Education, politics, and anything else that catches my attention.
Monday, October 31, 2005
Teachers Union Party in South Africa
Well, yes I would. But at least I'd enjoy myself whilst despising them!
Sunday, October 30, 2005
FLASH! NEA Tells The Truth About CTA!
On page 10 of the November 2005 issue of NEA Today, the union rag for the National Education Association, comes this little caught-with-their-pants-down gem: "CTA's 800-member governing body has voted for a special levy of $60 per member for the campaign, because ...."
I congratulate NEA on its honesty, even if it's accidental.
NEA Today Mazazine Sets New Low In Class
On page 9 is a cartoon in which the President of the United States is caricatured. On page 10 is a picture of people wearing masks mocking California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
While I'm all for satire (and it's baser cousin sarcasm), political lampooning, and mockery in general, are the pages of a magazine from an organization that likes to believe itself a group of professionals really the place for such images? Such low comedy is not appropriate here. It does my heart good to know (ok, it really doesn't) that *my dues money* paid for this union to mock politicians whose education policies I support, and I had no real choice in the matter.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Goon Squad--Free Speech At Our Universities
In other words, go read it. For those of you who need encouragement, it's only a few paragraphs long.
Grim Milestone Approaches In Unending War
It goes nicely with this post.
Social Justice, Cultural Competence, etc.
Other researchers have identified differences in middle class and working-class speech to children. Snow and others, for example, report that working-class mothers use more directives to their children than do middle- and upper-class parents. Middle-class parents are likely to give the directive to a child to take his bath as, "Isn't it time for your bath?" Even though the utterance is couched as a question, both child and adult understand it as a directive. The child may respond with "Aw, Mom, can't I wait until...," but whether or not negotiation is attempted, both conversants understand the intent of the utterance.
By contrast, a black mother, in whose house I was recently a guest, said to her eight-year-old son, "Boy, get your rusty behind in that bathtub." Now, I happen to know that this woman loves her son as much as any mother, but she would never have posed the directive to her son to take a bath in the form of a question. Were she to ask, "Would you like to take your bath now?" she would not have been issuing a directive but offering a true alternative. Consequently, as Heath suggests, upon entering school the child from such a family may not understand the indirect statement of the teacher as a direct command. Both white and black working-class children in the communities Heath studied "had difficulty interpreting these indirect requests for adherence to an unstated set of rules."
I agree that children may come to school from homes that do not possess or practice the "culture of power". However, I don't accept Delpit's description. Perhaps a more accurate description would be the "culture of school," which would include such things as raising your had before blurting something out in class, demonstrating politeness and tolerance of others, and showing respect for authority (no matter the race, color, size, religion or whatever of the authority figure). Are we to believe that students cannot adjust, in a very short time, to one set of requirements at home and perhaps a different set of requirements at school? Students from disadvantaged backgrounds may, by definition, start out at a disadvantage in school, but to accept this line of reasoning and to extend it beyond the first few weeks of school seems more than a little paternalistic to me. Children adjust to different rules all the time (dad's house vs. mom's house, home vs. the mall, home manners vs. restaurant manners); to use the "culture of power" as even one of many excuses for poor performance of racial minorites, as Delpit does, is to succumb to what President Bush described as the "soft bigotry of low expectations." We need to quit paying lip service to such students--if you truly believe that all students can be reached, set high standards for them and actually expect them to reach those standards. Don't give them excuses.
Delpit and I disagree on what to do. I say, if you think there is a "culture of power", teach the children it's accouterments. Teach them its nuances, it style of speech, its way of organizing society. In other words, if there's power out there, teach them how to get it! Delpit opts for the "woe is me, I'm a victim, hear me whine" approach.
Now you may have inferred that I believe that because there is a culture of power, everyone should learn the codes to participate in it, and that is how the world should be. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. I believe in a diversity of style, and I believe the world would be diminished if cultural diversity is ever obliterated....
I further believe that to act as if power does not exist is to ensure that the power status quo remains the same. To imply to children or adults (but of course the adults won't believe you anyway) that it doesn't matter how you talk or how you write is to ensure their ultimate failure. I prefer to be honest with my students. I tell them that their language and cultural style is unique and wonderful but that there is a political power game that is also being played, and if they want to be in on that game there are certain games that they too must play.
But don't think that I let the onus of change rest entirely with the students.
