Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Real Cuba

I don't know if much of the information at this web site is real or it's just anti-Castro propaganda, but it wouldn't surprise me if the vast majority of it were true. See especially the links for Free Education and Free Healthcare.

Spending State Education Money

You should read the whole thing, which ends thusly:

The Department of Education has spent millions of dollars to defend itself against the Lindberg suit, and the Associated Press reported that much of the money was shifted from funds designated for educational purposes.

So there we have it. Taxpayers' money was ripped off, and politicians were at least compliant, if not complicit. Those who tried to set things right were punished and the taxpayers were tapped again to compensate them. Finally, taxpayers' money meant to educate children is, instead, being spent to fight a whistle-blower.

What's wrong with this picture? Everything.

I know! Let's put the state in charge of my health care, too.

Another Domino Falls

First there was Antioch College. Now there's Gallaudet. They're not closing yet, but one can always hope.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The only liberal arts university for the deaf in the U.S. has been put on probation by its accrediting agency, signaling the campus continues to face problems months after protests last year shut down the school for days.

I've written about Gallaudet before, and not very favorably.

Summer Reading List

Here are the books currently in my "to read" stack:

Free Choice For Workers: A History of the Right To Work Movement by George C. Leef

The War Against Hope: How Teachers' Unions Hurt Children, Hinder Teachers, and Endanger Public Education by Dr. Rod Paige

The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater

Power Grab: How the National Education Association Is Betraying Our Children by G. Gregory Moo

Update, 7/3/07: Even though it's not out yet, how could I have forgotten to add the final Harry Potter book?!

The Price of Milk

You may not know this, but California actually has a minimum price for milk. That's right, stores cannot sell milk below the minimum price set by government--and that price is soon set to rise by a dollar a gallon.

The minimum retail price for a gallon of low-fat milk, said the department, will be $3.10, compared to $2.10 in January.

This snip from the linked story takes the (dairyless) cake:

In California, the Department of Food and Agriculture sets the price of milk paid farmers by examining market prices of four commodities, said Kelly Krug, director of the Division of Marketing. These are butter, dry milk powder, whey powder and cheddar cheese.

"If it were a totally free market, the trading of these commodities could translate into the (figure) that farmers get,'' said Krug.

Got socialism?

Why I Support The War On Terror

click on the picture to enlarge

This quote is on the wall of the Holocaust Museum. It applies equally well to the victims of Islamic terrorism.

Republicans United Against Wasteful Government Spending

Now they care? I'd say they're at least 8 months too late, maybe 8 years.

These pictures were taken in the Cannon House Office Building, outside the offices of some Republican representatives.

I never thought I'd have to write a post for which two of the labels would be "conservatism" and "hypocrisy", but here you go.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Presidential Hopefuls Attend CEAFU Reception

Both Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul made appearances at the Concerned Educators Against Forced Unionism reception in the Cannon House Office Building. Tancredo even addressed us, if only briefly.

I was quite surprised to see Ron Paul in a suit and tennis shoes. I've since come to learn that that's his signature fashion statement. Click on the pictures to enlarge them--you can definitely see the tennis shoes.

Here's Tancredo talking:

Here's Ron Paul mingling:

Here's the closeup of his shoes:

What would the Manolo say?

Update, 7/1/07: The Manolo tells us what he would say, and he apparently doesn't approve.

Lefties And Their Strange Thought Processes Regarding Recent Supreme Court Decisions

Leave it to the lefties to think that black is white and up is down.

Recently the Supreme Court has handed down three rulings related to education, or at least to teachers. The first was Davenport v. WEA, which ruled that unions cannot use non-members' compelled dues for political purposes. The second was Morse v. Frederick, the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case which ruled that schools can limit the exercise of free speech of students. The third was the case arising from the Seattle and Louisville school districts, which wanted to assign students to schools by race. The court ruled they could not.

I haven't seen or heard many hues and cries regarding the Morse case, so I'll focus on the other two. First, let's address the cases regarding assigning students to schools on the basis of race.

To hear the Democrat presidential candidates as they pandered to a black audience at Howard University last night, you'd think the Court had ruled that Brown v. Board of Education was overruled and that black students would again be legally required to attend segregated schools. In fact, the recent court ruling in entirely consistent with Brown.

Joanne Jacobs (see blogroll at left) shot down the Democrats' argument back in December when she said,

I thought Brown was about assigning black kids to their all-white neighborhood school instead of sending them across town because of their race. Silly me.

Joanne is exactly correct. Brown was a civil rights victory precisely because it prohibited using race to exclude students from particular schools. In Seattle and Louisville, the districts were preventing students from attending their neighborhood schools if their presence didn't conform to some racial quota system. I don't recall where I read it, but a blog commenter was fairly succinct when he said: Brown prevented school districts from excluding children from certain schools because of the color of their skin; this ruling does exactly the same thing.

But, the left will cry, what about desegregation? Ignoring for a moment that the Seattle schools, at least, were never legally segregated, I turn now to Discriminations (see blogroll at left), which quotes part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

I wonder if any of those advocates have taken a look lately at the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which I just did in writing the post immediately below (on his own site). If they have, they would have found Title IV, Section 401(b), which declares:

”Desegregation” means the assignment of students to public schools and within such schools without regard to their race, color, religion, or national origin, but “desegregation” shall not mean the assignment of students to public schools in order to overcome racial imbalance.
Case closed. Unless, of course, laws don’t mean what they say.

As I'm one who chooses to believe that laws mean what they say, I'd have to agree: case closed. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, and this recent Court decision, are consistent with Dr. King's dream of not judging people by the color of their skin. Chief Justice Roberts said it best:

"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

Some people just don't get that, but it truly is that simple.

The second case which liberals are twisting beyond recognition is Davenport v. WEA. Just as an example, here's what barking moonbat and presidential candidate John Edwards has to say about it:

"Corporations don't have to ask for shareholders' approval when they hire lobbyists, run ads or make campaign contributions to candidates running for governor. I believe labor unions have at least as great a right to be heard in the political process. Fortunately, Washington state has fixed its law. But if other states were to take advantage of the Court's unwise precedent today, it would silence the political voice of working families."

I hear the comparison with corporations often--one of my union reps at school often says that unions should be allowed to spend my money as they see fit because corporations can spend money as they see fit, as if all or even most corporate money goes to Republicans.

Edwards isn't stupid. He intentionally distorts reality and ignores the obvious. The difference is that corporate shareholders have voluntarily bought into the corporation, and can sell their shares (for a profit) if they don't approve of the way the corporation is being run. Additionally, no one is compelled to support corporations--if I don't like what they're selling, I don't buy from them. There's nothing voluntary about the union's getting my money. That distinction is too huge to be unintentionally ignored.

