Friday, September 30, 2005

Best Quote I've Ever Read About "Racism" And Education

From Joanne's blog:

One of the chief evils of racism is that it persuades victims that their lives are determined by forces outside their control. Kids need to know that they can determine their futures, most of the time, even in an imperfect world where some people will make negative judgments based on race, ethnicity, gender, whatever. Yes, there are racists out there. Do your homework. Read a book. Write a poem. Design your future home. (emphasis mine--Darren)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Playing Football With No Legs

This gets filed under the "most amazing thing I saw today" category.

Go here and click on the slide show. And then think about how tough you have it.

New Member of the Family

My son and I picked up Boomer today. He's a 6-month-old pup we adopted at an "adoption fair" at a local mall this past weekend. We've spent the late afternoon and evening getting acquainted, taking walkies, etc. Pictures will be posted soon :-)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Two Dirty Words You Can't Say At Bucknell

For those of you old enough to get that reference, I offer apologies to George Carlin.

Anyway, Evan Coyne Maloney, my newest hero, has yet another story of political correctness run amok at his alma mater of Bucknell. He's actually made a documentary about campus political correctness and bias, a free download. Learn more about it here. If memory serves, it's about 45 min long and it's a howler. Should the full-length version ever make it to theaters here in sunny Sacramento, I'll be among the first in line.

Perhaps I'll take my Current Events Club at school to go see it :-)

Email From CTA

-----Original Message-----
From: CTA - Capital Service Center []
Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2005 9:07 PM
Subject: Local CTA Update: Katrina, Health Care & the Campaign

This has been a very challenging month, both in California and, of course, in the Gulf States. Looking forward, here's some information that may help:

- The National Education Association (NEA) has taken the lead in school-related hurricane relief. In addition to donating more than $500,000 to our colleagues affected by Katrina, the NEA has created an Adopt-a-School program, where your school can "adopt" another in need. To learn more or to contribute, please go to:

- Frustrated by skyrocketing health care costs? Tired of hearing "it's a national problem; there's not much we can do about it"? We are, too. To combat rising costs and insure better quality care, CTA has joined in partnership with districts, other unions, and private sector employers to create the California Health Care Coalition. And luckily, many of us live in or near two of the health care markets that will be targeted by the Coalition for its initial efforts: Sacramento and Modesto. To learn more about the Coalition and its goals, please go to: .

After an extremely successful July kickoff in Modesto, the group's next meeting will be in Sacramento on October 17 (if you are a local president, bargaining team member or are particularly interested in this effort and want more information, please feel free reply to this email). Stay tuned for updates on this exciting effort!

- Unfortunately, Campaign 2005 is in full swing. This is not an election we wanted or need, but it is one we must fight. To do your part -- and we need everyone to do his/her part -- please learn more about the issues ( and and volunteer at one of our local phone banks in Citrus Heights, Sacramento, San Juan, Elk Grove, Folsom-Cordova or Woodland. To volunteer, please contact Kris Dickson at CTA's Citrus Heights Office (916-723-2822 or


2 things.

1. Wal-Mart has donated how much in cash, goods, and services for Katrina relief, compared to $500K by the NEA?
2. I'm thinking I should volunteer to work on a phone bank. I'll read from the script--the script that I provide myself!

F***ing With History at Gettysburg

Developers want to put a casino in Gettysburg, PA. They say it won't be on actual battlefield land, ignoring the fact that the whole area is sacred. What's next, a floating casino over the Titanic? Let's put a casino on The Mall in DC. How about at Normandy? Or at Auschwitz? Or at Giza?

I'm not against casinos. Heck, of the whopping 4 stocks I own, three of them are casinos (and doing moderately well, thank you, which is more than I can say for Tootsie Roll). But they don't belong everywhere, and the hallowed ground of Gettysburg, which my son and I visited 13 months ago with a friend and his family, is just such a place.

I agree with the Op-Ed contributor linked above in the New York Times:
Building a casino at Gettysburg would be more than a gamble; it would be
folly. It cheapens the sacrifice of those who gave "the last full measure of
devotion" on that field. Casinos are everywhere, but there's only one
Update: I told my 9-year-old son about this this morning. He first response bordered on horror. I'll paraphrase here, but I'm pretty close: "They can't build casinos there. If they build casinos, they'll need to build more restaurants. And then they'll need more hotels. And pretty soon there won't be any Gettysburg left." And this is a kid who loves to go to Reno and/or Las Vegas with me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Lawsuit Against CTA

As many of my readers are aware, the California Teachers' Association is tacking on an additional $6/month in dues this year, increasing to $12/month next year and $18/month the year after that, specifically to raise money to fight Governor Schwarzenegger's proposed ballot initiatives. To avoid legal hassles they say that this increase is to "service debt", but in statements to the press some spokespeople seem to forget that convenient falsehood and actually tell the truth.

The National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation has filed a lawsuit with regards to this dues increase. Even though it's a class-action lawsuit, I contacted them and told them I'd like to be added as an actual plaintiff. Here is their response, which I have permission to post:

Dear Sir,
I came across your website ( and your post regarding contacting the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation about joining the lawsuit. Below is a response from the lead attorney of the lawsuit to your offer of joining the suit:

Thanks for your support. When I finished trying to get an injunction, later this week, I will be back in touch with you on your offer to help. The lawsuit was filed as a class action on behalf of both members and nonmembers of the CTA. If I am successful in both the injunction and class, you will receive the benefits of the lawsuit. I will know more later this week after I have visited the judge.

Thanks, again.
Milton Chappell
Staff Attorney
Attorney for Plaintiffs and the Requested Class in
Liegmann v. CTA, No. C-05-03828 (N.D. Cal.)

Additionally I would ask are you a member of the CTA or do you pay agency fees? Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

-Patrick Semmens


Patrick T Semmens
Legal Information Assistant
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
8001 Braddock Road, Suite 600
Springfield, VA 22160

It's a small glimmer of hope.

Links To Nudity!

Here are more pictures of naked people protesting the President. I didn't understand the point of doing that until one reader commented: The purpose of such protests is to offend and not to persuade.


This link contains links to pictures of what little boys would call "nekkid ladies" showing off their ta-ta's to protest the President. Please do not view these pictures if you are offended by large, saggy breasts. Please do not view these pictures if your mommy will get her panties in a bunch knowing that you got to those pictures through a link from a link from this site (that is, twice removed).

Hopefully that provides enough of a disclaimer.

Long-time readers (at least those who have been here since July 2005!) will understand why I wrote my disclaimer the way I did. If you don't, please read this post followed by this one. Little RotLC history here :-)

Press Bias Dissected

What follows in this link is a slow, steady, peace-by-peace (get the pun?) disassembly of a picture, run in the San Francisco Chronicle, of an "aware" teenager who participated in the last weekend's anti-Bush, anti-war rally in San Francisco. That's what the Chron reported, but it turns out, it's not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. As someone who was there said,

But this simple analysis reveals the very subtle but insidious type of bias that occurs in the media all the time. The Chronicle did not print an inaccuracy, nor did it doctor a photograph to misrepresent the facts. Instead, the Chronicle committed the sin of omission: it told you the truth, but it didn't tell you the whole truth.

Because the whole truth -- that the girl was part of a group of naive teenagers recruited by Communist activists [emphasis added--Darren] to wear terrorist-style bandannas and carry Palestinian flags and obscene placards....

He was there. He took almost the same picture. And he shows you more than the Chron did. And his pictures tell an entirely different story than what was reported.

When those of us on the center-right complain about press bias, this is the poster child of what we're talking about.

2008 Presidential Election

From the Chicago Tribune:

Who Hillary needs on the ticket is Bill. Not just as a potential first spouse, but as an actual vice presidential candidate.

"Wait a minute," I can hear you saying. "Bill served eight years already and can't run anymore."

True enough. The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does restrict a sitting president to two terms in office. But it doesn't say anything about preventing such a person from running for vice president.

