Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

Lost Boys

27.02.2007 (10:50 pm) – Filed under: Education,Society ::

Debbie Schlussel says that only 43% of college students are male these days.

It’s kind of obvious why. Women are pushed to succeed–with discriminatory, sexist scholarships, affirmative action, and any number of other programs deeming them an “under-represented” minority, when with 57% of the student body, they are anything but. Then, there are the cultural attacks on men and boys throughout the media, entertainment, and every other arena.

Follow her link to Kansas.com – it’s interesting. Apparently we’re not teaching boys things that interest them in ways that keep their attention. Bored out of their minds, young males drop out of school or just skate through a school system that’s really not teaching anything except how to meet a minimum standard on a multiple-choice test. We’re not teaching boys how to do the things they really want to do, if this slant is correct. It is, I think, partially correct. But it’s not quite as simple as that.
Later in Debbie’s post:

It’s difficult to have the zest for life and hard work, when you are being told that scholarships are not open to you and you are not the “preferred” minority merely because of your sex organs and internal plumbing.

Feminists would argue that turnabout is fair play after centuries of repression at the hands of burly, uncouth males. “We’re all equal,” they say, “but women are more equal than men right now.”

While there’s a certain amount of logic to this, the fact is that men are still responsible for bringing home the bacon in the the vast majority of American households. Women are just as capable as men at performing most non-physical jobs. But women have to deal with “those pesky kids”, first by carrying them to term, then by stunting their careers when they quite their jobs to raise them. How can women ever hope to compete at the top end of the job market?

For feminists this is a travesty of justice rather than a natural outcome of biology. But should women even want to compete? At the risk of generalizing, women are better at raising children than men. In most families it’s natural for them to take on this responsibility. In a way, this genetic obligation puts women at risk, often lacking job skills, afraid of their man’s departure, and of their own lack of marketability.

(Tangent: perhaps this is why feminists are so passionately in favor of abortion “rights”. Or wrongs. It’s their nuclear option.)

Feminists abhor this dependency that “forces women into slavery” and would do anything to remove it, even from women who say they are perfectly happy in their family situation. Some blame children for forcing subservience on the female gender. Male children in particular.

One profession that is dominated by women is that of education. Walk into any elementary or middle school and look around. How many men do you see teaching in classrooms? Not very damn many.

Is it any wonder than males perform poorly in an educational environment crafted by and for females? Absolutely not.

By the time that boys get into an environment where male teachers are proportionately represented as educators they are 14 years old. The best years of their lives, in terms of education and socialization, have been wasted. Even in high school, classes are not particularly interesting to young boys. Couple the lack of interesting material with a lack reconciliation to the process of education and you’ve got a problem.

Here’s another. High schools are getting larger and larger every year. This means less opportunities for boys to participate in sports programs at school. Without an active interest in athletics or scholastics, what’s a boy to do in school?

The truth is that schools offer males very little of interest besides girls. But does it have to be this way?

It doesn’t get any better in college, as ScottyDog, one of Debbie’s commenters, pointed out:

I first went to college in the 1970’s. I returned in the mid 1990 to get another degree. Boy was I in for a shock, college is nothing like it used to be.

College today is outright hostile to men. They treat men as second class citizens and utter contempt. The classes for the most part are being taught by Feminists and class discussions inevitably center on how women are being discriminated against by the evil men who run this country.

IMHO-College has turned into re-education camps teaching young women they are entitled to every thing on a silver platter without teaching hard work and merit matter.

Any man that can put up with 4 years of what they call college deserves an award for just completing the tortuous climate on campus.

I’m not quite convinced that it’s as bad as all that. However, it’s a fact that college instructors are overwhelmingly liberal. This is a demographic that has a demonstrable tendency to pander to minorities of all stripes, whether the extra help is needed or not. Debbie’s numbers indicate that females no longer need the special privileges they’ve been given. But try to take them away…

Colleges are also actively working to shut down the right to free speech on campus, particularly when said speech conflicts with their liberal perspective and agenda. State U. is no place to be a white male unless you’re willing to be the butt of every joke. Being conservative and expressing your views is a crime on many campuses. Laughing at someone who’s been placed in a “protected” category is the fastest way to get expelled there is.

