Friday, August 26, 2016

White People Talking About Race

I'm tired of talking about race.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed before I was born.  The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed when I was a couple months old.  I've lived my entire life under legal equality of the races, and in many cases race relations have gotten worse instead of better.  And it's always my fault, because I'm white.  I'm tired of it.

Last week I attended a professional development training day which I disparagingly call "hate whitey" training.  I have no doubt that that was not the intent of the training, but as I look across the titles of the training sessions, and as I look at the pictures of the dozens of workshop presenters, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that I, a white male, was to be talked at and not talked to.  Rather than going to racially oriented workshops, I chose to attend some GLBT workshops.  They were overflowing with people.  I honestly believe that part of the reason so many people attended those particular workshops was because straight people don't fear being attacked for being straight at a GLBT workshop, but whites can immediately be under fire in a racially-oriented workshop by being told to "check their privilege" and to "understand and accommodate" socially corrosive behaviors by students whose only reason for such understanding and accommodation is the color of their skin.  The so-called social justice discussed in several of the workshops is not what I would consider justice.

I state categorically that race relations have devolved in the last eight years, and the lion's share of the blame falls on the shoulders of the president.  Oh, he talked a good game during the campaign, but he's been nothing but the divider-in-chief since--from the Cambridge (MA) police department's acting "stupidly" before he was in possession of the facts, to having a son that would look like thug Trayvon Martin, to encouraging the racist Black Lives Matter movement, to refusing to allow his Justice Department to go after the New Black Panthers when they intimidated voters at polling stations, and the list goes on and on.

I'm tired of talking about race because I don't see any benefit to doing so.  Today we're told that trying to live up to Dr. King's colorblind society is a farce because of course you see race--as if seeing race is the same as treating people differently because of race.  It wouldn't be the first time I've been accused of being old fashioned, but I still believe in the opinions of Dr. King and Thurgood Marshall.  We all know Dr. King's quote about judging people by the content of their character, but let's read what Thurgood Marshall said:
"There is no understandable factual basis for classification by race...."
--brief for the NAACP in Sipuel v. Oklahoma State Board of Regents, 332 U.S. 631 (1948)

I have many more quotes by Marshall, and commentary about discussing race in education, in this 2005 post.  As you can see, I myself have been discussing this a very long time.

So what set me off on this topic?  This article and video, with the following headline:
This Funny And Awkward Video Reminds Self-Righteous White Allies To Watch Their Hypocritical Asses

Delve into the story a bit, and you find this nugget:
Hey white people, did you know that many black people aren’t even sure they want you to be an ally? There’s a strong argument for getting white people out of the way to enact real change, especially with Black Lives Matter actually getting attention now.

On the other hand, there’s also the argument in favor of white allies. It’s widely accepted that people are often better convinced of things — like thinking a little deeper about what a racist stereotype actually does — by people who look like them. Black Lives Matter specifically asks “white allies to use their privilege, influence, and wealth to talk about white supremacy and state violence against Black people. We urge them to show deference to Black people when doing so, to support black-led organizing.”
White people can't win for losing, it seems.  And when attitudes like this are as prevalent as they are today, I see no benefit in engaging people on the subject of race.  If you don't like it that I treat you as a person as opposed to a member of a racial group, tough.  I'll claim Dr. King and Justice Marshall as my fellow-travelers and be more than satisfied with the quality of those ideals I espouse.  I refuse to apologize for holding such values so dear.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

At Least One Leftie Has Some Integrity

The Obama Administration is a criminal enterprise, just like the Chicago of old.  Plenty of people on the left are trying to excuse its excesses or pretend they don't exist, but not Laurence Tribe:
One of the leading liberal lights of American law now says the “IRS is engaged in unconstitutional discrimination against conservative groups and must be halted.”

To be clear, Harvard prof Laurence Tribe is a convert: Early in the week, he sent out a tweet dismissing the idea of an IRS scandal as long-debunked.

But, as the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson noted at Overlawyered, for once social media actually shed light on a dispute: Others asked Tribe to read this month’s DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against the IRS in the case — and he did.