Seems to me that Delpit believes that a student's own "culture", for lack of a better term, is superior to the "culture of power", which would most likely be the dominant societal culture in which that child lives! In other words, the child should learn a few rules so that he or she can participate in that culture, but that doing so should be treated as a game to be played. I don't understand how Delpit can logically demand that society change to accomodate those from outside it, while at the same time saying that those outsiders should treat their surrounding society's culture as anything more than a game to be played, a hindrance. Such views seem to be the norm when people try to speak for the underrepresented, and such a belief structure belies not a desire for acceptance, but a desire for dominance--I believe that Delpit would, if she could, reverse the roles of the underrepresented and the dominant cultures, and would have no difficulty explaining why the new dominant culture should stay where it is and the new subordinate (white middle-class) culture should adapt to it. These belief structures are very self-serving and are based on emotion, not logic.
Again, I argue that teaching disadvantaged students, giving them some "cultural capital" to spend, is to open the doors to success in society. Others argue, however, that "cultural competence" is not the perview of the student but rather is the responsibility of the teacher; the teacher should adapt, accomodate, respect, and nourish the culture of each child, whatever that culture may be, instead of teaching them the tools they'll need to function in the larger society. In other words, the social engineers want to create a "society" in the schools that is entirely different from the one in which we live. This accepting of other cultures seems to be a one-way street, and only the dominant culture needs to do the accepting. While there is good reason to merge the two beliefs and find some meeting between them, it's not a happy medium--we need to teach the children to function in the society we have much more than in the Utopia we want.
Wendy McElroy writes the following about the new "cultural competence" requirement some schools have for prospective teachers:
In practice, the term is the new face of political correctness, which is often accompanied by the PC concepts of "diversity" or "multiculturalism."
"Cultural competency" advances the same basic goals as those buzz words. Certain groups (such as minorities) and certain ideas (such as gender feminist interpretations of oppression) are to be promoted by institutionalizing policies that encourage them. Of course, this means that other groups and other ideas are de facto penalized or discouraged.
Her article continues:
Norman Levitt, Professor of Mathematics at Rutgers University, explains, "'Cultural competence' is…a bureaucratic weapon. 'Cultural competence,' or rather, your [an educator's] presumed lack thereof, is what you will be clobbered with if you are imprudent enough to challenge or merely to have qualms about 'affirmative action', 'diversity' and 'multiculturalism,' as those principles are now espoused by their most fervent academic advocates."
According to Levitt, the beliefs that are likely to torpedo an educator's career include:
-- affirmative action conflicts "with other standards of justice and equity."
-- feminism's theory of "the social constructedness of gender" is incorrect.
So now we're back to social justice. For those on the left, it always comes back to this concept of social justice. Just to review, my post from earlier this month on the topic of social justice included this quote:
By the way, there's a huge difference between "justice" (government acts to ensure equal treatment before the law) and "social justice" (government acts to redistribute resources to those it feels are more deserving—and more likely to vote for said government).
While obviously not perfect, we've come a long way in this country towards the definition given above for "justice". The eulogies on the recent passing of Rosa Parks demonstrate how far we've come in only 50 years. I fear, though, those who would use the power of government to reengineer society to satisfy those it determines are "more deserving".
There are times when the power of government can be used to reorder a society, but I doubt this is what our leftie friends have in mind:
It is also time to step up lecturing both the American people and the Iraqis on exactly what we are doing in the Sunni Triangle. We have been sleepwalking through the greatest revolutionary movement in the history of the Middle East, as the U.S. military is quietly empowering the once-despised Kurds and Shiites — and along with them women and the other formerly dispossessed of Iraq. In short, the U.S. Marine Corps has done more for global freedom and social justice in two years than has every U.N. peacekeeping mission since the inception of that now-corrupt organization. (bold type mine--Darren)
Let's not forget the US Army's role in that process! But back to the point. There are a few ways of changing society. Court rulings are one way--the civil rights era gives us one example of this. Revolutions or other armed events, like the one discussed above, are another. Logic, advertising, and persuasion--a good PR campaign--is another. But trying to exclude certain people (like conservatives, for instance) from certain career fields so that you can brainwash children to your own way of thinking--that's not only intellectually dishonest, it's morally bankrupt.