Writing for the Court, Justice Thomas said:

Regardless of one's views as to the desirability of agency-shop is undeniably unusual for a government agency to give a private entity the power, in essence, to tax government employees.

And that is why Edwards' comparison to corporate stockholders is ridiculous beyond belief. And let's not forget, this case was decided 9-0. The WEA couldn't even get Justice Ginsburg to agree with their faulty arguments.

Reading further in the opinion, Thomas made a statement that I hope will one day sound the death knell for compulsory unionism in California and in the nation:

[U]nions have no constitutional entitlement to the fees of nonmember-employees. (emphasis mine--Darren)

In other words, that unions can garnish my wages at all is a statutory entitlement, not a constitutional one. It's good that the Court recognized that, even if Democrats and union officials can't or won't.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Personality Test

I just took another personality test, and here are the results:

So what does this mean, supposedly? Here is some explanation:

Inspector Guardians look carefully and thoroughly at the people and institutions around them. Making up perhaps as much as ten percent of the general population, Inspectors are characterized by decisiveness in practical affairs, are the guardians of institutions, and if only one adjective could be selected, "superdependable" would best describe them. Whether at home or at work, Inspectors are nothing if not dependable, particularly when it comes to examining the people and products they are responsible for-quietly seeing to it that uniform quality is maintained, and that those around them uphold certain standards of attitude and conduct.

These quiet, no-nonsense Guardians have a distaste for and distrust of fanciness in speech, dress, and living space. Their words tend to be simple and down-to-earth, not showy or high-flown; their clothes are often homespun and conservative rather than of the latest fashion; and their home and work environments are usually neat, orderly, and traditional, rather than up-to-date or luxurious. In their choice of personal property (cars, furnishings, jewelry, and so on) price and durability are just as important as comfort or appearance. Classics, antiques, and heirlooms are especially valued, having achieved a certain time-honored status-Inspectors prefer the old-fashioned to the newfangled every time. Even on vacation, Inspectors tend not to be attracted by exotic foods, beverages, or locales.

Their thoroughness and orderliness, combined with their interest in legality and standardization, leads Inspectors to a number of occupations that call for the careful administration of goods and services. Inspectors feel right at home with difficult, detailed forms and columns of figures, and thus they make excellent bank examiners, auditors, accountants, and tax attorneys. Managing investments in securities is likely to interest this type, particularly investments in municipal bonds and blue-chip securities. Inspectors are not likely to take chances either with their own or others' money, and the thought of a bankrupt nation, state, institution, or family gives them more than a little uneasiness. The idea of dishonoring a contract also bothers an Inspector -their word is their bond-and they naturally communicate a message of trustworthiness and stability, which can make them successful in business. With their eye for detail, Inspectors make good business men and women, librarians, dentists, optometrists, legal secretaries, and law researchers. High school and college teachers of business administration, home economics, physical education, civics, and history tend to be Inspectors, as do quartermaster officers in the military.

Yep, sounds like me, for the most part.

Here's another explanation:

ISTJs are often called inspectors. They have a keen sense of right and wrong, especially in their area of interest and/or responsibility. They are noted for devotion to duty. Punctuality is a watchword of the ISTJ. The secretary, clerk, or business(wo)man by whom others set their clocks is likely to be an ISTJ.

As do other Introverted Thinkers, ISTJs often give the initial impression of being aloof and perhaps somewhat cold. Effusive expression of emotional warmth is not something that ISTJs do without considerable energy loss.

ISTJs are most at home with "just the facts, Ma'am." They seem to perform at highest efficiency when employing a step-by-step approach. Once a new procedure has proven itself (i.e., has been shown "to work,") the ISTJ can be depended upon to carry it through, even at the expense of their own health.

ISTJs are easily frustrated by the inconsistencies of others, especially when the second parties don't keep their commitments. But they usually keep their feelings to themselves unless they are asked. And when asked, they don't mince words. Truth wins out over tact. The grim determination of the ISTJ vindicates itself in officiation of sports events, judiciary functions, or an other situation which requires making tough calls and sticking to them.

His SJ orientation draws the ISTJ into the service of established institutions. Home, social clubs, government, schools, the military, churches -- these are the bastions of the SJ. "We've always done it this way" is often reason enough for many ISTJs. Threats to time-honored traditions or established organizations (e.g., a "run" on the bank) are the undoing of SJs, and are to be fought at all costs.

Recognize anyone there? Yeah, me too!

Crossing the Border Illegally To Go To An American School

Mike of EIA (see blogroll at left) has this to say on the topic, from this week's Communique:

School Choice Black Market Goes International. I love this story because it will have people switching partners faster than a square dance.

The black market in school choice is when parents lie about their place of residence in order to get their kids into better public schools. Many school districts have resorted to hiring investigators and former cops to spy on these interlopers, even prosecuting them. Today's Los Angeles Times adds a wrinkle: kids crossing the border with Mexico to attend U.S. public schools.

It's no surprise that this will get roiled up in the national immigration debate, but it will be interesting to see who defends this practice for kids crossing a national border, while denouncing it for kids crossing a school district boundary line.

That last sentence is priceless.

Feinstein and the Fairness Doctrine

I'd like to think that Democrats bring up the so-called Fairness Doctrine only to scare us conservatives, who then spend our time and money to prevent its reappearance--a reappearance the libs don't intend, anyway. I'd like to believe it's a political feint.

But Feinstein's rather intelligent. I don't agree with her a lot, but I can respect her. If she's talking like this, maybe there's something to worry about.

And yes, I do believe any so-called Fairness Doctrine would clearly be a violation of the 1st Amendment and would be struck down rather quickly and strongly. That doesn't mean we should tolerate its existence, even for a little while, though.

Apparently, though, not all Democrats are stupid enough to tout something so clearly unconstitutional.

China Isn't Communist Enough

If you don't think there are genuine believers in communism here in the United States, read this piece from EIA (see blogroll at left).

Universal Health Care, aka Socialized Medicine

NewsAlert is on the warpath with these links and stories:

NHS rationing is 'necessary evil', say doctors

What Comrade Moore Forgot to Tell You

AMA takes on retail clinics
Really? There's no more urgent issue for the AMA than Wal*Mart's setting up clinics in its stores?

California's Battling Socialist Health Plans

What Michael Moore Forgets to Tell You About Government Run Health Care

What Socialists Don't Want You to Know About Socialist Health Care

Press Bias

The first thing they (PBS) told me- "Fire your partners... Because they are conservatives."

Nope, no bias there. Just one more data point.

