state.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:25 AM

October 6, 2010

Rhode Island Still Knee Caps Its Students

Are Rhode Island schools capable of teaching science?

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

October 5, 2010

Merit Has to Be Intrinsic

Merit pay for teachers has to be part of a larger culture change.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:15 PM

October 1, 2010

Missed Economic Cues in Teaching

The difficulty that young teachers are experiencing directly relate to all of the other problems that public education experiences, which all flow back to unions.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

September 30, 2010

Learning Well the Ways of the World at URI

Homosexual students are protesting (based on slender threads, in my view) and seeking to force the University of Rhode Island to answer their demands. Aren't there better lessons they could be learning/

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:15 PM

September 15, 2010

Back to Issues: Education

We must stop the government education monopoly.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:10 AM

September 13, 2010

Doing College the Right Way

I concur with Jonah Goldberg that conservatives have the opportunity to benefit more than liberals from the college experience... and it's not just because I've got an essay in the book that he's starting to promote.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:59 PM

September 8, 2010

More Education Money Is Not the Answer

Rhode Island is exactly in the middle of the pack for student performance, according to one measure, but is right out front when it comes to per-pupil expenditures.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:23 AM

September 7, 2010

Cutting to an Engorged Bone

When a quarter of a district's student body is "special needs," it just might indicate a problem of inflation.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

August 30, 2010

The Mystery of Good Teaching

Teaching is not a matter of untestable magic.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

August 28, 2010

Some Sacrifice

School administrators in Cumberland, RI, apparently believe that sacrifice is when teachers receive smaller raises than they're used to.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:44 AM

August 25, 2010

Sometimes "Investment" Is Just an Expense

Sometimes it's just spending money.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

"Rhode Island is a winner!"

Rhode Island has made the second cut for Race to the Top funds. I'm not excited.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:25 AM

August 24, 2010

If Teachers Are Professionals, Their Performance Should Be Measurable

A California study found that some teachers are better than others. It's just the latest evidence that we all know what needs to be done but have difficulty talking about it.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:08 PM

August 19, 2010

Integral Government Strings

Sometimes strings on big government spending aren't immediately imposed.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:00 AM

August 17, 2010

A Bubble in the Making

Insiders in the higher education industry are fretting that more people need their product. I think the opposite is true.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:23 AM

August 16, 2010

No Dilemma. An Accurate Accounting.

The first batch of students for whom recent state graduation requirements will be binding will soon be reaching their senior years, and many won't be eligible for diplomas. That's not a problem with the standards; it's a problem with the system.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

August 13, 2010

A Guarantee on a Higher Degree

Education loans are a skyrocketing form of debt, in the United States. It makes me wonder whether it mightn't make for a valuable differentiator for colleges and universities to begin offering guarantees that the education provided will enable graduates to pay off their loans.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

August 5, 2010

The Kids'll Respond to Good Points and Respect

I suspect suspicious motives among those reluctant to admit that abstinence-only education works.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

August 2, 2010

The Tone of the Ad

If only public schools more broadly took the attitude of growth and advancement of a help-wanted ad for substitute teachers.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

July 29, 2010

Re: Federal Money, Federal Guidelines; and Local Control?

I'm not optimistic that the promise of the Race to the Top education program will outmatch its danger.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

Borders, National and Educational

Marc Comtois took the air with Matt Allen to discuss immigration and education.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:37 AM

July 28, 2010

Teaching While Catholic

A Catholic professor fired for teaching Catholic thought as if it might be accurate provides a teachable moment... that emotion trumps intellect and "inclusivity" trumps interaction.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:57 AM

July 24, 2010

The Slow March of Papa Government

Federal standards for education. Another insidious avenue for authoritarian government.

Posted by Justin Katz at 4:21 PM

July 19, 2010

Some States Help Residents to Achieve Potential; Some Do Not

I've broken down, by state, Newsweek's list of high schools that emphasize advanced tests. It's interesting to note which do and which don't.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:14 AM

July 9, 2010

Permissible Discrimination

Christian groups on college campuses are no longer free to prevent their own subversion while receiving official recognition. In theory, the Supreme Court ruling is ideologically neutral, but in practical effect, well, we'll see.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:47 AM

Can Schools Replace Teenagers' Jobs?

