Wednesday, June 15, 2005
"The Quiet Crisis," by Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat, 2005, ppg 270-273.
Agitation-Propaganda for reform of America's socialist education system from Tom Friedman
While I think a dose of skepticism is always in order, I also think the skeptics would be wise to pay more heed to the flattening of the world and how quickly some of these trends could change. It is why I favor Shirley Ann Jackson's approach: The sky is not falling today, but it might be in fifteen or twenty years if we don't change our ways, and all signs are that we are not changing, especially in our public schools. Help is not on the way. The American education system from kindergarten through twelfth grade just is not stimulating enough youth people to want to go into science, math, and engineering...
"We look at two things," [Tracy Koon, Intel's director of corporate affairs] continued. "We look at the fact that in disciplines that were relevant to our industry, the number of U.S. students graduating at the master's and Ph.D. levels was declining in absolute numbers and relative to other countries. In our K to twelve we were doing okay at the fourth-grade level, we were doing middle-of-the-read in the eighth grade, and by the twelfth we were hovering near the bottom in international tests related to math. So the longer kids were in school, the dumber they were getting..."
If the longer meat was in a certain brand of refrigerator, the more spoiled it got, we would replace the refrigerator. If the longer patients were in a hospital, the sicker they got, we would close the hospital. But if the product is children in our socialist education system, some people think it's acceptable.
Update: The rather less liberal Chirol adds...
In order to prevent massive social upheaval and instability, more people will need to have an increasingly better education to keep their heads above water. What does this mean for the US and Europe? Additionally, one must ask whether 100% employment is even possible (with the expected 2-5% unemployment) with today’s technological advanced. One thing is certain, the unskilled worker will continue to lose his job to the 3rd world and to new technology.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
"New Tactic In Evolution Debate," by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, CBS News, 3 May 2005, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/05/03/tech/main692524.shtml (from Democratic Underground).
Disclaimer: My graduate thesis -- A Computer Model of National Behavior -- used Darwinian concepts and evolutionary algorithms. As a Catholic, I have no problem with man arising from beasts. My understanding is that the universe in all probability is around 12 billion years old. Of course, I have no memory of anything from before 1985, so everything before that is hearsay and conjecture...
That said, I am very happy Creationist agitators are encouraging schoolchildren to ask these questions to biology teachers. With one exception, they are damn fine points
# The origins of life. Why do textbooks claim that the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment shows how life's building blocks may have formed on Earth - when conditions on the early Earth were probably nothing like those used in the experiment, and the origin of life remains a mystery?
# Darwin's tree of life. Why don't textbooks discuss the "Cambrian explosion," in which all major animal groups appear together in the fossil record fully formed instead of branching from a common ancestor - thus contradicting the evolutionary tree of life?
# Vertebrate embryos. Why do textbooks use drawings of similarities in vertebrate embryos as evidence for common ancestry - even though biologists have known for over a century that vertebrate embryos are not most similar in their early stages, and the drawings are faked?
# The archaeopteryx. Why do textbooks portray this fossil as the missing link between dinosaurs and modern birds - even though modern birds are probably not descended from it, and its supposed ancestors do not appear until millions of years after it?
# Peppered moths. Why do textbooks use pictures of peppered moths camouflaged on tree trunks as evidence for natural selection - when biologists have known since the 1980s that the moths don't normally rest on tree trunks, and all the pictures have been staged?
# Darwin's finches. Why do textbooks claim that beak changes in Galapagos finches during a severe drought can explain the origin of species by natural selection - even though the changes were reversed after the drought ended, and no net evolution occurred?
# Mutant fruit flies. Why do textbooks use fruit flies with an extra pair of wings as evidence that DNA mutations can supply raw materials for evolution - even though the extra wings have no muscles and these disabled mutants cannot survive outside the laboratory?
# Human origins. Why are artists' drawings of apelike humans used to justify materialistic claims that we are just animals and our existence is a mere accident - when fossil experts cannot even agree on who our supposed ancestors were or what they looked like?