That unanimous decision, reinstating lawsuits against the IRS for its targeting of righty groups, noted that there’s “little factual dispute” about the targeting and the “unequal treatment” of conservatives. More, it’s “plain . . . the IRS cannot defend its discriminatory conduct on the merits.”

Tribe read that, plus a key Inspector General report, and tweeted, “I confess error [with regard to] IRS ideological targeting. The IG report and the [DC Circuit] decision seems right to me. Inexcusable abuse.” 
At least there are one or two not selling their souls for power.

Not A Trend, But Not A Poke In The Eye With A Sharp Stick, Either

Two days ago I posted about the University of Iowa's decision not to create a so-called bias assessment and response team.  It's unfortunate that it's news when a university makes a correct decision, but these are certainly strange times we live in.

Today I read how the University of Chicago welcomed it's freshman class, and kudos to them for identifying a university's proper climate:
The University of Chicago recently made it clear to its crop of incoming students that academic freedom and inquiry remain pillars at the institution, and that the university does not support "so-called" trigger warnings or offer safe spaces that allow students "to retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own. Here is how the university welcomed its incoming class of 2020:
Welcome and congratulations on your acceptance to the college at the University of Chicago. Earning a place in our community of scholars is no small achievement and we are delighted that you selected Chicago to continue your intellectual journey.
Once here you will discover that one of the University of Chicago’s defining characteristics is our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression. … Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn, without fear of censorship. Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others. You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.
And then, the coup de grace:
Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.
Hear, hear.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

University Speech Codes

Curious where your school stands?  Want to check out the freedom at a university you're considering?  Check out FIRE's speech codes database and look it up.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Common Sense in the Heartland

Dodging the proverbial bullet, Iowa's students won't have to deal with witch hunts and drumheads:
The University of Iowa has scrapped plans to create a Bias Assessment and Response Team after determining that such bodies often become what one administrator called “scolding bodies” that can create as many problems as they are intended to solve.

Iowa’s Chief Diversity Officer, Georgina Dodge, specifically cited the uproar over the University of Northern Colorado’s bias response team, which has been criticized for policing language and violating academic freedom. Details of the UNC bias team’s overreach was first reported by Heat Street in June.

Dodge told the Iowa City Press-Citizen that nationwide, many bias response teams resembled “scolding panels.”
What's sad is how refreshing it is to finally hear someone in higher education admit this.  And let's be honest, it's a rather tepid admission!

What If "The Science Is Settled" In A Way We Don't Like?

From this article I haven't read anything other than the following three paragraphs:
A major new report, published today in the journal The New Atlantis, challenges the leading narratives that the media has pushed regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

Co-authored by two of the nation’s leading scholars on mental health and sexuality, the 143-page report discusses over 200 peer-reviewed studies in the biological, psychological, and social sciences, painstakingly documenting what scientific research shows and does not show about sexuality and gender.

The major takeaway, as the editor of the journal explains, is that “some of the most frequently heard claims about sexuality and gender are not supported by scientific evidence.”
That's certainly attention-grabbing.

The authors have impressive credentials, which makes me wonder why they chose this particular venue for publishing their work.  Would no one else take it, out of political correctness?  Or are there obvious flaws that the link above ignores?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Gallup On Voter ID Laws

Poll results from last week:
As partisan-fueled court battles over state voting laws are poised to shape the political landscape in 2016 and beyond, new Gallup research shows four in five Americans support both early voting and voter ID laws. A smaller majority of 63% support automatic voter registration...

Though many of the arguments for early voting and against voter ID laws frequently cite minorities' voting access, nonwhites' views of the two policies don't differ markedly from those of whites. Seventy-seven percent of nonwhites favor both policies, while whites favor each at 81%. Nonwhites are, however, more likely to support automatic voter registration (71%) than are whites (59%).
Just sayin'.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Pressure Building

The first full week of school starts tomorrow.  I can't use any lesson plan I've ever created--new standards, new curricula, new textbooks.  My 9th master's class starts tomorrow.  I'm on our "school improvement team", which will meet a full Friday every month to help prepare the school for our WASC visit in the spring (accreditation).  I'll be supervising detention on Monday afternoons.

