Nananana! We Can’t Hear You!

Of all the political memes out there, the one that most annoys me is the idea that liberals are so much more reasonable than conservatives. We’re told that they think in terms of facts and evidence. They like to consider all points of view. They are “evidence-based”.

But the simple reality is that almost everyone is full of shit. And when their shit is challenged, they try to shoot the messenger, whether that messenger is liberal, conservative or crypto-monarchist. To wit:

Last week, the American Federation of Teachers released a blacklist of financial asset managers that fund organizations supporting education reform and/or switching from defined-benefit to defined-contribution pension systems, such as StudentsFirst, the Show-Me Institute and the Manhattan Institute. The report urges AFT affiliates to pressure pension fiduciaries not to invest their money with such asset managers. The AFT also makes a not-so-subtle threat to go after the donors to other think tanks and education reform groups:

This isn’t the first time AFT has done this. But the emphasis against education reform proponents is probably related to this:

Yesterday, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice released their third edition of their report “A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on School Choice.” The report provides a literature review of dozens of high-quality studies of school choice programs around the country, including studies from scholars at Harvard University, Stanford University, Cornell University, the University of Arkansas, the Brookings Institution, and the Federal Reserve Bank. The studies examine the impact of school choice programs on the academic performance of participants and public school students, the fiscal impact on taxpayers, racial segregation, and civic values.

The report’s key findings included the following:

  • Twelve empirical studies have examined academic outcomes for school choice participants using random assignment, the “gold standard” of social science. Of these, 11 find that choice improves student outcomes—six that all students benefit and five that some benefit and some are not affected. One study finds no visible impact. No empirical study has found a negative impact.
  • Twenty-three empirical studies (including all methods) have examined school choice’s impact on academic outcomes in public schools. Of these, 22 find that choice improves public schools and one finds no visible impact. No empirical study has found that choice harms public schools.
  • Six empirical studies have examined school choice’s fiscal impact on taxpayers. All six find that school choice saves money for taxpayers. No empirical study has found a negative fiscal impact.
  • Eight empirical studies have examined school choice and racial segregation in schools. Of these, seven find that school choice moves students from more segregated schools into less segregated schools. One finds no net effect on segregation from school choice. No empirical study has found that choice increases racial segregation.
  • Seven empirical studies have examined school choice’s impact on civic values and practices such as respect for the rights of others and civic knowledge. Of these, five find that school choice improves civic values and practices. Two find no visible impact from school choice. No empirical study has found that school choice has a negative impact on civic values and practices.
  • On the same day, a new study from researchers at Harvard University and the Brookings Institution found that a school choice program boosted college enrollment among African-American participants by 24 percent.

    To be fair, some of the studies show only small gains. But that’s often the way science — not to mention social science — works. Studies have biases, errors or just bad luck in their sampling. There are always outlier studies and people who want to cite those outlier studies over the more numerous non-outliers. That the studies are consistently showing improvement is the important thing.

    These studies would not be happening — would not even be possible — without the ongoing uphill fight by such as the Manhattan Institute. And so the AFT is getting desperate to stop these successful experiments in education reform. They have to kill the messenger before the taxpayer hears the message. They have been aided by a liberal establishment that will happily ignore the message (notice that these studies are never mentioned when Jindal’s Louisiana plan is discussed). But the truth is slowly getting out. School choice works better than the current system (and no, it’s not perfect; I know that. It’s an improvement is all I’m saying.) Other reforms opposed by union are also showing results. And this has to be stopped.

    This is, of course, not unique to the education debate. Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society. This case hinges around the Bush-era policy — continued by Obama and supported by many liberal and so-called feminist organizations — of requiring NGO’s to denounce prostitution and oppose legalization in order to qualify for funds to combat the spread of AIDS. I’m not sure how the Court will rule; they have typically taken an “it’s my ball, I can go home now” attitude on these issues. But look closely. There is plenty of evidence that legalizing prostitution inhibits the spread of AIDS by giving sex workers legal backing for demanding condom use. In fact, in countries where prostitution is legal or quais-legal, non-street walkers often have lower STI rates than the general public.

