Free Markets, Free People

Education

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Stray voltage

So many things, so little time.

-You have to laugh at this one, I don’t care who your are.

In late February, the City University of New York announced that it had tapped Princeton economist and New York Times blogger Paul Krugman for a distinguished professorship at CUNY’s Luxembourg Income Study Center, a research arm devoted to studying income patterns and their effect on inequality.

About that. According to a formal offer letter obtained under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, CUNY intends to pay Krugman $225,000, or $25,000 per month (over two semesters), to “play a modest role in our public events” and “contribute to the build-up” of a new “inequality initiative.” It is not clear, and neither CUNY nor Krugman were able to explain, what “contribute to the build-up” entails.

The left often times seems intent upon removing parody as a means of criticism by becoming parody proof.  And you wonder why tuition continues to spiral out of control?

-Special Snowflakes rule academia anymore, and they’re not fans of free speech. Collective tantrums apparently work. From the inaugural “Disinvitation dinner”, George Will:

“Free speech has never been, in the history of our republic, more comprehensively, aggressively, and dangerously threatened than it is now,” Will, who’s had his fair share of protests, panics, and bans, told the audience.  Today’s attack isn’t just about process, he noted: It’s “an attack on the theory of freedom of speech,” with a belief “that the First Amendment is a mistake.”

All you have to do is watch how speakers who rub the dominant feminist culture on any campus the wrong way are treated:

Witness Christina Hoff Sommers, a well-known author, former philosophy professor, and, most recently, a YouTube star. Sommers, who describes her approach as “equity feminism,” is a refreshing change from mainstream modern feminism, which long ago click-clacked aboard the crazy train, ripped up all return tickets, and then hit the bar in the club car hard — not in a fun way, alas, but rather to weep and mutter various bad words over low-grade apple martini knockoffs garnished with mascara smears. Partnering with the American Enterprise Institute, Sommers has made a splash with her “Factual Feminist” video series, in which she calmly challenges and debunks oft-accepted and frequently absurd feminist talking points.

Bad news for those in the cocoon.  So, instead of being intellectuals and curious, they retreat to their “safe spaces” or ensure that the speaker can’t be heard by themselves or others.

Sommers’ approach, in other words, is straightforward, fact-based, and lucid. But this, as the zealous, easily wounded students at Oberlin College and Georgetown University demonstrated over the past week, simply will not do. Faced with a speaker who thinks outside the box, campus groups lit up in protest. Students taped their mouths shut. Others heckled and jeered Sommers as a “rape apologist.” Still others advertised alternate “safe spaces” for students “traumatized” by a speech.

“The students were so carried away with the idea that I was a threat to their safety,” Sommers told the website Campus Reform, that Oberlin officials “arranged for security guards to escort me to and from the lecture to protect me from the safe spacers.” This sounds sane, if it’s Opposite Day.

What’s a good comparison of the state of places of higher eduction that have enabled such behavior?  Well this seem right to me:

If you’ve ever been to a junior high slumber party, you might recognize the following scenario: In the midst of high jinks and general good times, suddenly one girl will drift off to a corner. Her feelings, somehow, have been hurt. Slowly, a few sympathizers, clear suckers for drama, make their way into her corner. They rub her back, ask why she’s crying, and, even if the answer is absurd, spend the rest of the evening casting baleful looks at the rest of the girls, who are oblivious, living large, sucking down Mountain Dew, and gleefully watching movies their parents would never allow them to watch. (In my case, this was almost always “Dirty Dancing.”)

Cowardice might not be fun, but for some, self-pity — cowardice’s common companion — certainly is. This is especially true if someone else is egging you on. Sadly, huge swaths of today’s college campuses, supposedly pinnacles of higher learning, have morphed into a giant preteen slumber party with an alarming population of sulking corner girls.

Indeed.

-The circus is back in town and the Hill/Billy act is just as tired and old as it used to be.  There’s a new book out pointing to how corrupt these people are … as if you needed a reminder.  The “dead broke” Clintons are multi-millionaires who’ve raised government influence peddling to new and even more corrupt heights.  And then we’re treated to the spectacle of Hillary flying coach and railing against the 1% and CEOs when she makes more money than any of them and her only child is buying a 10 million dollar Manhattan apartment.  Forget about questioning lack of accomplishment as SecState – look at the money the Clinton Foundation raked in while she was in office.  Quite an accomplishment wouldn’t you say?

Oh, and this:

“For three years in a row beginning in 2010, the Clinton Foundation reported to the IRS that it received zero in funds from foreign and U.S. governments, a dramatic fall-off from the tens of millions of dollars in foreign government contributions reported in preceding years. Those entries were errors, according to the foundation: several foreign governments continued to give tens of millions of dollars.”

They just missed it … and, they’ll get away with it too, hide and watch.

-And while you weren’t watching, Erica Holder, er, Loretta Lynch was confirmed as AG by the Republican Senate.

~McQ

“Sustainability” – it marks the change from eduction to indoctrination in academia

Remember this?

Traditionally, academic disciplines conveyed a body of knowledge to students: chemistry, biology, history, literature, foreign languages, philosophy, economics and so on.

And what colleges and universities then did was teach critical thinking and the application of that knowledge taught in those traditional disciplines.

But no longer:

About 25 years ago, American higher education was swept up in the identity studies fad. A great many colleges and universities created courses, departments, degree programs, and related administrative posts in Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, Latina/o Studies, Queer Studies, and others.

Few college officials could resist the loud demands for that expansion even though it diverted funds from serious academic uses. Giving in demonstrated their fealty to a host of “progressive” notions about social injustice and oppression, while saying “no” would badly tarnish a college leader’s liberal halo. A Hobson’s Choice.

