|What the Bleep? It's a Movie!||The Birth of "Folliage"|
by Christopher Chantrill
July 10, 2004 at 8:00 pm
IS THE WIND changing on education? Three straws seem to suggest so. First there was the calculated outburst from Bill Cosby.
Its comical to read solemn liberal commentators worrying about whether it was right for Bill Cosby to wash the dirty laundry of the black community right out where whitey could see (as if anybody cares after 40 years after the civil rights acts). Still, he did say what no white American would be allowed to say, and certainly no conservative American. In a speech on May 17 at a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education he railed against parents that bought their kids $500 sneakers but wouldnt cough up $200 for Hooked on Phonics. And then a month or so later, he broke the taboo again at a Rainbow/PUSH conference in Chicago, in case anyone didnt get the message the first time. Responding to accusations over washing dirty laundry in public, he reminded his audience that their dirty laundry was getting out of school every day at 2:30... cursing and calling each other n-----. They think theyre hip," the entertainer said. "They cant read; they cant write. Theyre laughing and giggling, and theyre going nowhere."
Meanwhile in The Daily Telegraph, English teacher Francis Gilbert reminded us of what we already know, or ought to know. A disruptive lower-class child does better when challenged. Writing about a boy who started out as a discipline problem Gilbert observed: He became competitive about his work when he saw that other boys - tough characters like himself - wanted to do well. It was not positive self-esteem that motivated this boy, but the desire to compete with his peers.
On top of that, the British government suddenly announced a five-year plan on education that would increase choice, allow successful schools to expand, and even allow selection, permitting schools to interview and select the students they admit.
Only the government didnt call its new policy selection. The abolition of selection in schools is a sacrament of the Labour Party church in England, indeed, so holy that it is taboo. To mention the word selection in a meeting of Labour Party members of parliament would shock them just as much as any mention of sex is supposed to have shocked a Victorian matron. Since time immemorial, the Labour Party has believed that it is wrong for schools to stream students by ability and to send college-prep students to one school and vocational students to another.
Of course, they might be right. But notice what is missing in their appreciation of the issue. Notice what they have assumed without even batting an eye.
Yes, you guessed it. They have not given a thought to what a parent might want for his or her child. They have assumed, as bien-pensant elitists, that it is their job to decide how children will be educated. Parents? Shmarents!
Let us conduct a thought experiment. Imagine a system of charter schools, funded by the taxpayers, but with each school a quasi-independent entity where the principal, assisted by a board, determines the curriculum and hires the teachers. Obviously these schools will range from quasi-military academies to arts academies to science schools to unstructured progressive idylls. Some parents will want to send their children to the military academy, others to the progressive school. But what happens if everyone wants to send his or her child to the military academy? Why, then the military academy will have to select which children to admit. Evil selection will rear its ugly head.
Thats the rub, isnt it? Only in a one-size-fits-all, liberals-know-best system can we avoid the issue of selection. Only if every parent is forced to send children to the school selected by the governments bureaucrats is there no selection issue. The parent has no choice in where to send a child to school, and the school must accept all students in a specified catchment area. So when progressives, whether Labour Party loyalists in England or liberal activists in the United States, rail against the injustice of selection, they are also railing against the right of parents to send their children to the school of their choice. Which side would you rather be on?
All across America, parents are making choices about their childrens education. They move to areas with good public schools; they learn how to manipulate the system to get their children into the program they want. They send them, if they can afford it, to Montessori schools, to Waldorf schools, to military academies, to college prep schools. They choose adventurous schools, rigorous schools, progressive schools, art schools, and science schools. Or maybe they home-school them. But woe-betide that any government school should select its students based on ability or intelligence!
But wait a minute! Public universities select by ability! Whats going on, senator?
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America