Every level in the morass that is public education discriminates against the male. Right?

Yes.

Should we be surprised when they rebel, lose interest, and drop out?

Well, yes. I think so.

Regardless of a tilted playing field, males still must compete and win in order to take their place in life after school is over. This competition is unlike sports in that it is often drudgery, scut work that is utterly unenjoyable. Nevertheless it must be done.

This, it seems to me, is what is lacking – the determination to do what has to be done whether there’s an immediate sense of satisfaction or not. To do this in the long run requires an understanding that short-term pleasures must often be denied for a long-term objective to be achieved.

I think the Wichita article is correct in saying that fathers must pass this on to their sons. Who else is going to do it? Not teachers. And certainly not college professors, a rather self-indulgent lot if ever I saw one.

This is why it’s imperative that families stick together and that children, all children but especially boys, have a real father who sets a benchmark for behavior. With that a boy has a chance to understand that the way this society is run is a long way from optimal but that he must achieve anyway and be part of the solution.

What is that solution? Why, to take back the education system, obviously.

Self Esteem: the Gift that Stunts Growth

25.02.2007 (2:00 pm) – Filed under: Education,Society ::

Polimom says that she’s worried about her daughter and whether she’s been given too much self-esteem. She says:

It’s not just the parents, and it’s not just schools or academics, either. If your kid has ever been on a non-scholastic youth sports team (out here in Katy, soccer comes to mind…), you’ll recognize this:

Since the 1969 publication of The Psychology of Self-Esteem, in which Nathaniel Branden opined that self-esteem was the single most important facet of a person, the belief that one must do whatever he can to achieve positive self-esteem has become a movement with broad societal effects. Anything potentially damaging to kids’ self-esteem was axed. Competitions were frowned upon. Soccer coaches stopped counting goals and handed out trophies to everyone. Teachers threw out their red pencils. Criticism was replaced with ubiquitous, even undeserved, praise.

Then, referring to this article from the New York Magazine, she says:

If this new research is correct (and it resonated deeply with me), then it’s both good news and bad news… because while Polimom and Dear Husband can focus on how, when, and what we praise / reward at home, we cannot hope to get in front of the onslaught on AC from a well-intended, undermining society.

I have a lot of respect for PM – she’s very sharp and a good writer as well – but I have to say that her surprise at reaching this conclusion truly puzzles me.

I mean, really, how could anyone involved with today’s kids at any significant level NOT be aware of the gap between what these kids are being told they’re achieving and what they’re actually doing?

The evidence is everywhere. Just watch kids’ behavior and you can see how empty their minds are even as their mouths are utterly full of themselves. So many children have no basis for the esteem they hold themselves in.

This is hardly news. One can witness it any upscale suburban neighborhood: spoiled rich kids strutting the halls of schools like little kings and queens to whom the teachers owed their living, sullen sons of double-income families who despised their parents’ achievements, shiftless neo-Goth fools in drag sweating themselves to death in the hot Texas summer sun, none of whom could perform at grade level in most other modern countries. It’s even worse in urban areas where living up to the myth of the macho gang-banger is practically a necessity and being to one to burst a little machito’s bubble could be a fatal mistake.

Here’s a post of mine on the subject from almost two years ago. Note the link to Marlene Zuk’s great essay. Read it – she has profound insight into the matter.

Giving kids self-esteem is a worthy goal, so long as they actually deserve the praise. As a society we’d be far better off if we’d actually give children something to proud of instead of meaningless platitudes.

Kids are smart – they know the difference.

Ideas

24.02.2007 (9:22 pm) – Filed under: Middle East,Politics,Russia ::

I took my wife out for dinner for her birthday and my fortune cookie said the following:

Alter ideas and you alter the world

How true. This isn’t a revelation – lots of people know this. Mostly the wrong ones, it seems.

W looked into Vlad Putin’s soul and found a good person there but seems to be an error in judgment. Vlad’s apparently becoming a dictator of the worst sort, the kind who uses his position to eliminate rivals and, if perturbed, kills his opposition.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., says, “I think Bush misread his soul. I think this guy is taking Russia backward.” and “He’s a problem, not a solution, to most of the world’s problems. He could help us with Iran if he chose to. He is becoming basically a one-man dictatorship in Russia.”