    But that fact is inconvenient to the Baptist and Bootlegger coalition that opposes sex work decriminalization. It is inconvenient to the feminist organizations that oppose decriminalization, inconvenient to the Obama Administration, inconvenient to five Democrats (and four Republicans) who filed an amicus brief in support of the law, inconvenient to the feminists and liberals who signed the amicus brief for the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. It is critical that no one dispute the Pravda that fighting AIDS means outlawing prostitution.

    We can go on and on but you get the point. People will happily talk about “getting the facts” and “considering the evidence” when it supports them. The minute the facts turn against them, those facts have to be stomped down. Liberals aren’t exempt from this in the slightest. I have a whole tag on my own site detailing case after case where liberals massage the facts, ignore the facts, deny the facts, stomp down the facts. Why just today, the liberal blogs erupted over a poorly designed analysis that claimed that gun ownership increases homicide rates despite extremely obvious flaws.

    So yes, liberals like the facts … that is, until those facts shit their bed. Then the facts have to be ignored. Or better yet, never come to anyone’s attention.

    Comments are closed.

    1. antoniolorusso

      If we could seen our own sacred cows, they wouldn’t be sacred cows. This applies no less to those that place importance on evidence, logic, argument, science etc etc etc (and indeed probably do – for the most part). The classic example is the Scientist who applies the harshest, strictest, most uncompromising rigours of the scientific method to their field of discipline, calling attention to the tinniest error, the smallest nuance of conclusions, but not their belief in the existence of a God.

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    2. Hal_10000 *

      Hmmm. “Baptists and Bootleggers” was a bad metaphor there, since the people making money off illegal prostitution would mostly like it decriminalized. Was reaching for something that described two theoretically opposed sides uniting against a common threat to their tyranny. Maybe “Commies and Fascists Alliance?” Help me out here.

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    3. salinger

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    4. Seattle Outcast

      My favorite line of libtard thought processes: “reality has a liberal bias”

      And they say it so fucking seriously and self-righteously you just want to punch them in the head every time you hear or read it. Aside from annoying the living hell out of everyone around them that understands just how wrong that statement is, it is sure proof that you’re hearing the utterings of someone so locked into their worldview that it qualifies as a brainwashing/religion. It would be a kindness to put a bullet in their head to stop the suffering of everyone around them.

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    5. Hal_10000 *

      salinger:

      ncluding studies from scholars at Harvard University, Stanford University, Cornell University, the University of Arkansas, the Brookings Institution, and the Federal Reserve Bank

      Hardly a collection of Right Wing think tanks. If you want to refute those studies, do so. Don’t just wave your arms and expect me to agree.

      As for “those left behind”, I would think that having thousands and thousands of more dollar to spend per student with smaller class sizes would benefit them (since teachers aren’t laid off and charters/vouchers cost less than per pupil average). That’s what we’re always told, no? And for the civic values — that’s not the point of our education system.

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    6. Hal_10000 *

      Sailnger, also keep in mind that our efforts to create social cohesion with the public school systems have — through social promotion and refusal to expel problematic students — created a nightmare where a few bad apples can spoil a bunch, where even students who want to learn are in dangerous disruptive environments. Attempts to isolate problem students are often fiercely opposed. What good is social cohesion if it sinks everyone’s boat? With school choice, the students who care and whose parents are involved can move to better environments. And the public schools have more resources to try to turn around students who don’t give a shit.

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    7. salinger

      As for “those left behind”, I would think that having thousands and thousands of more dollar to spend per student with smaller class sizes

      Where do you think the money to pay for the students in the “choice” schools comes from?

      (since teachers aren’t laid off and charters/vouchers cost less than per pupil average)

      Less is spent per student per average when one doesn’t take into account cost of infrastructure. Add in the fact that most charters lease old school buildings from the district at fire sale prices and then re-lease them back to themselves at inflated rates you will find that more money (tax money) is being spent. This is a common accounting trick used by charters. Also, many charters are for profit – and by law must take into account their shareholders benefit before that of the students.

      And for the civic values — that’s not the point of our education system.