Update, 3/13/06: here's an updated link with Delpit's essay, which is getting harder to find on the internet.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Important Web Page For California Teachers
Special Legal Notice to California Teachers:
How to Get the CTA $60 Increase Back and a $300 refund of Nonbargaining Expenses
CTA Doesn't Want Union Members To Know About Their Rights
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
October 25, 2005
Contact: Stefan Gleason 916-844-4265
CTA union brass insist that rank-and-file union members remain in the dark about their limited rights to reclaim compulsory union dues
CTA union chief Barbara Kerr did not accept the offer made in an open letter by a group of teacher union members and nonmembers, sent last Thursday and published in Sunday’s Sacramento Bee. In their letter, the teachers demanded that union officials notify all CTA members of how they can refrain from paying for the union hierarchy’s $60 million political campaign by resigning their formal union membership and objecting.
In response to a class action lawsuit filed by teachers with free legal help from Foundation attorneys, CTA officials were forced to send a notice on October 15 to nonmembers informing teachers that they have a right to stop and immediately reclaim the $60 per teacher dues increase earmarked for political electioneering. Nonmembers, including teachers who resign their membership and object, can also reclaim an additional $300 per year that the CTA and its affiliates routinely spend on non-bargaining activities.
The open letter, signed by over two dozen California teachers, asked union officials to cooperate in informing union members of their same limited rights to cut off the use of their forced dues for politics. The proposed mailing would have been processed by a third party mail shop. It required the cooperation of CTA officials who possess the only mailing list of union members.
“Obviously, the union brass intend to keep rank-and-file teachers in the dark about their most basic rights,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of National Right to Work Foundation. “Teachers are to serve as blank checks to finance CTA officials’ radical political agenda.”
In court proceedings, CTA controller Carlos Moreno filed a sworn declaration disclosing that CTA officials had already spent all $60 million in anticipated revenues from the three-year compulsory dues increase and that union officials were in negotiations for an additional $40 million credit line. If the union is unable to obtain the additional credit, Moreno stated that a $20 million loan could be recalled and services cut back.
“We recognize that many teachers will not want to subject themselves to your discriminatory policies of denying nonmembers the right to vote on union contracts, as well as access to liability insurance. However, our member colleagues should at least be allowed to make this choice,” the teachers wrote in their letter to Kerr.
Ultimately, the U.S. District court may order the union to notify, at its own expense, union members of their due-process rights. A copy of the open letter can be viewed at www.nrtw.org/california/kerrltr.pdf.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting over 150,000 employees in over 250 cases nationwide. Its web address is www.nrtw.org .
CTA Doesn't Speak For All Teachers
Posted on Wed, Oct. 26, 2005
Teachers union doesn't speak for all teachers
By Judy Liegmann
In recent weeks, California Teachers Association (CTA) union officials showed the citizens of California their ruthless nature when they did their very best to keep me and my fellow teachers from speaking our views at a news conference in Sacramento.
The screaming and jeering we encountered as we spoke to the media was just a small taste of the intimidation that California teachers face every day in the classroom when they stand up to this union.
Frankly, I've had enough of the CTA's militant brand of politics, and I'm not alone. That's why a group of teachers and professors have joined me in filing a class-action suit against the union for forcing us to pay for their massive $60 million political campaign against Proposition 75 this fall.
As a fifth-grade school teacher in the Bay Area, I am forced to hand over part of my paycheck to the CTA because of California's compulsory unionism laws. Even non-union members like me still have to pay roughly 70 percent of full dues to a union we want nothing to do with. Many teachers don't even know about this right not to join and to pay less than full dues.
Recently, I learned that the CTA officials had decided to increase all teachers' dues by $60 a year, purely for the purpose of fighting Arnold Schwarzenegger's reforms on the ballot this November. They never asked our permission, nor even informed us of the purpose of the new fee. I found out purely by chance. Furthermore, when I asked for the money to be returned to me, CTA officials indicated that I could have to wait one or two years.
At the same time, most of the teachers who are actually members of the union -- more than 300,000 -- haven't the first clue as to how they can get the money back. Union officials won't tell them.
Even if we are able to get the money back in a year or two, forcing us to give a loan to union bosses so they can play politics violates our constitutional rights. An election cannot be undone.
The merits of Schwarzenegger's ballot propositions are beside the point. Union members and non-members should have the right to object to this extraordinary use of their dues.
This outrageous treatment of thousands of teachers like me proves that CTA officials are much more interested in maintaining their political power than in respecting the wishes of teachers they claim to represent.