Giving in to that has led to this:

And now there is a new fad rampaging across the college landscape—sustainability. For the last ten years, this mania has been gathering momentum because, like identity studies, sustainability pushes the hot buttons for leftist academics: environmentalism, anti-capitalism, salvation through liberal activism, and the chance to hector all those wrong-thinking people. It’s almost irresistible.

The problem, however, is that sustainability isn’t an academic discipline, ” it’s an “ideology that unites environmental activism, anti-capitalism, and a progressive vision of social justice.” Like a religion (hence the reference to fundamentalism), sustainability never questions its tenets. It posits them and even has “pledges” for students and school officials to adhere to. And the courses that go into the sustainability curriculum are far more like preaching than teaching.”  Or so a study from the National Association of Scholars claims.

And yes, the study refers to “sustainability” as a sort of fundamentalism.

What other sorts of courses do students take in the sustainability curriculum? It’s a hodge-podge, including “trash studies,” “environmental poetry,” and my favorite, ”Small Spaces Studio” where students learn how best to live in mini-spaces. Frequently, courses link some “identity” belief with sustainability, such as that “patriarchy” is the enemy of sustainable life and therefore must be ended.

Most often, however, courses involve the supposedly unquestionable science of global warming and impending catastrophe. There are plenty of serious questions for academic study here. Wood and Peterson write:

“Is the climate really changing? In the direction of global warming? Because of human activity? And if the answers to these questions are ‘yes’ are the interventions proposed by sustainability advocates plausible responses? These are key questions, but the sustainability movement does not welcome them.”

The sustainability movement isn’t interested in the kind of analysis that scholars bring to controversies. It wants zealots, such as the “eco-reps” now employed on many campuses to push the agenda. Recycling, for instance, is always advanced as an imperative for saving the planet. There are trade-off questions about recycling that have caused many people to conclude that its costs often exceed its benefits, but students are not encouraged to think about them.

Sustainotopians (as the authors call them) don’t want doubts about their creed seeping in. As the report documents, when students dare to question the beliefs that undergird sustainability, they’re often treated in an uncivil, unscholarly fashion. That’s what happens when true believers take charge of education; a “you’re with us or you’re against us” mindset shoves aside reflective inquiry and discussion.

It’s bad enough that there are openly doctrinaire sustainability courses, but at least students can avoid them. Frequently, however, sustainability precepts are smuggled into other courses, where, Wood and Peterson write, “the unsuspecting student meets it not as a tenet to be discussed, but as a baseline assumption on which all subsequent scholarship and dialogue rests.”

George Will took notice of this study as well.

The word “fundamentalism” is appropriate, for five reasons:

Like many religions’ premises, the sustainability movement’s premises are more assumed than demonstrated. Second, weighing the costs of obedience to sustainability’s commandments is considered unworthy. Third, the sustainability crusade supplies acolytes with a worldview that infuses their lives with purpose and meaning. Fourth, the sustainability movement uses apocalyptic rhetoric to express its eschatology. Fifth, the church of sustainability seeks converts, encourages conformity to orthodoxy and regards rival interpretations of reality as heretical impediments to salvation.

As Will points out, this is simply political correctness repackaged.

He goes on:

They see [sustainability] as indisputable because it is undisputed; it is obvious, elementary, even banal. Actually, however, the term “sustainable” postulates fragility and scarcity that entail government planners and rationers to fend off planetary calamity while administering equity. The unvarying progressive agenda is for government to supplant markets in allocating wealth and opportunity. “Sustainability” swaddles this agenda in “science,” as progressives understand it — “settled” findings that would be grim if they did not mandate progressivism.

And progressivism  mandates authoritarianism.  It always has and it always will.  The point is to make it as palatable as possible until it can be established.  One way to do that is through indoctrination.  Sustainability is nothing more than that if you consider how it approaches the subject in a strictly unacademic way.  No one is taught to think for themselves or actually weigh “evidence” – the demand is they believe what they’re fed and act on it.

The very definition of propaganda.  And indoctrination.

However, not all is lost.  Will says there is a silver lining to this cloud:

There is a social benefit from the sustainability mania: the further marginalization of academia. It prevents colleges and universities from trading on what they are rapidly forfeiting, their reputations for seriousness.

I quit considering them to be serious quite some time ago.  What I am enjoying is the entertainment value as they increasingly are hoist on the petard of their own making concerning identity studies and now sustainability.  Both seem to be synonyms for abject stupidity masquerading as academic pursuits.  At some point, the whole house of cards has to come down – especially when consumers realize that they’re being robbed by colleges and universities who are supposed to be teaching real academics instead of this repackaged political correct ideology.

~McQ

 

What are we enabling in our colleges? Part II

This is actually quite amusing to me because it is the left getting caught up in a trap of their own making.  Via Powerline we learn of Laura Kipnes, a Northwestern University feminist film professor (no, really, that’s what she is) who penned a piece entitled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe” for the Chronical of Higher Education in which she had the temerity to say:

If this is feminism, it’s feminism hijacked by melodrama . . .

But what do we expect will become of students, successfully cocooned from uncomfortable feelings, once they leave the sanctuary of academe for the boorish badlands of real life? What becomes of students so committed to their own vulnerability, conditioned to imagine they have no agency, and protected from unequal power arrangements in romantic life? I can’t help asking, because there’s a distressing little fact about the discomfort of vulnerability, which is that it’s pretty much a daily experience in the world, and every sentient being has to learn how to somehow negotiate the consequences and fallout, or go through life flummoxed at every turn. . .

The question, then, is what kind of education prepares people to deal with the inevitably messy gray areas of life? Personally I’d start by promoting a less vulnerable sense of self than the one our new campus codes are peddling. Maybe I see it this way because I wasn’t educated to think that holders of institutional power were quite so fearsome, nor did the institutions themselves seem so mighty. Of course, they didn’t aspire to reach quite as deeply into our lives back then. What no one’s much saying about the efflorescence of these new policies is the degree to which they expand the power of the institutions themselves. . .