Providence Journal columnist Julia Steiny seems inclined to look to schools to fill in the work and community experience that young adults aren't receiving, any longer. I'd prefer to look to employers and communities for that.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:00 AM

July 8, 2010

Cutting the Cultural Meat Out of American Education

Politically correct excisions from education affect more than just Western self confidence.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:32 PM

July 6, 2010

Again: Change the Focus to Students and Parents

More argument that the focus of public education isn't on students and parents, but on federal dollars and union benefits.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:45 AM

July 5, 2010

Even More Money Still Leaving Students Unprepared

I'm unpersuaded that the folks who direct public education have a full understanding of the problem.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:54 PM

June 25, 2010

Knowing the World

Should universities seek to teach general thinking and knowledge or career-related subjects? I think the former, but that not as many people should incur the debt.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

June 24, 2010

What Kind of Choice and Accountability?

Have you noticed that those who attack the feasibility of "choice and accountability" reforms tend to limit them to "charters and tests"?

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

June 15, 2010

Naming the Civic Illness

There's actually a term for the governmental practice of threatening to cancel something popular unless money is provided for unnecessary expenditures. Rhode Island specializes in that ploy, and it's discouraging to note how complicit those who educate our children are in the scam.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

June 11, 2010

A Formula, but It's Just Numbers

The Rhode Island General Assembly has passed a state funding formula for education. On the whole, that's a positive development, but I'm not sure how much of the problem it actually fixes.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:11 AM

May 26, 2010

The Subtle Tactics of the NEA

The RI Federation of Teachers had its Central Falls problem fixed prior to backing Race to the Top, and now the National Education Association Rhode Island wants its East Providence problem fixed. Hint, hint.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:54 AM

May 24, 2010

When the Focus Is on Results, One Way or Another

Julia Steiny describes the result when a school makes student success, not teacher employment, its number 1 priority.

Posted by Justin Katz at 2:00 PM

May 21, 2010

Race to the Cash Crop

Race to the Top is just a huge bundle of money being used to persuade state and local officials and bureaucrats to seek special-interest buy-in.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:33 PM

May 11, 2010

Everything's Negotiable in the Race to the Top

Predictably, the teachers' unions are using the Race to the Top funding competition as a bargaining chip to eliminate two recent threats to their hegemony.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:56 AM

May 4, 2010

A Framework for School Work

Education involves subjectivity in execution and in evaluation. The current union structure of our public schools simply doesn't allow that to be the case.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

May 3, 2010

Incentive to Unload the Kids

Only in government — public schools, in the case at hand — could there be incentive to attract fewer clients.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:15 PM

April 26, 2010

Making Committees Choose Between Funds and Friends

Reducing school budgets by the amount that officials give away to labor? Good idea.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:00 PM

Labor Peace, Town or State

Once again: If Rhode Islanders can't get labor unions under control in their own backyards, they won't be able to do it at the state level.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:00 AM

April 24, 2010

A Little Consideration During Budget Season

Budget watchers of Rhode Island should keep in mind the fact that school districts should still be expecting federal "stimulus" dollars for this coming budget year.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:11 PM

April 22, 2010

Blog Interview on the Radio

The recording of my call in to the Matt Allen Show, last night, to talk about my interview with Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is up on Anchor Rising.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:38 AM

April 21, 2010

Money Isn't the Problem

A RI Public Expenditure Council study has found what many of us already knew to be the case when it comes to education: Rhode Island pays a lot but doesn't get value for its money.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:30 PM

Interview with RI's Education Commissioner

RI Education Commissioner Deborah Gist was good enough to set aside some time, yesterday, to converse with me about various matters, broad and specific. The video is online..