# Evolution as a fact. Why are students told that Darwin's theory of evolution is a scientific fact - even though many of its claims are based on misrepresentations of the facts?
The exception? "Evolution" (meaning the descent of man) is not a fact because it is not a datum -- it is a theory because it explains facts. In the other questions the creationists are rightly attacking Darwinian propaganda.
That this is a fourth generation network attack on evolution, as seen by paragraphs like
These findings confirm the experience of Gerry Wheeler, the group's executive director, who says that about half the teachers he talks to tell him they feel ideological pressure when they teach evolution.
And according to the survey, while 20 percent of the teachers say the pressure comes from parents, 22 percent say it comes primarily from students.
it ultimately irrelevant. Most public secondary school science classes are trash, and nothing is lost if they are infiltrated by these zealots. (It is very hard for them to get worse.). More important is that science classes are being reclaimed from textbook-authoritarians.
Friday, April 29, 2005
"'What, Me Worry?'," by Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 29 April 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/29/opinion/29friedman.html (from Eschaton).
Friedman riffs on the "public schools are terrible" summit from early April.
One of America's most important entrepreneurs recently gave a remarkable speech at a summit meeting of our nation's governors. Bill Gates minced no words. "American high schools are obsolete," he told the governors. "By obsolete, I don't just mean that our high schools are broken, flawed and underfunded. ... By obsolete, I mean that our high schools - even when they are working exactly as designed - cannot teach our kids what they need to know today.
"Training the work force of tomorrow with the high schools of today is like trying to teach kids about today's computers on a 50-year-old mainframe. ... Our high schools were designed 50 years ago to meet the needs of another age. Until we design them to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will keep limiting - even ruining - the lives of millions of Americans every year."
Before noting political weakness before this threat, Tom summarizes
Let me translate Mr. Gates's words: "If we don't fix American education, I will not be able to hire your kids." I consider that, well, kind of important.
Public Education is built to standardize American students. The fast are held back with the herd, the slow are glamorized for falling behind the herd, the herd itself just stumbles along. We need to do better. Larry Summers, President of Harvard and former Clinton Treasury Secretary, agrees
"For the first time in our history, we are going to face competition from low-wage, high-human-capital communities, embedded within India, China and Asia," President Lawrence Summers of Harvard told me. In order to thrive, "it will not be enough for us to just leave no child behind. We also have to make sure that many more young Americans can get as far ahead as their potential will take them. How we meet this challenge is what will define our nation's political economy for the next several decades."
Friedman's closing words echo parts of other network-based theories
Meeting this challenge requires a set of big ideas. If you want to grasp some of what is required, check out a smart new book by the strategists John Hagel III and John Seely Brown entitled "The Only Sustainable Edge." They argue that comparative advantage today is moving faster than ever from structural factors, like natural resources, to how quickly a country builds its distinctive talents for innovation and entrepreneurship - the only sustainable edge.
India and China know they can't just depend on low wages, so they are racing us to the top, not the bottom. Producing a comprehensive U.S. response - encompassing immigration, intellectual property law and educational policy - to focus on developing our talent in a flat world is a big idea worthy of a presidency. But it would also require Mr. Bush to do something he has never done: ask Americans to do something hard.
Friedman is arguing that flexible, individualized education is needed if a flexible, individualized world.
When Tom says the world is flat, he means that it uses peer-based networks like never before. Flexibility, not stability, is the watchword. There aren't big industrial corporations with steady career ladders anymore. However, public education is steep, not flat. America's secondary education system is like a parody of a Japanese conglomerate -- sit down, shut up, and eventually you'll be at the top with the other old people.
This must change.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
"Students tell of tension on gay tolerance day," by Kati Phillips, Daily Southtown, 20 April 2005, http://www.dailysouthtown.com/southtown/dsindex/20-ds3.htm (from Democratic Underground).