The 12th Amendment states that anyone who is eligible for the presidency under Article II is eligible for the vice presidency. As a natural-born American older than 35, Bill Clinton qualifies, and there's nothing in the 22nd Amendment to disqualify him based on his years as president.

Imagine. A Democratic ticket in 2008 made up of both Clintons. Who could beat that combination?

He's Southern spice; she's Northern ice [emphasis mine--Darren]. It's a marketing duo made in political heaven.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Three Completely Unrelated Links

Women significantly outnumber men on America's college campuses. Affirmative action for men, anyone? click

There's a blog movement called Porkbusters, which encourages people to identify porkbarrel spending in their own congressional districts and to lobby their congressman to "give up the pork" as a way to help pay for Gulf States' hurricane damage without putting the federal government into even further debt. Again, this is supposed to be pork barrel spending, not genuinely useful and justifiable federal spending. The author of this post attacked the entire federal budget. Anyone could argue any specific portion of this proposal, since each of these cuts has a constituency, but the only proposal which met with a "Oh HEYALL no!" from me was the one pertaining to National Parks and the like.

And here, the author took a look at Markos "Screw Them" Zuniga's suggestions on "do's and don't's" for his fellow lefties at this weekend's Mama Moonbat rally, and showed that people didn't much follow Kos' advice.

Jedi Library in Dublin, Ireland

Hat tip: Oxblog.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Selecting Supreme Court Justices

This was published in the Los Angeles Times, not known for its conservative leanings:

To refresh our memories, President Clinton had a chance to make two appointments to the Supreme Court. The first came with the retirement of Justice Byron White, a conservative who cast one of the two votes against Roe vs. Wade. And just one year before his retirement, White, joining three other justices, dissented in the 5-4 pro-abortion decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania vs. Casey.

With the court so closely divided, what did Clinton do to preserve the balance? Did he replace White with another conservative, someone equally clear that there is no constitutional protection for abortion? He chose the former general counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union, a leading liberal law scholar whose special interest was women's rights: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Any question how close she was going to be to White?

The president did what presidents always do. He picked someone he thought would be a good justice according to his own views. He didn't worry about preserving the balance on the court, and he certainly didn't worry about maintaining the court's division over abortion.

And Ginsburg was confirmed by a vote of 96-3.

It's time to return to the understanding that presidents get to pick the judges they want, as long as they're qualified for the job, and that senators are voting not on whether a nominee conforms to their preferences but on whether he or she shows the competence and temperament necessary to the judicial role. It's time to recognize the Clinton Precedent as the benchmark for what presidents do.

Lefties sure aren't going to like this., The Legacy Project

Welcome to the Legacy Project's website. Our mission is to honor America's veterans and active duty personnel by preserving their wartime letters. We believe that these letters (and e-mails) help current generations and those to come better understand both the realities of warfare and the sacrifices made by the men and women who have served—or are now serving—in the armed forces.
Go. Read. Marvel.

I have letters that my relatives in the hinterlands of Pennsylvania wrote to my great-great-great-grandfather in the Civil War. I have a couple v-mails that my grandfather wrote home to his parents (in the hinterlands of Pennsylvania) in WWII, including the one where he mentions meeting the woman who would, in a few months, become his wife--and eventually my grandmother. I have letters my friends wrote to me during Desert Shield/Storm and now the Iraq occupation.

I've offered these to the Legacy Project.


Launched on November 11, 1998, the Legacy Project is a national, all-volunteer effort that encourages Americans to honor and remember those who have served—or are currently serving—this nation in wartime by seeking out and preserving their letters and e-mails home. We believe personal correspondences offer unique insight into warfare and the thoughts and perspectives of those who have experienced it firsthand.

These letters and e-mails are also powerful reminders that the members of the armed forces are not just soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen; they are husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, and their letters and e-mails capture their distinct voices and personalities. Every one of these individuals has a story to tell, and our mission is to preserve their stories—as expressed in their own words—for posterity.

Here's more:

Although we appreciate the generosity of those who have offered, the Legacy Project does not accept monetary donations. Nor do we solicit grants, government funding, or any other form of financial assistance. The Legacy Project is able to support itself thanks to the assistance of volunteers, who donate both their time and the necessary financial resources to cover all administrative costs.

What adjectives can I use to describe the people doing this? Generous? Patriotic? What other ones?

I am humbled.

New Addition To The Family

Adoption is a good thing. We should get him on Friday. 6 months old, beautiful chocolate brown....

I'll post pictures when we he gets here and we take some. I think Eric Scheie would be pleased.

How Did The MSM Cover Mama Moonbat's Rally Today?

Instapundit had a roundup from around the blogosphere, including some uncomplimentary comments from--yes, you will be surprised--the Kos Kids! Here's the snip:

MORE STILL: Bad reviews even at DailyKos: "Watching clips of the Answer Anti-War Rally, all I see are things that I want nothing to do with. . . . I watch this rally and see people basically supporting the Hamas, etc., and the suicide killings of innocent Israelis in cafes, on buses, etc."

Which speaks well for you, but that's who holds these rallies. As I said before, if there were an authentic grassroots anti-war movement, then the rallies wouldn't be dominated by fringers. Reading the comments is interesting, because a lot of people are saying the kind of stuff about A.N.S.W.E.R. that I've been saying for years. That sounds like good news, to me. I support the war, but I'm not afraid of an intellectually and morally serious antiwar movement. We just haven't had one of those.

Hear hear.

Harvard Law School

From Discriminations comes this entire post:

Equality At Harvard (Or Not) September 20, 2005

Harvard Law School just reversed itself, announcng that it would after all allow military recruiters on campus even though the Pentagon has refused to abandon its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy to assuage the academic conscience. (HatTip to Howard Bashman)

Meanwhile, university president Laurence Summers announced that Harvard would file an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to invalidate the Solomon Amendment, which cuts off funds to colleges that won't allow military recruiters.

“The Law School and the University share a deep and enduring commitment to the principles of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity for all persons,” Summers said.
Silly me. All this time I thought Harvard gave some people preferences based on their race, which violates both the principles of nondiscrimination and the principle of equal opportunity for all persons.


Definition: Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia refers to an abnormal and persistent fear of long words.

Via Classical Values and this site.

'A' For Effort

I have nothing to add to this except to say that self-esteem is the result of achievement, not the cause of it.

Whining About Failing Engineering School

Joanne also provides us with this bit of comedy, a failed engineering student who wants to tell the world how to really teach engineering students. It starts off like this:
If you want more engineers in the United States, you must find a way for America's engineering programs to retain students like, well, me: people smart enough to do the math and motivated enough to at least take a bite at the engineering apple, but turned off by the overwhelming coursework....

Update, 2/14/11: The old link is gone, long live the new link.

New Teachers *Must* Be Libs, Redux

In this May 31st post I mentioned what is apparently now a new trend--prospective teachers are being evaluated on their "dispositions", which is really just eduspeak for "is this person a lib like us". Over at Joanne's site is a story about a "disposition" claim that's been taken up by FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Think ACLU, only doing what's right :-)

Drinking Alcohol, And My School Paper

The paper at the school at which I teach ran an article/editorial about student drinking and dances. To summarize, the article said to drink after the dance, because there's no sense in coming drunk to a dance only to get busted. Probably to cover someone's hide, the last sentence stated that students should wait until after the dance to drink, long after, like when it's legal. I thought that was a good rhetorical device to use :-)

And with that intro, here's a joke email I got.