Remember the years after the wall fell, when democracy swept through Russia like a wildfire? Russians had come crazy candidates to choose from and they didn’t always choose wisely. Where are Putin’s challengers now?

One, former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is rotting in jail after being convicted of multiple financial crimes in a trial about which US Democrat congressman Tom Lantos said, “It seems that this political trial before a kangaroo court has come to a shameful conclusion. It is obvious that the conclusion of the trial was pre-determined politically…”

At the time there was some talk about political and economic motivations for the arrest and trial, but most of us were too busy fighting off the mini-depression of the .com bust and the fear of terrorism to worry much about Russian graft. Maybe we should have, given the unique ability of Putin and his rejects from the KGB to sabotage our foreign policy agendas, something they’re doing rather gleefully at the moment, it seems.

Vlad’s interests also directed at consolidating power and eliminating dissent at home. One wonders if he can be defeated in the next election – if there’s anyone who’s significant enough and brave enough to oppose him – and, if he happened to lose, if he would turn over power.

During the run-up to the mid-term elections, certain liberal buffoons here at home suggested that Bush wouldn’t step down at the end of his term – a rather transparent scare tactic. The possibility is much more real in Russia, given their history.

The battle of ideas there isn’t just in terms of political power, it’s also in the form of free expression and who is allowed to have it. According to CBS News, 43 Russian journalists have been killed in the last 13 years, many while investigating corruption and war crimes stories. Most recently, Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist, author, and searing critic of the Kremlin and its policies in Chechnya, was executed in Moscow.

Mikhail Gorbachev said, “It is a blow to the entire democratic, independent press. It is a grave crime against the country, against all of us.” Gorby, who’s 10 times the man Putin dreams of being, must hate what Putin’s doing to the country his unique courage created out of the stagnant cesspool that was the Soviet Union.

So far there are only rumours and allegations that Politkovskaya was killed by the Russian government, no proof. Supposedly she was about to file article for the Monday paper about torturers in the government of Ramzan A. Kadyrov, the pro-Kremlin premier of Chechnya. If so, where is the story? Where is the evidence? Perhaps it was coincidence.

But then occurred the strange case of Alexander Litvinenko, an ex-KGB agent who was poisoned with a radioactive isotope, polonium-210, after beginning to investigate Politkovskaya’s murder and who accused the Russian government of killing him in his last moments.

Again there is no proof of any wrongdoing by Russian officials. Is there fire beneath the smoke? Clearly there is a trend in Russia toward the repression of individual rights and the rights of the press and public to express opposition to Putin’s regime. Vlad, after all, would like to take Russia back to the glory days of Soviet Socialism when everything was under control and working like clockwork.

Perhaps this is why he’s so eager to slip into bed with Iran – Vlad and the mullahs understand each other, even if their beliefs are diametrically opposed. One form of police state is much the same as another, whether one is on the top of the heap or the bottom. Does it matter whether your torturer is a communist dupe or an Islamic zealot? Not to me.

It’s all about ideas, really, and the ways we’d like to alter them. W understands this, too, which is how we ended up in Iraq. He wanted to give the Middle East an injection of democracy as a booster shot to generate some new ways of thinking in those countries, hence the war. What he didn’t consider was that the introduction of foreign ideas into their intolerant cultures would provoke an allergic reaction.

Why? I think it’s because Islamic fundamentalists understand that their traditional ideas are neither compatible with and or sufficiently correct to compete with the ideas of freedom of expression, individual rights, and an educated citizenry.

This is why Islamic terrorists are killing teachers in Afghanistan and in Iraq, because they are threatened by education and its disturbing tendency to produce young people who want to think for themselves rather than follow rote lines scratched in the sand by previous generations.

It is all about the ideas. America must make sure that ours are reaching the ears, eyes, and minds of everyone who has an opportunity to receive them. The Bible says that we should hold God’s word in our hearts so that we may not sin against Him. It’s more than that, though. It’s there for times of trouble and times when we don’t dare let the words cross our lips – as in Vlad’s perfect version of the Soviet Union, circa 1953.

Democracy is much the same. It’s a dream for people trapped in these countries, a germ of a seed that’s hidden in a secret place in their minds. We need to make sure we plant those seeds and water them as best we can, whenever and wherever we can.

