Letter-Writing Wednesday: Three Cheers for Free College

[I sent a copy of this letter to Gov. Cuomo, my state senator and state representative.]To whom it may concern:I'm writing to applaud New York State's successful passage of a budget measure that makes tuition free for qualifying students at two-year and four-year public colleges. Our governor and our legislative leaders deserve the credit for making this happen. It's a a smart and generous political idea that I hope other states adopt, and I'm proud to see New York in the vanguard of … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: We Don’t Need No Education

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 1Last time, we found out that Howard Roark, Randian superman, was being expelled from architectural college. In this installment, we'll find out why. Try to form your own guess before reading on!When Roark returns to his rented room in town, there's a message from the dean asking to meet with him. Instead, he spends an hour sitting and doodling, reworking some of his old sketches. He later makes the excuse that he lost track of time; although since … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Wealth of Nations

Atlas Shrugged, Closing ThoughtsThroughout Atlas Shrugged and her other works, Ayn Rand valorized human ingenuity and drive. In her eyes, the individual ability for achievement is our supreme glory. But where do these desirable character traits come from? What makes one person a productive capitalist while another becomes a shiftless moocher?This is a question that Rand was staunchly incurious about. For all that she glorified brilliance, she never addressed what its origins or … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: November 8

• A Texas homeschooling family has been taken to court after allegedly refusing to teach their children anything at all since "they were going to be raptured". Of note, the family's 17-year-old daughter ran away from home because she wanted to go to school.• Violence in the Name of the Messiah: Ultra-Orthodox Jewish fundamentalists aim to create a theocratic state in Palestinian territory through terrorism. An infamous rabbinic document called "Torat ha-Melekh", or "The Law of the … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Marketplace of Ideas

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IIAs Dagny's life in the Gulch settles into a routine, she notices that John Galt leaves the house every other night, returning at midnight or later. Notwithstanding the fact that Randian protagonists are supposed to bow out graciously when the person they love finds a better capitalist than them, she feels an unaccustomed "savage resentment" and "dread that there might be a woman in his life". Finally, one night at dinner, she asks him:"What is it … [Read more...]

Colorado’s Conservative History Whitewash

There are a lot of stories I want to write about, especially the infuriating Texas law that will close down nearly every family planning clinic in the state. But for today, there's an important one that's been flying under the radar and deserves more attention: the fight over high school history classes in Jefferson County, Colorado. It's a local story, but it has a much broader national resonance.The background of this is that, in 2012, the College Board rolled out a new curriculum for … [Read more...]

Why Atheists Should Care More About Education

I've been reading this post on Skepchick by Debbie Goddard, about why education should be a higher priority to the secular movement. As Debbie puts it:I am frustrated that we-the-movement only seem to get involved with public education when a teacher puts Bible quotes on the walls of her classroom, when a football coach leads his high school team in prayer, when a science teacher spends time promoting intelligent design, when an administration prevents a student from starting an atheist … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch III: Education Edition

Never satisfied with compromise, never willing to accept anything less than complete dominion, the forces of theocracy are again on the attack against the constitutional guarantees that have made the United States of America what it is. In particular, there has lately been a rash of cases targeting those who are most vulnerable - the children who attend our public schools. Nowhere is it more important to be vigilant in defending the wall of separation between church and state than here. As the … [Read more...]