Archive for ‘education’

August 7, 2009

The Future of the Conservative Movement

Just brought me lunch:

This is Trey Easton, Sarah T. Herman Intern Scholar for the Young America’s Foundation, and a junior majoring in economics at George Mason University.

You may ask yourself, “Why is such a promising young fellow bringing Stacy McCain a cheeseburger, fries and a large sweet iced tea from Wendy’s?”

As famed George Mason economist Walter Williams would explain, the secret of capitalism is how “the Invisible Hand” redirects resources to their most valuable use. In this example, the resource involved was time.

There was a line at Wendy’s downstairs here at GWU’s Marvin Center, site of the YAF National Conservative Student Conference. Would my time be best spent standing in that line, rather than getting my laptop set up and logged in?

So I decided to come up here and was getting set up when — as if by magic — the “Invisible Hand” brought me into contact with young Mr. Easton.

“An intern?” I said. “Listen, I’ve got a job for you . . .”

Never let it be said that I haven’t done my share to train the future leaders of the conservative movement in the glories of capitalism!

UPDATE 3:42 p.m.: “Mom?” young Mr. Easton said into his cell phone just now, after I showed him this post. “Mom, go to Google. . . . OK, now type in ‘The Other McCain’ . . . That’s right. The first link at the top of the page. . . . OK, Mom, I gotta run now. Kind of busy. Love you. Bye.”

He forgot to add, “Hit the tip jar, Mom.” Never let it be said that I haven’t done my share to train the future leaders of the conservative movement in the glories of capitalism!

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August 6, 2009

EXIT, LYING: SCHOOL’S OUT FORANTI-PALIN BLOGGER GRIFFIN

ANCHORAGE KINDERGARTEN AIDE
RESIGNS FOLLOWING DISCLOSURE

Jesse Griffin, the Alaska blogger who Saturday claimed in an “exclusive” report that Todd and Sarah Palin were divorcing, will no longer work as an Anchorage kindergarten teaching assistant, school officials confirmed Wednesday.

Griffin’s resignation followed revelations that the 49-year-old Griffin had posted (under the alias “Gryphen”) sexually explicit advocacy of pornography and masturbation on his “Immoral Minority” blog. (See “Give Jesse Enough Rope” WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE.)

Because Griffin’s MySpace profile page featured a link to “Immoral Minority,” that material — as well as other vulgar content, including descriptions of former Gov. Palin as “a nasty b*tch” who wore “f*** me pumps” — could have been accessed by anyone searching online for “Jesse Griffin” in Anchorage. (See “Jesse Griffin: Disturbing Revelations,” by Dan Riehl.)

Investigative blogger Dan Riehl on Wednesday spoke by phone with Anchorage school district officials who seemed to have been previously unaware of the graphic content on Griffin’s “Immoral Minority” site. (See “Jesse Griffin: Latest Developments,” by Dan Riehl. )

Riehl was interviewed Wednesday evening about the Griffin case on Eddie Burke’s popular Anchorage KBYR radio program. Burke said on the program that school officials told him that Griffin had submitted his resignation and that the district had “no record of any inappropriate actions” by Griffin while he was employed at Trailside Elementary School in Anchorage.

“Sarah is finished with Todd and has decided to end their marriage,” Griffin wrote at “Immoral Minority” Saturday morning, saying that “one of [his] best sources” had told him the Palins were divorcing. Griffin’s story was immediately promoted by Dennis Zaki’s “Alaska Report” site, which claimed that “multiple sources” had confirmed the report.

Jeanne Devon, an Anchorage Democratic activist who had previously blogged anonymously, also promoted Griffin’s “exclusive” at the Huffington Post. As a result of this promotion, by Saturday afternoon Zaki’s headline, “Todd and Sarah Palin to divorce,” was the lead item at the popular Memeorandum political news site, even though it had already been officially denied by Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton.

Griffin wrote on his blog Wednesday, “I stand by every single word” of the original report, which accused Sarah Palin of attempting “to hide a broken relationship” with husband Todd.

Griffin blamed “the Palin team and their minions” for discovery of his “Gryphen” online alias, which he says resulted in death threats and harassment. During his KBYR interview, Riehl disparaged Griffin’s credibility.