The feminism I identified with as a student stressed independence and resilience. In the intervening years, the climate of sanctimony about student vulnerability has grown too thick to penetrate; no one dares question it lest you’re labeled antifeminist. . . The new codes sweeping American campuses aren’t just a striking abridgment of everyone’s freedom, they’re also intellectually embarrassing. Sexual paranoia reigns; students are trauma cases waiting to happen. If you wanted to produce a pacified, cowering citizenry, this would be the method. And in that sense, we’re all the victims.

Seems pretty tame to me, even though it also seems a pretty accurate description of the problem that now exists on any number of college and university campuses.

As you might imagine, to the feminist left at the college, that’s heresy.  And, as if she were an Islamic apostate, she was immediately attacked. Protests erupted on the Northwestern campus, “complete with feminists aping the mattress-carrying stunt of Emma Sulkowicz at Columbia University.” How dare she say what she said?!

Interestingly enough, the publication which came to Kipnes defense was none other than the bedrock of the far left – “The Nation”.  It too seems to realize that enough is enough when it comes to stifling free thought:

As the protesters wrote on a Facebook page for their event, they wanted the administration to do something about “the violence expressed by Kipnis’ message.” Their petition called for “swift, official condemnation of the sentiments expressed by Professor Kipnis in her inflammatory article,” and demanded “that in the future, this sort of response comes automatically.” (University President Morton Schapiro told The Daily Northwestern, a student newspaper, that he would consider it, and the students will soon be meeting with the school’s Vice President for Student Affairs to further press their case.) Jazz Stephens, one of the march’s organizers, described Kipnis’s ideas as “terrifying.” Another student told The Daily Northwestern that she was considering bringing a formal complaint because she believes that Kipnis was mocking her concerns about being triggered in a film class, concerns she’d confided privately. “I would like to see some sort of repercussions just so she understands the effect something like this has on her students and her class,” said the student, who Kipnis hadn’t named.

Kipnis could hardly have invented a response that so neatly proved her argument. . .

This atmosphere is intellectually stifling. “Every professor’s affected by the current climate, unless they’re oblivious,” Kipnis told me via e-mail. “I got many dozens of emails from professors (and administrators and deans and one ex college president) describing how fearful they are of speaking honestly or dissenting on any of these issues. Someone on my campus—tenured—wrote me about literally lying awake at night worrying about causing trauma to a student, becoming a national story, losing her job, and not being able to support her kid. It seemed completely probable to her that a triggered student could take down a tenured professor with a snowball of social media.” . . .

“It’s the infantilization of women fused with identity politics, so that being vulnerable, a potential victim—or survivor, in the new parlance—becomes a form of identity,” Kipnis told me. “I wrote a chapter on the politics of vulnerability in The Female Thing from 2006, and since then it strikes me that vulnerability has an ever more aggressive edge to it, which is part of what makes the sexual culture of the moment so incoherent.”

As a quick aside, this statement had me laughing out loud – “Every professor’s affected by the current climate, unless they’re oblivious.” Yes, Ms. Kipnis, we agree – we dealt with Professor Oblivious yesterday.

Moving on though, it appears that the left is eating its own.  The Nation realizes that what has happened has become “intellectually stifling”.  It was a natural end state to the creeping oppression of speech codes, the “right” not to be offended and the idea that colleges should be “safe spaces” removed from the reality of the world where nasty things (and ideas apparently) can hurt you.  If you don’t agree or if you wander outside the bright lines of approved speech and thought, they think nothing of subjecting the violator to everything they’re trying to avoid. Heresy is, after all, a serious matter when speaking of “religion”, and that certainly is how the devotees treat their ideology.

Steve Hayward wonders that if these attacks will actually cause the administrators at Northwestern to grow a spine and “tell the mob to sod off”.  My guess?  No, not yet.  Don’t forget it was these university administrations that put this structure in place as well as aiding and abetting its growth.  They’re hardly about to now say they were wrong to let this intellectual fascism bloom.

Another interesting perspective was found on Tumblr by Hayward.  Another professor confessing his or her fears:

Personally, liberal students scare the sh*t out of me. I know how to get conservative students to question their beliefs and confront awful truths, and I know that, should one of these conservative students make a facebook page calling me a communist or else seek to formally protest my liberal lies, the university would have my back. I would not get fired for pissing off a Republican, so long as I did so respectfully, and so long as it happened in the course of legitimate classroom instruction.

The same cannot be said of liberal students. All it takes is one slip—not even an outright challenging of their beliefs, but even momentarily exposing them to any uncomfortable thought or imagery—and that’s it, your classroom is triggering, you are insensitive, kids are bringing mattresses to your office hours and there’s a twitter petition out demanding you chop off your hand in repentance.

Paranoid? Yes, of course. But paranoia isn’t uncalled for within the current academic job climate. Jobs are really, really, really, really hard to get. And since no reasonable person wants to put their livelihood in danger, we reasonably do not take any risks vis-a-vis momentarily upsetting liberal students. And so we leave upsetting truths unspoken, uncomfortable texts unread.

The fact that this problem is now a monster that devours its own is probably considered an “unintended consequence”.  The fact that they didn’t take into consideration that limiting speech they found “unacceptable” would come back to bite them seems to be a result of some very sloppy thinking, doesn’t it?  Or was there any real thinking going on at all when they began to impose their will?  And then, of course, there’s the problem of the inmates essentially running the asylum.  Hayward’s hope that a spine will somehow grow among the administrators of that school is a fairly farfetched hope.  There is no prior history of that so why would we expect this instance to be any different?  Until the administration does act in such a manner that tells the students to “sod off”, we shouldn’t expect it at all.