Now, as sure as the sun rises in the east, some leftie is going to cry about Fox News. Not getting cable, I don't get to watch Fox News. However, having spent several hours on aircraft this past week--Frontier airlines and its DirecTV video feeds--I watched some Fox News. Instead of puff pieces on the President, what I saw most was stories and tidbits about how Ann Coulter inferred John Edwards was a "faggot" and how she and Edwards' wife apparently now have some feud going. I didn't see support for Coulter, I saw reporting of facts. Some might say it was "fair and balanced".

Update, 7/1/07: FoxNews published Susan Estrich's anti-Coulter column. Yep, Fox sure is a right-leaning leviathan.

Dr. Rod Paige

Rod Paige was the first Secretary of Education under the current President Bush, and was Secretary when the No Child Left Behind Act was passed. He spoke to us, the Concerned Educators Against Forced Unionism conference, about his views and experience, and also told us about his new book, The War Against Hope: How Teachers Unions Hurt Children, Hinder Teachers, and Endanger Public Education.

Before his talk I introduced myself to Dr. Paige and asked him two questions: first, does he regret calling the NEA a "terrorist organization", and second, what kind of man is the President. This was my first time talking to someone who had spent any significant time with a President, and I wanted a firsthand view.

To answer the first question, he told me that he regrets the "hoopla" over his remark, but not the remark itself. It wasn't a prepared remark, and he'd say it again. I asked him this question privately, not wanting to put him on the spot in front of others; he told me he appreciated that consideration, but didn't mind this information being made public.

To answer the second question, Dr. Paige told me the President is a "great man", and if he has any fault, it's that he's too loyal to people.

His talk was inspirational.

He called the ethnic achievement gap the "Civil Rights issue of our time", and regrets that the so-called civil rights establishment is on the wrong side of this issue. He said we must distinguish between education issues and political issues on this topic, or it will always be divisive and unsolved.

He told how the terrorist remark happened--that there wasn't press in the room when it happened--and about the aftermath. Colin Powell called him and joked, "You stick with education, I'll take the terrorists", and Paige responded, "I'll take Arafat, you take the NEA." There were more than chuckles in the room at that comment!

His main point was that we are losing ground as Americans. The teachers unions have a death grip on education. The most powerful force governing education is not the states, it's not the people, it's not science-based research--it's a single organization with chapters in every state and school district, flush with money, with people ready to march on their command. Put that way, the future of education is ominous indeed.

When "A Nation At Risk" came out in 1983, it assumed that the system was all right, we just needed to change a couple things and our educational program would improve. But now, Dr. Paige says the system itself is broken. There's too much resistance to change inherent in it, especially from the teachers unions. Instead, we tinker around the edges.

That's all of the notes I took, as I was too busy being enthralled to write much more. It's not every day that I get to meet, talk to, and listen to a member of a presidential administration, especially one I respect and admire as much as I do Rod Paige.

Update, 6:15 pm: Watching ABC World News I saw the NAACP representatives criticizing the outcome of the Seattle and Louisville school "desegregation" cases, showing exactly what Dr. Paige meant when he said they're on the wrong side of the issue of improving schools and student achievement.

DC In Pictures

As I said in a previous post, the buildings which house our government are huge, impressive, and beautiful. No picture I took can convey just how immense the Capitol Rotunda and Dome are--you have to see them for yourself. Here, though, is a miniscule view of what you'll see.

From the Capitol I headed towards the Washington Monument, on my way to the Jefferson Memorial.

Notice that the bottom third is a different shade than the top two-thirds. Construction was stopped for about 22 years due to money and the Civil War, and the point at which it was resumed is clearly visible since the new material was from a different quarry.

Passing the Holocaust Museum and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (which is entirely separate from the US Mint), I finally arrived at the Tidal Basin, beyond which sits the Jefferson Memorial. As I stood at the water's edge contemplating I kept seeing aircraft in the distance, preparing to land at Reagan International Airport (formerly Washington National). Now, my mind sometimes works in odd ways, but I couldn't help but notice something about those aircraft and the Jefferson Memorial. Yes, this next string of pictures is politically incorrect and perhaps inappropriate, but the scene struck me as comical and I just had to start clicking. Watch the airplane.

When I arrived at the Memorial, I didn't realize that it offered a direct view of the White House--but it does. Again, click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Heading north and east now, I passed this sign. Those of us in Sacramento will recognize Highway 50, which starts here and dead-ends at Ocean City, MD. It becomes Constitution Avenue as it passes through the nation's capital.

I passed the Ronald Reagan Building.

I wanted to go to the Museum of American History, but it was closed for renovations.

I had intended to go to the National Archives to see the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, but the line was too long and I had to meet an old West Point roommate for lunch. These are a few of the pictures I took at the Archives building.


That quote is, sadly, so true.

Here's my friend Rich and me, your valiant blogger and host.

He Metro'd in from the vicinity of the Pentagon so we could have lunch. Entirely coincidentally, I saw him at the airport when I left a couple days later!

In a previous post I displayed pictures of the Supreme Court Building.

That's it for tourist pictures. At least one future post will have a couple of interesting pictures from events at the Concerned Educators Against Forced Unionism conference itself.

Thomas Jefferson

I've heard it claimed that Jefferson was a "deist", that he believed in an omnipotent deity that may or may not have been the Christian God. I know there's a body of evidence to support that claim, but you wouldn't know it from visiting the Jefferson Memorial. The following quotes adorn the walls of that memorial; boldface is mine.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights governments are instituted among men...And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honour.

God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever...

Almighty God hath created the mind free. All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens...are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion...No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion. I know but one code of morality for men whether acting singly or collectively.

I've sworn upon the altar of God Eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

I don't know the personal religious beliefs of Jefferson the Man, but Jefferson the Icon was a Christian.

There are two other quotes there, one in the rotunda with his statue and one downstairs in the display area. These two speak not to religion, but to government.

I am not an advocate for frequent change in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen, in his person and property, and in their management.

Using Race To Assign Students To Particular Schools

The Supreme Court has issued yet another opinion with which I agree, this time ruling that school districts cannot use race when assigning students to schools.

I'm going to stop here and make a political comment about CNN's story, to add one more data point to the argument about a liberal press bias. When Roe v. Wade was decided, would CNN have mentioned the "liberal majority" that decided the case? I don't think so. Would they have mentioned a "liberal majority" in Brown v. Board of Education? Don't think so there, either. Then why is it they write: "A conservative majority led by Chief Justice John Roberts said...." Why not just, "A majority led by Chief Justice John Roberts said..."? FoxNews used an AP story that said, "The court split, 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts announcing the court's judgment. The court's four liberal justices dissented."

OK, back to the ruling.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A bitterly divided U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday issued what is likely to be a landmark opinion -- ruling that race cannot be a factor in the assignment of children to public schools.