“Right now, the best I can tell, [Griffin] has ‘bogus’ written so much all over him it should be his middle name,” Riehl said, adding that he had discovered “one lie after another” from Griffin.

Griffin wrote Wednesday at “Immoral Minority” that he had a “long career working with children in gymnasiums, camps, and various schools.”

After revelations that Griffin had used his “Immoral Minority” site to advocate “self pleasure” and express his preference for amateur pornography, Griffin told his blog readers Wednesday: “I think what is truly frightening is how ready some people are to believe that just because you are a male who works with kids you must be a pervert. . . . The truth is that I have never even been accused of anything inappropriate with a child in my classroom, camp, or home. It has simply never happened.”

Further updates are expected at RIEHL WORLD VIEW.

August 5, 2009

THE GRYPHEN FILES: When You Catch A Liar Lying

Sunday, an anonymous source e-mailed the identity of “Gryphen” to Dan Riehl and I. In ensuing days, the same source has also sent along quotes (with screen-capture JPEGs) from Jesse Griffin’s Immoral Minority blog.

Griffin is not only a liar, but an extremely stupid liar, who arrogantly believed that no one else could ever possibly be smart enough to discover his “Gryphen” deception. For three days now, Griffin piled up lie upon lie in an effort to explain that deception. And all the time, there were those quotes the source had sent:

GIVE JESSE ENOUGH ROPE
STRONG LANGUAGE WARNING: Please note that the juxtaposition of quotes at that post is intended to highlight the vast difference between (a) what he wrote when he thought his anonymity was secure, and (b) what he wrote once his deception was exposed, and it was learned he was “an assistant teacher in a room full of five year old children.”

An interesting development discovered while compiling that post: At some point since Monday, Jesse Griffin changed the banner motto at Immoral Minority from this:

“What is morality? Who decides? Are we in charge of our own destiny? What is right? And what is wrong? Are these questions which can be answered? You betcha.”

To this:

“Morality is not determined by the church you attend nor the faith you embrace. It is determined by the quality of your character and the positive impact you have on those you meet along your journey.”

Question: Why the change? Why now?
Answer: The first quote was a blunt statement of moral relativism, in which each individual decides, without reference to any enduring and acknowledged standard, what is right or wrong.

Or, as the serpent said: “Ye shall be as gods!”

Remember that mysterious delay Monday? Last night someone found the answer to a question I’d been asking since Sunday night. Which is why I took some poetic advice Angela McGlowan’s father taught her: I burned the midnight oil.

Previously, “Gryphen” had declared himself an atheist. He is, in fact, his own god. Let him save himself from the consequences of his own freely chosen actions. The banner motto at this blog, meanwhile, remains unchanged:

“One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up.”
Arthur Koestler

Hmmm. Didn’t some commenter tell me to “STFU”?

As bloggers say, READ THE WHOLE THING and look for further updates at RIEHL WORLD VIEW.

Once more all readers are warned not to threaten anyone. LEAVE JESSE GRIFFIN ALONE!

July 25, 2009

Obama’s $4 billion ‘school reform’ agenda

Everyone remembers Obama’s plan for education reform, right? Uh, actually, no. Never mind that. Does anyone remember when $4 billion was a lot of money?

The rush is on for $4.35 billion in “Race to the Top” grants, targeted to leverage historic reforms in US public schools.
“This is one of the largest investments in education reform in American history,” said President Obama at the US Department of Education on Friday. “And rather than divvying it up and handing it out, we are letting states and school districts compete for it.”
The high-stakes grants are targeted to reward states and school districts that are “ready to do things that work,” the president said. “That’s how we can incentivize excellence and spur reform and launch a race to the top in America’s public schools.” . . .

(Note strategic deployment of the magic words: “incentivize,” “excellence” and “reform.”)