SUBJECT: ALCOHOL WARNING Due to increasing product liability litigation, American liquor manufacturers have accepted the FDA's suggestion that the following warning labels be placed immediately on all varieties of alcohol containers:

WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may leave you wondering what the hell happened to your bra and panties.
WARNING: the consumption of alcohol may make you think you are whispering when you are not.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol is a major factor in dancing like a fool.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause you to think you can sing.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may lead you to believe that ex- lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at four in the morning.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may make you think you can logically converse with other members of the opposite sex without spitting.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol is the leading cause of inexplicable rug burns on the forehead, knees and lower back.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may lead you to think people are laughing WITH you.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause pregnancy.
WARNING: The crumsumpten of alcahol may Mack you thinh you can tipe reel goode

NEA Resolutions

NEA adopted a series of resolutions (probably hundreds) at its annual convention in early July. What are these resolutions that we dues-paying members of the union are now supposed to support? No one knows.

No one knows because they're not published in the NEA Today (only some are), and they're not available on the web, either. From an email I received:
Unfortunately, the 2005 Resolutions have not yet been posted to the Web site. We expect to have them posted soon. I'm sorry for the

Bonnie Gardner
Web editor
Remember, these were adopted in early July. 2 1/2 months ago. Are they hiding something?

Critical Thinking

I got this from a prospective teacher:
Critical thinking in K12 students: Good.
Critical thinking in EduStudents: Bad.
He's learning.  Must not challenge ed school orthodoxy.

I'm Toying With The Idea Of Applying

Single Subject Matter Program Reviewers Needed
The Commission will host several meetings to train reviewers of single subject matter programs. These programs enable teacher candidates to meet the subject matter requirements for single subject credentials. Reviewers with K-12 or higher education teaching experience and an academic degree in the subject are needed to review programs in English, mathematics, science, social science, art, music, languages other than English, and physical education. Experience working with state standards is also important. The Commission will cover expenses for reviewers selected to attend both full days of the meeting. Interested parties should submit the nomination form below immediately as resources are limited.

>>> Download the Invitation Form:
PDF Version:

>>> Download the Nomination Form:
PDF Version:
Word Version:

A year and a half ago I went to St. Louis for a few days and worked with the American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence, an organization working on national certification of teachers at both the beginning and "master" stages. The master stage would be akin to National Board certification, but instead of focusing on portfolios and jumping through hoops, relies on tested subject matter knowledge and student performance. In St. Louis I worked with about 2 dozen math educators from around the country, helping to determine the standards by which new teachers would be certified by ABCTE. Sounds a lot like what's going on here with the California Commission of Teacher Credentialing.

Protesting Your "Loss Of Free Speech" By Denying Others Theirs

From the hypocrisy department, via Dan Weintraub of the major Sacramento newspaper (free registration probably required):

Attorneys, supporters and plaintiffs represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation of Springfield, Va., tried to announce the filing of the suit at a sidewalk press conference in front of the CTA's headquarters in downtown Sacramento. They were drowned out, however, by more than 100 union activists shouting, "Shame on you!"

I love pointing out hypocrisy. And this is yet another problem I have with unions. We claim to be professionals, then at the slightest challenge to our orthodoxy, act like idiots. If your position is strong enough to withstand scrutiny you don't need to drown out others. In the political arena the antidote to speech you don't like is more speech, getting your stronger ideas out, not trying to prevent others from speaking.

The suit being talked about? The one filed against the California Teachers Association to prevent it from assessing all members up to $20/month (they say for only 3 years, but we all know it will go on forever) specifically to fight the governor's initiatives on the November ballot, including one that will require public employee unions to get members' permission each year before spending that member's dues money on political causes! The union claims that such a requirement inhibits "our" (teachers) free speech by making it harder to raise money to get our word out.

No wonder they're squawking!

At the press conference in front of the union's 10th Street headquarters, supporters of the lawsuit continued on with their statements behind a podium set up on the sidewalk even though the shouting of the demonstrators made it impossible to hear them.

"It's an example of the intimidation and thuggery that our public school teachers are working under every day of the week, and as a parent and as a Californian, I have had enough of it," state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, who attended the news conference, said in an interview afterward.

Union supporters said they conducted the protest to demonstrate that the plaintiffs do not speak for the majority of school teachers in the state.

"It's our building, it's our house," said Don Hillman, a CTA political organizer. "We felt that our voice should be heard in front of our house."

And you have to love that mature attitude from a "professional".

I contacted the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation and asked them to add me to the list of plaintiffs. I'm sure it's too late to do that, but I offered nonetheless.

Incidentally, in every state where such "paycheck protection" laws were put on the books, money for political causes dropped off dramatically--by members of all parties. Apparently, many of us want our union working on pay and working conditions, not on social or political causes.

Oxblog ROCKS With Mama Moonbat Rally Coverage

This is what investigative reporting in the media used to be. David Adesnick, whom I once accused in a personal email of being a leftie (because of a post he wrote), has written a series of posts that, if I hadn't already corrected myself, would merit a very large "I WAS WRONG".

In this post (2:35 am), he researches a little about what A.N.S.W.E.R. is really all about. It's not pretty. (Tie-in to education: this organization had a table set up, within the perimeter and hence officially sanctioned, at the anti-Schwarzenegger Day of Action Rally at the Capitol in Sacramento back in May. They even provided signs for teachers and nurses to carry. I blogged about it here, here, and here, among other places.) Just as a review, this is what the New York Times, conservative paper that it is, had to say about ANSWER:
Answer, whose name stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, was formed a few days after Sept. 11, 2001, by activists who had already begun coming together to protest policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Some of the group's chief organizers are active in the Workers World Party, a radical Socialist group with roots in the Stalin-era Soviet Union. The party has taken positions that include defense of the Iraqi and North Korean governments and support for Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugolav president being tried on war crimes charges.

Here (4:44 am post) Oxblog provides a little information about United For Peace and Justice, another sponsor of today's rally.

Guess what the political philosophies are of these two organizations? I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with shmomunist. Seriously. No exaggerating.

In this 4:00 am post he offers a 5-question quiz he wants to give protestors. I know 4 of the answers but am unsure about one. His reference and link to Evan Coyne Maloney is well worth a look-see.

His 3:15 am post shows some pretty pathetic coverage by the Washington Post. This is news?

And Instapundit shows us a couple of pictures of war supporters. I hope he'll provide more as he gets them.

WAIT! DID YOU HEAR THAT? I think I heard some moonbats howling!

Friday, September 23, 2005

NY Civil Liberties Union Sues To Stop Military Recruiting On Campus

A lawsuit to stop military recruiting on high school campuses.

Eugene Volokh lists several thing wrong with the NYCLU's positons. Points 3 and 4 are my favorites.

Hilarious Song and Artist

For background music in class today I'm playing Sounds of the Eighties: 1985. One of the songs on this compilation is called Walking on Sunshine--and it's by Katrina and the Waves!

Some radio station in New Orleans should pick up on this and play it all day, every day, for awhile. It could be "The Official Theme Song of the Reconstruction!"

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Cindy Sheehan and A.N.S.W.E.R.

Back in May I told you about that close friend of the California Teachers' Association, the neo-Stalinist organization International A.N.S.W.E.R. Seems like they're now good friends with Cindy Sheehan.

And to their credit, some high profile Democrats will not be marching with Mama Moonbat when she holds her little rally in DC this weekend.

Beautiful Point About America

An author had this observation recently, while driving across America from Seattle to DC:

More seriously, the journey made me appreciate the vision of our Founding Fathers, a republic of sovereign states.

When discussing the military, political, economic and cultural dominance of the United States, many foreigners attribute America's success to its size and natural resources. But what of Russia, China, India or Brazil? With equally vast, populous and abundantly endowed lands, why aren't they so dominant?

Why indeed? Maybe those slave-owning capitalist deists had some pretty good ideas a couple hundred years ago.

Just Got A Call From CTA

At about 5:45 tonight I got a call from a CTA staff member who encouraged me to vote the party line on certain propositions on the ballot for this November's special election. A half an hour later (now) I finish my call with her. Wow.