I was recently reminded that I should be striving to be an intercessor rather than being an accuser. I’ve recently commented in a couple of discussions about Islam and wondered afterward if I was doing the right thing by saying what I thought was the truth.

After all, the vast majority of Muslims are good people. Must the entire family be tainted by the scarlet brush because of the deeds of a murderous step-brother? Not, I think, if the y acknowledge the killer’s evil-doings for what they are and denounce them. Not once and for all, but each and every time.

It is, after all, their religion that the terrorists are using as both shield from and justification for their brutality. Islam must be reclaimed by those who it belongs to if the name of their religion is to signify peace again.

Of course, the corollary to this is that the U.S. must do the same. That’s going to be a tough idea for W to swallow. He may not do it. But the next president will. She’ll have to.

Update

According to Haaretz, Russia is selling shoulder-pack missiles to Syria, weapons that Israel thinks may end up in Lebanon in the hands to Hezbollah terrorists.

While Putin emphasized that the missile Russia is selling to Syria is vehicle launched and hardly a threat to Israeli planes, Israel is particularly worried by shoulder-launched versions of the missile, which could end up in the hands of Hezbollah along the Lebanese-Israeli border and limit Israeli air force overflights into Lebanon.

Thanks, Vlad.

Abortion Wars

22.02.2007 (9:56 pm) – Filed under: Society ::

I’ve been contemplating the latest Time.com article titled “The Grassroots Abortion War” for a while, wondering if it was worth commenting on. I was about to let it go when I wondered on a whim what Planned Parenthood’s budget looked like in terms of government funding. This subject is probably covered extensively in conservative blogs, so let me just say that, according to Wikipedia, “Planned Parenthood receives almost a third of its money in government grants and contracts”.

Alright, it’s “go time”!

Time’s article, which is only somewhat slanted to the left, starts off good:

The pregnancy-center clinic, with its new ultrasound machine, has been open only since December, but already the staff can count the women who came in considering an abortion and changed their minds: five women converted, six lives saved, they declare, since one was carrying twins. “They connected,” nurse Joyce Wilson says, recalling the reaction of the women who saw the filmy image of their fetus onscreen. “They bonded. You could just see it. One girl got off the table and said, ‘That’s my baby.'”

“Another got up,” Deborah Wood says, “and said, ‘This changes everything.'”

Wood is the CEO of Asheville Pregnancy Support Services in Asheville, North Carolina, one of the thousands of crisis pregnancy centers in the U.S. that are working to end abortion. Hers is the new face of an old movement: kind, calm, nonjudgmental, a special-forces soldier in the abortion wars who is fighting her battles one conscience at a time. Her center helps women navigate the social-service bureaucracy, sign up for Medicaid and begin prenatal care. She helps pregnant girls find emergency housing if their parents threaten to throw them out. Free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds are just the latest service.

This is a terrific idea for one simple reason: it shows the truth to people. That’s the one thing that any mind-changing idea does – cuts away the clutter of sloppy thinking and reveals the shining truth beneath the garbage.

Later in the article:

Wood and her team talk of changing hearts. They are part of a whole other strategy that is more personal and more pastoral, although to some people it’s every bit as controversial.

Some loons, perhaps, whose social agendas have such value in their own eyes that they’re willing to make any moral compromise to get their way, regardless of who and how many oppose them. For instance:

The movement toward “medicalizing” the centers particularly concerns groups like Planned Parenthood that define their mission as offering the most accurate information about the most complete range of reproductive options. The motive behind offering free ultrasounds, which would typically cost at least $100, is more emotional than medical, critics argue, and having them performed by people with limited training and moral agendas poses all kinds of hazards. “What is really tragic to me is that a woman goes into a center looking for information, looking to be able to make a better, healthy choice, and she doesn’t get all the facts,” argues Christopher Hollis, Planned Parenthood’s vice president for governmental and political affairs in North Carolina. “That’s taking someone’s life and playing a really dangerous game with it.”

I suppose Hollis didn’t consider the obvious mortal danger a baby faces during one of his clinics’ D&C operations to be valid. Or perhaps he simply didn’t think past his own rhetoric. Or maybe I’m missing his logic; after all, I don’t have the luxury of spending my time at work twisting my thoughts into unnatural contortions of the truth.