The court struck down public school choice plans in Seattle, Washington, and Louisville, Kentucky, concluding they relied on an unconstitutional use of racial criteria, in a sharply worded pair of cases reflecting the deep legal and social divide over the issue of race and education...

"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," Roberts wrote.

Equal Justice Under Law, indeed.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bong Hits 4 Jesus

As I walked by the Supreme Court building today, in absolute awe of what takes place there, I asked an NBC film crew what ruling they were expecting. That’s when I learned that the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case out of Alaska, Morse v. Frederick, had been decided—in favor of the school.

I agree with this ruling. As I write this, I don’t know anything about the decision other than the outcome. I don’t know what arguments swayed the Court, or what the ruling said.

Some might ask how I can support Kieran King but not Joseph Frederick. The answer is simple: reasonable time place, and manner restrictions on exercising speech have always been allowed—the “can’t yell ‘fire!’ in a crowded theater” standard. Kieran’s personal expression in school is acceptable, Joseph’s expression at a school function is not.

It’s not Joseph’s message to which I object. I’m not quite sure what “Bong hits 4 Jesus” means, if anything. It’s silly, even sophomoric, but he’s entitled to it. He’s not entitled to express it at a school function, any more than my students are entitled to express their personal beliefs in my class while I’m teaching. Reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions.

Want to show a goofy, drug-referencing sign in public? Don’t do it at a school activity.

Update: Justice Thomas has a very interesting study of student expression in his 13-page concurring opinion found here starting on page 19 of 60. It's well-written and easy to understand. I agree with him up to a point, and truly enjoy his history of student 1st Amendment cases, but I find much to approve of in Tinker--a decision he claims outright is "without basis in the Constitution".

Washington DC

I’m in Washington, DC, for the Concerned Educators Against Forced Unionism conference. Let’s skip that for now, and talk about DC itself.

On approach to Reagan International Airport, the first DC landmark you can see is the Washington Monument. From the air it seems so small, so sharp, so fragile. But you know instantly what you’re looking at. From there it’s no difficulty at all making out the Capitol. Pictures (which I’ll post) can’t convey how strong and solid it looks. The Rotunda, and the Dome, are huge. Even from the air the Capitol is impressive.

I had most of the day to myself today, and I decided to spend it visiting those sites that I haven’t been to before. So I didn’t go to the Air and Space Museum, or to the Natural History Museum, or to the Washington Monument, or to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, or to the World War II Memorial, or to the Post Office Tower (the best views of DC). Instead, I went to Capitol Hill.

There are plenty of magnolia trees here, telling me this is the South. It’s also muggy as heck, telling me it’s the East. It almost feels like an armed camp here, as I’ve never seen so many police—some armed with shotguns or automatic rifles—in my life. And they’re everywhere. Damned September 11th.

I’d never been to the Capitol. Now, I didn’t get to go inside or anything, but walking around it was impressive. I must have taken a dozen pictures of that building. Pictures cannot do it justice, though; you have to experience it live.

From there I walked down the Mall, past the preparations for the National Symphony’s 4th of July Concert and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, to near the Washington Monument, then bore left. I went to the Jefferson Memorial, about which I’ll write more in a different post. I loved the sign at the entrance: Quiet, Respect Please. Enter the Memorial to see a 15’ statue of Jefferson, and important quotes of his on the walls. I felt his importance there. One thing I didn’t know was that as you stand on the front steps of the Memorial, you have a direct view of the White House in the distance, with the Washington Monument just to the right about halfway there. It’s appropriate.

From there I walked to the Archives to meet a friend for lunch. Rich was one of my roommates at West Point, my best friend while there, is still on active duty, and has served a tour in Iraq. We caught up a little bit. It was so good to see him.

Had I known that the start time for my conference had been postponed, I’d have gone inside the Archives to see the Constitution. I read it each year just to restore my faith in our republican form of government, but seeing the original would have been special. I regret not seeing it, but knowing it’s there will have to be good enough--until next time.

From there I walked past the Supreme Court building, only to learn that the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case had just been decided. I’m preparing a separate post on that topic. I passed the Library of Congress on my way back to the hotel. That was the end of the sightseeing portion of the day.

All the buildings here, it seems, are made of either granite or marble—not just the old ones, but the new ones, too. There’s something permanent about marble and granite, and somehow that gave me a feeling that our Republic will endure. Yet, I know what goes on here. I know about the evil that occurs in this city, the corruption, the greed, the conflicts that imperil the Republic. But when I’m here, walking amongst the very monoliths of our government--and they are huge--I still feel the ideal. These buildings meant something once, and I want to believe they still do. Does that make me a dreamer, or a fool? Often there’s a very thin line between the two.

I wonder if our national leaders still feel the awe, the grandeur, these buildings are meant to convey about our government. Do they sense the wonder anymore, or does political power eradicate the last traces of such dreams? Do they experience any cognitive dissonance at all? Perhaps they should spend some time staring into the Reflecting Pool at the base of Capitol Hill and ask themselves—why, truly, are they here?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Democrats Support Canadian Troops

Last October, the Democrat Party had an article with picture on their web site, an article trashing Republicans and showing how much the Democrats love our military members. Interestingly enough, the picture they used was a Photoshopped picture of a Canadian soldier. Ouch.

Yesterday, Michelle Malkin reported (and showed a screen shot for proof) that Nancy Pelosi's own web page had a story about increasing veterans' funding--and the picture showed a Canadian soldier. I grant that the "Canada" written across the young woman's epaulet could have been a little hard to read, but that rank insignia and shirt color certainly aren't American.

Once was bad. Twice is pathetic. She's the Speaker of the House of Representatives, 2nd in line to the Presidency, and she can't even tell if a military uniform is American or not? Heck, I'm not asking her to be able to identify every military rank or army branch insignia or medals and ribbons and such. But is it too much to expect that a high-ranking American government official, when trying to toot her own horn about how much she's doing for American veterans, at least be able to tell that someone wearing a uniform component that says Canada on it probably isn't an American military member?

Heck, I like Canadians as much as the next guy. This isn't some anti-Canadian screed. No, let's target this right where idiocy lies--with leftie Americans who don't know anything about the military that's sworn to protect and defend the Constitution that allows those same leftie Americans to denigrate the military.

Hat tip to Little Green Footballs (see blogroll at left).

Islamofascists and The Klan

Not a new rock group, but a comparison.

  • The Klan believes that God is on their side
  • The Klan cover their faces and, in fact, wear fully body suits not unlike the niqabs above
  • The Klan does not allow women to hold formal positions in the organisation
  • The Klan hates Jews and is anti-Zionist
  • The Klan hates homosexuals
  • The Klan used terror tactics of burning and bombing churches and the homes of its opponents
  • The Klan lynched innocent blacks (Islamists behead innocents)
So how, exactly, is Radical Islam different to the Ku Klux Klan?