      And here is our disagreement. I believe that schools are indeed the place that one learns empathy, social interaction, curiosity and civic values to help one in life beyond any high stakes test. The goal of a school in my opinion, is not to merely prepare kids for some bubble filling test – but to prepare them (as a partner with parents) to interact with the world.

      Hardly a collection of Right Wing think tanks. If you want to refute those studies, do so. Don’t just wave your arms and expect me to agree.

      Have you read these studies through? I have. There is no outcome from any of them that cannot be explained by being able to turn students away from your school. Public schools do not have this option. So the Harvard study finds that kids who come from homes where parents care enough to look for educational options for their kids , going to schools that can turn them away if they don’t like their application have are 7% more likely to enroll in college than a control group of public school kids. You think there is any chance that the pre-selection included a group of students who would have been more likely to go to college no matter what school they attended?

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    8. salinger

      Holy Shit.

      Nice selective quoting – you forgot the along with parents part. And when the parents couldn’t be bothered – where do you propose kids are going to learn social skills other than the place they spend a third of their day interacting with others?

      Do you want to send your kids to a school that does not encourage curiosity, social interaction, empathy and civic values?

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    9. Xetrov

      Nice selective quoting

      Bullshit. The rest of the sentence does not mention parents anywhere in your equation.

      I believe that schools are indeed the place that one learns empathy, social interaction, curiosity and civic values to help one in life beyond any high stakes test.

      Your token mention of parents in the following sentence –

      The goal of a school in my opinion, is not to merely prepare kids for some bubble filling test – but to prepare them (as a partner with parents) to interact with the world.

      has no impact on my take on the initial part I quoted. I can’t comprehend how anyone would possibly want a government run school to be responsible for the values their child holds.

      IMNSHO Schools are responsible for teaching kids certain quantified subjects (Math, English, History, Science, etc.), and how to learn as effectively as possible, and nothing more. Learning empathy should be taken care of in the home. Learning how to interact with others should be taken care of in the home. Curiosity is generally taken care of by the child themselves, but can be encouraged by parents in the home. And I can’t believe someone would want their child to learn civic values anywhere other than inside of their own home. Just because some parents shirk this responsibility does not mean the government has any right or responsibility to take it over for everyone else.

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    10. salinger

      Your token mention

      I love how you guys are able to drill down and see the inner motivations of a person’s words. It must be quite the burden being omniscient. My mention of parents was not token, the reason I chose to represent it parenthetically is because it should be so obvious as not to need mention.

      And I can’t believe someone would want their child to learn civic values anywhere other than inside of their own home.

      I certainly want what I instill in my kids reiterated and supported in the school they attend. I cannot believe anyone would want otherwise. Now there may be some differing opinions when one starts looking at the finer points of political beliefs – but I do not see how encouraging curiosity, teaching a person to see arguments from more than one point of view, and instructing on how to carry on a civil discourse could somehow be detrimental.

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    11. Miguelito

      The goal of a school in my opinion, is not to merely prepare kids for some bubble filling test – but to prepare them (as a partner with parents) to interact with the world.

      The problem though is that for the last few decades, public school (as a whole generally, not every single one of course) has been failing miserably on the former bits and putting far too much emphasis on the latter.

      They are graduating tons of kids from HS that aren’t functional literates, and the math skills have seemingly been getting worse and worse, even for those that can read and write. This isn’t really even debated by teachers, the unions use the same stats to try to argue for ever larger and larger piles of money, despite the fact that they’re already getting massive amounts as it is.

      But boy is there a lot of work done to make sure people’s self-esteems are taken care of. Not to mention there’s plenty of time to cover how awesome diversity is, how much America holds everyone (other then most white males of course) back, not to mention how America is essentially to blame for most of the world’s evils. Oh and yes, some parents are to blame for this. There are those parents that will fight any bad grade their kid gets and fight to get them promoted (often for the same self-esteem reasons). If those parents would put that energy into helping their kid study, or just actually on the kid directly to get them to work harder, they’d be better off.

