My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Three Things That Are Wrong With American Education 

Correction: FOUR Things (see bottom)


Boulder Valley School District will no longer give valedictorian awards to its top graduating seniors starting with the class of 2010.

The district's high schools used grade-point averages to determine the honor, but the top students were sometimes separated by just hundredths of a grade point, leading to complaints. . . .

Boulder Valley had previously abolished class rankings to reduce "unhealthy competition," and the committee said keeping the valedictorian system no longer made sense.

Can't wait til these kids have to go interview to get into Princeton, or audition for Julliard, or try to impress the coaches at Michigan and Ohio State. Thank God they've been spared the evils of "unhealthy competition" and narrow victories and defeats.


School officials in the southern Oregon town of Eagle Point have suspended a first-grader. His drawing of a stick figure shooting another in the head attracted complaints from parents.

Is it really too much to ask for just a LITTLE common sense when applying "zero-tolerance" policies?

But, of course, that's the point of zero tolerance--the orthodoxy must be enforced at all costs. Better for kids to learn that lesson young.

[NEW] Three:

Seattle school officials are telling teachers that Thanksgiving actually is a time of "mourning" since it represents "500 years of betrayal.". . .

The school letter refers educators to a website, Oyate, run by an outside organization that promotes Indian culture, and recommends teachers explore it.

"Here you will discover ways to help you and your students think critically, and find resources where you can learn about Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective," the letter said. "Eleven myths are identified about Thanksgiving, take a look at No. 11 and begin your own deconstruction."

And what, you may ask, IS no. 11?

"Fact: For many Indian people, 'Thanksgiving' is a time of mourning, of remembering how a gift of generosity was rewarded by theft of land and seed corn, extermination of many from disease and gun, and near total destruction of many more from forced assimilation. As currently celebrated in this country, 'Thanksgiving' is a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship," the website describes.

Really? I, personally, find Thanksgiving to be an enormously happy time. But that's just me.

The real problem I have with this is it strikes me as contrary to EVERY instinct I have as an educator. My primary goal is to give my students the skills and habits to become self-sufficient learners and citizens in their own lives. This . . . crap . . . does nothing but provide a group of students with an excuse to not be a part of their communities. It does NOTHING but perpetuate a victims' mentality which, ultimately, leads to nothing but dependency and failure.

Way to go, educators. Way to "shine a light" and show students the way.


[will provide link to transcript when I find it--until then, all "quotes" are paraphrases from memory]

Wolf Blitzer: In many industries, when a worker does a very good job, they get rewarded with a pay raise; in contrast, if a worker does a very poor job, they get fired. Would you support putting a system in place for public school teachers that follows this model: pay raises and bonuses for exceptional teachers, while firing bad teachers?


Hillary Clinton: No . . .blah blah blah . . .but I would support rewarding a teacher who chooses to go into the inner city to work with underprivileged students, or who devotes a lot of their time after school to working with students, . . .blah blah

So, the Democrats toe the Union line on teacher accountability, and Hillary's idea of "rewardable behavior" is a choice, not an achievement.

Let me reiterate that: Hillary--the Democratic front-runner and most likely the next President--believes teachers should be rewarded for their choices, NOT their achievements.

Is there a better microcosmic statement of the difference between Liberals and Conservatives? Liberals value choices and shy away from punishments (unless you wander away from the orthodoxy), Conservatives value achievements and employ punitive consequences when necessary.

Note: Joe Biden's response to this question was SO bizarre that it deserves its own post tomorrow.

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