In the meantime, pop some popcorn, pull up a chair and enjoy the show.

~McQ

What are we enabling in our colleges?

Jonathan Adler points to a NY Times piece by Judith Shulevitz about the “infantilizing” of college students, enabled, of course, by the administrations of various colleges and universities.  Shulevitz:

Safe spaces are an expression of the conviction, increasingly prevalent among college students, that their schools should keep them from being “bombarded” by discomfiting or distressing viewpoints. Think of the safe space as the live-action version of the better-known trigger warning, a notice put on top of a syllabus or an assigned reading to alert students to the presence of potentially disturbing material. . . . the notion that ticklish conversations must be scrubbed clean of controversy has a way of leaking out and spreading. Once you designate some spaces as safe, you imply that the rest are unsafe. It follows that they should be made safer. . . . while keeping college-level discussions “safe” may feel good to the hypersensitive, it’s bad for them and for everyone else. People ought to go to college to sharpen their wits and broaden their field of vision. Shield them from unfamiliar ideas, and they’ll never learn the discipline of seeing the world as other people see it. They’ll be unprepared for the social and intellectual headwinds that will hit them as soon as they step off the campuses whose climates they have so carefully controlled. What will they do when they hear opinions they’ve learned to shrink from? If they want to change the world, how will they learn to persuade people to join them?

We’ve talked about this in the past – this escape from reality which, in many cases, is simply an extension of many students life to that point. That has been enabled most times by parents who see their role as protectors rather than teachers. And they hand that responsibility off to college administrations who seem eager to continue the escape from reality.

What that has begotten is, ironically, a huge dollop of intolerance. These children don’t feels safe unless everyone “conforms” to a comfortable set of norms and beliefs. Those norms and beliefs are never to be challenged or argued because somewhere along the line they were graced with a pseudo right to never be offended or “uncomfortable” about anything.

Wow … a completely different world than I grew up in.

Addler adds these comments that I think are both appropriate and pertinant:

Three comments:

1) It’s not entirely clear how prevalent this phenomenon is. The demand for insulating students from potentially upsetting ideas does, for the moment, appears to come from a vocal minority and does not appear to have widespread support. Yet isn’t that always how these sorts of things start? And isn’t it well established that a vocal and highly motivated minority interest group can have an outsized influence on institutional policies?

2) Efforts to insulate students from challenging and even potentially offensive ideas cuts them off from the world and compromises much of the value of a traditional “liberal” education. It’s like some want to turn universities into the secular equivalents of Ave Maria Town.

3) One of the benefits of having been right-of-center in college was that my political and philosophical views were constantly challenged. There was no “safe space” — and I was better for it. I often felt that I received a better education than many of my peers precisely because I was not able to hold unchallenged assumptions or adopt unquestioned premises.

Point number one is important. We know it goes on, you just have to read Tanya Cohen’s piece to understand that was incubated somewhere and if you bother looking her up, she has connected with a good number of people who agree with her screed on “hate speech”. That sort of intolerance to other ideas came from somewhere. But as Addler points out, she’s hardly a majority, but certainly a part of a vocal minority. Here’s the difference though – while we may point and laugh at her premise, in the society we prefer, she has every right to express her absurd opinion. However, if she were in charge, we’d be in jail … or worse.

Point two is what it is all about. How does one become educated when any “offensive ideas” are excluded from the learning. How does one compare and contrast? How does one learn to reason? Well, “one” doesn’t. They learn only what they’re comfortable with and of course, that will be whatever plays well to their biases and preconceptions. Then they step out into the real world and reality flattens them like a freight train. Naturally they’re totally unprepared for the event.

Finally, point three makes the case for ignoring this “vocal minority” and welcoming dissenting and potentially offensive and upsetting ideas on campus.  It goes back to the two questions I asked in the paragraph above.  The marketplace of ideas is a powerful place and it winnows away ideas and premises that can’t stand the light of true scrutiny.  But if you’re never exposed to it, you have no way to test your premise or challenge your assumptions.  And if that is the case at a college or university, you’re not being educated, you’re being indoctrinated.

~McQ

Elitism driving “free” college proposal by Obama?

The short answer is “yes”. Megan McArdle makes the point :

Higher education is becoming the ginseng of the policy world: a sort of all-purpose snake oil for solving any problem you’d care to name, as long as we consume enough of it. Education is a very good thing, but it is not the only good thing. An indiscriminate focus on pushing more people into the system is no cure for society’s ills–and indeed, often functions as a substitute for helping the people who are struggling in the current system.

In fact (beside the fact we can’t afford “ObamaCare for colleges”):

What if people in the policy elite stopped assuming that the ideal was to make everyone more like them, and started thinking about making society more hospitable to those who aren’t? My grandfather graduated into a world where a man with a high-school diploma could reasonably hope to own his own business, or become someone else’s highly valued employee, a successful pillar of a supportive community. His grandchildren graduated into a world where a college diploma was almost the bare necessity to get any kind of a decent job. Why aren’t we at least asking ourselves if there’s something we can do to create more opportunity for people without diplomas, instead of asking how many more years we can keep everyone in school? Why do all of our proposed solutions essentially ratify the structure that excludes so many people, instead of questioning it?

Indeed. For too long our policies have been driven by an elite. And for the most part, the elite have made an awful mess of things. Now they want to take on “community colleges”.

Anyone? How long before they start looking at 4 year colleges?

McArdle suggests the following probable effects of any program like Obama has proposed:

1. Offer a subsidy to middle-class kids who don’t really need the money?

2. Encourage middle-class families to transfer their kids to community college for the first two years of school, and thus help to moderate college costs?

3. Encourage financially constrained students who might not have gone to college to enter the system en route to a degree?

4. Encourage marginal students with a low chance of completing a career-enhancing degree to attend school, mostly wasting government money and their own time?