Our lawsuit, brought with the free legal assistance of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, cites several Supreme Court rulings already establishing that union officials cannot use the forced dues money for political purposes over employees' objections. Clearly, this principle is not being enforced in California, and as a result I am forced to spend a good amount of my time and energy to participate in this lawsuit to reclaim rights that the law is supposed to protect.
We ask the court to order the union to give all teachers in California members and non-members a disclosure of how the funds are being spent and a notice of their right to object. Of course, the union's lawyers are fighting us tooth and nail.
Sadly, teachers like me have little recourse. California's forced unionism laws put teachers in a no-win situation, and the compulsory unionism privileges that union officials enjoy have led to arrogance and abuse.
The best way to solve this problem is for California to end the statewide policy of forced unionism. Then, employees could protect themselves from union abuse and lack of accountability by withholding all financial support. Rank-and-file teachers, and employees in other sectors, would have the ability to keep arbitrary or corrupt union brass out of our pocketbooks.
If teachers had the right to withdraw their financial support from the CTA union, perhaps union officials would actually have an incentive to care about what we think. If teachers had a say, I doubt that the union could get away with appropriating a chunk of our paychecks to play politics on a scale never before witnessed in our state.
JUDY LIEGMANN is a fifth-grade teacher in the Sunnyvale School District. She is the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against the CTA/CFA unions seeking to block union officials' use of teachers' forced union dues. She wrote this article for the Mercury News.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Still, Toobin makes clear, as have others, that Justice Breyer is a smart and appealing man. It's too bad that so many of today's liberals who generally agree with him fail to emulate his approach to politics and law (especially since so many of these followers fail to see the distinction) as outlined to Toobin:“You have to assume good faith, even on the part of people with whom you disagree,” he told me. “If you don’t assume good faith, it makes matters personal, and it makes it harder to reach a good result and, in my experience, it normally isn’t even true. People do act in good faith. The best clue to what a person thinks is what he says.”If even, say, 20% of liberals today approached Republicans, conservatives, and President Bush in that spirit, out political culture would be about 100% healthier than it is now.
This quotation, especially the direct quote in the center, will hopefully serve as a timely reminder for some of my commenters here.
Wherefore Art Thou, Political Moderates?
Michael Barone, in U.S. News and World Report, recently made the case that 2008 may be the moderates' moment - that leading contenders from both parties are cutting moderate profiles, including such Republican candidates as Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and such Democrats as Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Evan Bayh (Ind.) and Govs. Mark Warner (Va.) and Tom Vilsack (Iowa).
Maybe. But experience suggests that the primary process will force Democrats to toe lines dictated by teachers unions, extreme feminists, doves and civil rights groups, and that Republicans will have to hew to the views of hard-line evangelicals, anti-taxers and anti-immigration nativists.
Isn't that sad?
Monday, October 24, 2005
Rest In Peace, Rosa Parks
We're a better place for her having been here, and a sadder place now that she's gone.
Rosa Parks, 1913-2005.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Jesus And The Kindergarten Poster
Of course, this merits a lawsuit. And in a perfect example of why we need more conservative judges on the federal bench (and all other benches, for that matter):
In 2000, a New York federal court ruled that the school had the right to censor the poster on the grounds of separation of church and state.
A second court ruled in favor of the school again last year, but on Tuesday, a three judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan unanimously decided that Peck’s constitutional rights may have been violated and recommended the case back to court once again.
Hard to believe. And did you catch that year there? This started 5 years ago. It's taken 5 years and we still haven't determined, once and for all, whether or not a kindergartener's inclusion of Jesus on a poster merits official concern and worry.
I guess that if this were absolutely clear there wouldn't be all this hand-wringing. However it does, in fact, seem perfectly clear to me--the 1st Amendment prohibits government from establishing religion (a la the Church of England), not from recognizing religion exists, or even from supporting religion on occasion. As examples I always hold out the chaplain of the US House of Representatives, the National Cathedral, and chaplains in the military and chapels on military installations. Let's also not forget that we don't tax churches. This "wall of separation between church and state"--perhaps I should read Jefferson's letter that included that comment so I can understand the context in which he was writing, but I doubt it would include not hanging up a 5-year-old's poster.
Now this seems perfectly clear and reasonable to me:
“To allow a kindergarten poster to be displayed for a few hours on a cafeteria wall, along with 80 other student posters, is far from an establishment of religion. To censor the poster solely because some might perceive a portion of it to be religious is an egregious violation of the Constitution," he said.