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:21 AM

April 20, 2010

Economic Prognostication and What Ifs

The debate continues about whether, and how firmly, our economy is entering a recovery. I don't see reason to be optimistic.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:13 AM

April 17, 2010

Union Comfort Would Be Evidence of Danger

As Rhode Island chases the second round of federal Race to the Top funding, we can be sure that union comfort is a sign of derailed reform.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:05 PM

A Dangerous Fine Line in Blending Public/Private Education

In Indiana, Catholic schools are transitioning to status as charter schools, requiring them to shed their religious identities. That's the wrong way to preserve the institutions.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:42 AM

April 8, 2010

The Union Does School Administration

Is this what happens when you mix labor unions with charter schools with elected office?

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:21 AM

April 6, 2010

The Sort of Wildflower Children Are

Obviously, my inclination is to err on the side of creativity, but there is a danger to making it too central of a priority.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:26 PM

May 12, 2005

The First Column of Another "Face of Hate"

As I've announced elsewhere (I think), I'll be writing a biweekly column, published Thursdays, for TheFactIs.org, an online opinion magazine jointly sponsored by the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute and the Culture of Life Foundation. My first offering is "Communicating with the 'Faces of Hate'," about conservative Christians' designation, in certain circles, as an unprotected target class.

Posted by Justin Katz at 7:14 PM | Comments (1)

March 18, 2005

Ripping Out a Handful of Furr

Rocco DiPippo has a piece on FrongPageMag investigating Montclair State University's Grover Furr — professor of (apparently) Leftism. From the extended version that Rocco has published on his blog:

... the reader might have concluded that Professor Furr, by spreading disinformation, pushing Marxism and communism on his students, and advocating for one of mankind's greatest mass murderers, behaves exactly as a professor of English literature and professional educator shouldn't. Unfortunately, I doubt that many of his colleagues would be so affected. During extensive research of Furr I found not one example of a university professor, teacher or administrator questioning his in-class behavior or his teaching methods.

What I did find was quite the opposite--a network of high school and college teachers and administrators who actually support his methods, views and goals and recommend his web pages as both a teaching resource and as a guide in developing curricula--sad commentary on Humanities departments nationwide, which as you read this, sink deeper and deeper into a miasma of pseudo-intellectualism, fatuous scholarship and anti-Western Marxist propagandizing.

As Lane Core has noted (click "confer"), the network that Rocco has discovered is an achievement a half-century in the making.

Posted by Justin Katz at 3:33 PM

March 17, 2005

Give a Man a Fish; Give a Kid a Condom

Over on Anchor Rising, I've taken a look at a law proposed in the Rhode Island legislature that would centralized sex ed. requirements for all public and (I believe) private schools. Among them is the explicit barring of religious doctrine as part of the curriculum. In other words, it looks as if Christian schools would have to teach the benefits and drawbacks of various methods of contraception, but they couldn't list among the drawbacks damage to the child's eternal soul.

It isn't difficult to see other issues about which social conservatives are concerned following a similar route toward status as a mandatory point of view.

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:16 PM | Comments (11)

February 14, 2005

Something Other than the Three Rs

While we battle back and forth about the sanctity of evolution in the public school science curriculum, a reminder of the broader field in which we work is in order:

According to benchmarks for middle school education, the top objective for the district's math teachers is to teach "respect for human differences." The objective is for students to "live out the system-wide core value of 'respect for human differences' by demonstrating anti-racist/anti-bias behaviors."

Priority No. 2 is where the basics come in, which is "problem solving and representation — students will build new mathematical knowledge as they use a variety of techniques to investigate and represent solutions to problems."

No, I'm not arguing that the establishment of political correctness as a central goal of education means that the door has been opened to ideology. No, I'm not taking this extreme example as representative. Still, our schools are not hard-line institutions of knowledge collection, and I don't believe that they ought to be.

It's also interesting to note that mathematicians and the ACLU aren't mounting a campaign to beat back this infringement of ideology — the armies of Unreason — on the cold truth of math. Shouldn't the courts be called in to straighten out these liberal fundamentalists?