      You mentioned that charter schools (as people point out about private schools) can kick out kids when they want to. Well, maybe we need to allow public schools to do the same. Not just kick out kids that aren’t performing well enough, but I think we all know there are some kids that just refuse to take part and will disrupt classes enough to effect all the other kids around them as well. We need to face facts and find a way to deal with those kids. Maybe it means they go to a much stricter school environment, or maybe we even wake up and allow kids that aren’t problems but don’t perform well the opportunity to go into apprenticeship/technical tract schools to train to do something that they would still be able to earn a living at vs trying to continue to both make them feel like crap and not make progress learning things they’re never going to grasp anyway.

      But any talk of changing the system (most of which would likely weaken the power of the teacher’s unions, which is the root of a lot of the problems today) is fought tooth and nail by those unions.

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    12. salinger

      The problem though is that for the last few decades, public school (as a whole generally, not every single one of course) has been failing miserably on the former bits and putting far too much emphasis on the latter.

      So when were the schools doing better, in your opinion? Give me a time frame I will tell you what we are doing different now.

      Also – the whole self esteem taking precedence over instruction talking point – it really isn’t so.

      But any talk of changing the system (most of which would likely weaken the power of the teacher’s unions, which is the root of a lot of the problems today) is fought tooth and nail by those unions

      This is really wrong – the system is changed every four to six years whenever a new set of standards is rolled out in order to scoop up more tax dollars.

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    13. Xetrov

      I love how you guys

      You’re not responding to “you guys”. You’re responding to me.

      My mention of parents was not token, the reason I chose to represent it parenthetically is because it should be so obvious as not to need mention.

      So obvious. You took part in that conversation, but even with you referring to this being your “area of expertise”, you didn’t take the opportunity to condemn such asinine thinking, so what am I supposed to conclude?

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    14. Xetrov

      instructing on how to carry on a civil discourse could somehow be detrimental.

      I believe that schools are indeed the place that one learns…civic values

      Civic Values are not the same thing as carrying on a civil discourse. Beyond that, both should be taught by parents.

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    15. salinger

      So obvious. You took part in that conversation, but even with you referring to this being your “area of expertise”, you didn’t take the opportunity to condemn such asinine thinking, so what am I supposed to conclude?

      What?
      This sentence doesn’t make sense to me.
      Is this an editing error? It looks like you’re missing a connecting thought somewhere in the middle.

      I checked the link you provided and I think the information I gave was relevant and added something that hadn’t already been said to the conversation.

      So please, give me another chance to understand the above sentence.

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    16. salinger

      From your link:

      Civic Values are the founding principles of American democracy, as articulated in the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

      I suppose we don’t want these ideals taught in school?

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    17. Xetrov

      give me another chance to understand the above sentence.

      Re-read it. It’s in English, nothing missing. You had the opportunity to condemn such group think as parents shouldn’t be responsible for their children learning, and chose to take the discussion elsewhere instead.

      From your link:

      Civic Values are the founding principles of American democracy, as articulated in the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

      I suppose we don’t want these ideals taught in school?

      Never mind that you appear to have confused the terms, who’s ideals would you have taught? Someone who says the second amendment means state controlled militias should be in control of all guns, or that it’s an individual’s right to own a firearm? Someone who thinks the right to privacy/choice allows abortion, or someone who thinks the right to life of an unborn child trumps the mother’s right to privacy?

      See where I’m going?

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    18. Section8

      If I’m not mistaken Salinger sells his wares to schools, so perhaps he has a vested interest in keeping things status quo and of course it would sure benefit him if we just threw more money at it. If that doesn’t work, then the downside is you just say MORE money needs to be thrown at it. Not a bad wave to ride at all. Not that I don’t think you could have a vested interest in something and not be honest about about it, but hey if no one else can I’m not sure what makes Salinger so special.

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    19. salinger

      You had the opportunity to condemn such group think as parents shouldn’t be responsible for their children learning, and chose to take the discussion elsewhere instead.