As she points out 2 and 3 are actually not bad policy goals in and of themselves.  However, the much more likely effect will be 1 and 4.  Another government sponsored and taxpayer funded boondoggle that will essentially give community colleges a subsidy (it’ll be all about headcount – no one will really care if the student’s succeed) and create bureaucratic jobs while doing little or nothing in terms of “education advancement”.

Oh, yeah, did I mention we can’t afford it?

I thought I did.

~McQ

Of homeschooling and purple penguins

So I’m reading Kevin Williams National Review article about the state of Connecticut wanting to pass a law that requires homeschooling parents “to present their children to the local authorities periodically for inspection, to see to it that their psychological and social growth is proceeding in the desired direction.”  This is in the wake of the Sandy Hook killings and implies that the problem was centered in “homeschooling” and not the fact that the killer was a mental case.  Not only that he was a well-known mental case having been in public schools until, as a last resort, he was home schooled.  Williamson then goes on to put forward the real reason the Sandy Hook excuse is being used.  And it is something any life long observer of the “progressive left” figured out years and years ago:

The Left’s model of society is still the model of Marx and Bismarck: one big factory to be managed by experts. The government schools are an assembly line for human widgets, who are in theory there to be taught what the state requires them to know in order to fulfill their roles as workers, administrators, and other bits of human machinery. That is the assumption behind President Obama’s insistence that “if you quit on school, you’re not just quitting on yourself — you’re quitting on your country.” Students are also there to be instructed in the official, unspoken state ideology: submission to official power.

The Left’s organizing principle is control, and the possibility that children might commonly be raised outside of its control matrix is an existential threat from the progressive point of view. Institutions such as free markets and free speech terrify progressives, because they are the result of arrangements in which nobody is in control.

This is just another attempt at exerting control over a segment of society which eschews that control and the indoctrination it entails.  And the thin gruel provided by the Sandy Hook tragedy was all the excuse necessary to try to exert control over this segment.  It also sends a message – “we believe homeschooling may be the bastion of extremists”.

More than anything exerting such control serves both a constituency and an ideology which identified education decades ago as the road to political success.

If you have not followed the issue closely, it is probably impossible for you to understand how intensely the Left and the government-school monopoly hate, loathe, and distrust home-schooling and home-school families. Purportedly serious scholars such as Robin West of Georgetown denounce them as trailer trash living “on tarps in fields or parking lots” and write wistfully of the day when home-schooling was properly understood: “Parents who did so were criminals, and their kids were truants.” The implicit rationale for the heavy regulation of home-schooling — that your children are yours only at the sufferance of the state — is creepy enough; in fact, it is unambiguously totalitarian and reduces children to the status of chattel. That this is now being framed in mental-health terms, under the theory that Lanza might not have committed his crimes if he had had the benefit of the tender attentions of his local school authorities, is yet another reminder of the Left’s long and grotesque history of using corrupt psychiatry as a tool of politics.

But take a moment to fully appreciate the absurdity of the Malloy gang’s assumption. Our public schools are dysfunctional, depressing, frequently dangerous places. Their architecture is generally penal, incorporating precisely the same sort of perimeter control as one sees in a low-security prison, with dogs, metal detectors, and the whole apparatus of control at hand. They are frequently run bynakedly corrupt, self-serving men and women who are not above rigging test scores to pad out their bonuses and who will fight to the end to keep pedophiles on the payroll if doing so serves their political interests, as in the case of California. They cannot even keep their teachers from raping their students, but they feel competent issuing orders that every family present its children for regular inspection in the name of the children’s “social and emotional learning needs.”

Contrary to all of the sanctimony surrounding them, the government schools are in fact the single most destructive institution in American public life, and they are the bedrock of the Left’s power, providing billions of dollars in campaign contributions and millions of man-hours for Democratic campaigns. But they do more than that: They are the real-life version of those nightmarish incubator pods from The Matrix, and home-schooling is a red pill. We entrust our children to the state for twelve or thirteen years, during which time they are subjected to a daily regimen that is, like the school buildings themselves, more than a little reminiscent of the penitentiary: “bells and cells,” as one of my teachers used to call it. They are instructed in obedience and compliance, as though the most important skill in life were the ability to sit quietly and follow instructions; those children who are more energetic than the authorities care for are given psychiatric diagnoses and very often put on psychiatric drugs: Since the 1980s, the rate of antidepressant prescription for children has increased five-fold, while the rate of antipsychotic prescription has increased six-fold. Locking children up for the largest part of the day, in a dreary room with 20 to 30 other children all born within nine or ten months of each other, is a model that make sense — that is something other than insane — only if you think of children as batches — if you believe, as our president and those who share his views believe, that the children are the government schools’ product rather than their customers.

And that “product” is trained and expected to follow its indoctrination – you know, things like this:

A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls,” and use “gender inclusive” ones such as “purple penguins” instead.

“Don’t use phrases such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘you guys,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ and similarly gendered expressions to get kids’ attention,” instructs a training document given to middle-school teachers at the Lincoln Public Schools.

“Create classroom names and then ask all of the ‘purple penguins’ to meet on the rug,” it advises. 

The document also warns against asking students to “line up as boys or girls,” and suggests asking them to line up by whether they prefer “skateboards or bikes/milk or juice/dogs or cats/summer or winter/talking or listening.”

“Always ask yourself . . . ‘Will this configuration create a gendered space?’” the document says.

The instructions were part of a list called “12 steps on the way to gender inclusiveness” developed by Gender Spectrum, an organization that “provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for children of all ages.”

Other items on the list include asking all students about their preferred pronouns and decorating the classroom with “all genders welcome” door hangers.

If teachers still find it “necessary” to mention that genders exist at all, the document states, they must list them as “boy, girl, both or neither.”