Of course, this is from the kid's attorney.
And then there's this, highlighting the interesting and oft-overlooked point that Circuit (Appeals) Court decisions are applicable only within the states covered by that particular Circuit Court:
In the Peck vs. Baldwinsville School District case, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals joined with the ninth and eleventh Circuit Courts who hold the view that discrimination--even in the public school setting--is unconstitutional.
Conversely, the first and tenth Circuit Courts opine that discrimination in the public school context is permissible.
This split in opinion could land Antonio in the Supreme Court--something which Staver says he would be all for.
I hope that even my anti-religious/lefty readers can agree that the school's action here was stupid stupid stupid.
Update: Here's an article which discusses the above case as well as other points I've made previously. Perhaps the author is reading this blog :-) Here are a couple tidbits:
This time around, the folks with the magnifying glasses are leaning on the village of Tijeras, N.M., whose seal contains a conquistador's helmet and sword, a scroll, a desert plant, a fairly large religious symbol (the Native American zia) and a quite small Christian cross. "Tiny cross" inspectors are not permitted to fret about large non-Christian religious symbols, only undersized Christian ones, so the ACLU filed suit to get the cross removed....
As if to prove that church-state objections can be found on the right as well as on the left, the band director at C.D. Hylton High School in Virginia pulled the song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band after a conservative objected. He wondered why the school should be allowed to sing about the devil when they are not allowed to sing about God.
Next week: The ACLU sues to ban deviled eggs from the school cafeteria.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
More On Illegal Fees
Some claim that if we no longer charge the illegal fees, programs (band, art, shop, etc) will go away. Sure, that result justifies breaking the law!
Such thinking is very small-minded. There are several ways to raise money for such valuable programs. Here are a few:
1. Have the parents, through their elected school board, insist that the district fund the programs at a reasonable level. Yes, something will get cut, because there's a finite amount of money in the district. But if band is the least important thing the district is doing (and I don't believe it is), and there's not enough money to fund it, cut it.
2. Have fundraisers.
3. Have Art Boosters, Shop Boosters, and Band Boosters, in addition to Athletic Boosters.
4. Have the PTSA at each school kick in money to fund the program.
5. Solicit direct donations from parents rather than requiring them to pay, especially in classes that are required for graduation. In our district, a computer class and a year of visual or performing arts is required, and many of those classes charge fees.
6. Solicit corporate sponsorships. The FujiFilm Photo Lab, the Michael's (arts and crafts store) Art Gallery.
The problem with #2-6 is that they don't address the underlying problem--the school district isn't adequately funding the programs that are valuable to our students. They merely replace an illegal source of funding with a legal one. That's no small result, but the problem remains.
I also like the idea suggested in the first comment on this post. It has the advantage of requiring additional work only to set the program up.
Global Warming? Not So Fast.
OSLO, Norway (Reuters) -- Greenland's ice cap has thickened slightly in recent years despite wide predictions of a thaw triggered by global warming, a team of scientists said on Thursday.
However, later in the article there's this:
However, they said that the thickening seemed consistent with theories of global warming, blamed by most experts on a build-up of heat-trapping gases from burning fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars.
I'm thinking we don't know enough to make these calls. And we all know that the earth used to be a lot warmer than it is now, that climatic change is cyclical, and that the Mt. Pinatubo volcano pumped more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in one eruption last decade than man has in his entire history. Hmmmm.
What do we teach the kids? Theories, pop science, or scaremongering?
More On Prop 75
Give me the opportunity to opt out completely, and I would. THAT might make the CTA more responsive to me, instead of the current situation where they take my money and run.
Map of EdBloggers
Update: The link above takes you to the blog. This link should take you directly to the map.
Iraq A "Quagmire?"
I'm not impressed with these "quagmire" arguments, and neither is Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit. Sayeth Glenn:
I think the critics overstate their case, and rather consistently ignore the good news that Kevin [Drum, from a link he provides prior to this quote] notes. My anonymous emailer thinks that U.S. casualties are proof of a quagmire. That's an odd formulation, since it means that any war in which troops are killed, which means pretty much any war generally, is a quagmire. There's no question that some antiwar folks think that's true, but pardon me if I'm unimpressed with that argument. (What I said here in 2003 about antiwar folks being disappointed that things had gone so well seems to remain true, as people keep making every effort to portray Iraq as Vietnam). Saddam's on trial, Iraqis are counting ballots, and as noted above we seem to have shaken things up -- though I'd argue not enough yet -- throughout the mideast.