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:53 PM | Comments (2)

February 8, 2005

Regarding Sex Ed.

Look, I'm neither a prude nor (regardless of what some readers might think) an extreme moralist. I do believe that schools should ensure that children have a base-level knowledge of what is happening to their bodies, and when they transform into teens, they ought to learn about diseases and the biology of childbirth. Just as science classes ought to teach what scientists believe to be facts, just as history classes ought to teach what historians believe to be facts, the mechanics of the body are important for children to know, whether we're talking pimples or penises. The sex ed. establishment goes much further than that, however.

Once teachers make the shift from sex to sexuality, they're crossing into an area that inherently requires a choice of worldviews. Translated out of secularese, that means a choice of religions. As someone who believes that the "separation of church and state" has gone way too far, both in its strictness and in its pervasiveness across various levels of government, I don't have a problem with school districts' making that choice in some degree. The problem is that the current legal approach allows communities only one "choice" — which is to say no choice at all.

In my ideal American system (incidentally the one that I believe the founders of the United States intended to create), districts would retain the authority to make school curricula conform with the values of the communities that they serve. There would still be limits, no doubt, but they would be well beyond the self-determination currently allowed, which is superficial. Regarding sex ed., some districts might maintain their programs as they are. Others might declare anything beyond a cold biology lesson beyond the boundary. Others might offer complementary sex ed. and morality classes. Still others might offer parents a choice of teachers, say an overt Christian and a secularist. And others might recast their vision of "healthy sexuality" to adhere to local mores.

In such a system, parents could become involved, working for change if they so choose. If a family's bottom line requirements couldn't be met, then that family could seek alternatives. (School vouchers would be especially appropriate in such a society, and parents' choices could be more detailed than between a public school and a sectarian school.)

With our current all-or-nothing approach — beloved of liberals because they've currently gotten pretty close to the "all" — the fight is unnecessarily divisive and inclined toward tectonic shifts. Social liberals don't seem to believe that this is possible, but make no mistake: a relatively minor change in the public mood could result in strict moralism's being taught to all students, with liberal parents being offered the non-choice of singling out their children through moral exemption.

It would be better for America to actually believe in the pluralism and diversity that so many Americans preach as gospel truth.

Posted by Justin Katz at 5:54 PM | Comments (16)

The Evolution of a Masturbatory Society

Lane Core's first anniversary Blogworthies highlights several interesting posts, among them this bit of perspective from Craig Henry:

Look at it this way: When a school board anywhere promotes Intelligent Design or Creationism, the education establishment, the MSM, and most of the blogosphere react with a combination of indignation and mockery. Fair enough. Bad science is in no one's interest.

But that same education establishment has erected a vast sex-ed structure whose foundations are based on bad science and reckless propaganda. (Not just Kinsey, but also works like Margaret Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa.) This, apparently, is OK.

Apart from the sex-ed industry, apart from the active interest (in large part toward developing a customer base) of such groups as Planned Parenthood, the necessity for teachers to instruct children about sex has become an article of faith among educators. Although my memories are vague, I recall at least two movies that I saw in my youth dealing with small towns accepting the modern awareness that children shouldn't learn about sex in traditional ways — the mild mannered teacher as the guide to a more sexually enlightened future.

As the National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN) puts it on its 2004 Sexual Health Fact Sheet (PDF):

The Association recognizes that sensitive sex education can be a positive force in promoting physical, mental, emotional, and social health and that the public school must assume an increasingly important role in providing the instruction. ... Students want more information about sexuality than their parents typically provide, including how to handle pressure to have sex and how to know when they are ready.

The fact sheet also advises school systems to follow the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (PDF). Among "the specific information young people need to learn" between the ages of five and eight is that "Masturbation should be done in a private place." This brings to mind a great point from Craig Henry's post:

Very few high school students will ever "use" Darwinian theory in the real world. But teen-age hormones ensure that the "lessons" kids learn (or don't learn or aren't taught) about sex, marriage, and promiscuity matter a great deal.