Obviously new competitors like Woods’ clinic are cutting into PP’s business – I’m sure they don’t like that one bit, especially since the Bush administration has been funding the competition. Of course, PP’s budget is 30+% from the government, which is all the more reason for them to resent someone else getting part of the pie.

Lorrie, whose last name was kept private, says:

“No one wants to go into abortion providing. But it’s so important. I know that I’m providing a service to women that no one else will.”

…later, speaking of a client’s experience at a Christian pregnancy center:

“She was a basket case when she got here. They had told her that if she had an abortion, she’d probably never be able to have a child.” Now Lorrie is plainly furious. “These [pregnant] women are scared out of their minds,” she says. “It doesn’t change their minds–it just scares them. It’s cruel and un-Christian to lie to patients.”

She’s right about the lying. It’s uncalled for on both sides of the debate. The truth is sufficient and that is that most abortions are about convenience. Liberals want to go on and on about birth control, how their abortion clinics are providing that as a primary goad, and the so-called woman’s right to choose (there’s no such thing, as we’ve discussed here before) but none of their dogma is valid. Neither is Lorrie’s claim that “these women are scared out of their minds”.

99.99% of sexually active Americas know what birth control is. 99% of those have it available to them, even if it means shoplifting rubbers like I did as a teenager. And I would suggest that while abortion is a safe medical procedure for most women, if they’re scared it’s just as likely because of what Lorrie will be doing to their bodies and the fact that they might well be sentencing themselves to hell as a result of their opting for the lazy way out of a situation that, in most cases, they knew better than to create in the first place.

The lies should stop. But the pictures aren’t lies, Lorrie, as you well know. They are disgusting, I’ll grant, but they are also the truth.

Woods again:

You can talk about choice all you like, she argues, but if a woman feels overwhelmed and all alone and thinks she can somehow “turn back the clock like the pregnancy never happened,” then she doesn’t understand what abortion really entails. “We need to counter the message that abortion won’t have any consequences,” she says. “That’s unrealistic. All decisions have consequences.”

How true. For example, here’s a link to a post by the Texas Rainmaker discussing a recent miracle of science, a 21-week old baby born who was born prematurely and will live to tell.

Born only 21 weeks and six days after conception, Amillia Taylor weighed just under 10oz and was only 91/2 inches long.

And now, four months later and weighing 4lb, she has been allowed home – the world’s most premature baby to have survived.

He goes on to discuss, from the fervently anti-abortion perspective, how this demonstrates that even mid-term abortions are taking a life.

With reservations, I agree. It’s not a viable life, little Amillia notwithstanding, because such a baby could never, ever survive without the best medical care in the world and tens of thousands of dollars in expenses, costs that most parents could never dream of absorbing.

While I think that medical costs must be considered in these situations, his point that a life is being taken out of existence even at 21 weeks is made.

That, my friends from Planned Parenthood, is another inconvenient truth that you do not want to admit or have people think about.

While I support your right to exist and perform your function, I neither approve of that mission nor of the fact that my money is being spent killing for the convenience of your clients.

And that, I think, is my definitive statement on this subject.

Rudy – Could He Be “The Man”?

15.02.2007 (10:47 pm) – Filed under: Politics ::

The truth is that I don’t know much about Rudy  Guilani.  He’s  known for being mayor of New York City and my world could  hardly be more different than his.  After all, there’s no comparison between the Big  Apple and rural Texas.  But today ‘s interview  with Larry King showed me something – a man with the sense of what’s needed to run a country in a civilized fashion.

Prime quotes:

  • Speaking of Iraq:  “I’m not confident it’s all going to turn around.”  And:  “I’m confident that we have to try to make a turnaround, and we just can’t walk out, and that it is critical to us that things get to the point in Iraq that we have some degree of stability and not the way they are now.  Because if we leave it the way it is now and we run out, then we’re going to face further difficulties in the future.”
  • On abortion:  “I am pro-choice, yes,” he said. “But I’m also, as you know, always have been, against abortion — hate abortion, don’t like it, wouldn’t personally advise anyone to have an abortion. But I believe a woman has a right to choose, and you can’t have criminal penalties… I think that would be wrong.”
  • On gay rights: “Gays should be protected. … But the way I’m portrayed by my opponents — and I guess to drive people away from me — is that I’m in favor of gay marriage. I am not.”  However, Giuliani said he does favor domestic-partnership laws for gay and lesbian couples.

