…when they seem bothered by this. A vast fortune being used to perpetuate privilege, completely immune to taxation. Indeed, subsidized by federal taxpayers through income tax deductions. Think of it – just as every profitable sale of a Volkswagen Jetta helped to subsidize the money-losing sale of a Bugatti Veyron to Simon Cowell, so too does every working American subsidize Richie McSnob III’s Totally Awesome Four Year Drinking and Fornication Binge at Haavaad.
My governor seems to think that my state’s public universities should be more student-focused and less expensive. The Washington Post manages to report this like it’s a bad thing.
Being forced to buy a school lunch—and prevented from bringing your own food—is tremendously paternalistic. The principal’s explanation should infuriate us:
Fernando Dominguez cut the figure of a young revolutionary leader during a recent lunch period at his elementary school.
“Who thinks the lunch is not good enough?” the seventh-grader shouted to his lunch mates in Spanish and English.
Dozens of hands flew in the air and fellow students shouted along: “We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch!”
Fernando waved his hand over the crowd and asked a visiting reporter: “Do you see the situation?”
At his public school, Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.
Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.
“Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” Carmona said. “It’s about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception.”
Carmona said she created the policy six years ago after watching students bring “bottles of soda and flaming hot chips” on field trips for their lunch. Although she would not name any other schools that employ such practices, she said it was fairly common.
But the real outrage is buried:
At Claremont Academy Elementary School on the South Side, officials allow packed lunches but confiscate any snacks loaded with sugar or salt. (They often are returned after school.) Principal Rebecca Stinson said that though students may not like it, she has yet to hear a parent complain.
It always comes back to parents. Do homemade cookies count as a snack loaded with sugar? If parents aren’t willing to stand up to this Soviet-style waste—the students refuse to eat the food they’re required to buy—then the authoritarian schools and the servile parents deserve each other. The lessons the children are learning at school? Waste is ok, common sense is bad, and doing whatever the bureaucracy mandates is acceptable. There are ways to raise a free citizenry; this ain’t it.
The California Bar Association is requesting that US News & World Reports include “diversity” as a factor in its law school rankings. They want it to be 15% (!) of the overall score.
The obvious problem is how does one measure diversity. Well the California bar suggests three ways, one of which is “Surveying diversity professionals at law schools on diversity reputation.”
Yes, they believe that each law school’s racial discrimination policies should be judged by racial discrimination professionals at other schools, and that the opinion of these professional race discriminaters should influence the decision of where prospective law students spend three years of their life and six digits of their dollars.
I say that any prospective student who actually considers that information when selecting a law school should be immediately made a lawyer – perhaps even as a judge - because plainly there is nothing law school could do to increase that person’s analytical ability.
John Derbyshire once mostly praised a book that J. Michael Bailey had written; Derb is, depending on your point of view, either a grouchy but honest commentator on matters, or a sort of troll who enjoys saying nasty things for the sheer fun of annoying certain people (Kathryn Lopez, Andrew Sullivan, et al.). So whether Bailey is a genuine scholar or a crank is something that I remain agnostic on.
Now Joseph Epstein takes on Professor Bailey in an oblique look at a new scandal involving the man:
Northwestern University, the school at which I taught for 30 years, has been visited by a delicious little scandal. A tenured professor, teaching a heavily attended undergraduate course on human sexuality, decided to bring in a woman, who, with the aid of what was euphemistically called “a sex toy” (uneuphemistically, it appears to have been an electric dildo), attempted to achieve a climax in the presence of the students. The professor alerted his students about this extraordinary show-and-tell session, and made clear that attendance was voluntary. The standard account has it that 120 or so of the 622 students enrolled in the course showed up. Questions about what they had witnessed, the professor punctiliously noted, would not be on the exam.
The professor, J. Michael Bailey, is a man with a reputation for specializing in the outré. (Northwestern ought perhaps to consider itself fortunate that he didn’t teach a course in Aztec history, or he might have offered a demonstration of human sacrifice.) The word got out about the demonstration he had arranged, journalists quickly got on the case, and Northwestern found itself hugely embarrassed, its officials concerned lest parents think it was offering, at roughly $45,000 a year, the educational equivalent of a stag party.
There’s more—much more—in this piece. Read to the end to get Epstein’s unvarnished view of the state of American Education.
Amusing op-ed at the Wall Street Journal about ROTC:
In 1969, spurred by antiwar student riots, the university cancelled its Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, which had its roots in the Columbia Midshipmen’s School that trained over 23,000 naval officers in World War II. By the 1990s, after the fervor around the Vietnam War had subsided, university officials justified keeping ROTC off campus because of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
With Congress having repealed that edict last year, Columbia faculty have raised new arguments against ROTC. Some faculty members have recently circulated a petition that the military should remain banned because it continues to be a “discriminatory institution” on the basis of “many reasons from physical disability to age.” The basketball team discriminates too.
The author of this tart piece? Jacques Barzun, who turned 103 last year.
Hubbard posted this at 9:29 PM CDT on Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 as Edjamacation
The best writer at The Weekly Standard gets interviewed by one of the best groups of libertarians on the web.