(On the lighter side, an alernative title for this post was: Gay? Not fine by me (unless you're a lesbian) - a stand-out quote from the article.)
An attempted use of the state's coercive education system to spread homosexualist propoganda was foiled Tuesday.
A student-led effort to oppose homophobia at Homewood-Flossmoor High School may have backfired Tuesday when hundreds of students donned shirts with Christian and anti-gay slogans.
Student activists who wore shirts emblazoned with the words "gay? fine by me" said they were outnumbered by peers wearing hateful [sic] messages and were targeted for harassment.
The T-shirt drive was intended to create a safe place for gay students and to put a human face on gays, lesbians and their allies.
But student journalists covering the event described the atmosphere as "tense."
"It was crazy. There were all these students with gay shirts and God shirts," said student newspaper reporter Joe Maloney. "In my first-period class, debate class, there were way more God shirts."
One of the organizers thinks the school-rally did far more denormalizing than normalizing
Alissa Norby, one of the T-shirt day's organizers, said she didn't know whether to define the project as a success or failure.
"If I was still in the closet and came to school (Tuesday) and saw hundreds of kids wearing anti-gay shirts, I'd probably go home crying and begging my parents to let me transfer," she said.
This is good news for a number of reasons. It demonstrates the overreach of the homosexualists. It shows youthful resistance to government-enforced indoctrination. And relatedly, it shows the power of peaceful networks over the power of a coercive state.
The states have built socialist education bureaucracies that takes money from citizens, operates a terrible system comparable to Tunisia, preempts the emergence of free schools, and tries to brainwash students.
Throughout the past century, the states have suceeded. There were too few media outlets, and churches were too weak and confused, to do anything to stop this. So bureaucrats or petty politicians would take power, determine what children should believe, and use a prison-like setting to make them believe that.
The ability of citizens to know that the state's views are not the only "wise" views, combined with the technological revolution that makes ideas available to all, combined with strong horizontal church networks, made Tuesday possible. This is our beautiful new world.
Monday, April 11, 2005
"Workforce needs polish, U.S. businesses declare," by Leon Lazaroff, Chicago Tribune, 10 April 2005, http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=2027&ncid=2027&e=4&u=/chitribts/20050410/ts_chicagotrib/workforceneedspolishusbusinessesdeclare (from Democratic Underground).
Businesses and unions are natural adversaries. So it takes something big, like the lousy state of American secondary schools, to make them come together
As lawmakers and educators struggle to improve high schools in the U.S., businesses and labor unions say they are alarmed that even job seekers with a diploma can't function in the workplace.
It's a problem, they say, that threatens to cripple American productivity at home and competition abroad.
While the AFL-CIO and National Association of Manufacturers have clashed over wage issues and foreign trade, Paul Cole, secretary-treasurer of the New York State AFL-CIO says the two groups agree that a more efficient and higher-skilled workforce can ensure that well-paying jobs are not exported.
What is the problem?
Students get out of secondary school unable to work
Discouraged by the work habits of many new employees, a handful of states, led by New York, are working to create a nationally recognized "work readiness" credential. Proponents say the credential would certify that a prospective employee understands the importance of "soft skills" such as punctuality, a willingness to accept supervision and an ability to work in a group.
"You'd think people would know to call in sick when they're not coming to work, but that's not always the case," said Michael Kauffman, an executive at Anoplate Corp., a 175-person metal manufacturer in Syracuse. "We're having many more problems than in the past getting people who understand what it means to work in an office or a factory."
Why do we need a work readiness credential? Because secondary school diplomas have been deflated to worthlessness.
It is a depressing article. And yet another example of how our 19th century socialist education system has failed.
Monday, April 04, 2005
"Home-schooled students want part in public school activities," by Claudette Riley, Tennessean, 4 April 2005, http://tennessean.com/education/archives/05/03/67794851.shtml?Element_ID=67794851.