One issue not addressed in the article quoted above is that of immigration.  My sense is that, given Rudy’s common-sense approach to the issues discussed previously, he would have a reasonable position regarding law enforcement and guest worker status.

If so Republicans may have found a worthwhile candidate they can rally behind.  They damn sure need one.

Rape, a New Definition

12.02.2007 (10:30 pm) – Filed under: Crime,Society ::

A recent Time article begins thusly:

If a woman consents to having sex with a man but then during intercourse says no, and the man continues, is it rape?

The answer depends on where you live. The highest courts of seven states, including Connecticut and Kansas, have ruled that a woman may withdraw her consent at any time, and if the man doesn’t stop, he is committing rape.

At any time? Surely not. Mel Feit, executive director of the National Center for Men says, “At a certain point during arousal, we don’t have complete control over our ability to stop.”

Not so, says Lisae C. Jordan, legislative counsel for the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “Any one of us who’s had a toddler walk in on them knows that that’s not true.”
While the rules of chivalry demand the end of the sex act should a woman become unhappy, the better part of wisdom would be to remember the place of law in a society.

That is, laws dictate the minimum acceptable standard of behavior rather than the ideal. Codifying best-case scenarios into law and demanding retribution time for crimes against the ideal is one clear sign of correctness gone too far.

This is demonstrated in a 2004 Maryland case cited by Time:

The accuser and the defendant agree that after he began to penetrate her and she wanted him to stop, he did so within a matter of seconds and did not climax.

Even so…they [the jury] convicted the defendant of first-degree rape, among other sex offenses.

In my opinion the verdict is asinine, assuming the facts are correct and complete as presented. The female in this case seems to have had an encounter that can only be described as a “best case” scenario for a woman who willingly removes her clothes, arouses a man, allows him to enter her, and then decides to say no. He did. What else can a woman ask for? Nothing.

More from the article:

Advocates for victims’ rights insist it’s not just a matter of allowing a woman to have a change of heart. If the law doesn’t recognize a woman’s right to say no during sex, they say, there is no recourse for a woman who begins to feel pain or who learns her partner isn’t wearing a condom or has HIV.

Only the first of these is of any real concern to me. Women choosing sex partners have ample opportunity to discover whether their paramour has AIDS or not; certainly during the act is the last time it’s going to come up. Condom use is also a non-issue – this must be dealt with before sex, not during. It’s not hard.

Most men would agree that hurting a woman during sex is not what they want to do and would stop immediately. But, as Feit put it, at a certain point in the event, a few seconds more becomes a biological necessity. This must be acknowledged in the law. Legal limits must be reasonable first, ideal second.

Time says:

In Maryland, rape is determined at the beginning of the sex act, and therefore consent is officially given at that point.

Parents of girls might disagree. Likewise, the desire of women’s rights advocates is understandable and even valid to the extent that it’s honestly directed to the issue under discussion.

But at the same time it contradicts the most fundamental principle of liberal jurisprudence, that it’s better to let any number of guilty people go free rather than convicting one innocent one.

If nothing else the Liberal Left should respect their own principles, assuming they really believe in them. In the meantime, the new definition of rape should be a subject that fathers discuss with their sons. It’s one damn good reason not to have pre-marital sex, isn’t it?

Schools’ Accountability

09.02.2007 (12:48 pm) – Filed under: Crime,Education,Stupidity ::

There’s been a vigorous debate about accountability in our schools and in it there’s almost always a tacit assumption that the physical safety of the children need not be discussed, that it’s been taken care of. However, one need not think too hard about that assumption to see that it is false, as in this Texas case, and many others.

Now comes the case of Allentown, Pennsylvania, in which:

Teachers and administrators at Central Elementary School knew they had a problem with a 12-year-old who had been accused of going into a bathroom stall and sexually assaulting a first-grade boy.