Andrew Ferguson and Nick Gillespie should make more videos.
Hubbard posted this at 2:38 PM CDT on Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 as Edjamacation
I’m proud to have voted for this man.
I sat down the other day and added up the total cost (in time and money) of my education. Had I apprenticed myself to a plumber straight out of high school, I would be immeasurably better off financially; I’d be a skilled worker with an opportunity to start my own business, and I could go as far as my skill and ambition would take me. Perhaps I’d be less interesting, but probably not. Do you know how many worthwhile hobbies one can have with an extra decade of financial stability and not taking out tens of thousands of dollars in loans?
The future of higher education simply must be different than what it is now. Currently, it’s an inefficient system to transfer money from the young and poor to the old and financially stable. Couple it with the Social Security and Medicare taxes I’m paying on my income right now (egad), and it is simply jawdropping to think about the portion of my life taken from me to support old people who have already had the opportunity to provide for their own well-being. The well-to-do elderly get my money while I have to delay trivial matters like home ownership and children. What a system!
Bring on the education reform, send the overpaid geezer professors into retirement, and give America’s youth their lives back rather than forcing them into education until they’re 30 and loan repayment (if they’re lucky) until they’re 40. A society doesn’t become great or maintain greatness by destroying the productive years of its citizens’ lives.
(See also Instapundit)
Where people stop refering to everything that disproportionately affects black people as “a civil rights issue.”
If elected (or appointed-by-others-who-are-elected) local school boards run school systems into the ground through a combination of incompetence and giving the teachers’ unions the run of the place, whose fault is that? The voters’, that’s whose. “I voted for a bunch of nitwits” is not a statement of “a civil rights issue” and it does not make you oppressed. Quite the opposite, actually.
The Provincetown school system will revisit its controversial policy of making condoms available to all students, with no age restriction, after Governor Deval Patrick expressed concern yesterday that very young children would have access to them.
A day after the new policy caused a media firestorm, School Committee chairman Peter Grosso said that Provincetown would probably limit condoms to fifth-graders and older. His stance stemmed from a conversation he had with Superintendent Beth Singer, author of the rule set to take effect this fall.
“She said the School Committee is going to have to revisit the policy and definitely reword it so it’s self-explaining, and possibly wording it so that maybe there would be an exclusion of the real young grades,’’ Grosso said.
Provincetown is, of course, somewhat what Massachusetts is to the rest of the country. But still…
This story about Danny Glover getting booed during a commencement address highlights a growing problem in the American academy.
For Morgan Jackson, who came to watch her cousin Sidney Allen graduate, the constant booing a few rows behind her was “irritating.”
“You would think you could let this be about the people who were graduating today,” she said of the hecklers, who “probably didn’t know anyone graduating and only came to cause a scene.”
She wanted the hecklers to “let this be about the people who were graduating,” but what did Glover ramble on about?
The celebrity’s speech, which highlighted many advances for minorities in the past 63 years since Glover’s birth, was inspirational, said Allen, who is black.
Glover, who has been criticized for his friendship with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, told the class of 2010 that global warming is real and that climate change is a human-rights issue, as well as an environmental issue.
A UNICEF good-will ambassador, Glover talked about the dangers of Arizona’s proposed immigration Senate Bill 1070 and about his efforts to fight work-force discrimination and poverty in places such as Haiti.
So, basically, Glover talked about everything under the sun except for “the people who were graduating.” Why the hecklers should be restrained by the situation when the speaker isn’t is beyond me.
But at a more fundamental level, why was Glover even there? He has no connection to the college, no connection to the students, has pursued a career that it would be stupid to encourage others to emulate, and, to be gentle, is not a particularly wise man. Yet here a state university is using tens of thousands of dollars to pay him to come to campus and ramble about stuff that he’s done.
Every year around this time I grumble that my own college paid Bill Bradley $50,000 to speak at my graduation. His speech, to the minimal extent I remember it, was mostly about how old he was (e.g. today’s graduating class has never used an 8-track — crap like that). His life – a Rhodes scholar going into the NBA and then becoming a seantor – is significantly more praise-worthy than Glover’s, but because he had no connection to the college or the students, the speech was garbage. $50,000 garbage.
My wife’s commencement speaker the next year was Christine Whitman. Despite the fact that our college is consistently ranked among the most politically active in the nation, she spent much of her speech telling the students to register to vote. The rest of the speech was sour grapes about how extremist the Republican party had gotten, and promotion for her then-current book. I have no reason to believe that the college paid her less than Bradley (equal pay for equal non-work!), but whatever they paid her was completely wasted.
Colleges ought to cut this crap out. It’s expensive, subsidizes the egos of ego maniacal jerks like Glover and Whitman, and wastes everyone’s time at the graduation ceremony (which should be about those who are graduating, right?). If you need a speech, let a professor who is close to the students do it. It’ll mean an lot more to the students, and it won’t cost $50,000.
The leader of a the anti-Reality protests at UC Davis is a fifth year women’s studies major.