There's no way I'm going to do this phone call justice in this post. It was refreshing to actually have a conversation with a CTA staff member (as opposed to a supporter), a conversation in which we actually engaged each other and didn't just hurl sound bites at each other. She seemed genuine in her beliefs, which included genuine disappointment that CTA has not earned my respect or support. She claimed to be a Republican, but she gave all the standard union cliches:
1. You don't *have* to be a union member, so you're really *not* giving your money to CTA against your will.
2. I'm sorry you don't see all the good things CTA does for you.
3. Someone has to stand up to the governor on education issues.

Of course, I gave my standard responses to such points:
1. Unless I'm a union member or have religious convictions against joining a union, my only options not to be a union member are a) not to be a public school teacher, admittedly a poor choice, or b) be an agency fee payer, get approximately 15% of my dues refunded to me each year, and have no union rights or privileges--including the right to vote on my own contract!--even though I'd still be paying over $800/year to the union. I'm essentially required to be a union member and to have my money taken from me against my will by a government entity and given to a non-government entity.
2. The fact that you see what CTA does as "good for me" does not mean that that is so. I see much of what they do as antithetical to my beliefs.
3. I don't want my union taking my money and spending it on political causes, even education issues. When they do that they act like the very special interest that the governor claims we are! Decisions about education should be left to the taxpayers, through their elected representatives, or at the local level, to the parents of the district, through their elected school board.

There were several other topics that we discussed.

Why don't these CTA people see the injustice of compelling me to give my money so they can spend it without any accountability to me? If I had to guess, I'd say that if CTA took a position on evolution vs. intelligent design, they'd probably go with evolution--yet as an organization CTA isn't evolving. It's operating 1950's style in the 21st century. Even some AFL-CIO unions are starting to see the light. Why can't CTA see that I feel disenfranchised by the very union I involuntarily bankroll--not because I don't have a say, but because my minority view is never seriously considered?

She said she took several notes on my complaints about the union and would share them with other staff members. I don't expect anything to occur, but it was nice to think that someone at least listened.

And as a finale, read this article about unions in general :-)

Interesting View On California's Same-Sex Marriage Bill

We conservatives have long opined that same-sex marriage is a social topic best left to legislatures, not judges. Now both houses of the California Legislature have passed a same-sex marriage bill--and conservatives cry foul because an "out of touch legislature" is trying to foist an unpopular position onto the citizens of California! But Governor Schwarzenegger has already said he'll veto it anyway.

While the legislature is out of touch, this bill was crafted entirely within the confines of the law. People don't have to like the result--many of us don't like Roe v. Wade--but when everyone plays by the rules and we don't like the outcome, we're supposed to act dignified, accept the result, continue to play by the rules, and be thankful we live in a society where the rule of law is accepted. Bush v. Gore opponents, that goes for you, too.

But Hugh Hewitt has an interesting point on this topic: Why isn't anyone in the media asking national Democrats what they think of this watershed event? I mean, it's the first time a state legislature has passed, without the order of a court, a bill allowing same-sex marriage. Isn't that big news? It was certainly big national news when Massachusetts was ordered to draft such a law, and big-name lawmakers from around the country chimed in on it. Why so little mention of it now? Hugh offers one possible answer.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Dan's Crying. How Sad.

Dan Rather cries because the peons are now challenging the news organizations on their agendas instead of merely genuflecting before them. Oh, and now there's competition.

What a loser.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Conspiracy Theories

The following email exchange took place between a fellow West Point graduate and me, regarding the theories that the levees in New Orleans had been deliberately blown:

It's a complex, sordid tale, involving the NO city government, the Chicago mob, the Freemasons, the Bush Crime Family, ancient artifacts smuggled out of Iraq by the LANG, Huey Long, the JFK investigation, Columbian Drug lords, the House of Windsor, Atlantis, the Swedish Bikini Team, Herbert Hoover, Haitian Voodoo Rituals, Bill Clinton, Mena Airport, Castro, The Cult of Mithras, the Spanish Bourbons, the lost treasure of Jean Lafayette, Walt Disney, a lost set of Mardi Gras beads, the TV show "Cops", Chiang Kai-Chek, illegal gambling, oil, ancient Egyptian crocodile cults, desecrated graveyards, a gypsy curse, Russian weather control machines, CBS's cancellation of all "rural" shows in 1971, and Jerry Springer.

I state as given fact that the House of Windsor is *not* involved.

I should have been clearer. By "House of Windsor", I meant the British Royal Family, not a necktie shop or the guy in Cal. who makes Windsor chairs.

And I think the Royal connection is obvious, given the connections they have with the Freemasons, MI-6, Columbian drug cartels, the assassination of Princess Di, the creation of Wahabi Islam, and a national cuisine that makes MREs seem positively gourmet by comparison.

Amateur. That's just what they *want* you to think.

On the contrary, they *want* you to think that is what they want you to think. That way, you will think the truth is a deception, and thus be deceived into seeking truth down a false path. But if you realize that they want you to think that they want you to think the truth is deception, then you won't be deceived and will think what you want to think, which is not the same as what they want you to think is what you want to think. Because what they want you to think you want to think that is what they want you to think, but you really want to think that they don't want you to think that is what they want you to think. That way you will not be tricked into thinking what they want you to think, and you will be able to think clearly.

At that point I surrendered. He obviously knows more about the tinfoil hat crowd than I do :-)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Day To Be Offended

According to my calendar, today is Respect For The Aged Day in Japan. I had better not get any cards from students in recognition of this holiday.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Free Speech Issue On Campus?

LittleGreenFootballs links us to a story about "censored" art at an on-campus exhibit. I'm forced to agree with the chancellor, for the same reason I disagreed with the California Attorney General's allowing of a picture of the US going down a toilet to be displayed in the state justice department's building:

“This is an exhibit that UWGB sponsors, and it’s done with taxpayers’ money. When we do this, we get to decide what we show and what types of messages we want to send out,” Shepard said. “I don’t want the reputation of UWGB to represent advocacy of assassination.” [emahasis added--Darren]

The art in question was a picture of a mock postage stamp showing President Bush with a gun to his head.

I also agree with this quote:
“It would be censorship if we told students that they couldn’t wear T-shirts with this picture on it. But because it’s in the gallery and paid for with taxpayers’ money, we can decide what hangs there,” he said. “The piece won’t be hung up. Any reference to the piece that’s in the gallery is left up to the gallery director.”

Constitution Day

Something I didn't know about Constitution Day--mandating teaching about the Constitution was the brainchild of a Democrat, one Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

Public Law 108-447 didn't start out as a bill to promote civic education. It is actually an appropriations bill.

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, added an amendment designating September 17 as Constitution Day, mandating the teaching of the Constitution in schools that receive federal funds, as well as federal agencies. Since September 17, the actual birthday of the Constitution, falls on a Saturday this year, schools will be observing the day on Friday, September 16.

From CNN.

Did your school do anything related to Constitution Day on Friday? Mine didn't. Don't think we have anything planned for Monday, either.

Feds To Challenge Pledge Ban

CNN gives us this story stating that the US Justice Department will challenge a US District Court's ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional.

The high court "has affirmed time and again that such official acknowledgments of our nation's religious heritage, foundation and character are constitutional," [US Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales said in a statement a day after the ruling by U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton in San Francisco.

CNN's story has one minor flaw that I caught.

The decisions by Karlton and the appeals court conflict with an August opinion by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. That court upheld a Virginia law requiring public schools lead daily Pledge of Allegiance recitation, similar to the requirement in California.

California does not require the pledge to said in school classrooms. State ed code requires a "daily patriotic exercise" in the public schools, and the law specifically states that the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance will satisfy the requirements of that law. Saying the pledge was so contentious at the school at which I teach that we had to compromise on a daily patriotic quote. If Virginia's law requires the schools to lead the recitation of the pledge, that's not very similar to California's law at all.

And let's not forget that individual recitation of the pledge is not required, as determined by the Supreme Court in 1943.

This CNN story, from the last pledge go-around in 2003, has two interesting quotes.

The ban was put on hold until the high court issues a final ruling. The First Amendment bans government "establishment of religion," but the Supreme Court twice previously has declared the pledge constitutional.