How different WWII would look had it been fought under today's onslaught by the left. Well, maybe not, since WWII was fought under a Democrat president. Still, Kasserine Pass? Humiliation for America, enemy is too strong, let's negotiate a settlement! Took two weeks to reach our first day's objectives in Normandy? Incompetent planning! Bogged down in "hedgerow country"? Quagmire! Battle of the Bulge? Senate committee to study lack of intelligence on the enemy, fire Eisenhower, the enemy is too strong, let's negotiate a settlement! Firebombing civilians? Wolf Blitzer reports from the streets of Dresden or Tokyo, hopefully with a few burned corpses behind him for effect! Japanese fighting to the death on little spots of sand in the Pacific? We'll never defeat such a determined and entrenched enemy!
It's sad that so many of our own people cheer for the other side.
Bush Derangement Syndrome Goes International
Now some Canadians are trying to get in on the game. I guess too many people, our own included, want to have a milquetoast as President and just can't stand that President Bush says what he means, means what he says, and will act on his convictions.
This post is not open for comments.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Life Imitates Star Trek
Also known as "the whale one."
For those of you not versed enough in your Star Trek knowledge, the synopsis is this:
A probe approaches earth. It emits such strong electromagnetic signals that starships in its path get knocked out--dead in space, no power. When the probe gets to earth it sends a signal into the oceans; unfortunately this signal begins to vaporize the oceans. Earth is doomed; the Federation President authorizes a planetary distress signal.
Well, on his way to Earth in an "appropriated" Klingon ship is Kirk and cohort. They hear about what's going on and analyze the probe's signal--it's the sound of humpback whales, a species extinct on earth for a couple centuries. Using a "slingshot effect" around the sun, Kirk and team go back in time to late 20th century Earth to find some humpback whales. The plan: bring the humpbacks into their century, hope the whales communicate with the probe, and then maybe the probe will go away.
One of the sticking points is how they'll hold the whales inside the Klingon ship. Scotty goes to a manufacturer and shows him the chemical formula for "transparent aluminum", which would be lightweight enough to use to create a tank inside the ship.
Blah blah blah, several adventures later, there's two whales inside the ship, Kirk and gang head back to their own century and release the whales into the San Francisco Bay, the probe hears what it wants to hear, and off it goes. Earth is saved.
Life now imitates Star Trek. This article tells us that the army is experimenting with "transparent armor made with aluminum." And this one talks about directed energy weapons, similar to phasers.
Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst
Britain's Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, is not located in Sandhurst, but in nearby Camberley. I know this only because I was fortunate enough to be one of four members of my class to serve as exchange cadets there in 1986, during the summer before my senior year at West Point.
That summer dozens of my classmates and I went to military academies around the world for two weeks. My best friend went to Bolivia, a roommate went to Greece, others I knew went to Germany, Australia, and other such places. The Cold War was still on; Soviet and Eastern European academies likely weren't on the roster of available sites :-)
The Brits treated us well. We spent about 7 days training with the Sandhurst cadets, and the other 7 days were sent out to tour the surrounding area. There was a day or two in London, a day in Oxford, visits to Stratfield Saye House and Blenheim Palace and Beaulieu Abbey. Each night the cadets were given 50 Pounds, about $75 at the time, and told to "show the Americans a good time." As you might imagine with a bunch of 20-somethings, "a good time" usually meant a pub somewhere. It's funny how often you almost get run over when you've had a few too many and only look to your left for traffic when starting to cross a road (Brits drive on the left side of the road and hence traffic comes from the right). One night a group of officers took us into the Officer's Mess and we had a few there, then played 'mess rugby'. In suits and ties. I have pictures of some game of athletic prowess called "High Cock-a-loren", phonetically speaking.
I could ramble on and on about Sandhurst and what I learned about Britain and its army, but no, that isn't the point of this post. All of this lead-in was to bring you to this story--Prince William will be attending Sandhurst. Don't know if his younger brother Harry is already there yet or not, but his admittance was the subject of a minor scandal some months ago.
The pictures of Old College at Sandhurst, above, were taken in June 1986.