Furthermore, it instructs teachers to interfere and interrupt if they ever hear a student talking about gender in terms of “boys and girls” so the student can learn that this is wrong.

“Point out and inquire when you hear others referencing gender in a binary manner,” it states. “Ask things like . . . ‘What makes you say that? I think of it a little differently.’ Provide counter-narratives that challenge students to think more expansively about their notions of gender.”

The teachers were also given a handout created by the Center for Gender Sanity, which explains to them that “Gender identity . . . can’t be observed or measured, only reported by the individual,” and an infographic called “The Genderbred Person,” which was produced by www.ItsPronouncedMetroSexual.com.

But the real problem and danger is among the homeschooled.  Meanwhile, in the public schools, the enculturation continues unabated.  The product, if metaphorically beaten over the head with nonsense like “purple penguins” will learn to eventually pretend reality doesn’t exist and that “gender” is actually a figment of the oppressor’s imagination.  What they can’t risk is individualism – those who will pull the curtain back and reintroduce reality into the world.  Homeschoolers are one segment that threaten that exposure because they reject the indoctrination.  Time to get them under control.  Time to make it more and more difficult for homeschoolers to continue to do what they do.  Because as far as the left is concerned, the future belongs to “purple penguins” – as determined by their betters, of course.

~McQ

Only in Liberalland

It is in that benighted land that irony, reason and hypocrisy are unknown concepts:

In California, Ventura High School Principal Val Wyatt barred the football booster club from selling meals donated by Chick-fil-A at back-to-school night to raise money. Wyatt cited company President Dan Cathy’s opposition to gay marriage as the reason for the ban. Superintendent Trudy Tuttle Arriaga backed up Wyatt. “We value inclusivity and diversity on our campus and all of our events and activities are going to adhere to our mission,” she said.

What could be more “inclusive” than allowing opinion that doesn’t agree with you to “coexist” without forcing everyone to suffer your biases because you have the power?   I mean if you’re really, honestly and truly interested in “inclusiveness”.  Oh, and what happened to tolerance, Arriaga and Wyatt?  What could be more diverse than a community that welcomes all opinions as long as they don’t advocate violence or other forms of coercion?   Is there something wrong with having a differing opinion about a subject based on principles that may be different than yours but are certainly shared by much of the mainstream (such as students at this school)?  Apparently.  Conformity with the opinion in power is the rule there it seems.  The irony?  This sort of action is blatantly exclusive and it makes a laughing stock of the word “diversity”.  It says diverse opinion certainly isn’t welcome if it doesn’t conform with the people in power’s opinion.

Mouthing of platitudes doesn’t change that.  Their “mission” has nothing to do with “inclusivity and diversity”.  It has to do with ideology.   A particular ideology.  One that abuses the english language daily as well as our freedoms.

~McQ

Who said the Soviet Union is dead

And I’m not talking about Putin’s attempt to resurrect it – I’m instead talking about this horrific overreaction by state of Maryland to … a book set in the future:

A 23-year-old teacher at a Cambridge, Md. middle school has been placed on leave and—in the words of a local news report—”taken in for an emergency medical evaluation” for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. The novelist, Patrick McLaw, an eighth-grade language-arts teacher at the Mace’s Lane Middle School, was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, and is being investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office, according to news reports from Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The novel, by the way, is set 900 years in the future. . . .

Imagine that—a novelist who didn’t store bombs and guns at the school at which he taught. How improbable! Especially considering that he uses an “alias,” which is apparently the law-enforcement term for “nom de plume.” (Here is the Amazon page for The Insurrectionist, by the way. Please note that the book was published in 2011, before McLaw was hired.)

According to an equally credulous and breathless report in the Star-Democrat, which is published in Easton, Md., the combined efforts of multiple law-enforcement agencies have made area children safe from fiction. Sheriff Phillips told the newspaper that, in addition to a K-9 sweep of the school (!), investigators also raided McLaw’s home. “The residence of the teacher in Wicomico County was searched by personnel,” Phillips said, with no weapons found. “A further check of Maryland State Police databases also proved to be negative as to any weapons registered to him. McLaw was suspended by the Dorchester County Board of Education pending an investigation and is no longer in the area. He is currently at a location known to law enforcement and does not currently have the ability to travel anywhere.”

As I find and read more stories like this on a much more frequent basis, I have to wonder what happened to America.  Where did it go?  And when?

The fact that anyone would find this supportable is phenomenal in and of itself, yet here we have the report … McLaw was obviously taken as a credible threat because he wrote … fiction to sell books.

Jeffery Goldberg goes on:

 It is somewhat amazing that local news reports on this case don’t make clear whether McLaw is under arrest, and if so, on what charge. It is equally astonishing that the reporters on this story don’t seem to have used the words “First Amendment” in their questioning of law-enforcement officials, and also astonishing they don’t question the Soviet-sounding practice of ordering an apparently sane person who has been deemed unacceptable by state authorities to undergo a psychological evaluation.

It would be useful to know if McLaw is under investigation for behavior other than writing two novels—and perhaps he will be shown to be a miscreant of some sort—but so far, there is no indication that he is guilty of anything other than having an imagination, although on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, as news reports make clear, his imagination is considered an active threat.

Dorchester County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Henry Wagner told WBO that police will be present at the middle school “for as long as we deem it necessary,” and the sheriff said that law-enforcement officials across the Delmarva peninsula have been given McLaw’s photo in case he shows up in their jurisdictions—though again, it is not clear if he is, in fact, in police custody at the moment.

This is what happens when people quit thinking and only do “their duty”.  When rules like “zero tolerance” replace common sense.

What happened to McLaw is an outrage.  It is unacceptable.  It should be condemned in the very strongest of terms.

Yet, at least by the media there, it seems all perfectly sane and normal.  And, apparently, the police force as well.  School.  Etc.