"Education Is Not a Menu," by MichiganVote, Democratic Underground, 4 April 2005, http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=102&topic_id=1366125&mesg_id=1366185.
Tennessee is pondering allowing home-scholars to particpated in extra-curricular (non academic) activities)
Families who don't want their children attending public schools do want them to be able to play on public school sports teams.
The Tennessee Home Education Association is backing legislation that would allow students who are taught at home — and those in small private schools — to play high school sports and participate in such extracurricular activities as art, drama and music in public schools.
''It's about equal access,'' said Mike Bell, a THEA lobbyist who teaches his kids at home. ''This is about giving all Tennessee children equal access to publicly funded facilities and activities.''
Accidentally, a DU poster makes an insightful comment
Education is not a menu. Arts and Music are courses that students receive a grade on. If homeschoolers take part in these items in a school system, they must become part of the head count. The problem in the idea of home schoolers taking part in alacart' education is that it then opens the door to private school students also saying, 'hey, I want to take Art or Music at this public facility as opposed to my private school which spends all its money on religion or some other program. PE is a course that is also required in most HS curricula. In some cases private school or home school parents want their kids to have band but then they don't want to abide by the requirements.
Great point. Why is education not a menu?
I took college classes in high school. I received high-school credit for them. But why limit it there?
Apprenticing at an auto-shop would give tech students a better education than a shop class. Apprenticing at a local theatre is more useful than taking a theatre class. What is the purpose of bundling mathematics, music, and football in a take-it-or-leave-it deal? If a student can learn mathematics from an online university across the sea, A/V from a local ad agency, and baseball from a local high school, why not let him?
Why keep centralized, socialist, archaic, and failed public secondary schools when the international market offers so much more?
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
"LNSG condemns modern society in school shooting," by Steve Martinez, Nationalist News Network, 22 March 2005, http://www.nazi.org/nazi/policy/weise/.
The Libertarian National Socialist Green Party, on whose messageboard Jeff Weise posted one year before shooting people at his Minnesota high school, today refused to wring hands over a "tragedy," instead pointing out that such events are to be expected when thinking people are crammed into an unthinking, irrational modern society. According to the LNSG, the school shooting itself is not our failure; society is our failure, and the school shooting is a symptom.
"We knew [Weise] briefly through 34 posts he made on the forum," said LNSGP forum administrator Atem. "He expressed himself well and was clearly highly intelligent and contemplative, especially for one so young." Weise participated in the forum in part because, unlike "white nationalist" or "white power" movements, the LNSG embraces all races as part of its vision of world nationalism. His statements on the site reflected a frustration with the populist politics and materialistic arrogance of modern society.
Weise most clearly expressed his philosophy in the following statement of frustration with the raceless, cultureless void of liberal industrial society: "The Natives you've known to be sympathetic to the cause are probably ones who've experienced firsthand what kind of problems cultural and race mixing can cause. As a result of cultural dominance and interracial mixing there are barely any full blooded Natives left. Where I live less than 1% of all the people on the Reservation can speak their own language, and among the youth wanting to be black has run rampant. Under a National Socialist government, things for us would improve vastly... That is, if we haven't already become too soft from the way this materialistic life-style has made us, and that is why I am pro-Nazi. It's hard though, being a Native American National Socialist; people are so misinformed, ignorant, and closed-minded it makes your life a living hell."
Including the murderer, ten are dead.
Monday, March 07, 2005
"Arms Sales Begin at Home," by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, 6 March 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/06/opinion/06friedman.html?hp (from Rich Lowry at The Corner).
Tom Friedman makes a startling suggestion and a startling claim in his latest column
First, the suggestion
For the life of me, I simply do not understand why President Bush is objecting to the European Union's selling arms to China, ending a 16-year embargo. I mean, what's the problem?