But instead of calling police and removing the child, district officials covered up the attack and allowed him to remain in class, leading to the sexual assault of three more first-graders, parents say.

Pretty stupid behavior from people who are supposed to be teaching children how to grow up into responsible, thinking adults, right? Yes. But we’ve allowed a certain idea, one that has some merit but not nearly as much as it’s been given, to take precedence over both the goal of educating students to their individual potentials and common sense itself. What is that idea?

Inclusion.

It is now a fact of life for most teachers that they must accept the presence of students in their classroom who would have been tracked to special education classes in previous generations. This leads to many disruptions and inefficiencies in the classroom and wastes considerable amounts of teachers’ time that could be used more productively. And worse.

But inclusion is required according to the new order of political correctness in education. So can the school district be blamed for following along in the wake of the national trend by including a known rapist in regular public school?

The district’s lawyer says no. But here’s more from the same article:

The assaults began in December 2003, a few months after the 12-year-old, a special education student with a history of behavioral problems, was transferred to Central Elementary from another school in the district, according to court papers.

After learning of the first assault from a second-grader who witnessed part of it, administrators kept quiet and allowed F.H. to remain in school, the lawsuit said. The 12-year-old sexually assaulted three more first-graders over the next four months, according to the parents.

The final assault, for which F.H. was found guilty in juvenile court of rape and sent to a detention center until he turns 18, took place after he was put on “hallway detention” — out of view of any teacher and next to a bathroom used by first-graders…

At a micro level there are reasons why this could happen, of course, the most valid being that the teacher in question may not have about F.H.’s crimes due to a lack of communication by officials. But speaking more broadly, everyone would agree that students’ physical safety should come before all other considerations. In that the Allentown districts’ administrators failed completely.

“I’m disgusted,” said Yolanda Colbert, 36, whose three children attend Allentown schools. “These 6-year-olds are the most vulnerable, and if adults cannot protect them, we have some serious issues in the Allentown school district.”

Obviously they do. But their issues are hardly unique. Leaving aside the question of the district’s legal liability, which may well not exist despite the administration’s numerous ethical and professional failures, there is a more fundamental discussion to be held about the state of our schools.

To me two things stand out about America’s public school system. The first is the consistent lack of parental involvement in the day-to-day operation of the schools and the lack of influence parents have over the education and the environment that their children operate in every day.

It’s true that in many cases parents simply do not care about an issue as subtle as this one. Others may never consider it an issue. For them school is what it is and it cannot be changed so why try? Many families operate in a mode that requires both parents to work full-time jobs making their involvement in school activities impossible.

But there is also a sense that one gets from teachers and administrators that, as a parent, your involvement is not wanted or is only desirable in limited, pre-defined doses that have no practical effect. This is understandable in that most educators take professional pride in their work and believe that they are doing what is best. At the same time, however, it’s a proven fact that teams are more capable of delivering a quality result – education, in this case – than individuals alone. Rather than excluding parents, schools should be asking for and even demanding day-to-day involvement from the community in which they operate.

The second issue, and one that I believe is equally important, the the distinct lack of male presence in our schools, particularly at the elementary and middle school level. Given that males comprise a shade under 50% of our populate it makes sense that they should be represented proportionally in education. However, at the critical elementary and middle school levels the vast majority of teachers are female.

This is a problem for many reasons, including the need to experience, understand, and adjust to male-oriented thinking and discipline that differ dramatically from those used by female teachers. From a social conditioning perspective, children should experience both male and female teachers so that they are prepared to deal with the fact that life after school is often dominated by male superiors.

Another reason that males should be involved in school activities is very basic: physical security. Would perverted sex offenders, irate parents, and other threats be as likely to make themselves known in schools if a full 50% of teachers and staff were male? No.

This is an entire subject to itself, one to be explored another day. For now it is enough to say that the absence of male teachers is a factor that contributes to our dysfunctional and insecure school systems. It’s time we realized that rather elementary fact.

A final note from the article:

…the parents of the fourth victim said the district has shown little regard for their son. Nobody from the district has contacted them since his rape, they said in an interview.

“It’s a constant slap in the face,” said the boy’s mother, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect her son’s privacy. “They still will not accept any responsibility. They will not accept any accountability.”

That says volumes, doesn’t it?