Maryland (and Cambridge in particular) should be utterly ashamed.

~McQ

What ever happened to critical thinking

Dr. Thomas Sowell thinks he knows:

In an age when scientists are creating artificial intelligence, too many of our educational institutions seem to be creating artificial stupidity.

Critical thinking seems, in many cases, to be a thing of the past.  Ideology seems to be replacing it.

For instance:

Many people in Europe and the Western Hemisphere are staging angry protests against Israel’s military action in Gaza. One of the talking points against Israel is that far more Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli military attacks than the number of Israeli civilians killed by the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel that started this latest military conflict.

Are these protesters aware that vastly more German civilians were killed by American bombers attacking Nazi Germany during World War II than American civilians killed in the United States by Hitler’s forces?

Not only that, are they aware that the intent of the Hamas terrorists is to kill as many Israeli civilians as they can?  They’re just not very good at it.  And, Israel has taken steps to safeguard its civilians while Hamas repeatedly and purposely puts their civilians at risk by launching rockets from populated areas near schools etc.

This isn’t something that’s hard to figure out … unless you’ve turned thinking off and ideology (which only allows one to accept “facts” that fit the narrative”) on.

Another example involving Jerry Rivers:

Geraldo Rivera has denounced the Drudge Report for carrying news stories that show some of the negative consequences and dangers from allowing vast numbers of youngsters to enter the country illegally and be spread across the country by the Obama administration.

Some of these youngsters are already known to be carrying lice and suffering from disease. Since there have been no thorough medical examinations of most of them, we have no way of knowing whether they, or how many, are carrying deadly diseases that will spread to American children when these unexamined young immigrants enter schools across the country.

The attack against Matt Drudge has been in the classic tradition of demagogues. It turns questions of fact into questions of motive. Geraldo accuses Drudge of trying to start a “civil war.”

However, history reminds us:

Back when masses of immigrants from Europe were entering this country, those with dangerous diseases were turned back from Ellis Island. Nobody thought they had a legal or a moral “right” to be in America or that it was mean or racist not to want our children to catch their diseases.

Perfectly acceptable precautions.  Perfectly sound reasoning.  Something we understood well even back then.  But that doesn’t fit the ideological narrative today. The fact that the illegals are “children”  is what the ideologues want to emphasize in order to shut others up and have them enter freely and be placed within our system.  They appeal to emotion, not reason.  Reason tells you that you take prudent precautions instead of openly exposing your children to the communicable diseases, etc. that are being brought in by illegals, children or not.  Who do we have a greater responsibility toward and why should we risk their lives and health in order to satisfy an ideology?  A thinking person would conclude we have a greater responsibility to our own children.

Finally:

Although liberals are usually gung ho for increasing the minimum wage, there was a sympathetic front-page story in the July 29 San Francisco Chronicle about the plight of a local non-profit organization that will not be able to serve as many low-income minority youths if it has to pay a higher minimum wage. They are seeking some kind of exemption.

Does it not occur to these people that the very same thing happens when a minimum-wage increase applies to profit-based employers? They, too, tend to hire fewer inexperienced young people when there is a minimum-wage law.

No it doesn’t “occur” to them because they don’t think it through.  They simply parrot the emotional buzz-words and phrases their ideology teaches them.  The consequences are far less important than getting their way and feeling good about it.  But critical thought never enters the picture.

If it did, we’d not be hearing the nonsense these examples present, would we?

~McQ

Cantor, cheese and other stuff

So Eric Cantor went down in flames in the Virginia Republican primary I see.  I can’t say I’m the least bit chagrined.  Cantor is the quintessential establishment Republican.  And like most of that ilk, he was more worried about what the press thought of him than doing what was right by his principles.  I notice the media spin doctors are immediately claiming that he really didn’t lose because of his stand on immigration (i.e. a hard lean toward “amnesty” for illegals although he tried to deny it).  After all if they admit that immigration reform was a reason for his defeat, then they have to admit that its dead for this year (as, given this lesson, no Republican running for reelection in the House  – that would be all of them – is going to touch it with a 10 foot pole).  The spin doctors also know that if it is dead for this year, it may be dead, at least in its present form, for good, if Republicans win the Senate.  One also assumes that Republicans are aware of the polls out there that place immigration reform as a low priority issue for voters right now (yeah, surprise, they’re much more interested in jobs and economic growth than illegal aliens).

I think another reason for Cantor’s loss is a deep dissatisfaction with Republican House leadership – such that it is.  Add his lack of popularity within his own district and an acceptable alternative candidate and you have the prefect electoral storm. Finally, Tea Party candidate Dave Brat’s win signaled, much to the annoyance of the left, that the Tea Party is hardly “dead”.  It’ll be interesting to see how the establishment Republicans react to this upset.

On another subject, yesterday we saw where the FDA had unilaterally decided that it might be necessary to ban the centuries old tradition of aging cheese on wooden shelves.  Because, you know, there’s been such an epidemic of sickness from such practices here lately and over the ages. What?  There hasn’t?  There hasn’t been any real problem at all?  However:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an executive decree banning the centuries old practice of aging cheese on wooden boards.  One bureaucrat within the FDA, without surveying all of the scientific literature, and without public commentary, has rattled hundreds of small businesses across the United States.  Consumers who eat any kind of aged cheese should prepare for a potentially catastrophic disruption in the market for artisan, non-processed cheese.

Now that was yesterday.  Today, yeah, its cave in time.  There has been such an outcry from cheese makers, the public and just about anyone else that could find a forum that the FDA is hastily backing down.  Overlawyered brings us up to date:

Following an enormous outcry from cheese makers, commentators, and the general public, the agency beats a hasty retreat. Commentator/ Pepperdine lawprof Greg McNeil has the details at Forbes (and his earlier commentary on the legalities of the agency’s action is also informative). Earlier here.