I'm starting to feel overwhelmed.  This feeling occurs at the beginning of every school year but feels a little more intense now because I've added some new events (above) to my dance card.  Of course I'll get through it as I always do, but that recognition doesn't mean that the anxiety isn't there!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

California Is Not A Free State

This article referencing the Cato Institute's 2016 study on freedom in the states does not look good for Californians.  In fact, we should be completely ashamed of our government:
The top five states are as follows (the number indicates a place change since the last study:
1. New Hampshire +1
2. Alaska +7
3. Oklahoma +2
4. Indiana =
5. South Dakota -4
The bottom five are as follows:
45. Connecticut -1
46. Maryland =
47. New Jersey =
48. Hawaii =
49. California =
50. New York =
We are not in good company.

Among others, California is in the bottom 5 for regulatory policy and gun rights.  Given the bad shape we're in, perhaps it isn't surprising that we're in the top 5 for alcohol policy--if we stay drunk, maybe we won't notice our rights being stripped from us.

Democrats have run our legislature pretty much my entire life.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

First Day Of School

Today was the first day of school for our students.  I like that they only come Thursday and Friday, it allows us to ease them back into school mode.

The world didn't come to an end, so I guess that's something.

Being In Charge

I was reading this post the other day and came across "the stepmother story":
Growing up, my stepmother was every evil cliche imaginable, and then some, but from her I learned how fault can be found with anything, and how things can be easily twisted and spun. I would be told to clean the bathroom, and with her that meant no speck of dirt, nor single hair or smudge could be found anywhere, on anything. I would spend hours cleaning it, and at the end she would ask me if I were done. Upon answering yes, she would hunt for any flaw, and inevitably she would find one. A hair would have settled from the air, or a speck would have been missed.

And she would say “you lied to me, you were not done. You see? You can’t do anything right. Now, are you done?” And, invariably, I would clean the speck and nod and agree that I had missed the spot and was, in fact, not done. The routine of humiliation repeated for every task, and every thing I ever did. I soon learned that it was not about the cleanliness of the bathroom, it was about raw power, about breaking me down so that I would view myself as beneath her. The new nobility does that to Americans every day.

Our government is much like my stepmother in this. Take any freedom you now possess. The possibility exists that some will misuse it. Some will use their freedom to speak to spout ugly, nasty things. They are the speck in the bathroom. Then they are brought out and paraded before the populace as reasons freedom isn’t good. The bathroom is not clean, they will say, for this flaw was found in it. Then laws will be proposed to regulate the speck, and to combat it, and soon all freedom to speak is lost.
Of course this took me immediately to one of my favorites quotes, from Daniel Webster:
Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
This is why I am a conservative.  This is why I want limited government which operates within enumerated powers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Whatever Happens, Happens

We had a professional development day at school yesterday, and today was our teacher workday.  I had already gotten my classroom set up (there's not much to do besides setting up my desk/computer/equipment) so I took care of some administrative tasks.

I have all new textbooks so I could have started some planning, but I work best under a time constraint!  The other pre-calculus teacher and I will meet tomorrow to plan out our pacing for that course, and since I'm our only statistics teacher, I can figure that out on my own.

By 2:30 I had already gotten more than frustrated trying to log in and access all the online goodies that came with our new textbook adoption--conflicting instructions, incorrect codes, you'd think someone could do a better job than that--and at 3:00 the contractors (see link below) were supposed to shut off all our power, so I just decided to leave for home.

I'm as prepared for tomorrow as I can be.  Whatever happens, happens.

By the way, the concrete is poured around most of the office as of today.  Some things that are supposed to have been done by tomorrow will not be, but I'm honestly surprised they got as far as they did.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Why "Free College For All" Will Mostly Benefit the Middle Class And Above

Reynolds' Law:
The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.