Got Another Anti-CTA Email Today
The hair on my neck would raise if CTA were to do the same thing, but that's because I'd most likely disagree with the message. I've decided CTA wouldn't be doing anything wrong, as long as they gave me the option to opt out of getting those messages. BTW, I wish I could opt out of paying for CTA's political advertisements. Oh wait, that will be much easier if Prop 75 passes!
Anyway, here's the text of the latest letter, formatted as best I can:
|From the Desk of: |
Lillian Perry, Fontana Teacher
|From the Desk of:|
Larry Sand, Los Angeles Teacher
|October 20, 2005|
In every public school in California, we teach our students about our right to freedom of speech. We teach them the value of being able to disagree, but still respect the opinions of those you disagree with. Apparently, freedom of speech is not something our union, the California Teachers Association (CTA) supports.
We wrote to you last week because we strongly disagreed with the political and financial decisions being made by the leadership of the CTA. The purpose of our email was to express a legitimate opinion and to inform our colleagues of our concerns.
Never in our wildest imagination did we believe that the CTA would threaten us with jail time for exercising free speech! Two days after we sent our email, the CTA announced that it was seeking to press criminal charges against us. This is what was reported in the Sacramento Bee:
"CTA Chief Counsel Beverly Tucker sent letters Friday asking the district attorneys of Sacramento, Alameda and Los Angeles counties to investigate the e-mails and 'take appropriate action including filing criminal charges.'" (10/15/05)
This is what happens when you challenge the political agenda of our union's leadership.
They do not tolerate a different point of view and instead threaten us with criminal charges because we dare disagree with them. We will never stop speaking out on what we believe and no amount of threat or intimidation will deter us.
We can only assume CTA leadership reacted this way because we are telling you information they don't want you to know. For example, did you know that the CTA has already spent over $60 million THIS YEAR ALONE on political consultants and television ads? They have spent so much money on politics that they are seeking a $40 million loan just to keep providing basic services to teachers. According to a sworn affidavit by CTA Controller Carlos Moreno, an inability to get this loan would "cause great financial harm to CTA and affect CTA's ability to continue to deliver its current level of services to members over the long term."
How is it that our current leadership allowed our union to spend so much money on politics that it must now put itself even deeper in debt in order to provide actual services for teachers? Did you know that our leadership had a private meeting in June where they voted to raise our dues by $180 in order to cover the debt created by all of this political spending?
Our union leadership has grown quite adept at wasting our money on politics. In the past few years alone the CTA has spent over $100 million on political consultants and television ads supporting ballot measures that have NOTHING TO DO WITH EDUCATION!
Here are just a few examples, and you decide for yourself if you agree or disagree with how our leadership spends OUR MONEY. Did you know that CTA:
Now what on EARTH does state energy policy, and shopping for cars, have to do with education? And what does it get us, as teachers in the classroom? Not a thing.
The millions they wasted on things like that abandoned car shopping campaign sure could come in handy in my classroom. Or yours.
As we mentioned, the CTA leadership is seeking criminal charges against us for sending you these emails. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with our view of the union leadership, we hope you will at least support our right of free speech to voice our opinion.
Please feel free to write to us directly and make your voice heard as well. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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First Amendment and Student Media
First, Number 2 Pencil has links to two interesting stories. In one, a 14-year-old girl has been arrested for proposing a "killer day" at school, and yes, it's exactly what you're thinking. But that's not near as interesting as the college student who "put a tape of himself having sex with an 'unidentified actress' on Koala TV, the campus's closed-circuit TV station."
Yeah, let's go for those prurient interests!
Erin O'Connor at Critical Mass provides the next interesting story. Seems that a group calling itself Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment (HOME) was passing out pamphlets at a university, and an English professor at said university offered up his opinion on the subject in the student newspaper. Without spoiling the story for you by sharing his comments, I'll merely give Erin's take on them:
I don't support H.O.M.E.'s views by a long shot. But I do support the group's right to peacefully promote its views, which it has the right to do on the campuses of public colleges and universities. White also has a right to express his views. But he seems not to realize that in using the student paper to express his views in such a nasty and vituperative way, he discredits himself, his colleagues, and his school. He has not modelled reasoned discourse or rational dissent, but has instead exemplified the very sorts of unthinking intolerance he thinks he is fighting. (emphasis mine--Darren)That's usually the way it is with lefties.
I so want to quote the good professor, but I think it better that you go check out Critical Mass. I'd just be essentially copying that post anyway.
