Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Feelings First, Education Second V
Off in the sidebar you’ll see a link called “Nealz Nuze.” It is one of two “platinum” resources, which means it’s got that shiny white-colored block next to it. Platinum means, not only is this a star-status type of link, but it is addictive. Neal Boortz is a good guy. I like the way he looks at things. I like his fiery insistence that our government should be afraid of the populace, rather than the other way around. I like the way he stands up to Republicans, when Republicans start to offend the notion of self-governance. I like the way he stands up to Libertarians, when Libertarians start to snark away against our military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. And I really like the way he stands up to Democrats, for…well, for being dicks.
Neal agrees with me about a lot of stuff. He agrees with me a lot more often than your average Republican or Democrat agree with me. And it’s worth pointing out, too, that he seems to agree with Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton more often than your average Republican or Democrat. Me, Neal, and a bunch of old dead white guys — we’d get along great.
Makes me feel bad. I seldom directly mention Mr. Boortz, except for those occasions on which I think he got things wrong.
Now I don’t think he got it wrong, per se, on this issue; if anything, he’s to be credited with being more consistent than I am. He’s taking a principled stand, whereas I’m walking a tightrope. But I must say, in my defense, sometimes walking a tightrope is the right thing to do. And it comes down to this. Like Neal, I’m a big Tenth-Amendment guy. But at the same time, I’m a big pro-No Child Left Behind guy. Oh, I have more sympathy for the opposing arguments that can be expressed concisely (and so I do it breezily, below). But I still think it was the right thing to do…and it came far too late.
The burden is on me to reconcile, for these passions run in somewhat opposite directions. Let me explain.
I am opposed to investing any special “vertical” authority in the federal government in matters of education. The constitutional underpinnings are simply not there. And yet it seems to me the tenth amendment falls short of defining the state governments with absolute sovereign power over educational standards. I would have to say that if the tenth amendment did such a thing, we would have to come up with an amendment to the amendment.
NCLB injects a lot of things into our educational process, some of them unpleasant, but most of them needed. It has a standard, it has tests conducted pursuant to that standard, it has unpleasant surprises coming from the tests, and it has penalties.
Boortz says, “Here we go with our fantastic government indoctrination folks. The federal government wants all of its students to be ‘the same.’ What can be easier to control than a nice little homogeneous society?” Hmmm…yeah. He’s right to articulate the danger. George Washington, who said government by its nature was a dangerous servant and a fearsome master, would come down on “Nealz” side of things. The General would remain entrenched there, I suppose, probably for good. Why not? After all, in 1799, education of the next generation had nothing to do with government. Nothing at all.
But today, it does. This is a simple fact. And for the foreseeable future, it always will.
So if the argument is that NCLB is to be dropped, with nothing to take its place, and this stoppage is to come about because the tenth amendment has to be upheld, I cannot come along for this hayride. Such an argument proposes that the tenth amendment is strong enough to keep the federal government out of the standards business, but at the same time, state governments are to be insinuated into the business of educating children even when said state governments do a crappy job. Essentially, such an argument would ask me to suspend my suspicion of popularly-elected government long enough to let them determine how kids are going to think, but then resurrect that suspicion of government in time to keep government from fixing the mess it made.
Those who would repeal NCLB and go back to the status quo before it came along, are imposing on me the belief that it’s all right for government to indoctrinate kids and get the kids all bollywonkers and stupid, but when government tries to indoctrinate them to get them smartened-up again, now we’ve got a problem. Well…attention Neal, et al. You may have my support, possibly. Soon. If & when you come up with a substitute for NCLB. Some watchdog thing, to call out to us when the localities do a crappy job of educating kids. Some independent oversight thingy. Something that is not the feds. That would be…swell. Meanwhile, if your nightmares are plagued by a dystopian society rising from a generation of anti-intellectual veggie-heads, NCLB stays where it is.
Anyway, what brought this all on was the news about Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. Da Lady ain’t takin’ no mo’ kuh-rap from da states, I’m afraid. She promised “flexible” enforcement of the NCLB provisions, and now she’s changing her tone. Getting tough. Laying the smack down. Da fangs comin’ out.
…Spellings, who took office promising flexible enforcement of the law, has toughened her stance, leaving several states in danger of losing parts of their federal aid.
In the past few weeks, Ms. Spellings has flatly rejected as inadequate the testing systems in Maine and Nebraska.
“In the early part of her tenure, Secretary Spellings seemed more interested in finding reasons to waive the law�s requirements than to enforce them,” said Clint Bolick, president of the Alliance for School Choice, a group based in Phoenix that supports vigorous enforcement of provisions that give students the right to transfer from failing schools. “More recently, she seems intent on holding states’ feet to the fire.”
In an interview, Ms. Spellings acknowledged her shift in emphasis.
“I want states to know that Congress and the president mean business on the law,” she said. She has stressed that message in part, she said, because the deadlines, which expired this month, were not met, and because lawmakers have been asking her whether states are meeting the law�s requirements.
“I�m enforcing the law — does that make me tough?” she said. “Last year it was, ‘We�re marching together toward the deadline,’ but now it�s time for, ‘Your homework is due.'”
Let me just briefly re-cap this the way I see it.
No Child Left Behind provides for a federal standard for school districts to perform, to make sure that kids aren’t being taught (although nobody calls it this) just a bunch of bullshit that won’t help them later in life. Tests are administered to see how the localities conform with the federal standard. With the broader standard gauged against the student bodies that the localities are graduating, or are poised to graduate, we come to find we have a problem. Especially in Maine and Nebraska, but also in at least seven other states as well.
A standard is applied, and the status quo fails the standard nine times. This reflects poorly on…the standard?
I’m sorry. I fully appreciate where Neal is going with this, and where his tenth-amendment cohorts are going as well. I agree with them in sentiment, but I’m afraid they’re snuggied-up with some curious bedfellows on this one. The best argument against NCLB, the one with the greatest potential for canxing my support of it, would be an argument that it is extraneous. That it is unneeded.
That the localities are succeeding against it, just fine & dandy. That it’s a waste of money.
If it’s failing — IT is not failing, the localities are failing. The schools are teaching our kids a bunch of extraneous goo, or nothing at all. Or something better than nothing, but still something at half-strength.
Now, this isn’t purely an accident. Quoth a very wise and highly accredited education expert genius type…whoops, no, sorry. Just me. Let’s try that again. Quoth me, about my own son’s K-through-2nd-grade career:
That’s when I found out about the prevailing viewpoint in the public education system, that education has less-and-less to do with learning as time goes on. Nowadays, “how to socialize with others” is the most important thing. It’s probably not too off the mark to say that nowadays, a child who socializes with his peers but can’t do the work, is a success, and a child who does the work and can’t socialize with his peers, is a failure. A generation ago when I was in school, the reverse was true. I think that was better.
This is not an isolated episode. Lots of parents are going to back me up on this experience, re-living the “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?” moments they themselves experienced, upon discovering that education is an option in the modern system. Hard as it may be to believe, there is a controversy churning away under the surface of public education, about whether reading-writing-rithmetic is Job #1. A lot of educators don’t think it is. A lot of educators think children are there to learn how to say hello-goodbye-please-thankyew, and everything else is secondary.
So the kids learn, basically, dookey-puddin’ about how to actually do things, and ho-hum, they just graduate to the next grade no questions asked. The problem is REAL.
There should be a device in place so that we know this is going on, right? Of some kind?
Otherwise…we do have an excellent chance of leaving lots of kids behind. I guess what I’m saying here is, if you don’t like NCLB, let’s see the alternative.
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