Answer. It's not.

Radical Islam and the Ku Klux Klan inhabit the same moral vacuum.

If you can't recognise that Radical Islam and the Ku Klux Klan are kindred spirits and this is the type of evil we're fighting against then you really are a moral idiot.

Education and Economic Prosperity

Allow me to paraphrase Kerplunk--an educated citizenry is necessary, but not sufficient, for national economic prosperity.

Update, 7/2/07: Also from Kerplunk,

That France has a 41 per cent drop out rate from its higher education system yet still has the world's fifth-largest economy proves exactly one thing - education does not drive the economy....

Friday, June 22, 2007

Teaching and the Military

Joanne (see blogroll at left) provided the link, and I followed.

One of the panelists mentioned something about how quality teachers and principals are like all good leaders in that they set high goals and constantly assess their progress, and then they quickly said “like generals.” The conversation moved on, but I got stuck on that. What if we were to recruit and train teachers like the Army does for soldiers? Of course, teaching does not equal war, but there are lessons in recruitment and training. The Army gives large signing bonuses, especially for educational attainment and specific organizational needs. They train members in a relatively short period of time by building teamwork and getting recruits to buy into the mission and accept a common purpose. Members must demonstrate mastery before advancing in pay or rank, and when they finish their commitment, they are either given more bonuses to stay on, or take their occupational prestige with them to the private sector.
While not 100% accurate, it's not bad, either. It's probably as close as any civilian will ever get to accurate regarding the military.

Teachers marvel when I tell them the similitaries between teaching and the Garrison Army life I led in the late 80's. What does an army that's not at war do all day? It trains. It learns, it practices, it drills, until it can flawlessly do what it's supposed to do should it ever be called upon to do so.

When I was getting my teaching credential, several of my classmates had a very difficult time understanding a Madeline Hunter "objective statement". Those of us who were ex-military, and there were a few of us in class, just looked at each other with furrowed brows and said, "Isn't that just 'task, conditions, and standards'?" Why yes, it was. You see, in the army, every training event had a task to be accomplished, conditions under which it was to be accomplished, and standards to which it was to be accomplished. These were published in various manuals, and we followed them. That's how we were evaluated.

Anyway, those of us who had such experience had no difficulty writing such objective statements and creating lesson plans in accordance with them. We had already been trained to do so; the credentialing class was merely review for us.

I started teaching before I got my credential--I taught my first year on an emergency credential (I had a math degree and a pulse) and my next two years on an intern credential (going to credentialing classes at night and on weekends). I would not have survived my first year of teaching without my military background.

Teaching, like the army, is partly about getting people to do something they don't necessarily want to do. In the army, that something is putting themselves in physical peril, in education that something is schoolwork. Both fields require some form of leadership in order to get the unwilling to do the unpleasant.

I can hear you now: "But in the army, you just give them an order and they have to follow it." Riiiiiiiiight. And we don't have a Manual for Courts Martial, or a stockade/brig, or Fort Leavenworth, either, because everyone knows that anyone who wears a uniform is an unthinking robot that just follows orders blindly. Again, riiiiight.

The secret is leadership. Teaching the art of leadership is a big deal in military schools at all levels. The people under you have to know that you have their best interests at heart. They have to believe that you won't act capriciously, and won't ask them to do anything unnecessarily burdening (in education, that means busywork). They have to trust you, and think you're competent. They have to know you care.

If you can accomplish those things, you can get people to charge a hill--or learn algebra. You see, both jobs place you firmly in the "people business". You don't have to be popular, but there's a difference between popularity and respect. Some earn both popularity and respect, and I admire them.

There are more similarities. Rules must be firmly and fairly applied. You cannot show favoritism. You must be honest, even when you make a mistake. The mission is paramount.

It's for reasons like these that I support the Troops To Teachers program.

I Have A New Guilty Pleasure

It's that collection of online ads known as the Best of Craigslist. Some are hilarious.

Update: Liar, liar, pants on fire. This one is clearly a plant by lefties, a fake. How can I be so sure? Because it's titled "From an Angry Soldier", but the author identifies herself as a Marine. No Marine would ever, ever, refer to him/herself as a soldier. They are Marines. And yes, to real military people the distinction is a big deal. And isn't it just a coincidence that it was originally posted in the SF Bay Area part of Craigslist?

Impact Of An Instructor's Sex On Student Performance

Discriminations has the story.

I Know! Let's Give These People Their Own Country!

Maybe there would be more outrage among the left if they'd forced their prisoners to wear panties, or pointed and laughed at their winkies. Because that's real torture.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Legal, But Icky

WILMINGTON, N.C. — The school district that employed a 40-year-old high-school science teacher and cross-country coach who married a 16-year-old student could find no reason to fire him, school officials said.

Brenton Wuchae coached Windy Hager at South Brunswick High School, where she recently completed her sophomore year as one of the school's top runners.

Wuchae resigned his position and, according to a marriage license, married Hager after the girl's parents begrudgingly gave their consent.

Still, ew.

Where Do RotLC Readers Come From?

Here's some information available from Statcounter (link available near the top of the column to the left) regarding the ISP's of my most recent visitors. There are some interesting places there; I should post this more frequently. Does one of these represent you?

What Does Foreign Aid Accomplish?

One Kenyan economist offered his view two years ago. The words ring true today, and directly relate to what I wrote in this post.

Rethinking Schools

In response to this article, I sent the following email to the Rethinking Schools people. I haven't heard back from them, but then again it's only been two days.

Of course, I'll let you know if and how they respond.

Choice, or Racism?

John at Discriminations has the sad story of a public school for the arts in Los Angeles County. First, he quotes from the LA Times:

Its student population is now 47% white, 20% Latino, 15% Asian American and 14% black, in a county whose student population is 56% Latino and only 11% white. Despite recruiting trips to predominantly Latino middle schools and classes for students not fluent in English, Arts High still struggles to enroll Latinos.

John adds:

The country bureaucracy and some of the school’s staff regard those numbers as a problem to be solved, which has led to an increasingly nasty struggle between parents intent on preserving artistic excellence and other parents promoting more diversity.

“What [the county] wants is demographic normalization,” said one concerned parent.

I keep telling you. The diversophiles on the left don't care about excellence or even choice. They want everyone, everything to be the same drab gray. Every time I hear stories like this I think of concrete buildings in the communist bloc.

Is anyone alleging racial discrimination? Is anyone alleging any sort of bias? Is there anything wrong with giving people a choice, and having them not choose to attend a school--even if they'd add racial diversity to that school?