Perhaps it wouldn't be irrational to wonder why the sex ed. establishment is so keen to give its "useful" information to children for whom teen-age hormones seem as far away as a diploma.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:35 AM | Comments (8)

February 5, 2005

A Radical Tool in Service of Reason

Ah, Ward Churchill. As much as I studiously avoid participating in the mass declaration of opinions in these rounds of topical jocundity — quick, everybody stake some ground! — there is a practical strategy to suggest. Rather than encouraging censorship through firing, those outraged that Churchill must be permitted to perpetuate the professional scam that is his professorial career should emulate another of the campus Left's favorite "remedies": extortion.

Offering two personal anecdotes concerning the political atmosphere in which American professors ply their trade, Rocco DiPippi suggests the same:

Firing Churchill, would only contribute to the squelching of the free exchange of ideas in the university setting. His firing would accomplish exactly what the left has been doing for years with its campus "speech codes" and "hate-speech" rules, that is silence opposing points of view.

The proper approach to countering anti-American hate-mongers like Churchill, is to pressure universities into hiring some more conservative teachers, who'll be more than willing to challenge those who hold beliefs similar to Churchill's. Better yet, force public universities into adopting a "politically blind" method of hiring.

In addition, teachers of all political stripes, should be forbidden from airing their personal political beliefs to their students during class time, when they've been hired to teach math or art or history or science or even political science. This should be part of every teachers employment contract.

I'd be wary of writing too explicit restrictions on subject matter into contracts. Furthermore, since I agree that ideological diversity among professors is a critical aspect of higher education, and since there's much disparity to correct, I would actively oppose "politically blind" hiring. But the first idea is a good one. Particularly at the University of Colorado, the school administration ought to face demands that more conservative professors be hired; creating a "conservative chair" in Churchill's department would be a nice touch.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:29 PM

May 13, 2004

Much (Much) More than an Apple

Edward Achorn addresses the risky topic of the deal offered to Providence's teachers:

I happen to believe that good teachers, particularly in urban districts such as Providence, should be very well rewarded. I am proud of the big investment Rhode Islanders make in public education.

But, like a growing number of Rhode Islanders, I find it hard to ignore the poor return that Rhode Island gets on that investment. I hate to see children trapped in bad schools that never get better. I am troubled that reforms get shouted down by teachers acting like members of a mob, that the unions block efforts to hold teachers accountable, that an obsession with benefits far more lavish than those enjoyed by most of the taxpayers who must fund them is more important than, say, exposing children to art and music.

As Achorn implies, there's hope for this individual problem with Rhode Island's public sector because the costs in Providence spread to other towns across the state in which the teachers union doesn't have the same degree of leverage. But the same problem exists elsewhere. Read through the pay and perks that Achorn lists, and you'll get a sense of why older teachers are staying put and why those positions that do open are quickly filled through nepotism and politics. (Why, in short, my wife couldn't find a job.)

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:51 PM | Comments (2)

March 30, 2004

Our Man Behind the Tassled Curtain

Mike Adams's Townhall columns are often simultaneously disturbing and refreshing in the way in which they offer a conservative's inside view of academia. In the current column, he reacts to having been chided for making some of his fellow professors "uncomfortable" by discussing his political views:

When it first hit me that while in the office I could no longer talk about gay rights, feminism, religion, Darwinism, affirmative action, or any issue I discuss in my column, I was outraged. In fact, I got so mad that I raised my voice before storming out of my superior’s office. I never thought that the right of each university employee to feel comfortable at all times would ever actually be enforced against me here in the workplace (a.k.a., the public university).

But after I thought about it for a while, my anger turned to elation. Surely, the power to trump the First Amendment rights of others in response to "discomfort" is available to all employees, not just a select few. Since that must be the case (because our public university is committed to equality), I decided to make a list of every situation I had encountered at UNC-Wilmington where I felt "uncomfortable."