The school district plans to try to walk away from this case by claiming they acted in a legal fashion. As we all should recognize, that does not necessarily mean that they acted correctly or ethically. Law only is an approximation of these things, after all.

Being accountable should mean performing to a higher standard than mere legality, the bare minimum standard of acceptable behavior.

Free Speech on Campus

07.02.2007 (10:19 pm) – Filed under: Education,Stupidity ::

Do you think America’s campuses are places where young people are encouraged to think hard thoughts and engage in challenging debates with their peers? Think again.

Follow Jason Steck’s link to John Leo’s essay exposing our universities for what they are: intellectual frauds.

Update, 2/9/2007

It didn’t take long to find another institution of higher education “cracking down” on students’ rights to express themselves.

Long Island University has fired five students from their positions as resident assistants at the C.W. post campus after they posted a fake hostage video on the Internet with the pretend hostage takers speaking in Middle Eastern accents.

The hostage?

…a rubber duck named ‘Pete’ that serves as the mascot of a residence hall at the campus…

The reason?

“At C.W. Post, we take seriously our obligation to create a campus environment that is free of prejudice and intolerance,” [university Provost Joseph] Shenker said in the statement sent to FOXNews.com. “We do not condone any behaviors that demean the dignity of individuals or groups of people. We don’t find anything about terrorism and hostage-taking to be humorous. We insist on a campus where respect for others is demonstrated at all times.”

It’s strange. I don’t remember anywhere in the Constitution where it says that Americans or visitors here have the right not to be offended by others’ freedom of speech. Not having seen the video I can’t comment specifically on this case; however, Mr. Leo’s essay amply demonstrates a widespread over-sensitivity on the part of campus administrators who seem to have forgotten that disagreement is a fundamental part of our way of life.

Corruption of Elections

04.02.2007 (11:22 pm) – Filed under: Politics ::

In the past I’ve written that the excessive influence of money in the political process is one of the biggest problems we face in America today. Recently Hillary Clinton, no stranger to the raising of money nor to the elections process, announced that she was seeking an “inner circle” of donaters who met the 1 million dollar mark.

A million bucks? Is Hillary supposed to represent the American people after, in essence, buying the Democratic primaries using donations from only 100 of her richest friends? If this is to be the way of the 2008 election, the thoughts and desires of ordinary Americans will play very little part in the primary process and only marginally more in the general election.

Susan Estrich, herself no stranger to the business of presidential elections, also finds this trend – all of the Dems major players are doing the same thing – to be an abuse of the Supreme Court’s attempt to limit individual campaign contributions. She says:

The problem is that the system as a whole stinks, and million dollar bundlers (people who bundle checks together) are just as bad as million dollar donors, from the standpoint of the potential corruption of the system, and the candidate. What has happened, quite simply, is that the presidency is now officially for sale, not to the candidates but to the money people, who become far too important in the campaign.

It stinks – it truly does. The SCOTUS chose to come down on the side of donation restrictions even with the First Amendment issues that played against that decision. Now we’re being told flat out that it takes a million clams to buy a seat in the inner circle. Estrich says that “She’s the frontrunner, and this is what it costs. That’s the sad part.”

That is probably an accurate observation. But must it be so? What rationale is there behind a election system that does an end-run around the intentions of the Supreme Court and locks voters into selecting between candidates who were in essence pre-approved by the party and financial elites?

Estrich goes on to say this:

The Court’s naiveté about how campaigns work provided the road map for circumventing the system, and Congress and the candidates have responded by making public financing little more than a partial subsidy. The question is whether anyone – and that includes the Supreme Court –will be outraged enough to do something to fix the system, or exact a political price for its destruction, or whether the powers that are will simply raise the goals for their own fundraisers.

The court has already had its say in the matter and failed, as Hillary has shown us quite clearly, to enact a working reformation. But who else can the American people turn to? Estrich’s “powers that be” will never vote to reign in their own control of the gravy train. So the cycle will continue with the elections process becoming ever more buyable with those with the richest friends.

It’s sickening, this financial feeding frenzy that Clinton, Obama, and Edwards are part of. Where’s the candidate that people could actually vote for on merit alone? Not on the Democratic ballot, that much is already certain.