For the past two months, Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been telling education groups that if they want to have an edge going into the competition for these grants, they must demonstrate four key reforms. These include:
• Reversing a pervasive dumbing down of academic standards and testing.
• Establishing better data on student achievement, including linking teacher evaluations and pay to student outcomes.
• Improving or replacing teachers who aren’t up to the job, especially in high-poverty schools and hard-to-staff subjects.
• Turning around failing schools, including replacing school staff and changing school culture.
“For the first time in history, we have the resources at the federal level to drive reform,” Secretary Duncan said as he released draft guidelines for the competition on Friday.
“We cannot continue to tinker in terrible schools where students fall further and further behind, year after year,” he added. . . .

To summarize in three words: Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.

Another throw-money-at-it giveaway to the teachers’ unions, with “goals” and “standards” that are vague and arbitrary, the primary purpose being to give the president sufficent rhetorical coverage for that (mandatory) paragraph about “education reform” in his next State Of The Union speech.

In other words, it’s No Child Left Behind, Part Deux.

The problem with the public education system is the system itself. Parents who send their kids to public schools are constituents of the world’s largest welfare program. Whatever the total federal expenditure is on K-12 education, every dime of it is “waste, fraud, and abuse,” a stupid idea with stupid consequences.

You cannot defend public education and call yourself a conservative. The entire history of public education shows that it has been, from Day One, a liberal project aimed at achieving liberal policy objectives that have nothing to do with actual education.

More than anything else, public education is a propaganda vehicle for teaching American children falsehoods, including the belief that government can give you stuff for “free.” Let the government give people something for “free,” and you automatically guarantee two things:

  • It will be ridiculously expensive.
  • Whatever it is, will suck.

As Newt Gingrich once famously observed, high school nowadays is nothing but “subsidized dating.” It’s a colossal waste of time and money. Kids learn more playing hooky than they do when they go to class. “Public school reform” ought to be done the same as “public housing reform”:

May 24, 2009

Home-Schooling Works:Fencing Champion Dakota Root, 17

One of the questions every home-schooling parent hears is, “What about extra-curricular activities?” OK, even with six kids, I’m still five kids short of a varsity football squad, but my 16-year-old twins sons, for example, are excellent swimmers who just completed YMCA lifeguard certification.

Lots of home-schooled kids not only compete in sports, they excel. The Las Vegas Review-Journal just featured one such athlete, 17-year-old Dakota Root:

“Every time you fence, you have to keep changing your game,” Dakota said. “You can’t just rely on your skills. You have to rely on growing within the bout. You don’t do that in most other sports.”
Dakota has been in the sport only four years, but she is considering attending college at Ivy League fencing powerhouses such as Harvard and Columbia as well as Duke, Northwestern and Notre Dame. There appears to be reciprocal interest. . . .
She has achieved scores of 2,240 on the Scholastic Achievement Test (Dakota still hopes to break 2,300) and 31 on the American College Test. . . .
Last November she traveled to Germany and Austria for 16-and-under World Cup tournaments. Dakota fenced especially well in Germany, making the fourth round of pool play.
Showing that performance was no fluke, Dakota in April won under-19 epee at the Pacific Coast Championships in Long Beach, Calif. She was second in the senior epee, which was open to all ages.
That’s a head-turning rise through the ranks for a relative newcomer. It’s also a rise that could continue, perhaps even to the Olympic Games, with 2016 as the likely target. . . .

You can read the whole thing. Dakota is also a refutation of the stupid claim that home-schooled kids aren’t “socialized” adequately. You want to see poise? Watch this C-SPAN video as Dakota Root (then just 16) nominated her father, Wayne Allyn Root, for president at the 2008 Libertarian Party convention:

I covered the 2008 LP convention, where Wayne made it to the fifth ballot of the six-round “Dogfight in Denver” nomination battle, and then was chosen as Bob Barr’s vice-presidential running mate.

When I saw Wayne at the Georgia LP state convention last month, he spent most of his time bragging on his daughter who — and I hope I’m not spoiling any scholarship negotiations here — is leaning heavily toward Columbia. (She likes the big city.) Wayne also brags on Dakota in his new book, The Conscience of a Libertarian:

To illustrate the remarkable talent, creativity and intelligence of home-schooled children, I offer Exhibit A: My 17-year-old daughter Dakota Root. She is beautiful; well mannered; disciplined; articulate; poised beyond her years; treats adults with respect; maintains a straight A+ average in her studies; scores in the 99th percentile of every national test she takes; devours as man as a dozen books a month (because she wants to, not because she has to); has achieved a black belt in martial arts; and is a world class fencer who has participated in Junior Olympics, Fencing Nationals and World Cup events internationally. . . .
Many adults that have had the pleasure of meeting Dakota have made the comment, “Is your daughter home-schooled?” I always answer, “Yes, but how did you know?” The reply is always the same, “In my experience, only home-schooled kids are this focused, disciplined, well-mannered and respectful of adults.”