Even as he exposes the vapid laziness that the tenure culture can engender, Adams makes a case for it. The overarching threat of an ideological homogeneity can squelch the will to stand in opposition to it enough without the added cudgel of possible unemployment.

One grimace-worthy response is to actually pursue with all seriousness the return of like for like that Adams humorously feigns. Generally, I'm an idealist on such things, believing that the tool snatched from those who abused it can be a too-tempting possession. Glenn Reynolds, however, makes a good point regarding the leveraging of "hostile environment" legislation to protect the very group that was meant to be restrained by it (i.e., white, male Christians):

I don't approve of such things, but there's no better way to put an end to this asinine speech-suppressing body of law than to start enforcing it evenhandledly.

The danger is still too great, I'd say, that we'll discover that the craven gutterswumps who pushed for the legislation in the first place have long since transferred their devotion from the intention to the mechanism and are perfectly happy to leave the laws in place.

Posted by Justin Katz at 6:45 PM | Comments (2)

February 17, 2004

How disappointed I'll be in my children...

... if they decide to go to Yale. Simply unconscionable.

Posted by Justin Katz at 12:20 PM

Academigarchy

If you've got some time to spare this week, the must-reading assignment is Edward Feser's two part musing on what makes academics so liberal. Christians oughtn't be surprised at the conclusion, although it's worth the effort to see how Feser gets there:

Sin can cloud the mind of any man. In most, the result is a bad character and a bad conscience. But with an intellectual, given his greater powers of imagination and rationalization, it can generate an entire worldview. For though intellectuals are not always to be trusted where first principles are concerned, they are, unlike non-intellectuals, remarkably proficient at drawing out consistently the implications of such principles.

Can the tide be changed? I'm not sure. But of course, the only reason to despair at the inevitable outcome of the "sheer lunacy" of the intellectuals is if you believe their premises. Rejecting those premises, one finds victory even in defeat.

Interesting how sin works.

Posted by Justin Katz at 10:55 AM

February 9, 2004

We're Not Playing with Him

Some academics at Amherst have made it clear that they are incapable of winning reasoned discussion about the issues of the day.

When Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at Amherst next week, we will not be in attendance. We will neither ask questions nor debate Justice Scalia because we believe that the liberal ideals of constructive disagreement and debate only work when both sides act upon these ideals in good faith. We will not offer a tacit endorsement of this man’s presence on campus.

In other words, the professorial signatories don't believe that they can state their case with sufficient clarity to overcome Scalia's conservatism... in ideological territory friendly to the professors. Somehow the statement that the academics "will stay away" reads like more of a promise than a threat.

(Memo to academics: When you grandstand through such a letter, it might be best to avoid putting such names as "Nasser Hussain" at the very beginning of the list. I know nothing of the professor, but surely such bright folks as yourselves can see how the syllables and their associations in the geopolitical realm will evoke snickers.)

Posted by Justin Katz at 1:12 PM

January 30, 2004

What They're Learning

It would be wrong to take much — anything, really — seriously about a recent editorial in the University of Rhode Island student paper, "Civil union, gay marriage has no place in political arena." However, this part still has me shaking my head the day after reading it, so I thought I'd share my amazement at the apparent miseducation:

While the topic often seems to make candidates uncomfortable, the question should not be one of legality but in reality, not a question at all. The United States is a country founded upon a wealth of freedoms and it is a contradiction to that foundation to allow politicians to decide on an issue of love and companionship. ...

As the Vermont Supreme Court passed the burden onto the state legislature, gay couples received a slap in the face. Politicians aren't attempting to work for the benefit of the people they are supposed to be serving, but instead merely appeasing them in order to make it through the next election.

Well, maybe the young editorialist's "miseducation" has less to do with how our government is supposed to work than how socialist liberals are supposed to disguise their thinking.

Damn those representatives for declining to dictate the unadulterated truth to their constituents and choosing, instead, to represent their views. It's a good thing there are judges to straighen out this foolish quirk of democracy!

Posted by Justin Katz at 11:26 AM