Legal precedent makes reciting the pledge a voluntary act, but Newdow argues it is unconstitutional for students to be forced to hear it, saying the teacher-led recitations carry the stamp of government approval. [emphasis mine--Darren]

I wonder if, when the Supreme Court rules that it is constitutional, lefties will sport bumper stickers saying "It's not my pledge." And of those that do, I wonder if their indignation will be real or just another reason to hate the right. But hey, they still have Roe.

Trading Faces

This story falls under the "anything else that catches my attention" category.

A doctor in Cleveland is interviewing patients for a first ever, ghoulish-sounding operation--a face transplant. The story is fairly detailed, but I was struck by this information about the consent forms:

The "consent form" says that this surgery is so novel and its risks so unknown that doctors don't think informed consent is even possible.

Here is what it tells potential patients:

Your face will be removed and replaced with one donated from a cadaver, matched for tissue type, age, sex and skin color. Surgery should last 8 to 10 hours; the hospital stay, 10 to 14 days.

Complications could include infections that turn your new face black and require a second transplant or reconstruction with skin grafts. Drugs to prevent rejection will be needed lifelong, and they raise the risk of kidney damage and cancer.

After the transplant you might feel remorse, disappointment, or grief or guilt toward the donor. The clinic will try to shield your identity, but the press likely will discover it.

The clinic will cover costs for the first patient; nothing about others has been decided.

Another form tells donor families that the person receiving the face will not resemble their dead loved one. The recipient should look similar to how he or she did before the injury because the new skin goes on existing bone and muscle, which give a face its shape.

All of the little things that make up facial expression — mannerisms like winking when telling a joke or blushing at a compliment — are hard-wired into the brain and personality, not embedded in the skin.

Some research suggests the end result would be a combination of the two appearances.

Surgeons will graft skin to cover the donor's wound, but a closed casket or cremation will be required.

Problems With The California Teacher Retirement System

The major Sacramento newspaper (free registration required) has plenty of details about school districts' mistakes with regards to retirement contributions, potentially costing the state or individual teachers big money. One of the districts mentioned is a former employer of mine, and to be perfectly honest, I've had a question about STRS (state teachers retirement system) calculations of mine from that same district for years now.

Michael Lopez Should Go Back To Blogging

I used to read Michael Lopez' Welcome To Highered Education! blog regularly--that is, before he stopped writing it. Now I'm treated to his wit and wisdom only when he guest blogs over at Joanne Jacobs' site.

In this post, Michael takes on the fact that some displaced students in Michigan will be exempted from some standardized testing due to emotional trauma brought on by Hurricane Katrina. Here's a sample of his no-holds-barred style:

I know some people are going to think I'm hard-hearted, but really there's no reason that a kid who's ready to go back to school can't sit down and take a test.

It's. Just. A. Test.

You sit down, and you take it. All this fretting about students' being in the "right frame of mind" for standardized testing is a waste of time, energy, and only serves to reinforce the specious premise upon which it's based. In a way, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You hype the test as something scary, something for which you need to be emotionally prepared... and it becomes more significant, it becomes scary.

Nothing would help those displaced kids more than being put back into the routine of life without grief counselors, without a bunch of fretting and worrying, and without special testing exemptions.

If they're that traumatized... they shouldn't be in school for a few days. But just like Viper told Jester to keep sending Maverick up, again and again until he got back the edge, you have to send the kids back into school until they recover.

The self-fulfilling prophecy comment could not be more true.

Update: Here's yet another one. This guy wields sarcasm like a surgeon uses a scalpel.

Another Update: Perhaps I should have put in the link in the first update. Oh well!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Glad I Went To British Columbia When I Did

Tipped off by Instapundit I went here, to learn:

Vancouver — A silent tectonic event, so powerful it has shifted southern Vancouver Island out to sea, but so subtle nobody has felt a thing, is slowly unfolding on the West Coast.

Scientists who are tracking the event with sensitive seismographs and earth orbiting satellites warn it could be a trigger for a massive earthquake -- some time, maybe soon.

New Trig?

Trig has been around for 2500 years or so, and this guy thinks he's rewritten it without sines, cosines, and tangents. If he sends me a free copy I'll read the book :-)

Thanks for the heads-up, Cameron.

Lawsuit Over CTA's Dues Increase (To Be Used For Politics)

Even if the plaintiffs win this, it won't affect me. I'm a union member.

I'm told by my union rep that our local union's vote to agree to CTA's $60/year dues increase was preceeded by one of our executive board members' 10 minute tirade against Governor Schwarzenegger, with no opportunity for rebuttal. Gawd this gets old.

Math and "Authentic Education"

EdWahoo has an interesting post about a British study purporting to show that fuzzy math resulted in better test scores and math knowledge than traditional math. And the post isn't as interesting as the comments.

Friday, September 16, 2005

More On NEA and Wal*Mart

Should I be surprised or disgusted?

It would be nice to be surprised, but I'm not. It would be nice not to be disgusted, but I am. Oh-for-two, in sports parlance.

On page 12 of NEA Today is a 1/2-page article slamming Wal*Mart. Why my union, which should be worrying about my pay and working conditions and nothing else, has an article about a corporation completely unrelated to those topics, or even to education, should surprise me. But I know why. It's because NEA couldn't care less about Darren. The NEA cares only about itself, and it feeds off my mandatory dues to satisfy itself. It's a blood-sucking leech, and that disgusts me.

What do they have against Wal*Mart? They're anti-union, the Walton family donates money for voucher initiatives, and wages are substandard. Yet how is it their profits soar? Oh, I know! They provide goods and services that droves of Americans seek! And they offer a number of jobs that are miniscule compared to the number of people who want them. People vote with more than ballots, they vote with their feet and with their wallets. And apparently there are lots of votes at Wal*Mart--except votes for unionizing.

Singling out a company by name? With my money? Am I the only one who sees anything wrong with this picture?

So I get frustrated and turn the pages of the magazine, and what do I spy on page 55? Why, a short blurb encouraging me to join Costco, a Sam's Club (and hence Wal*Mart) competitor. I have nothing against Costco, and apparently they're quite the good "corporate citizen", but it shouldn't be the place of the teachers' union to denigrate one company and promote its competitor.

Hurricane Relief:
Wal*Mart/Sam's Club: $28,000,000 in cash so far, plus more in goods
Costco: offering members the "opportunity to donate directly to the American Red Cross"
NEA: $1,000,000 (to be raised and given, not just given from current funds)

I wonder if Wal*Mart will try to make any points off these data? Nah, they're too busy providing services that people actually want--unlike the NEA.

Update: OK, this story isn't about the NEA in particular, but it is about a union that uses temporary employees as paid picketers outside a Wal*Mart in Henderson, NV. The closing says it all:

Yes, the UFCW is outsourcing its picketing to non-union workers, at a sub-standard pay rate with no benefits, in unsafe conditions, with no transportation or means to leave the premises, in order to protest the poor jobs inside Wal-Mart, where workers make twice as much.

To quote Glenn Reynolds: Heh.

NEA Today Factoid, And It's Relation to New Orleans Looting

Yes, I got my September 205 Issue of the NEA Today. Yes, there's plenty of post material in there for me :)

But for this post I want to comment on only one small piece of information, contained in a box at the lower left corner of page 10. Set aside in a colored box so as to draw attention to it, it says

That's how many kids live in poverty in America--the same now as 30 years ago, according to the 2004 Kids Count report put out by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Is that adequate yearly progress?

I'll leave aside for a moment the fact that my union, the one that legally gets my money in spite of my personal wishes, should be looking after me, not looking after every child in the United States. I'll leave aside for a moment the fact that the income level of children's parents is the responsibility of those parents, not the federal government. I'll leave aside for a moment the fact that I've never before heard of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. I'll leave aside for a moment that we have a much larger population now than we did 30 years ago, so if the same number of children are in poverty, that would be a smaller percentage (although one could read that 1 in 6 is the same number as 30 years ago).