      So I can assume that everything you don’t outright condemn – but may comment on – is something you agree with? Just for the record – I think that gal over at MSNBC is an off her rocker condescending know it all. I’m not a big fan of the network as a whole and have said so in the past. So – how about whenever someone trots out one of the folks there out for saying something stupid – chances are I would agree.

      If I’m not mistaken Salinger sells his wares to schools, so perhaps he has a vested interest in keeping things status quo

      Actually – keeping things status quo is very bad for my business.

      I’m not sure what makes Salinger so special

      It’s my wit and good looks.

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    20. Seattle Outcast

      I believe that schools are indeed the place that one learns empathy, social interaction, curiosity and civic values

      Well then, what the fuck do we need parents for? Just take the kids away and place them in school until they turn 18….

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    21. salinger

      Never mind that you appear to have confused the terms,

      No, it looks like I confused you by using the term civil in two contexts. I understand the difference.

      Well then, what the fuck do we need parents for?

      Again with the selective quoting – let me give it a try: The guy who calls himself Seattle Outcast says:

      … fuck … the kids … in school until they turn 18….

      All said and in this order – with a few omissions.

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    22. Xetrov

      No, it looks like I confused you by using the term civil in two contexts. I understand the difference.

      Sure. Cause this is your area of expertise. With comments like that, I really hope you’re not responsible for actually teaching anyone in your area of expertise considering that you then tried to make it about Civics instead of being civil when you realized what you had actually typed.

      No comment on who’s view of Civics you would have taught in a school?

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    23. salinger

      Civics instead of being civil when you realized what you had actually typed.

      Civics and Civil are two different words.

      BOTH should be taught in school – Civil Discourse and Civic Values.

      Civil Discourse is being able to carry on a conversation with civility.
      I have already provided a definition for Civic Values taken from the link you provided.
      I do not believe the two terms are synonymous. You were mistaken if you believe I had.

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    24. Xetrov

      Civics and Civil are two different words.

      And yet you responded with

      instructing on how to carry on a civil discourse could somehow be detrimental.

      in direct response to me saying

      And I can’t believe someone would want their child to learn civic values anywhere other than inside of their own home.

      You can try to obfuscate all you want, I (and I’m guessing everyone else) don’t really give a shit that you were confused by the two terms. It’s just a funny aside.

      Back to the topic at hand – yet still no comment on who’s view of civic values you would have taught in schools, even though that’s where you believe kids should learn them. Second Amendment – individual right, or controlled by state militias? Who gets to decide?

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    25. salinger

      in direct response to me saying

      And I can’t believe someone would want their child to learn civic values anywhere other than inside of their own home.

      Let’s look at my full statement okay? This is going to be my last explanation on this – it seems to be a propensity here to drag out some imagined minutia to derail a thread and this one is way off its tracks already – but I’ll give it one more go.

      my full response:

      I certainly want what I instill in my kids reiterated and supported in the school they attend. I cannot believe anyone would want otherwise. Now there may be some differing opinions when one starts looking at the finer points of political beliefs

      So, see here is where I respond to you then I use a hyphen and the word but to indicate a second thought.

      – but I do not see how encouraging curiosity, teaching a person to see arguments from more than one point of view, and instructing on how to carry on a civil discourse could somehow be detrimental

      .

      I see you didn’t question my bringing in the ideas of curiosity or seeing more than one side of an argument (empathy) – so I am left assuming the similarity between the words civics and civil are the impetus for the misunderstanding. So to reword it - I would hope my ideals are reiterated although I understand others (including teachers) may have a different slant on some ideas than me – but in any case, encouraging curiosity, empathy and civil discourse is still desirable.

      If you really think I am incapable of knowing the difference between the two words you are grossly underestimating my intelligence and vocabulary.

      Back to the topic at hand – yet still no comment on who’s view of civic values you would have taught in schools without parental input.

      I would say mostly the ones taught in a class called Civics. I’ll repeat the quote from the link you supplied re: Civic Values

      Civic Values are the founding principles of American democracy, as articulated in the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

      I would hope they would be taught objectively so that the kid can decide on their own view of these values – wouldn’t you?

      (Please don’t waste time taking this as an opportunity to deride teachers who insert their own politics into instruction – it is wrong no matter what side of the aisle with which they align.)