In a classic bureaucratic move, the agency denied it had actually issued a new policy (technically true, if you accept the premise that a policy letter from its chief person in charge of cheese regulation is not the same as a formally adopted new policy) and left itself the discretion to adopt such a policy in future if it wishes (merely declaring itself open to persuasion that wood shelving might prove compatible with the FSMA).

McNeal:

This is also a lesson for people in other regulated industries. When government officials make pronouncements that don’t seem grounded in law or policy, and threaten your livelihood with an enforcement action, you must organize and fight back. While specialized industries may think that nobody cares, the fight over aged cheese proves that people’s voices can be heard…

Yes, true.  But … there’s always a ‘but’, Overlawyered points out something that is true and often overlooked.  You have to be willing to fight for it all, not just the popular stuff.  You have to be willing the challenge all the nonsense bureaucrats put out there:

There is a less optimistic version, however. It happens that a large number of editors, commentators, and others among the chattering classes are both personally interested in the availability of fine cheese and familiar enough with the process by which it is made to be un-cowed by claims of superior agency expertise. That might also be true of a few other issues here and there — cottage food sold at farmer’s markets, artisanal brewing practices — but it’s inevitably not going to be true of hundreds of other issues that arise under the new Food Safety Modernization Act. In a similar way, the outcry againstCPSIA, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, rose to a politically effective level only on a selected few issues (publishers and libraries got a fix so that older children’s books would not have to be trashed; youthmotorsports eventually obtained an exemption, and so forth) but large numbers of smaller children’s products and specialties whose makers had less of a political voice simply disappeared.

Absolutely true.  I think of those who want to drink raw milk for instance.  Where does the government get off saying you can’t drink something you choose to drink if you’re willing to take the risk and suffer any consequences?  Something that, until pasteurization, everyone drank?  But since those who prefer raw milk don’t have a large lobby, they’re subjected to government bullying and laws prohibiting them from making that choice.

Choice is freedom.  Limiting of choice is limiting freedom and government is in the freedom limiting business.  The premise is you’re not able to make good choices yourself, so government must keep you from doing so.  Question?  If aging cheese on wood was dangerous to our health and it had been the reason from many deaths over the centuries, how do you suppose the market for such cheeses might have been effected by now?  Right.  It certainly wouldn’t have come down to some government bureaucrat making a unilateral decision in 2014, that’s for sure.

In Iraq, Mosul has fallen to terrorists.  Nightwatch brings us up to date:

ISIL has been trying to take Mosul since earlier in June, but only lately assembled enough forces to rout the security forces and overrun the city.

ISIL now controls two major cities in the Sunni region of Iraq: Fallujah and Mosul. Its fighters tried to overrun several other cities, but failed. Its aim is to create an Islamic emirate that joins Iraq and Syria.

The group had been affiliated with al Qaida for many years, since the time of Abu Musab Zarqawi, according to the National Counter Terrorism Center. In February al Qaida disavowed all links with ISIL because its actions were more extreme than al Qaida and it would not follow orders to stop fighting the al Nusrah Front in Syria, which al-Qaida supports.

On Sunday in Syria, ISIL fighters clashed with the al-Qaida-affiliated al Nusrah Front in eastern Syria, while its Iraq wing fought to capture Mosul in Iraq. This is a formidable group. Only the Syrian Kurds stand in the way of ISIL consolidating large areas in Iraq and Syria under its control.

Mosul’s capture reinforces the judgment that Iraq has re-entered civil war. ISIL is more than an insurgency because it has an effective organization and is conquering territory. By force of arms, it has created a power-sharing arrangement with the government in Baghdad and fragmented the country. A statement by the Muslim scholars association today encouraged ISIL to hold Mosul and to set up an administration. It urged the youth of the city to defend it against the Baghdad government.

ISIL’s control in Syria seems tenuous and contested by other opposition groups. In Iraq, it is the dominant anti-government force and it has broken Iraq, for now.

My position?  If Iraqi’s want a free Iraq, they’d better fight for it.  They’ve been given the time, the equipment and the training.  Now, it’s up to them.

Finally, yesterday I literally had to laugh out loud when I read something Robert Reich, a former Secretary of Labor, had written on his Facebook page.  It simply demonstrates how effing silly – and dangerous to your freedoms – these people are:

President Obama announced steps yesterday he said will make student loans more affordable. It’s probably all he can manage with a grid-locked Congress, but it’s still tinkering with a system of college financing that’s spinning out of control. What’s really needed is to make college free of charge and require all graduates to pay 10 percent of their earnings for the first 10 years of full-time work into a fund that pays the costs (additional years of graduate school means added years of payments). That way, nobody graduates with debts; young people from lower-income families can afford to attend; graduates who go into high-wage occupations in effect subsidize those who go into lower-wage work; and we move toward a system of genuinely equal opportunity. What do you think?

Right … free college for all.  Graduate with no debt!

Question: How in the world does this dolt think that making all graduates pay “10 percent of their earnings for the first 10 years” to fund “free college” doesn’t equal being in debt?  Oh, and who would keep track of all this?  Why the IRS of course – another in a long line of ideas to further centralize control of all aspects of your life at the federal level and add to the federal bureaucracy’s reach and power.

Then add the scam value of this.  Ride the gravy train for 3 or 4 years of free college and then walk away as a non-graduate.  Nothing to pay, right?  I mean the stipulation is that “graduates” pay, so why not hang out in a college dorm, eat in the chow hall, do your own thing while also doing barely enough to stay in school.  That way you can let these other dopes subsidize those years for you.  Then, move, apply to a new school and repeat.  Trust me, there are enough “professional students” in this world that I can promise that would be done.

Oh … and read the comments to the Reich post.  They’ll make you weep.

~McQ

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