Paternalistic and minstrel, that's what it is. Sad, sickening, statist. This is what the left offers us.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Indoctrinate U

Read about filmmaker Evan Coyne Maloney here.

THE indie documentary "Indoctrinate U" takes a look at the politics of today's colleges and finds that, from coast to coast, conservative undergraduate newspapers are stolen en masse, professors lose gigs because of right-leaning views and military recruiters are chased off campus. Young writer-director Evan Coyne Maloney's alarming and funny film has yet to land a distributor, but Maloney, 34, who writes software for Reuters in New York, has been showing his movie to receptive campus and festival audiences. He talked to The Post on Monday.

Global Cooling Is Making A Comeback!

Reader MikeAT hooked me up with the following article:

Our finding of a direct correlation between variations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate indicators (called "proxies") is not unique. Hundreds of other studies, using proxies from tree rings in Russia's Kola Peninsula to water levels of the Nile, show exactly the same thing: The sun appears to drive climate change...

Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth. Beginning to plan for adaptation to such a cool period, one which may continue well beyond one 11-year cycle, as did the Little Ice Age, should be a priority for governments. It is global cooling, not warming, that is the major climate threat to the world, especially Canada. As a country at the northern limit to agriculture in the world, it would take very little cooling to destroy much of our food crops, while a warming would only require that we adopt farming techniques practiced to the south of us.

So, perhaps cycles in the sun have a significantly greater impact on earth's temperature than does man? Wow, I never would have thought that.

Here's another tidbit, though, for the "settled science" crowd:

In some fields the science is indeed "settled." For example, plate tectonics, once highly controversial, is now so well-established that we rarely see papers on the subject at all. But the science of global climate change is still in its infancy, with many thousands of papers published every year. In a 2003 poll conducted by German environmental researchers Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch, two-thirds of more than 530 climate scientists from 27 countries surveyed did not believe that "the current state of scientific knowledge is developed well enough to allow for a reasonable assessment of the effects of greenhouse gases." About half of those polled stated that the science of climate change was not sufficiently settled to pass the issue over to policymakers at all.

So, just who is this yayhoo who doesn't know what he's talking about?

R. Timothy Patterson is professor and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University.

Update, 6/21/07: Classical Values has a great post up entitled This Time, Let's Put The Environmentalists In Charge Of The Economy! Hammer. Nail. Whack!

The "Father" of Climate Science Says... warming is "hooey".

Hat tip, as is so often the case when I mention global warming, to Kerplunk.

Update: Chinese hold up index fingers and chant, We're Number 1!

China has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest producer of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, figures released today show...

The announcement comes as international negotiations to produce a new climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto protocol when it expires in 2012 are delicately poised. The US refused to ratify Kyoto partly because it made no demands on China, and one major sticking point of the new negotiations has been finding a way to include both nations, as well as other rapidly developing economies such as India and Brazil.

Socialized Medicine

An interesting 7+ minute video about some incidents in Canadian health care. Yes, they're only anecdotal, but they occur in the socialist health care utopia of Canada. In addition to the Canadian example, Kerplunk speaks truth to power:

Milton Friedman got it absolutely right when he said that whenever the government funds something the cost goes up.

Are there any examples where this isn't true? How is it that, given all the examples from history and today, people still pursue the clearly discredited concept of socialism?

Update, 7/6/07: Here's another film from the same writer/director.

New National Lampoon Movie?

Please please please make this movie. I was dying watching the trailer of a movie that doesn't even exist yet! (get the pun there? dying?)

Killed While Guarding Teachers

Not enough attention is being paid to the Islamofascist threat in southern Thailand. It's particularly interesting for those of us on this blog because so often the targets are teachers.

And this story is just the latest addition.

In Narathiwat province, two soldiers who were protecting teachers as they went to school in Tak Bai district were wounded by a bomb, police Lt. Jed Jaraenyaen said.

Imagine how bad it has to be for teachers to need soldier escorts just to get to school to teach.

Here's an interesting data point from the article:

Since a Muslim separatist rebellion flared in Thailand's three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat in early 2004, near-daily bombings, drive-by shootings and other attacks have killed more than 2,300 people.

That's a lot of people in just three years. Contrast that with just over 3500 people kill in over 20 years of IRA fighting, which was certainly reported in the Western press, and you get an idea how dangerous the situation in Thailand is.

Carnival of Education

This week's edition is open over at What It's Like on the Inside. Take a trip to the beach party and see the latest from the edusphere.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Changing The Name Of The School

Is this whitewashing history, righting a wrong, or another exercise in feel-good, PC politics? I think you know which way I'm leaning.

Charles M. Goethe's (pronounced gay-tee) days as the namesake of a Meadowview middle school are winding down, and it appears likely the eugenicist will be replaced by a civil rights activist.

At least the first several comments at the bottom of the article made sense.

Yes, Goethe supported the eugenics movement. He also did a lot of good things, and that is why he had a school named after him.

Now, I couldn't care less about Charles Goethe the man. I have serious issues with renaming a school because the person it's named after isn't someone we like today. We keep going down the same road with Washington and Jefferson and the fact that they owned slaves--must we rename our capital, and a state, and another state capital because of that? Must we posthumously rename George Washington Carver?

Lefties: your mecca, Berkeley, CA, was named after a slave-owning Anglican priest. I expect to see the city's name changed pronto.

And we may as well rename all those cities named after those crusade-starting Catholics. You know the cities: Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Francisco.

This is where the renaming idiocy takes us. Is it somewhere you want to go?

Update, 6/22/07: They renamed the school after Rosa Parks.

State Pension Fund To Lessen Social Activism

The nation's largest public pension fund is poised to scrap a pioneering strategy that for years banned investments in some of the world's most politically charged countries -- a move that would soften its image as a social activist investor.

Trustees of the California Public Employees' Retirement System on Monday suspended plans to hire researchers to start work on an annual report card ranking more than two-dozen emerging market countries for lax labor practices, unstable financial markets and geopolitical dangers.

But why? You have to read all the way down to the end of the 7th paragraph:

"The board has been looking at it for a while," he said, noting that the current policy has forced the fund to sacrifice the possibility of better returns.

In other words, they weren't making enough money. Their social activism was hurting the retirement money of current and future state employee retirees. Great job.

How To Limit Cheating In Online Courses

The privacy nuts are howling at the moon, of course, but no one's required to take online courses. They could take courses and tests in person, if they want.

This fall, Troy University in Alabama will begin rolling out the new camera technology for many of its approximately 11,000 online students, about a third of whom are at U.S. military installations around the world.