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    26. Xetrov

      Please don’t waste time taking this as an opportunity to deride teachers who insert their own politics into instruction

      Oh, You didn’t want to discuss things in reality. Got it. Well then, let’s discuss the finer points of civics as it relates to the Empire vs. the Old Republic, and how that might be looked at objectively by a teacher in today’s classrooms. Personally I think Palpatine had some good ideas when it came to instituting the Galactic Empire, Dark Side religious mumbo-jumbo notwithstanding.

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    27. salinger

      Oh, You didn’t want to discuss things in reality

      Not what I said – I’ve already acknowledged the fact that some instructors may inject their own ideals into a lesson – and that this is wrong. So unless you don’t agree with this statement – there would be no reason to debate it with me. (Of course that part of my statement wasn’t quoted.)

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    28. hist_ed

      Gentlemen gentlemen as another in the biz of education I suppose I’ll weigh in a bit. Let’s start from the top:

      As for “those left behind”, I would think that having thousands and thousands of more dollar to spend per student with smaller class sizes would benefit them (since teachers aren’t laid off and charters/vouchers cost less than per pupil average)

      Hal one quibble: teachers are laid off when charters/choice schools draw students away from public schools. School funding in most states is determine by head count. Lose kids and you lose funding to pay salaries. My district has its own choice schools. Every year my school pays careful attention to the choice schools’ enrollment from kids in our service area. We have a few teachers who don’t know how much they will be teaching until our final enrollment numbers come in (that’s actually a month into the school year). We currently have one part time math guy (.4 FTE-Full Time equivalent) and if our numbers drop he’s down to a .2 or maybe even out. In particular elective teachers get hit hard-art, music, industrial design, Spanish. Our art teacher has been with us for 20 some years and she never knows from year to year how much she will teach. We are a small school-in a school twice our size they aren’t talking about reduced hours, they are talking about layoffs.
      So what does that mean? We take a lot of things more seriously because our enrollment numbers have real impacts. We fight for those kids who might go to choice schools and try to beef up options for honors types since they are the most likely to go to them (our district just chopped us off at the knees by decreeing the end to separate LA/SS honors classes this year). So this competition we feel definitely puts pressure on us to do well.

      So regarding the socializing debate: Of course schools have to help socialize kids. They always have (remember in Tom Sawyer when the teacher beat the shit out of Tom? We don’t get to do that even if we occasionally dream about it, but it’s the same concept) I teach in a nice suburban district and we still get little monsters and by law we can’t get rid of them unless they commit some serious crimes (we had a kid a couple year back set another kid on fire in the science lab-no major injury-and we couldn’t expel the shit because he was on an IEP). If we don’t make a major effort at socializing students, then those whose parents are shitheads will be abusing the students who parents did their jobs (by, say, setting them on fire in science). I’d love to teach in a perfect school in which all students have two well educated, involved parents at home, but there aren’t too many of those (a buddy of mine is the VP at the middle school that is closest to that ideal in my district-she doesn’t have the major issues like we do but has to deal with kids giving the occasional hand job under a table in the cafeteria during lunch).

      Back to the topic at hand – yet still no comment on who’s view of civic values you would have taught in schools, even though that’s where you believe kids should learn them. Second Amendment – individual right, or controlled by state militias? Who gets to decide?

      You teach both. Let them read arguments on both sides and think about it (and hopefully, write about it).

      God, I knew there was one more point I was going to make. It was probably going to be brilliant. I just finished wading through a stack of 8th grade essays and my brain is numb (the wine probably accelerated that). Well, I guess that’s it.

      PS to Salinger-I did read your books (thanks again for sending one). Alas my VP decided that I was her project teacher for the year, so I have had a lot less freedom and a lot more bullshit. I like many of your vocab ideas and they are on the shelf for next year. I am sure that somehow there is coded leftist brainwashing in them, but I can’t seem to figure out where.

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    29. salinger

      I am sure that somehow there is coded leftist brainwashing in them, but I can’t seem to figure out where.

      Then my work here is done.

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