What seems amazing to me is the fact that the NEA mentions this fact in such a way as to indict the federal government. If in fact this statistic is true, and I have no reason to believe that it isn't, it truly is an indictment all right--against the welfare state of the left. How many hundreds of billions of dollars or more have been spent on the War on Poverty and Johnson's Great Society--apparently to no avail?

These policies, and not racism or the Republican Party or big business or illegal aliens, have created a permanent underclass. Why? Because they rob people of the basic human drive to improve oneself. Recognizing this fact with welfare reform was one of the Clinton administration's greatest achievements--not because it lowered the cost of welfare payments to the American public, but because it brought dignity to people who previously had known none by encouraging them to work and giving them opportunities to learn skills so they could work. It was truly a hand up, not a handout, to steal a phrase.

The left would have us believe that welfare and food stamps and Medicare and The Projects are good for people. In the long term, they rot the soul. The excuses we heard for the looting in New Orleans after the hurricane deny that fact.

Jonathan Alter of Newsweek (of all places) wrote an exceptional article for the September 19th issue in which he seems to admit this. Anyone can find something he/she likes in this article--it see-saws back and forth between conservative and liberal talking points so much that, when aggregated, it makes sense. I disagree with the statement about New Orleans' looting and poverty, "But this was a case where the poor were clearly not at fault", but can't help but agree with "His (President Bush's) main involvement with poverty issues has been on education, where he sharply increased aid to poor schools as part of his No Child Left Behind initiative. Democrats have offered little on education beyond opposition to NCLB." How about this synthesis: "Liberals say the problem (poverty) is an economic system that's tilted to the rich; conservatives blame a debilitating culture of poverty. Clearly, it's both--a tangle of financial and personal pain that often goes beyond insufficient resources and lack of training. Family issues are critical." Anyone who's ever heard black kids taunted for "acting white" for doing well in school understands the effect of culture on poverty. Bottom line: I liked Alter's article. It didn't offer any solutions, but it gave a reasoned starting point for identifying the problems in need of solutions.

This post is a little more right-leaning, pointing out:

No one has really reported this story, as far as I can tell. In fact, some are already actively distorting it, blaming President Bush, for example, for failing to personally ensure that the Mayor of New Orleans had drafted an adequate evacuation plan. The worst example is an execrable piece from the Toronto Globe and Mail, by a supercilious Canadian who blames the chaos on American "individualism." But the truth is precisely the opposite: the chaos was caused by a system that was the exact opposite of individualism.

What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don't sit around and complain that the government hasn't taken care of them. And they don't use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.

Fortunately, there's light at the end of this tunnel. ABC News reporters seemed a little stunned after the President's speech last night when Astrodome tenants blamed the New Orleans mayor, and not President Bush, for their predicament. But I can't disagree with the closing comment from RealClearPolitics:

The welfare state—and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages—is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting.

And I'll go a step further. This is the welfare state that the NEA repeatedly endorses, encourages, and lobbies for--with my money.

And now lets go to Barbara Bush's infamous comment. I first heard about it from a Democrat former-lobbyist and current something-along-those-lines. It sounds very Marie Antoinette-esque, and I'm not going to defend Mrs. Bush because I don't know exactly which meaning she meant. But Gerard Baker of the Times Online (UK) has some interesting comments about it:

“What I’m hearing is that many of them want to stay in Texas,” the former First Lady said. “The hospitality has been so overwhelming. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.”

Not since Louis XVI’s missus puzzled about the dietary choices of indigent Parisians has there been such an appalling display of aristocratic ignorance. How dare she? How could she? Even the White House winced.

But in the disgust that greeted her remarks in Highgate and the Upper West Side no one stopped to consider the possibility that Mrs Bush was, in fact, dead right.

Anyone who has visited the most deprived parts of America’s cities, rather than merely empathised with them from afar, would have no difficulty whatsoever with the proposition that the inhabitants would prefer an air-conditioned sports stadium with all the food they can eat, the country’s best medical attention and the benign security of National Guard protection to the hunger, sickness and lawlessness in which many of them live.....

But Mrs Bush touched on a larger truth, almost wholly obscured in the rush to judgment. Most of the attention has focused on how the Government failed in responding to the disaster. I have done it myself. Grand conclusions have been drawn about the (flawed) nature of American society. I’ve done a bit of that too. But little has been said about what the response of ordinary Americans — not mayors or governors or presidents — tells us about the strengths of that same American society.

Hunger, sickness, and lawlessness. Apparently our Great Society programs are working miracles. But what about those evil capitalists?

Forty-two local businesses participated in a job fair for the new homeless at the Armoury on Tuesday; more wanted to take part but couldn’t because there was limited space. Twenty of the 150 or so evacuees were hired on the spot. An official at the District of Columbia government involved in organising the event said that more were expected to be offered jobs in the next few days. The exercise was such a success that employers are demanding another one. If there’s anyone left still to hire it will take place in the next couple of weeks.

The story is being replicated across the country. The victims of Katrina are getting new opportunities. Some of it comes from an immense outpouring of compassion by Americans in the form of hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable contributions and unquantifiable help in housing families and schooling children. Some of it comes from the unsentimental compassion of the free market: the unerring capacity of the capitalist system to match those who have something with those who need it, whether it be labour, capital, goods or services.

Both tell us far more about the way this country works, the strengths of its values and people, than the bureaucratic bungling in Baton Rouge and Washington.

Of course you will almost certainly not have read or seen much about this, especially outside the US. The world has indicted America once again on charges of ineptitude and racism and has moved on to more important matters such as Britney Spears’s baby. For a variety of reasons this good news about the response of ordinary Americans is of little interest to the media. First, no self-respecting reporter wants to waste his time with insights into the better angels of human nature. No one ever won a Pulitzer or a Bafta recounting banal tales of man’s humanity to man. [emphasis mine--Darren]

Up with capitalism.

Here's the most brilliant part of an already brilliant essay:

But the main reason I think these recovery efforts by millions of people attract insufficient attention is that most people have become conditioned to thinking solely in terms of government’s responsibility. Of course, the bulk of the recovery effort must be paid from public funds as President Bush announced yesterday but most Europeans and — despite decades of a so-called conservative revolution — a large number of Americans, can’t think beyond the government.

Something bad happens: it’s government’s fault for not preventing it. It’s government’s responsibility for cleaning up the mess. And if the mess gets bigger, that’s government’s fault too.

The irony is that New Orleans is one of those cities where government-dependency had reached such levels that a kind of economic and social anomie had set in.

Remember, the NEA wants the federal government to pay for everything--but doesn't expect results. Pay for schools, but don't test those kids to ensure they're learning something. Give money to poor people so we can show what a kind and moral society we are, but decades later the percentage of kids in poverty hasn't changed. Then, when we as a society reap what we have sown, often with NEA's full blessing, the "union" seeks to point the finger elsewhere.

My Son's School Schedule

Here's my son's 4th grade class schedule. I'm interested in comments on the lengths of time devoted to each subject, and in seeing other schools' schedules--especially the German school, 5wahls!

9:15-9:30 Check-in and homework check
9:30-11:00 Math
11:00-11:15 Recess
11:15-11:30 Read Aloud and healthy snack (teacher reads, kids eat)
11:30-1:05 Language Arts/spelling
1:05-1:45 Lunch
1:45-3:00 Social Studies/Science
3:00-3:35 Various Activities
3:35-3:40 Closing and homework

Monday alterations: 11:45-12:25 Music
Tuesday alterations: 2:10-2:40 Library/computers
Friday alterations: 10:15-10:55 Music
2:15-2:55 Art

Britain's Most Stressed

LONDON (Reuters) - Ambulance staff, teachers and social service workers are among Britain's most stressed professionals, according to a study on Friday.

Also feeling the pressure are call center operators, prison officers, administrative staff and police.

