School testing as a civil right

Teachers, who have big clout in the Democratic Party, don’t like standardized testing, a major reason being that it often provides evidence of their ineffectiveness.  So Democrats generally support gutting No Child Left Behind, George W. Bush’s education law designed to make sure that children who perform poorly get the help they need.  Republicans, who are usually against a federal role in education, are mostly OK with scrapping the law.

But now civil rights groups are arguing that mandatory testing is a matter of civil rights.   Poor and minority students have a right to an education, they argue, and mandatory testing identifies the students who need extra help and makes sure school systems don’t ignore them. [Read more...]

Where children learn moral relativism

Philosopher  Justin P. McBrayer investigated why so many college freshmen do not believe in moral facts, that certain ethical principles–such as murder is wrong, or it’s wrong to cheat on tests–are objectively valid.  Prof. McBrayer says that this view is actually quite rare among professional philosophers.

He traced this thinking among young people to public school curriculum that teaches over and over again a philosophically confused version of the “fact/value distinction” that incorrectly classifies all moral claims as subjective and thus changeable “values.”  (This mixed-up teaching–which I have also seen in Lutheran parochial schools!–is enshrined in the so-called “Common Core.”)  Sample Prof. McBrayer’s op-ed piece–in the New York Times, no less–after the jump and then read it all. [Read more...]

Most public school kids are poor

Over half of the students in America’s public schools–51% overall, but in many states the number is much higher–are from families below the poverty line.

Some will say that this is because the middle class has abandoned public education, what with homeschooling, parochial and other Christian schools, and other private institutions.  But why are so many middle class families not sending their children to public schools anymore?  What could public schools do to bring them back? [Read more...]

Slandering a Christian teacher

You may have heard about the little boy who wanted to distribute to his class candy canes with messages about they symbolize Jesus and the Gospel.  His teacher wouldn’t let him.  So Glenn Beck, Fox News, and many Christian activists have been excoriating that teacher.

But Hillsdale professor Korey Maas says that the teacher first consulted her principal, who told her that the school did not allow that kind of “witnessing” in class.  And she is far from being a militant secularist or the worse things she is being called.

In fact, she is herself a pious and confessional Christian, though it would be impossible to discern as much from the coverage of much Christian media.

I know this because I was present at her baptism; I participated in the catechesis leading to her reception into the theologically (and, overwhelmingly, politically) conservative Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod; I preached at her wedding; my wife and I are godparents to her children, as she and her husband (who is himself on the faculty of a Christian university) are to our youngest. Needless to say, I have complete confidence that her far less dramatic version of events is much the more accurate account. [Read more...]

Taxation without representation

Just what school children need:  more internet!  President Obama has a new signature program in the works.  “ConnectEd” will provide high-speed internet access to schools, with its multi-billion dollar cost funded by new fees on cell phones.  And the beauty of it, according to the administration, is that it can all be done–including the funding–apart from Congress.  All it will take is approval from the Federal Communications Commission.

Wouldn’t this constitute taxation without representation? [Read more...]

The state as our therapist

Schools are doing their part against guns by punishing children for playing.  George Will recounts some of the latest absurdities, while also making a larger point:  The government, through our schools, but also in other venues, is becoming our therapist.

Joshua Welch — a boy, wouldn’t you know; no good can come of these turbulent creatures — who is 7, was suspended from second grade in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County last week because of his “Pop-Tart pistol.” While eating a rectangular fruit-filled sugary something — nutritionist Michelle Obama probably disapproves of it, and don’t let Michael Bloomberg get started — Joshua tried biting it into the shape of a mountain but decided it looked more like a gun. So with gender-specific perversity, he did the natural thing. He said, “Bang, bang.” [Read more...]