There is an obvious compromise that Mr. Bush could put on the table that would defuse this whole issue. Mr. Bush should simply say to France, Germany and their E.U. partners that America has absolutely no objection to Europeans' selling arms to China - on one condition: that they sell arms to themselves first. That's right, the U.S. should support the export to China of any defense system that the Europeans buy for their own armies first. Buy one, sell one.
Then, even more surprising
This is especially true since the real reason that the E.U. wants to end its arms embargo with China is to position itself better to sell more Airbus passenger jets to Beijing. Weapons systems are the loss leader that the E.U. is dangling in front of the Chinese to persuade them to buy more of Europe's civilian airplanes. Indeed, what is really sad about the European arms sale proposal to China is that the E.U. doesn't seem to be demanding any political price, even the slightest change in behavior, from Beijing in return, except some vague "code of conduct." Sure. Ask the software industry about Chinese promises not to pirate technology.
Is this correct?!?
If it is literally true, this is the most insightful comment on the EU-China arms deal I have ever heard. If not, maybe Barnett's right and Friedman has walked off the ledge of credibility. Or something in between?
Does anyone know the truth about this?
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
"US opposes Oklahoma headscarf ban," BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3585377.stm, 31 March 2004.
"Muslim girl wins dress appeal," This is London, http://www.thisislondon.com/news/articles/16979456?source=PA, 2 March 2005.
Anglo-Saxon Freedom, French Bigotry
A Muslim girl today won her battle to wear traditional "head-to-toe" dress in the classroom after the Court of Appeal ruled her school had acted unlawfully in barring her.
Shabina Begum, 15, accused the head teachers and governors of Denbigh High School, Luton, Beds, of denying her the "right to education and to manifest her religious beliefs".
Lord Justice Brooke, vice president of the civil division of the Court of Appeal, called on the Department of Education to give schools more guidance on how to comply with their obligations under the Human Rights Act.
He ruled that that her school had:
# Unlawfully excluded her
# Unlawfully denied her the right to manifest her religion
# Unlawfully denied her access to suitable and appropriate education.
The US justice department has filed a complaint on behalf of a Muslim girl who was twice sent home from school for wearing a headscarf.
The education authorities said the hijab breached the dress code of the school in Oklahoma.
But the justice department says it amounts to religious discrimination.
America has a long history of giving refuge to immigrants who "dress funny"
Unlike some places, like
Update: Big Pharoah is less-than-pleased.
Update 2: Some kook with an obscure blog is a fan.
Update 3: When "liberal" "progress" is more important than liberty, freedom, or tradition. Why I am not a leftist.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
"Governors Work to Improve H.S. Education," Associated Press, http://asia.news.yahoo.com/050227/ap/d88gh7do0.html, 27 February 2005.
America has terrible secondary schools. We also have an opposition party that is morphing into the American Tory Party. It's nice when people fight this reality, whether the man is the Democratic Governor of Virginia
The nation's governors offered an alarming account of the American high school Saturday, saying only drastic change will keep millions of students from falling short.
"We can't keep explaining to our nation's parents or business leaders or college faculties why these kids can't do the work," said Virginia Democratic Gov. Mark Warner, as the state leaders convened for the first National Education Summit aimed at rallying governors around high school reform.
The governors say they want to emerge Sunday with specific plans for enacting policy, weary of statistics showing that too many students are coasting, dropping out or failing in college.
Or Bill Gates
Once in college, one in four students at four-year universities must take at least one remedial course to master what they should have learned in high school, government figures show.
The most blunt assessment came from Microsoft chief Bill Gates, who has put more than $700 million into reducing the size of high school classes through the foundation formed by him and his wife, Melinda. He said high schools must be redesigned to prepare every student for college, with classes that are rigorous and relevant to kids and with supportive relationships for children.
"America's high schools are obsolete," Gates said. "By obsolete, I don't just mean that they're broken, flawed or underfunded, though a case could be made for every one of those points. By obsolete, I mean our high schools _ even when they're working as designed _ cannot teach all our students what they need to know today."