The device, made by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Software Secure, is similar in many respects to other test-taking software. It locks down a computer while the test is being taken, preventing students from searching files or the Internet. The latest version also includes fingerprint authentication, to help ensure the person taking the test isn't a ringer.

But the new development is a small Web cam and microphone that is set up where a student takes the exam. The camera points into a reflective ball, which allows it to capture a full 360-degree image. (The first prototype was made with a Christmas ornament.)

When the exam begins, the device records audio and video. Software detects significant noises and motions and flags them in the recording. An instructor can go back and watch only the portions flagged by the software to see if anything untoward is going on -- a student making a phone call, leaving the room -- and if there is a sudden surge in performance afterward.

Sounds most interesting, and a reasonable attempt to limit the massive opportunities for cheating that accompany online testing.

Sex With the Substitute

Here's yet another story about a woman teacher allegedly having sex with a male student--only this time, the boy is the 13-year-old boyfriend of the woman's daughter.


I've taught junior high. There is very little that's appealing, and absolutely nothing that's sexually appealing, about junior high students. This is just nasty all around.

This Is What We Call A RINO

A "Republican In Name Only".

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday switched his party status from Republican to unaffiliated, a stunning move certain to be seen as a prelude to an independent presidential bid that would upend the 2008 race...

Throughout his 5 1/2 years as mayor, Bloomberg has often been at odds with his party and Bush. He supports gay marriage, abortion rights, gun control and stem cell research, and raised property taxes to help solve a fiscal crisis after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (emphasis mine--Darren)

On those five topics, I support one. Not agreeing 100% with your party plank seems reasonable to me. Not agreeing at all with it makes me wonder why you're in the party in the first place.

How I long for the days when being a Republican meant being for smaller, less intrusive government, instead of whatever it means today.

Seattle Times on the Davenport v. WEA Decision

Who knew that there were people in Seattle, especially in the press, who thought this way?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week on union dues clarified a piece of the law, but it did not settle the issue of how to treat people who are represented by a union but who have resigned their membership.

It may seem odd there are such people, but under federal law, a worker has the right to resign from membership in a union but not from representation by it. In many states, including this one, a worker who resigns from a union may be required to pay it for representing him, but he may refuse to pay a share of its "non-chargeable" spending, such as donating to political causes. Last week's case, successfully argued by Attorney General Rob McKenna on behalf of the non-members and the state law protecting them, concerned the Washington Education Association.

OK, so far that seems fair and balanced. But let's read on:

When the WEA could see it was going to lose, it had its friends in the Legislature pass House Bill 2079, sponsored by Rep. Joe McDermott, D-Seattle. This bill, which Gov. Chris Gregoire obligingly signed into law, says money from members and nonmembers may be put in the same account and spent on politics as long as there is enough left in the account to cover what the nonmembers paid.

We understand why it was done that way: The Democrats get most union contributions, and they want large ones. But co-mingling amounts to a kind of money laundering, and the Legislature and governor never should have approved it. (emphasis mine--Darren)

Money laundering--that's a pretty strong term. Is the Seattle Times perhaps suggesting that this type of activity is, or at least should be, criminal? If so, I agree with them.

These Students Want An Education

From Michael Yon, freelance journalist in Iraq, as emailed to Instapundit regarding the current battle over Baqubah:

The biggest part of the plan is to trap and kill as many al Qaeda as possible, and to eventually leave the city completely in Iraqi hands. The Iraqi leaders I have seen are thankful and are taking part. Their biggest complaint was that the attack started just as students are trying to take their National Exams. So, early today there was a large gathering of students who wanted to take the exams, but the schools are closed. Bad news is that this is the latest serious disruption to Iraqi lives, but I do find it heartening that the biggest complaint is about the National Exams. It's hard not to respect people who see helicopters shooting rockets, and who are hearing the explosions from the shells and rockets, yet they are thinking about exams. (emphasis mine--Darren)

It is hard not to respect that.

Apparently Not All Military Folks Are As Homophobic As The Left Wants To Believe

When I saw this video I couldn't stop laughing. And for West Point graduates from my time, the acknowledgement statement at the end of the video is just about as funny as the video is cool. (You non-WP-grads might not get it, but that's ok.)

Update: Oh, and let's not forget this post from last year.

Monday, June 18, 2007

SF Examiner Article Against Socialized Medicine?

Take prostate cancer, for example. Though American men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than men in other countries, we are less likely to die of it. Fewer than one in five American men with prostate cancer will die from it, but a quarter of Canadian men will, and even more ominously, 57 percent of British men and nearly half of French and German men will.

Similar results can be found for other cancers, AIDS and heart disease. When former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi needed heart surgery last year, he didn’t go to France, Canada, Cuba or even an Italian hospital — he went to the Cleveland Clinic.

Newsalert (see blogroll at left) pointed to me to the original article, which focuses on Michael Moore-on's new movie. Here's more from the Examiner, most of which should be patently obvious to the most casual observer but apparently needs to be repeated for the ignorant:

As one would expect, Moore refers frequently to the 47 million Americans without health insurance but fails to point out that most of those are uninsured for only brief periods or that millions are already eligible for government programs but fail to apply. Moreover, he implies that people without health insurance don’t receive health care.

In reality, most do. Hospitals are legally obligated to provide care regardless of ability to pay, and while physicians do not face the same legal requirements, few are willing to deny treatment because a patient lacks insurance. Treatment for the uninsured may well mean financial hardship, but by and large they do receive it.

And Moore overlooks the flaws of national health care systems. He downplays waiting lists in Canada, suggesting they are no more than inconveniences. He interviews apparently healthy Canadians who claim they have no problem getting care. Somehow, he couldn’t find any of the nearly 800,000 Canadians who are not so lucky.

Nor apparently did he have time to interview Canadian Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin, who wrote in a 2005 decision striking down part of Canada’s universal care law that many Canadians waiting for treatment suffer chronic pain and “patients die while on the waiting list.”

I've written several posts in that same vein. Click on the socialism label to read them.

Zero Tolerance Idiocy

Zero tolerance.

Fifth-graders in California who adorned their mortarboards with tiny toy plastic soldiers this week to support troops in Iraq were forced to cut off their miniature weapons. A Utah boy was suspended for giving his cousin a cold pill prescribed to both students. In Rhode Island, a kindergartner was suspended for bringing a plastic knife to school so he could cut cookies...

Reynolds also questioned what lessons zero-tolerance rules teach, citing reports that a 10-year-old girl was expelled from a Colorado academy after giving a teacher a small knife her mother placed in her lunchbox.

"What she learned from the school was, 'If something happens and you break a rule, for God's sake, don't tell anybody,'" Reynolds said. "Zero-tolerance policies completely ignore the concept of intent, which is antithetical to the American philosophy of justice."