At Least One Arab Calls 'Em As He Sees 'Em
"The first to denounce [the Abu Ghraib scandal] were the Americans themselves, who thought that the acts of some of their soldiers distorted the image of the U.S. and served as a mark of shame...
"But don't the Arabs feel an even greater sense of shame when some of them kill and massacre Iraqi citizens? Don't the rest [of the people] feel pangs of conscience when they try to come up with excuses and justifications for the murderers and criminals whom they call the 'resistance?' How can someone outraged at the torture of or disrespect for another person be silent and ignore [Al-Zarqawi's] declaration of the [program of] extermination of millions of people because of their sectarian affiliation?
He calls them "murderers and criminals"? He's probably not long for this world.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Weapon of War, Green In More Ways Than One
Air assault troops experiment with Hybrid HumveeBy Gary Sheftick
October 19, 2005
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 19, 2005) -- The Hybrid Electric Humvee, which can operate in silent mode on battery power alone, was run through a number of field assessments Sept. 26 to Oct. 3 by Soldiers at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Full story here.
Frozen In Time
By JULIANA BARBASSA, Associated Press Writer Thu Oct 20, 4:55 PM ET
FRESNO, Calif. - An ice-encased body believed to be a World War II airman who crashed in 1942 was chipped out of a Sierra Nevada glacier and taken to a laboratory for identification, a deputy coroner said Thursday....
About 80 percent of the body was buried in the glacier on 13,710-foot Mount Mendel. The area can only be reached by hiking two or three days, or by helicopter when the weather allows....
Park officials summoned the military agency because the man was wearing a parachute stenciled with "Army." They believe he may be a crewman of an AT-7 navigational training plane that crashed Nov. 18, 1942. Several military planes crashed among the craggy peaks in the 1930s and 1940s.
The plane wreckage and four bodies were found by a climber in 1947. It's impossible to tell if this body is connected to that expedition until the identification process, which will include a thorough examination of the clothing and any documents that may still exist, plus dental records, X-rays or DNA testing on the body.
Amazing. And, pardon the pun, chilling.
I'm no economist, but I know what usually happens when government interferes with the market.
Fortunately, as I said, the city is relatively small. Citizens truly do have a voice with the city council. If such local affairs interest you, free registration will get you the story here.
California Ranks Low In National Test Scores
When it comes to mastering reading and math skills, California's students lag behind their peers across most of the country, according to results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress released Wednesday.
The test, often called the nation's report card, has been around for decades. This is the second time that every state has been required to participate under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Administered to fourth-and eighth-graders every two years, the assessment is now seen as a key indicator of No Child Left Behind's progress.
Taken by 660,000 pupils nationwide, the exam shows California's fourth-graders ranked 44th in math and 48th in reading. The state's eighth-graders fared even worse: 44th in math and 49th in reading. Nationwide, 36 percent of fourth-graders have achieved proficiency in math, compared to 28 percent in California.
Of course, since NAEP isn't aligned to California's standards, some, like Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, want to make excuses. But hold on.
"NAEP is not directly aligned to any state standards," said Ali, executive director of the Education Trust-West, an Oakland-based group that works to improve minority and low-income student achievement. "But it is regarded by experts nationwide as an assessment of the common sets of skills that students should be able to master no matter what state they live in."
Good that someone isn't buying the "we don't like the results so they must not be valid" mantra.
Then there's this.
While California does have a higher proportion of English learner and low-income students, who traditionally score lower on standardized tests, the state's white and affluent students didn't fare much better, Ali pointed out. For example, California's white eighth-graders only outperformed their peers in New Mexico, Mississippi and Louisiana.
We can do better.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
California State Constitution, God, and Other State Constitutions--and God
Somewhere along the way, the Federal Courts and the Supreme Court have misinterpreted the U. S. Constitution.
Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI ... Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator .. can be directed only by Reason ... and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other ...
After reviewing acknowledgments of God from all 50 state constitutions, one is faced with the prospect that maybe, just maybe, the ACLU and the out-of-control federal courts are wrong!"Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants." - William Penn
So I went to this State of California site and clicked on Preamble, and sure enough the words are there. I won't vouch for the other 49 states, but I wonder how many of this blue state's libs are aware that our own state constitution specifically recognizes God.
I sure didn't know it before today, and I'm not even a lib.
Here's the full text of California's Preamble:
We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this
The people who wrote those words would weep today.