It’s true. Hearing one’s children praised for being poised, well-mannered and respectful is one of the joys of being a home-schooling parent. Wayne writes:

Dakota has had the advantage of being taught one on one literally since birth, by people that love her . . . praise her . . . motivate her . . . and expect the very best of her.

The official publication date for Wayne’s book The Conscience of a Libertarian is the Fourth of July (when else?) but you can order it now at Amazon.com.

UPDATE: Hey, Wayne’s not the only home-schooling dad who can brag on his kids. And remember, I’m an expert.

May 19, 2009

My high school history teacher

I’m not kidding, OK? John Siegel is a much-beloved history teacher at Lithia Springs (Ga.) High School, and why the alumni administrator of his Facebook fan group chose this photo for the profile, I’m not quite sure. The “Siegel = Sieg Heil” joke was already stale when we used it more than 30 years ago.

At any rate, Ginny at Obi’s Sister lives in Lithia Springs, where her son is enrolled in Der Fuhrer’s AP European history class — final exam essay question: “Slavic untermenschen: Threat or menace?” — and Ginny told me that Our Supreme Aryan Leader had this Facebook page.

Oh, just wait until the Southern Poverty Law Center finds out. “Links and ties,” you know . . .
May 6, 2009

The kind of job I need

Los Angeles Times:

For seven years, the Los Angeles Unified School District has paid Matthew Kim a teaching salary of up to $68,000 per year, plus benefits.
His job is to do nothing. . . .
A special education teacher, he was removed from Grant High School in Van Nuys and assigned to a district office in 2002 after the school board voted to fire him for allegedly harassing teenage students and colleagues. In the meantime, the district has spent more than $2 million on him in salary and legal costs.

(H/T: NewsAlert.) Obviously, the L.A. schools need to fire Kim and hire me, because I’m excellent at doing nothing. Ask my wife. And if they want me to harass someone, I’m also very good at that, too. I’ve had years of experience, threatening to strangle various journalistic colleagues or beat the daylights out of my kids.

I’m going to apply for one of these no-work jobs in Los Angeles and if they don’t hire me, I’ll sue them for discrimination. Hillbillies have rights, too, y’know.

April 23, 2009

UNC Values

Rep. Tom Tancredo — right-wing hater!
Rep. Virgil Goode — right-wing hater!
Duke rape hoaxer Crystal Mangum — OK!

What I want to know is when and how did the liberal elite take over Chapel Hill, N.C.? It’s a state school best known for its championship basketball program, so how did it become as radical as Berkeley in 1968?

I had the same reaction when Orit Sklar and Ruth Malhotra started describing how they’d been threatened and intimidated by radical gay and Muslim student groups at Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech? What Lewis Grizzard used to call “The North Avenue Trade School”? A school best known for its engineering program, its ACC basketball team and its “Ramblin’ Wreck” fight song? I was born in Atlanta and one of my cousins graduated from Tech, and of all the places I least imagined would ever be taken over by the radical elite, it was Tech.

Radical Muslims at Tech? You’re kidding me! And militant gay groups? Well, the coeds at Tech were always a bit on the homely side, so you could understand if the guys got kind of desperate, but . . .

Why is this kind of radicalism, which we had come to expect at elite schools, now trickling down into ordinary state universities? The most obvious answer is that big “CONSERVATIVES NEED NOT APPLY” sign hanging outside the personnel office at most universities for at least the past 30 years. People tend to avoid working in environments where they’re not welcome, and so conservative-leaning youth have learned to get their bachelor’s degrees and go to work in the private sector, leaving the graduate schools — where the future faculty members are trained — totally dominated by the Left.