The principal at Portsmouth High School in Rhode Island -- whose mascot is sometimes depicted carrying a rifle -- censored a yearbook photo because it showed a student who enjoys medieval reenactments wearing chainmail and holding a sword.

I believe in having zero tolerance for genuine weapons, drugs, and sexual harassment. I don't believe in suspending children because of butter knives, plastic army men, baggies of parsley that look like marijuana, or kissing a fellow kindergartner on the cheek.

I can understand why such policies are created, though. There are a couple reasons. First, schools want to be seen as doing something (typical liberal approach) to combat societal ills. Second, to shield themselves from attacks by parents, school administrators want rules and policies that eliminate the need for any judgement. Third, Mark Twain was right when speaking about school boards.

Call me old-fashioned--it wouldn't be the first time--but I expect adults, especially those who run our schools, to exercise judgement and common sense. They should at least be expected or allowed to use those skills, even if they choose not to. Stupid zero tolerance policies, or the stupid application of those policies, rightly deserve the backlash mentioned in the linked article above.

Power Lines Through Historic Sites

This is easy--they must redirect new power lines around the historic battlefields. If the concern is just that the power lines will be visible from the sites, well--there's already a road carrying busloads of tourists running down Cemetery Ridge and up Little Round Top. Seeing power lines in the distance isn't going to detract from the Gettysburg Battlefield any more than those already do.

Home Visits By Teachers

I've always been against the concept of home visits. For starters, I'm a teacher, not a social worker. I'm not trained to evaluate what I see in the home, and even if I were, how would I use that information in the classroom? "Oh, Johnny's home doesn't have many books. And there were dishes in the sink. And the tv was on." I know there might be an impact, but how does that knowledge help me teach Johnny? He's either responding to my instruction, or he's not. If he's not, let's try something else and see if he responds to that.

I'm not ashamed of my home, not in its appearance, upkeep, or conditions. But I would never allow my son's teacher to come to my house for such a visit. In my son's life, my place is at home and at school, but his teacher's place is at school.

I always thought home visits a bit paternalistic and judgemental, because I was told their reason was for the teacher to get an "understanding" of the child's home life. I viewed them as one link in the chain of soft bigotry of low expectations.

Here, however, is a justification I can live with and support:

The concept is simple: Students will do better in school if their teachers and parents get to know each other. The grants go to schools that predominantly serve children from low-income families.

Building a bridge is good. Acting like a social worker after a two-hour in-service on what to look for in a home visit is not.

School Choice

I'm a public school teacher as well as a taxpayer and parent. And I support school choice.

Universal public education is sacred, public schools themselves are not. I have no qualms, though, about having government-run schools as one of the choices for parents and their children.

So when I came across this opinion piece via NewsAlert (see blogroll at left), I had to read the entire thing.

During a trip to Washington, D.C., last weekend, I was struck by a front-page Washington Post article on the dismal state of the city's public schools. Despite spending more per student than virtually any other school district in the nation, the capital's pupils are tragically deprived of a decent education, with nearly three-quarters of them lacking basic math skills...

Most supporters of public schools acknowledge that the middle class and wealthy people would do well if the system became entirely private. But what about the poor kids, they ask. That's their ultimate attack on this idea.

That brings us back to the current state of affairs in the nation's poor, urban school districts. Just look at the results in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Can it get any worse? I believe things can get much better, that the market (and private charities) will provide an astounding array of excellent choices in the poorest, bleakest neighborhoods.

He's right, of course, but advocates the total elimination of public schools. I'm not ready to go there yet, but perhaps someday.

Although charter schools and tuition vouchers offer some hope for individual parents who want to get their kids out of urban public school nightmares or out of the mediocre, politically correct school systems in affluent suburbia, they are not the ultimate solution to the education problem. The solution is much simpler and more sensible: the complete elimination of the public school system and its replacement with a true free market. Parents would pay for their own kids' education and would select from a host of private schools (ranging from big institutions to tiny home schools) that best serve their needs. They would shop for benefits, quality, features, location and price – just like we do for everything else in the market economy, such as cars, groceries and cell-phone service. That's not to say that all private companies are good, but consumers have choices, and competition provides pressure for the bad ones to improve. (boldface mine--Darren)

A related argument is made regarding health care. Food and housing are more important, on a daily basis, than medical care, at least for most of us, but we don't expect our employers to provide our food and housing. Because health care isn't truly a competitive market, costs rise egregiously. Imagine what will happen if/when government itself takes over that industry. Think "public education on steroids".

And yet public schools have their rabid defenders, often the same people who want government to take over health care. Such people must not have much faith in themselves, else why would they want government to do so much for them?

Kerplunk Has A New Global Warming Post Up

Go take a read. If you bought beachfront property in Colorado, though, expect to be disappointed.

ACLU Defends Fundamentalist Religious Group!

Surprised? You won't be when you read the story.

How, exactly, do they justify this but not a cross on public land?

Kary Moss, director of the Detroit branch of the ACLU, said its review concluded the plan is a “reasonable accommodation” to resolve “safety and cleanliness issues” that arose when Muslims used public sinks for foot cleaning before prayers, which often spilled water on bathroom floors.

“We view it as an attempt to deal with a problem, not an attempt to make it easier for Muslims to pray,” said Moss, who likened the plan to paying for added police during religious events with huge turnouts. “There’s no intent to promote religion.”

Ah, I get it. So if a cross is just an "architectural adornment", with "no intent to promote religion", then it would be acceptable to the ACLU? Of course it would.

Hate Crimes?

Christians living in Gaza City on Monday appealed to the international community to protect them against increased attacks by Muslim extremists. Many Christians said they were prepared to leave the Gaza Strip as soon as the border crossings are reopened.

The appeal came following a series of attacks on a Christian school and church in Gaza City over the past few days.

There's nothing I need to add to that. Read more about the Religion of Peace here. What, you don't want to?

"The masked gunmen used rocket-propelled grenades to storm the main entrances of the school and church," he said. "Then they destroyed almost everything inside, including the Cross, the Holy Book, computers and other equipment." (boldface mine--Darren)

Rocket-propelled grenades. Savor that thought for a moment. Forcing your way into a school using rocket-propelled freaking grenades.

I wonder if there will be any outrage on the left over this:

(Father) Musalam expressed outrage over the burning of copies of the Bible, noting that the gunmen destroyed all the Crosses inside the church and school.

Those of you who squealed like stuck pigs over the false reports of "disrespect" to the Koran at Guantanamo, I expect to see you protesting and howling at the moon over this event. No? I'm not surprised.

It's a school. And a church. And neither belong to the people whom the attackers claim they're fighting.