I’ve thought for a long time that the opulence of American higher education – universities with tuition greater than the average income of an American family, fundraising departments raising hundreds of millions to fund endowed chairs for tenured faculty who produce nothing of worth and will earn six figures well into senility, unnecessary administrative employees as far as the eye can see, with most of the actual work of teaching students being done by minimum wage adjuncts and TAs – is unsustainable. It simply makes no sense to have so much of our national wealth and resources tied up in doing so little, when it could be done for so much less.
This probably isn’t the reckoning I’d like it to be (though it would be delicious if said reckoning began in the UC system), but I think we’re going to see much more of this. When soft institutions meet hard times, Reality won’t much care how much it’s denounced in scholarly journals.
The sorts of complaints that are getting aired about Obama’s speech to the children are correct in their end – Obama shouldn’t be making national speeches to schoolchildren – but, largely, wrong about why.
The correct why is thus: public education is a frickin’ joke. Students don’t take it seriously, teachers are mostly interested in protecting their tenure and benefits, and administrators and politicians view it as nothing more than a means to achieve their private ends.
Case in point: what the hell can the president say to children that will be of any use to anyone? He’s going to tell them to work hard and try to achieve? Wow, will that have any more effect than the twenty trillion other speakers students will be subjected to this year? I’ve been out of public schols for almost a decade, but back in my day I heard washed up football players telling me not to use drugs, old school marms telling me not to have sex, and prudes of various varieties warning me about the hazards of tobacco and booze. Administrators and teachers patted themselves on the back for their efforts to change our lives, but at the end of the day the kids who were going to do those things did those things, and those who weren’t going to do those things didn’t. The lectures, the assemblies, the endless Magic Johnson Don’t-Sleep-With-Thousands-Of-Women-Like-I-Did-Or-Else-Um-I-Guess-You’ll-Wind-Up-Famous-And-Wealthy-Like-Me videos – it all washed over us like water off a duck’s back.
The abstinence-only versus condoms-for-everyone fight, the evolution versus creationism fight, the liberal environmentalist indoctrination, the desire of politicians to use students as props – this is all irrelevant and stupid so long as the public education system is governed by low expectations.
Michael Barone has observed that America produces very mediocre 17 year-olds, but the world’s most competent 30 year-olds. I think he correctly chalked this up to the fact that people rise to whatever level they need to: expect very little of students, and you’ll get very little; expect a lot from adults, and you’ll get a lot.
Perhaps one day we’ll stop treating our teenagers like children and start demanding that they behave themselves well. Perhaps one day we’ll expect more from our elementary students than simply showing up somewhat consistently.
But it is not this day. And it won’t be next Wednesday either. Next Wednesday, the president will make a national speech to all school children, extorting them to greatness, or whatever he thinks he’ll be doing, and virtually every one of them will ignore him. So it’s good to complain about the president making this speech, but not for the reasons that are getting all the press. He won’t indoctrinate our children with Marxist propaganda; he won’t politicize the classroom; he won’t turn children into missionaries to convert their parents to godless left-wingery; he’ll just waste his time.
On second thought, perhaps we shouldn’t complain.
I find this creepy.
It would be neat if Obama could pick one aspect of American public life and simply keep out. I think it would be really neat if he’d pick three or four, but I’d settle for one to start with. Speaking to every school kid, and telling teachers (i.e. government employees) to have students “Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president,” is not in line with American ideals. Teaching students that they should be thinking in such terms (as opposed to what they can do to help the country – Obama’s ego may not fit within the lower 48, but this country’s still bigger than him) is not right.
Jonathan Cohn, on why we should control health care costs: “But the money spent on medicine is money not spent elsewhere–it’s government dollars that didn’t go into schools or public housing;”
As Mickey Kaus points out, the idea that we need to spend more money on public housing – pretty much the definition of a failed government program – is laughable.
But it’s the bit about education spending that gets me. I can’t remember a Democrat ever, even once, saying that we spend too much money on education. We’re up around $10,000 per student per year now for public eduction, and this increased spending has basically done squat to help improve results. Yet every single year, in every budget fight – state or federal – we’re subjected to cries from Democrats that we need to spend more on education.
But when we start talking health care, Democrats are suddenly telling us that we’re obviously spending too much money, and that this spending constitutes a crisis.
I don’t get it. It seems to me that if you’re going to complain about overspending, it makes more sense to complain about education overspending.
- The vast majority of education spending comes from the government, so there is very little competitive market pressure on schools to control costs; that’s not the case for healthcare, where private entities exchange good for services and try to turn a profit off of it by being more efficient than their competitors.
- Education is based on the relationships between teachers and students, and convincing students to perform their best; it seems that there would be an objectively optimal level of spending, anything above that would just be used to hire more layers of administration. Modern health care requires that vast sums be spent on research and equipment, and while there’s certainly a point of diminishing returns, additional money spent on health care seems more likely to be put to good use than additional money spent on education. Another secretary for the deputy assistant superintendent, or another CT machine?
- It doesn’t bother me one bit that it costs more to save lives than to educate kids. That it seems to bother Democrats should be telling, but I’m not sure of what.