"What most of these professions have in common is a lot of face to face contact with a high degree of emotional labor," said Clare Millet, an occupational psychologist involved in the study.

FYI :-)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Katrina Coverage Bias

Here are two opinions that run counter to the standard "Bush (something that rhymes with 'died'), people died" cry coming from the left.

The first is a point that I've made in other posts and have been savaged for by commenters: the press isn't getting the story correct. Included in it is a link to an article that purports to show that FEMA's response to this crisis was no worse, and in some cases better, than in other crises--ones in which the President's head was not called for. Again I ask, what didn't happen here, at least in Louisiana, that did happen in Florida last year?

Quoting Ben Stein:
They used the storm and its attendant sorrows to continue their endless attack
on George W. Bush. Wildly inflated stories about the number of dead and
missing, totally made up old wives' tales of racism, breathless accounts of Bush
neglect that are utterly devoid of truth and of historical context -- this is
what the mainstream media gave us. The use of floating corpses, of horror
stories of plagues, the sad faces of refugees, the long-faced phony accusations
of intentional neglect and racism -- anything is grist for the media's endless
attempts to undermine the electorate's choice last November. It is sad,
but true that the media will use even the most heart breaking truths -- and then
add total inventions -- to try to weaken and then evict from office a man who
has done nothing wrong, but has instead turned himself inside out to help the
real victims.

The second is a firsthand account from an Instapundit reader.

Update: Here's a response to the President's speech--actually, to the responses of the victims/survivors who were interviewed by ABC News. Complete with video!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Pledge of Allegiance Outlawed In Schools

A (Carter-appointed) federal district judge in Sacramento ruled today that, in deference to the 9th Circuit Court's 2002 ruling that saying the Pledge of Allegiance in schools is unconstitutional--in a case that was tossed from the Supreme Court on a technicality--saying the Pledge of Allegiance in schools is in fact unconstitutional.

This ruling applies only to Northern California, but:

Karlton said he would sign a restraining order preventing the recitation of the pledge at the Elk Grove Unified, Rio Linda and Elverta Joint Elementary school districts in Sacramento County, where the plaintiffs' children attend.

This I don't understand. The Supreme Court has already ruled that no one is required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Objectors don't even have to stand in respect during the Pledge, they just cannot disrupt it in any way. So what is the problem here, the words "under God"?

The Founders had every intent of recognizing God. The 1st Amendment has become warped when people think that no mention of God is constitutional. "In God We Trust" is our national motto. The House of Representatives has a chaplain, and has since Day 1. The government hires thousands of chaplains, most of whom work in military and federal law enforcement agencies. The Founders of our current republic also wrote the Northwest Ordnance under the Articles of Confederation--an ordnance that set aside land for churches and money for missionaries! Even the Supreme Court opens each session with "God save the United States and this honorable Court."

The Supreme Court has also ruled on "ceremonial deism", saying that recognizing there is a God/god is not the same thing as having the government "establish" a religion.

So where is the harm? It's not in having atheists exposed to ceremonial deism. It's in bastardizing the words and intent of the 1st Amendment to create outright hostility to any religion.

Government offices had better be open on Christmas day.

Update, 9/15/05 6:47 am: I forgot the best part of this fiasco. The vast majority of Americans--and I do mean the vast majority--support the Pledge of Allegiance as it currently stands. This situation gives President Bush a wonderful PR tool: "We need someone on the Supreme Court who can interpret the Constitution as the Founders intended, not try to warp it to fit their own personal beliefs. This case shows just how important our federal judges are in the lives of ordinary Americans. With that sobering thought in mind I nominate...."

I hope he uses it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Weak Federal Response To Katrina Due To Racism

Requires a lot of intellectual firepower to make that claim. I read this story about one man's experience in the 1965 Watts riots, and the closing paragraph reminded me of what we've seen and heard from New Orleans:

Any remembrances of the 1965 Watts Riots must include sober discussion of why, 40 years later, large parts of this city continue to labor under the weight of poverty, low educational skills, and rampant gangs and violence, as well as a less than vibrant business life. Some would say that this is because the “system” still conspires to exploit, suppress and oppress black and brown people. I say it’s because some continue to look in the rear-view mirror, focused on yesterday’s realities, and serving up excuses and disempowering theories of victimization rather than exploring realistic answers to troubling problems.

This comment applies equally well to schools and the "achievement gap". I'm preparing a much longer post on poverty, the welfare state, the results of Katrina--and a factoid in the September 2005 issue of NEA Today. Stay tuned!

Outside The Box Thinking For Katrina Relief

In this post I complained that our school and district were very vanilla about Katrina relief. I'll just say it here--I'm not impressed with our efforts. Just asking for money seems so banal, especially when you're asking high school students who may or may not have *any* money on them.

Kimberly lets us in on the creative way one school chose to raise money for hurricane victims. I like this one. Hint: think Hanson. MmmBop!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Length Of The School Day

A reader made this comment on another post:

Here's an education topic for you: In the states, do we need the school day to be as long as it is? Here in Germany where my kids attend the local schools, the 1st and 2nd graders get out at noon, and the following grades get out at 1. I think in the end German kids are as smart as US kids. It's nice to have the kids get out of school and have the whole afternoon to do homework and play. I love having my sone and daughter able to head to the playground for a pick up game of soccer, meet up with friends and play, or just ride their bikes around. It would be nice to see this system in the states.

So, do we need such a long school day stateside? Is it filled with needed education or is the US school day filled with some fluff that could be deleted?

There are several differences between German and US schools besides just the ones mentioned above. There's the tracking system, whereby students are identified for vocational track or college track. There's also the national curriculum.

But neither of those have an impact on the school day. So if we can agree that German students are learning as much as their American counterparts--and let's just focus on elementary school here--how is it they are doing it in so many fewer hours?

I'd venture, without a shred of evidence, that educational fads are significantly less effective in Germany than in the US. German teachers must laugh at the thought of not teaching grammar or not memorizing multiplication tables. There are no Margaret Moustafas in Germany, and if there are, they are less than ignored.

It would be most illuminating if the commenter quoted above would provide a daily schedule for his children's classroom, and we can compare it to my son's 4th grade classroom's schedule. That might be an interesting place to start with some real data points.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

OK, Seems I Have To Vow Again... make my next post related to education!

Fisking Newsweek About Katrina

The left, and the major news outlets that are part of them, continue to operate under the "big lie" philosophy--tell a lie often enough and loud enough and eventually everyone will believe it.

Everyone but Jeff Goldstein, apparently.

He has taken a Newsweek article about the federal response to Katrina and fisked it, almost paragraph by paragraph. Some of the comments are classics, too. I personally like this comment, and it's not even as good as the full post:

The quote above states that FEMA manages the “federal response and recovery efforts.” The Feds weren’t responsible for Louisiana’s National Guard. The Feds didn’t keep the Red Cross out. The Feds don’t own over 20,000 buses in Louisiana. The Feds don’t run New Orleans’ police department. The Feds didn’t close the Gretna bridge.

Did Newsweek say where the New Orleans police are vacationing this week?

The fact staring the MSM in the face is that New Orleans is the quintessential Democratic city.

And what about this comment?

Here comes the 21st century race pimp, Barack Obama:

Obama was asked on ABC’s “This Week” whether there was racism in the lack of evacuation planning for poor, black residents of New Orleans. He said he would not refer to the government response in that way, but said there was a much deeper, long-term neglect.

“Whoever was in charge of planning was so detached from the realities of inner city life in New Orleans ... that they couldn’t conceive of the notion that they couldn’t load up their SUV’s, put $100 worth of gas in there, put some sparkling water and drive off to a hotel and check in with a credit card,” Obama said.

“There seemed to be a sense that this other America was somehow not on people’s radar screen. And that, I think, does have to do with historic indifference on the part of government to the plight of those who are disproportionately African-American.” He added that “passive indifference is as bad as active malice."