Even if the trustees of a school like Tech or UNC wanted to hire conservative faculty members, where would they find them, given the rarity of conservatives in grad school? And you’ll find that it’s the faculty and grad students, not the undergraduates, who are the driving force of leftist radicalism on most campuses today.

Michelle Malkin has more about the UNC protests against Goode’s appearance, including this totalitarian wienie:

April 6, 2009

‘Maximum feasible non-cooperation’

My earlier post about Ray Moore and his book, Let My Children Go, got linked and commented upon by the Creative Minority Report.

You should go read that, if only for my response to a commenter — a Christian who works as a public-school teacher in Texas — in which I thumbnailed my philosophy of maximum feasible non-cooperation with the public school system.

My wife has homeschooled our children since 1997. Our oldest daughter attended one year of public-school kindergarten, then did two years in a Christian grade-school before we finally decided to homeschool. None of our other children has ever attended a public school, or ever will, if I can help it.

When our three oldest children got old enough for high school, they attended private Christian schools. Our oldest daughter graduated with honors at age 16, the youngest member of her class, and is now a sophomore in college. Our 16-year-old twin boys — well, they’re both good students, but they’re more into working, playing guitar, breeding pythons, fixing cars, and girls. (My own plan is for the boys to matriculate at The University of Parris Island, home of the Fightin’ Jarheads.)

But last night I was working late (got a deadline project) after I’d left that comment at Creative Minority, and needed to make a run to the convenience store. “Where you going, Dad?” said 16-year-old Bob, who was on the phone with his girlfriend. “Can I drive?”

So Bob drove me to the store, and as the price of that privilege — the boy just got his learner’s permit and loves to drive — he had to listen to my lecture about the systemic flaws of the government education system, and how The Myth of the Good Public School perpetuates this flawed system:

“All learning is individual. . . . You can teach a group, but only the individual learns. . . . Therefore, the idea that a school is ‘good’ because the students on average score well on standard tests is fundamentally false.”

Once you understand this, you realize what’s wrong with The Myth of the Good Public School. The school is taking credit, as an institution, for the individual achievement of its students. The “good” school doesn’t necessarily have better facilities or better teachers, it simply has more good students.

Well, what would happen if the “good” school had fewer good students? What if smart parents with smart kids decided that they were no longer going to let those tax-siphoning bureaucratic mediocrities at the local public school take credit for their child’s achievement?

What if the good kids in that district were all home-schooled, or attended private schools? The aggegate average test scores at the local public school would decline, The Myth of the Good Public School would be exposed as a lie and, if such a movement began to snowball into a national phenomenon, the entire evil soul-destroying system of government education would collapse under the weight of its own transparent bogusness.

Maximum feasible non-cooperation. Think about that: “Going Galt” as a parent.

BTW, my son is an excellent driver. Nature or nuture? I started teaching my kids to drive when they were 12. Both of my brothers are truck drivers and, of course, that hillbilly NASCAR gene runs deep. One thing for sure, my boy didn’t learn to drive because he was taught in any school. Except maybe Old School.

LET MY CHILDREN GO!

UPDATE: In the comments, “Anonymous” (whose name is apparently Philip) links to his own blog post in which he accuses me of “knuckleheadedness . . . ignorant, naïve, paranoid, and delusional.” And his argument is based on . . what? His own memories of his own public school days.

Well, since Anonymous Philip wants to get all into the anecdotal ad hominem — accusing me of being motivated by a resentment of “wedgies”! — perhaps he should be reminded that two can play that game. Which of us is more qualified to speak with authority on the problems of American education?

Let me remind you that I spent the years 1987-91 covering prep sports — dealing routinely with coaches who were also teachers, counselors and administrators — as sports editor of the Calhoun (Ga.) Times. This was followed by a stint 1991-97 at the Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune where I was, among other things, editor of the weekly schools-and-youth section of the paper. So that’s roughly a decade I spent covering schools.

Perhaps I should mention that, for a couple of semesters of college, I was actually an education major before changing my mind, but I did coursework in such subjects as developmental psychology and pedagogical methods. So there’s that. My late Aunt Barbara was a high-school biology teacher in Georgia, recognized by the “STAR” program as one of the state’s best in her field. And then, of course, I am the father of six children, the eldest now a dean’s list college sophomore. Plus, I was for five years editor of the “Culture Etc.” page of The Washington Times, where I frequently covered issues involving education.