Let’s see, senator. “Whoever was in charge of planning” was… a black democrat mayor and a white democrat governor.

The point of the post is that there are a lot of people screaming about how terrible the federal response was, but not all that much talk about specifically what the feds should have done better. And there's plenty of evidence that federal response times were about what they've been in other disasters, ones in which you didn't have lefties screaming (for Bush's head).

Additionally, many people want to forget that we do not have a central government, we have a federal government. The distinction is quite important. The states are not components of the central government; they're sovereign entities that form part of a federal republic. For the President to have done some of the things (primarily with the military) that lefties are now crying that he should have done, he'd have had to have broken US law. Clearly, in this case the people of New Orleans couldn't count on their local or state governments. Best politicians money can buy, as my native New Orleans friend Mike used to joke? I hardly think so. Their local and state governments did *nothing* to help them until the feds got there, leaving them to founder for days. Sad. We live in a federal republic; too many people forget that and want Uncle Sugar to be responsible for everything.

Why are we hearing so much about New Orleans, though? The hurricane skirted New Orleans, which was spared its full force. Directly in the path was Mississippi, cities like Pascagoula and Biloxi. Why are we not hearing so much about the utter devastation there? Could it be because local and state governments there did what the citizens expected them to, helped out and held on until help from the feds was on the way? Could it be because the governor of Mississippi is the former chairman of the Republican Party? Inquiring minds want to know.

Halliburton, Anyone?

CNN is reporting that firms with ties to the White House are getting Katrina contracts. Cronyism! Halliburton!

Michelle Malkin gives us a little more detail:

The Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group, CNN tells us, is a major corporate client of Joe Allbaugh, President Bush's former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Among its Katrina-related contracts are this one valued up to $100 million from FEMA; and this one also valued up to $100 million from the Army Corps of Engineers.

But in their zeal to embarrass the Bush administration, CNN overlooks one very fat and inconvenient fact--and embarrasses only itself.

The Shaw Group, a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, is headed by Jim Bernhard, the current chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party. Bernhard worked tirelessly for Democrat Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco's runoff campaign and served as co-chair of her transition team. Another Shaw executive was Blanco's campaign manager. Bernhard is back-scratching chums with Blanco, whom he has lent/offered the Shaw Group's corporate jets to on numerous occasions.

Hmm, I say.

Excellent Post On Lessons Learned From Katrina

Patriot Day Remembrance

The same press that wants to show the bodies of Katrina's victims didn't want to show you this because it might inflame you.

How do you wish someone a Happy Patriot Day? Did you even know that that's the title of today's holiday or day of remembrance? How can you be filled with anything but resolve when you remember these images:

We must not forget.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Humorous British Quotes

If you just would like to read some pithy humorous quotes that supposedly have been lifted from British newspapers, go read this post from Oxblog, a blog which not-very-coincidentally is on my blogroll.

NCLB and Manufacturing Quality Control

Here's a great comment from Kimberly's anti-anti-NCLB post:

I am trying to imagine an analogous way of running a business. That is, Quality Control at your factory is rejecting too much product, so instead of improving the process, you eliminate Quality Control and ship the crap to your customers.

Being a former manufacturing manager, I *love* this analogy.

Press Will Show Katrina Victims' Bodies

Interesting point about the press' showing Katrina victims' bodies.

Classical Values has more to say on the subject here. Preview:

Nor did it want to show what the enemies of this country were doing to captured Americans. In case anyone has forgotten, many blogs (including this one) linked to graphic images and video of the awful beheadings of Nick Berg, Eugene Armstrong, and Paul Johnson -- precisely because CNN and other MSM outlets refused to show them. Indeed, Tom Kunkel, president of American Journalism Review stated that it would be a form of terrorism to do so:

"Any news outlet — or any private individual, for that matter — who makes available footage of the actual beheadings is, to my mind, an accessory to the crime itself," says Kunkel, dean of journalism at the University of Maryland. "Those are the individuals who are essentially finishing the work of the terrorists, by delivering their grisly 'message.' "
Gee. Pretty tough words.

Friday, September 09, 2005


How often do we hear lefties saying that because of the war in Iraq, President Bush should have his daughters enlist? Or that Republican politicians who support the war, but have never been in the military, are chickenhawks? I've even been told that my opinion about things military doesn't matter because I'm not currently serving.

Gotta love that reasoning. Via LittleGreenFootballs comes this gem. Here's a sample:

Are we still playing the "chickenhawk" game, or are we tired of that one yet? Let's keep playing for one more round, just long enough to give the purveyors of that fallacy one more chance to recognize how the ball looks in the other court.

The "chickenhawk meme" is a rhetorical stick in the spokes that has been flung at every supporter of the war to overthrow Saddam and establish a free Iraq. It's supposed to immediately shut us all up....

So let's keep playing chickenhawk; let's apply it to another situation. "Don't advocate government actions that will involve sacrifice unless you're also putting yourself directly in the place of those who may be asked to sacrifice."

Don't call for more government action to help the poor people stranded in New Orleans unless you drove down there as soon as you heard the news and personally waded through the sewage and took some of them out of the Superdome and into your home....

Don't call for a more aggressive FEMA unless you've put in a job application there. Don't call for a quicker and more effective use of U.S. military resources in the disaster zone unless you've spent the last two years encouraging healthy young men and women to enlist, and supporting the Defense Department budget. [emphasis added--Darren]

What Will The NEA Say About Wal*Mart Now?

Apparently, Wal*Mart has been quite the good corporate citizen during the hurricane. Will NEA call off the dogs? I doubt it.

Update, 9/10/05 9:34 am: According to this Wall Street Journal article, both Wal*Mart and Home Depot have stepped up to the plate. Kudos to both of them.

Improved Training at West Point

When I attended West Point, we had several opportunities to participate in a variety of different types of training. Today's cadets have opportunities that would have seemed fanciful to us in the 1980s--they spend summers working in government, they work in embassies (a West Point cadet was awarded for her valor during the al-Qaeda attacks on our embassies in Africa), they participate in more military schooling--and now this.

We used to say that West Point was 200 years of tradition unhampered by progress. I'm glad to see these significant changes in just the past couple decades and have no doubt that more are on the way.

Math Pedagogy

Two months ago I received the following email from a reader of this blog:

[B]y the way, I'd be very interested in your opinions as
to the direction of high school math teaching in this
country. As an engineer, this is something very dear
to me... I'm personally very much a believer in the
teaching of traditional pure mathematics at the high
school level. Time and again I see its relevance in my
professional work, and I'm extremely troubled at the
continual dumbing down of pure mathematics teaching
(and I saw many examples of this in the UK before I

I sincerely hope that idiotic notions of complex
numbers/integral calculus/group theory being
"irrelevant" and "old fashioned" doesn't infect US
thinking as much as it has done in the UK. I'd like to
humbly suggest this whole area as a great topic for a
future entry on your blog...

Let's discuss.

In this country we have influential people talking about "math for social justice". In this country we have influential people talking about "ethnomathematics". In this country we have influential people stating that black children learn differently than white children. In this country we have people talking about students' "constructing their own knowledge".

In short, we have some influential people who are doing just about everything they can to destroy math education in this country. But why? My answer: because they see disparities in outcomes and just can't stand that. They want everyone to be equal (but some can be more equal than others), and my frequent readers know exactly what allusion I'm making here. If everyone can do (watered down) math, then no group of people looks bad.

In California we have teachers who cringe at the mention of the state's math content standards. They know what students need to learn, and they don't want or need the state to tell them what to teach. We have teachers who swear by the College Preparatory Mathematics program, which is so bad that it's no longer approved for adoption. All over you hear about the absolute necessity to make things directly applicable to students' lives, despite the fact that part of education is learning about things that don't necessarily relate to you at precisely this moment in time. Proofs and derivations are out, discovery and individual techniques are in.

Fortunately, despite all this, there seems to be progress being made. Who would like to contribute their thoughts on the topic?