Therefore I would not hesitate to assert that, in terms of experience, observation and general knowledge, my authority to address the problems of public education is many magnitudes greater than that of Anonymous Philip, who apparently has no children and hasn’t deal with education since he was himself a student.

“Well, I turned out OK” is not a persuasive argument, Philip. In a nation where 90 percent of children attend public schools, the average adult alumnus of public schools is average, eh? This doesn’t prove anything about the system itself and, if anything, is an argument against any proposed reform. Hey, y’all, Philip attended public school and he’s hunky-dory, so let’s keep doing more of the same!

One of the problems with arguing against a pervasive and persistent evil like government schools is that very few people have any experience of doing thing any other way. Sic semper hoc — ‘Twas ever thus — and therefore the possibility of alternatives is dismissed peremptorily, and nothing else is ever attempted.

We encounter the same sort of resistance to, inter alia, Social Security reform. If the Republican Party had managed a sweep of Congress in the 1938 mid-term elections, then followed up by winning the White House in 1940, it is possible that they might have repealed what was then a novel experimental program. But more than seven decades after it was created, Social Security has entrenched itself, no one can even remember how Americans cared for their elderly prior to 1937, and as soon as anyone says “reform,” you’ve got the AARP and the Democrats ginning up nightmare scenarios of Granny starving to death under a bridge.

Unlike Social Security, however, parents can opt their children out of public education and — contrary to what Philip claims — it really doesn’t have to be that expensive. The main expense for homeschooling is that one parent (usually the mom) has to forego full-time employment outside the home in order to teach the kids. This is a sacrifice for most couples, but not usually the financial disaster some might imagine. (The two-career household is another one of those things that has entrenched itself so deeply in American life that people have trouble imagining alternatives.)

Homeschooling is a radical alternative, and it tends to have a revolutionary impact on your worldview. Once you realize that your kids can actually learn more at the dining room table with Mom as their teacher than they can learn in a big school under the certified tutelage of professional educators, you cease to be intimidated (as most Americans unfortunately are) by the supposedly superior wisdom of “experts.” It is a very empowering experience.

My kids are growing up confident, cheerful and independent. Perhaps they don’t have all the advantages that a two-career household could provide with the assistance of a taxpayer-funded education. But I wouldn’t trade my six kids for six dozen Philips, whose message is, “Don’t try anything different! Don’t fight the system! You can’t win!”

Can’t never could.

April 5, 2009

For once, Kathleen Parker has a clue

She quotes Ray Moore of Exodus Mandate:

I was alerted to the Deace-Minnery interview by E. Ray Moore — founder of the South Carolina-based Exodus Mandate, an initiative to encourage Christian education and home schooling. Moore, who considers himself a member of the Christian right, thinks the movement is imploding.
“It’s hard to admit defeat, but this one was self-inflicted,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Yes, Dr. Dobson and the pro-family or Christian right political movement is a failure; it would have made me sad to say this in the past, but they have done it to themselves.”

I know and respect Mr. Moore, and his criticism of James Dobson, et al., is dead on target. In 1999, I interviewed Mr. Moore after he published a book called Let My Children Go, in which he argued forcefully — based on sound Bible teaching — that Christian parents should get their children out of government schools. Having pulled our oldest child out of public school after kindergarten (our five youngest have never attended government schools), I was of course sympathetic to Mr. Moore’s argument, which he summarized in a simple phrase, “Every church a school, every parent a teacher.”

But Dobson and other Christian Right leaders had spent decades pushing a different argument, which might be summarized, “Let’s take back our schools!” To which the obvious response is, “How?” If Christians can’t be persuaded to teach their own children, where are you going to find this Christian army of government-certified teachers who will “take back” those schools from the secularists?

Dobson & Co. never had an answer to that, and it is thus scarcely surprising to see the recent declining level of faith among young people who spent 180 days a year for 13 years being indoctrinated in the secularist cult taught in modern American public schools.

Here’s a video from Mr. Moore’s ministry: